"I was a teenager in a town 50 miles or so from the Woodstock music festival. We were not really hippies, although we weren’t young republicans by any stretch, just normal teens in the sixties. I had a summer job and had to work while a group of friends went. That night I was in a local bar when a girl we knew entered and said she was driving over to Woodstock to find our friends, “did I want to come?”. I immediately agreed and we hopped in her car around 9 at night. We were locals and she knew the back roads to the concert but eventually, we were stopped by congestion and we left the car, probably 3 or 4 miles from the venue. We started to walk and as we got closer more and more young people joined the trek. You could not get lost, just follow the crowd.
It was probably around midnight when the sound of rock music drifted over the road, the music was from quite a distance and echoed off the hills. softly at first and then louder and louder. As we got closer there were people openly selling drugs, mescaline, and LSD, but no marijuana was being sold, pot was for sharing I guess.
Eventually, we found the top of the amphitheater, sitting below us were probably 400,000+ people listening to music, and at the bottom of the hill was the stage with the musicians. The distance was such that you could see the drummer strike a drum and the sound would reach you a second or so later. It was that far and every inch was covered with people. No one had ever seen anything like it.
I am not sure how it happened but we were only there a short time when we found our friends. We walked into a crowd of 400,000 people, outdoors in the dark, and walked right up to our friends; cosmic!
We settled in with the group, had a little of my friend Eddie Stew’s famous homegrown pot, and enjoyed the music. Around dawn, we left to hike to our friend's campsite. Like New York, it was a city that did not sleep and there were many sights along the way. One of my friends pointed to a combination haybale/tent hut and said reverently ”that’s the Pranksters” and nearby was the campsite and free kitchen of the Hog Farm. There were buses, mysterious campsites with roaring parties going on, hippies of all shapes and sizes including naked hippies, bikers, many Viet Nam Vets, Christmas lights strung in the trees, and road signs with corny names like “Hippie Way”. We arrived at our friend's tents and cars and somehow I slept without blankets or any gear. August nights in upstate New York are warm.
The next morning we returned to our spot overlooking the stage and listened to more music. Then the rains came. Bone-soaking thundershowers. Interestingly I don’t have any recollection of discomfort, not cold, not wet. Just an intense interest in all that was going on around me. It was a people-watching paradise. Nor do I recall eating anything, there was no food, but I don’t remember being hungry.
At some point on a very muddy Sunday afternoon, we slipped away to head home, how the girl found her car we left earlier I have no idea. When I got home I remember that my parents did not mention anything about their 16-year-old son disappearing for a few days. I just walked in and went to bed.
Favorite band? Sly and the Family Stone. They went on stage really late, like 3:30 AM, and just rocked that place.
Like everyone who was there, I was a subtly changed person."