This month is the fortieth anniversary of the Woodstock Festival in New York and I’m here to confess that I have discovered, as the decades have passed, that I am apparently the only teenager who lived in the tri-state area at the time who didn’t attend.
But I almost did.
Forty years ago I got a call from Walter, a college friend who lived near Philadelphia, telling me that he had tickets to a concert in Woodstock, NY, and would I like to go with him. I checked with my parents – we still did that in those days - and accepted his invitation.
The next morning I got up early and had breakfast with my parents before they left for work. About an hour later my mother called the house and [another quaint practice] you just didn’t make personal calls while you were at work unless there was a Really Major Emergency.
“You can’t go to that concert.”
“Huh? But, Mom, Walter is already on his way here and you said yes.”
“Well, I got into work and ran into Irene. She was telling me that her mother called her upset with something happening near her home in New York. She said that there were hippies and drugs and…other stuff. It’s the concert that you were going to go to and now you’re not.”
I don’t remember too much after that. Walter must have arrived, but I don’t remember telling him I couldn’t go or his reaction. Knowing Walter, he probably wasn’t too upset – he was a laid-back guy and my house was pretty much on the way to the concert. Later, back at school in September, I don’t remember him telling me about Woodstock or even mentioning it.
This month maybe Walter is out there telling his Woodstock story to the local paper or to the local high school’s history classes. And maybe he’s including the story of his friend who was supposed to go with him.
Looking back at what ultimately happened at Woodstock, I can’t say that I would have really enjoyed myself. I liked indoor plumbing, a comfortable bed, heating, and air-conditioning. I came in out of the rain. Yeah, it was probably better that I was the only teenager who didn’t go to Woodstock.