Eight of us went to Woodstock from Rochester, NY. Some of us were high school teachers, and some were professionals working for a major company headquartered in Rochester. No, we weren’t hippies; no, we weren’t druggies. We merely went for the music, and we were right. We will never forget listening to our favorites and discovering new favorites among the twenty-two musical acts that performed, including the legendary Jimi Hendrix. We heard them all.
Why did we go? Our math teacher friend brought in an ad from The New York Times listing all the bands that were performing, and he said we couldn’t miss it. We ordered our tickets. We secured a large tent to sleep in, bought steaks and beer for a long weekend, and decided we would arrive on Wednesday night before the crowds got there. Arriving at the concert site, a large pasture at the end of a long dirt road, we saw the stage being erected, pitched our tent behind it, and unfurled our sleeping bags.
The Concert Begins
The next day we secured a spot high on the slope in front of the stage and waited for the music to start. But along with the music, some of us heard our names being called. Who would know us? We were answered by a few of our former students rushing over to greet us.
Later that day over the microphones on stage, we heard amazing facts: more and more people were arriving, and even babies were being born. We were also being warned from the mics not to take the blue acid, not that we would anyway. Finally, we heard that the New York State Thruway was closed.
Part of my memories include the disgusting port-o-potties and trying to avoid them except when absolutely necessary. When the rains came, the ensuing mud was difficult to navigate. To alleviate dirty appearances or maybe just for fun, some of us went skinny dipping in Filippini Pond. As days went by and word of the concert got out, the crowds grew. Fences were knocked over; kids were spaced out. We offered food to those who didn’t seem to have any. We remember feeding one young girl after she came out of a three-day drug-induced stupor.
One of the fun and daring journeys involved going into what we called the enchanted forest. There we saw thickly set trees full of smokey haze, and we smelled the sweet aroma of burning marijuana. Buying a souvenir pipe to document our journey, we assured our friends and family that the pipe never was used.
Lingering Effect of Concert
We drove away on Sunday afternoon after making memories to last a lifetime. Little did we know that one of our greatest claims to fame would be to tell people we went to Woodstock.
Other perks came from the experience. After having two children, we moved to several different locations, including abroad, and then returned to Rochester. Our son was in junior high. When he brought new friends home and introduced us, he always told them we went to Woodstock. I guess that made us okay. When this happened we always insisted we did not try any drugs; we were just there to enjoy the music.
After our daughter grew up, married, and bought a home in Woodstock, Georgia, what was the one thing she wanted as a housewarming gift? Our original, now framed, Woodstock poster with its iconic bird and hand on a guitar fret with the words Peace and Music.
Friends or acquaintances who discover we were at the original Woodstock Festival are always amazed, and they want to hear about the whole experience. Thinking, as many do, that we were enjoying youthful drug experiments while we were there, I emphasize the reason we went. I tell them we did not use any drugs and that a lot of people there did not, contrary to some stories and photos. We were there for one reason—the music.