Archive 2008 - 2019

Woodstock 50th Anniversary - Peace and Love

by Paul Deschenes

Another 50-year milestone event is being celebrated and remembered this summer. Woodstock, which ran from August 15 to August 17, 1969, is 50 years old. How have so many years passed so quickly? How many lifetimes ago is 50 years?

Photo by Mary Deschenes; The necklaces are Paul's!

No, I wasn’t there. I was mired in Basic Training at Fort Dix, NJ. I don’t think I was even aware that Woodstock was about to happen, was happening, or had happened back then. I did attend a larger (600,000 versus 450,000)) rock festival four years later on July 28th in upstate New York – Watkins Glen. Drove there from Ohio with a couple of Vietnam veteran friends. Survived a blowout on the interstate heading home. I don’t remember much about it beyond that other than who played there (The Grateful Dead, The Band, and The Allman Brothers) and having my camping stove stolen because I left it outside our tent overnight.

Some members of our Holliston Reporter staff shared their time period experiences with me. Our esteemed publishers, although of age, did not attend. Neither did any of the others. Mayor Blair shared he had just started working at the post office, prior to his being inducted into the military. He ran the idea of attending Woodstock by his mother. She nixed it because she was concerned about the availability of drugs. Ironically, a few months later he was in Vietnam! The mayor’s younger sister, Pat, smilingly said, “I was too young.”

One of our publishers, Chris, claims not to have a clear recollection about that period of time. Being 'too valuable' to his employer that summer to have gotten any time off he didn’t even try going. His mother would have dissuaded him if he had. Yvette, on the other hand, a recent high school grad, was planning to go with two friends after getting wind of it before one friend mentioned “tickets," and the word on the street was it was sold out. Being “conscientious and practical young women,” they made other plans for the weekend. Obviously they would have been turned away at the gate!

Nancy, with every intention of going to Woodstock, had placed her “bag of belongings on the seat I intended to occupy” in the car to be used by her sister and her sister’s friends to get there, but her mother “was on to” her. She unexpectedly came out of the house in housedress and curlers and escorted Nancy by the elbow out of the car. Her sister did go and can be seen in the movie “dancing with the 'Chicken Man.'” 

Here are a few tidbits of information about Woodstock gleaned from the Internet while researching for this article: Single day tickets were $6.50 and three-day passes were $18. The performers (Santana, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, The Grateful Dead, Ravi Shankar, CSNY, and many others) were paid. Jimi Hendrix was the highest paid ($18,000) and closed out the event. According to one website, Roy Rogers declined an offer to sing “Happy Trails to You” for the finale. Richie Havens opened the festivities and later had his ashes scattered over the site on August 18, 2013. My favorite song (not noted on the Internet) from that occasion was, and still is, Country Joe and the Fish’s “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die-Rag.”

The photo below was provided by Paul Saulnier.  A true collector's item!

Comments (4)

My father-in-law was the salesman for Globe Ticket Company at the time and serviced that account. He gave me ticket #02040 framed with the 3 Days of Peace & Music poster. I missed out (the Newport Folk Festival was a wild as got in those days.)

Paul Saulnier | 2019-08-19 17:19:10

Watched many traveling to festival pass though my litte upstate NY town on their waty to Bethel. ....Watch Santana Soul Sacrifice and Jefferson Airplane Volunteers performances on you tube. I too made it to Watkins Glen as it was 35 miles from my house and I was old enought tell my parents, "I'm going" not ask ask permission.

Shaw Lively | 2019-08-17 15:36:16

Vince, thank you for the CSNY correction. I'll check out the video.

Paul Deschenes | 2019-08-17 13:47:33

I was only five years old, so I probably had no clue about the concert. Though at this point I know that CCNY was the college my Dad graduated from and CSNY performed at Woodstock. For a good laugh, check out the video of Joe Cocker singing "with a little help from my friends" with subtitles.

Vince Packard | 2019-08-17 11:17:07