My Two Woodstocks
Having been lucky (or crazy) enough to experience both the 1969 and 1999 Woodstock rock concerts has driven me to write a few words of warning for future generations.
Born and raised in the concrete jungle of Manhattan, in 1969 I was 16 and on staff at a scout camp in upstate New York; 25 miles from Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, NY. Hearing the early news reports I took my day off and my one-speed, coaster brake Schwinn with 20-inch wheels and a cool banana seat and headed northwest to join the fun.
I almost didn’t make it.
While still several miles away, riding past thousands of parked cars and streams of people walking in the rain, the slender tubular steel bars holding up the back of the seat broke off… dropping the bicycle seat onto the back wheel.
I used my scout knife to fashion an acceptable splint from wood, but needed some string or wire to hold it onto the back frame. I saw a strand of wire in a nearby cow pasture and went to grab it. That’s when I learned, quickly, the concept of an electric fence. My hair, already in a long “fro” brought me even closer to looking like Jimi Hendrix.
Undeterred, I went over the wooden pole, retrieved the wire, fixed the bike and made it to the mud puddle heaven of Woodstock just as Janis Joplin went on! We rocked all night! The atmosphere was both electrifying and “sweet smelling.”
The next morning, wet, tired and with ringing ears, I pedaled back to camp. I had to run the weekly campfire entertainment program for 250 boys. Our singing was really lame in comparison!
Thirty years later, it was time to do it again! My children were teenagers, I was the cool Dad and it was time to ROCK! Barb and I took the camper and Ellen and Josh back to Woodstock! Saturday afternoon, we drove LN and her boyfriend to the entrance, where unlike my prior trip, the fences were standing, and dropped them off – we had planned on going the next night. When I returned at midnight, they were not at the rendezvous point. I searched, and probed, and started to panic. By 6:00 am, Barb and I were in total heart-stopping panic mode.
At 7:00 am, she called my cell. She had gotten separated from Donald within the first hour while crowd surfing, and had been looking for him for 15 hours, and just found him at the infirmary, dehydrated, and shivering wearing nothing but shorts.
Aren’t rock concerts great?
So, let’s get back in the spirit, park in Clayton, walk to the Schuster Center, and crowd surf in front of the stage!
– Leib Lurie
NOTE: Picture on the left is the summer of Woodstock, 1969, my family in New York, on the roof of our building looking at the Hudson. I’m back right.
The picture on the right is LN, Barb and Josh Lurie – the morning before LN’s adventure at Woodstock in 1999.