Happy Hippy Time
It's all in good fun, this happy hippy fantasy is one in a series of fun times stories with hubber friends, the first of which was written by our hubber buddy "always exploring", aka Ruby. She wrote about a hillbilly, root'n toot'n good time. The second story was written by Martie Coetser. She took us dancing with white lions. Now it's my turn to take us on a psychedelic trip! Far out, man!
A Story of Woodstock
It was during the dog days of August,1969. The buzz was all about a peace concert upstate New York near a little town called Woodstock. Ruby dialed my number soon as she got the news .
"Fossi, have you heard about the concert? Let's split and make the scene," she tried to sway me, "We gotta do someth'n groovy before school starts back."
I was worried what my parents might say, they always warned me about Ruby. Said she was a wild child, flower girl. I envied her free spirit. You always knew where you stood with her, she didn't hold back what she was thinking or feeling.
"I don't know Ruby, my parents will kill me if I just take off; and you know what the'd say if I dared ask permission!" I groaned.
"Bummer, you don't know what you're gonna miss, man!" she said with her cool talk, "Are you sure you don't wanna come along? Your favorite rock star stud is gonna be there; l-l-l-live, in concert!"
"Far out, no way," I shouted.
I had never in my young life been to a live concert. To actually see my dream boat Jimmi H. live on stage would blow my mind. I decided right then and there to pay the price just to see him strum that twangy guitar, especially to "Foxy Lady"! What could my parents do to me anyway, besides ground me. It was time I broke out of the mold and do something daring. Little did I know it would turn out to be the cultural musical event of the century!
"When do we split?" I asked my good friend.
"Leave it up to me, I'll make all the arrangements," she replied.
"What about the girls?," I asked referring to our best buds, Martie, Nell and Erin.
"They're in like Flynn, baby," she assured me.
"Groovy, my friend," I said.
My parents liked Martie and we had been neighbors with Nell's family ever since we were little kids. My parents and hers spent a lot of time together. With Nell coming along, I figured if I got in trouble she'd be there to support me and maybe they wouldn't be as angry. Erin's family had just moved in town so my distrusting parents had no preconceived negative notions about her.
The day had arrived and Epi showed up at Ruby's house where we all had decided would be the safest place to meet. He wore a red bandanna round his head that was tied in back with a long tail. His pants were blue and white stripped and tucked into them was a yellow paisley shirt. He looked groovy psychedelic and wore a big grin from ear to ear. Epi had a special liking for the ladies and was in his glory to be in our company; five to his one.
Ruby's parents let her do anything she wanted so it was no big deal when he showed up in the peace buggy painted with wild colors and peace signs all over it. We all piled in yelling our good-byes.
"Have a good time kids," Ruby's parents called out waving good-bye, "Don't do anything we wouldn't do!"
"We will," Ruby joked as she hung her head out the window.
I could see her parents laughing as the bus pulled away. They sure weren't anything like mine. My parents would chain me to the house if they could. They had always been over protective. I had a hunch Ruby's parents were just the opposite, maybe even to the extreme.
The place was really happen'n with people everywhere, mostly young. You could feel a wave of high anticipation in the air threading us all together. Everyone was super friendly. Love peace and cooperation gushed over the crowd. We happily walked three miles from our peace bus for a comfortable spot to enjoy the concert.
"So this is what half a million people look like," Martie announced in awe.
"Peace and love," Erin chanted in a daze, "That's what it's all about, peace and love!"
I don't know what was going through her head, but she was look'n starry eyed over something. Maybe the whole thing was too overwhelming for her. That was the first sign of trouble to come. Anyway, when things finally started to rock and roll, Richie Haven was first up. He knocked it out of the park with his rhythmic guitar and rich voice to the tune of "Freedom". I remember that song most of all, except, of course, Jimmi's final number!
Ruby was feeling the music. She twirled round and round till she fell to the ground. I think she was catch'n some smoke in the air. Then Epi was feel'n it too. He started twirling Ruby around with her feet dangling in the air. He kept saying cool man, groovy! Next thing I knew, Ruby was being passed from person to person through the crowd. Epi stood there with surprise written on his face as Ruby faded out of sight! She just opened up and let it be. It was that free spirit of hers I envied so, only in high gear from the free-lov'n mood all around. I didn't know when we would see her again. The crowd was too big to go and try to find her. We all realized from then on we had to be careful if we wanted to stay together.
Later, when Martie's favorite band was setting up for their show, her face lit up. She had a special thing for guitar genius Carl Santana. When they began playing "Black Magic Woman" Martie closed her eyes to take it all in. She swayed back and forth and mouthed the words. Carl Santana had magical fingers manipulating the guitar strings as if he had electricity at the ends of em. Suddenly, Martie started walking away from us waving good-bye. We all yelled out for her to come back.
She blew us all a kiss and yelled, "We'll meet up again. Don't worry! I just gotta fly like a bird, man; peace!"
"Epi, what are we gonna do? Nell, do you have any ideas? What's goin on with everybody?" I lamented, "Hope Ruby and Martie are going to be alright."
Neither Epi, Nell or Erin had an answer. We all were in a lather over losing track of our friends. I guess my worrying came from my upbringing. I knew I was probably being too uptight, but couldn't help myself.
"Look over there," Nell brought to our attention.
It was Martie being passed around by the crowd like Ruby had been earlier. Black Magic Woman was still playing and Martie looked like she was drowned in a total trance by its lure. She was having a moment in time that would last forever in her memory. When Santana was through with all their amazing numbers, we headed for the food tents. Nell pointed to something again. This time we saw Martie bathing in the lake with a long haired hippy.
"Don't worry about her," Erin remarked, "She'll be just fine. Let her be."
We all took a deep breath and hoped Erin was right. One thing we knew for certain, she was feel'n no pain. Deep down, I envied her too. Why couldn't I be more like her and Ruby? Everybody at Woodstock was feel'n peace and love! I couldn't help wonder who was going to let it all hang out next. I mostly just wanted to see Jimmi and snap a few photos. I was determined to stick to my goal.
As it turned out, Erin was next to let herself be free. While The Who played their melodious "See Me, Feel Me" she took it to heart. I watched her slowly walked away from Nell, Epi and I.
"Sorry man, this isn't my bag, gotta split. Meet you later at the peace buggy when its over," she spoke in a whispery tone as she drifted off.
I never knew her voice to change like that. Then suddenly she grabbed this dude's flute and played along with The Who. She wasn't half bad. The long haired hippy took a liking to her and they made the scene together. He gave her a shower and wrapped her in a blanket afterwards to to keep her warm. She really knew how to pick em. What a guy!
Now it was just Nell, Epi and I. We watched Roger Daltry, lead singer of The Who, dance and contort on stage as his curly mane blew in the air with him. He provided beautiful eye candy for all the girls. Then, the band's famous lead guitarist, Pete Townsend, jumped six feet in the air and beat up his guitar during the last number. What a rush, man!
Joe Cocker was up next performing his famous, "A Little Help from My Friends". As we sang along, the number bonded the three of us who were stick'n it out together. We were really trippn to the music. Epi took off his paisley shirt and raised his arms high in the air while singing the tune. Nell and I joined in; Me with my dark rimmed glasses and Nell in her peasant blouse. I couldn't remember a time when I had felt that happy! I wanted it to last forever!
"I really love you guys, man," I expressed to Nell and Epi, surprising myself with unusual openness.
"Far out, man, we love you too," they both said back at the same time.
By the third day weariness was settling in, people slept wherever and whenever, some even on their cars. Hunger was taking its toll on those who were left out from the food shortage. Even Janis Joplin was feeling the hunger cravings. There was no way for organizers to predict a turn out of 500,000 people. When the people of Sullivan County heard about the food shortages, they gathered thousands of food donations to be airlifted to the site, including 10,000 sandwiches, water, fruit and canned goods. Peace activist "Wavy Gravy" and his hog farm collective helped out with food and non-traditional gentle security tactics. There were forty doctors flown in and medical tents set up for people who were sick or having bad trips from over drug use.
To name a few, we had heard uplifting performances from The Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone, Country Joe, Arlo Guthry, Creedence Clear Water Revival, but not yet from Jimmi. I knew they would save him for last! I had my camera ready for the moment.
Nell couldn't hold out any longer. Epi and I saw her in her bibs without a blouse underneath, flashn the peace sign to two dudes in a trunk!
"Not you too, Nell," Epi called out to her. He was fond of innocent young Nell and felt protective of her. He borrowed a shirt from someone to cover her up. Later we saw her sitt'n on a blanket hold'n up one of the trunk dudes. Funny thing is, her hair was suddenly a shade or two darker. Epi just shook his head.
"We lost her Epi, she's too into that guy," I remarked.
"I suppose you're eventually gonna split too, Fossi," he replied, "You boy crazy gals have stars in your eyes."
"Naw," I told him, "I'm holdn out for Jimmi."
We woke the next morn'n to the soulful tune of "White Rabbit" sung by lead vocalist Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane describing what happens when you go into a psychedelic trip; I never knew. Then the rains fell upon us! Regardless of chants from the crowd for "no rain", people played in the mud and got relief from the sweat of heat. For some, it was even a spiritual episode. Hell, for that matter, the entire three days was out of this world.
Well, it was finally my turn to let go! All the slick downpour and mud splashing got me. Joan Baez started singing "We Shall Overcome", and in that moment, my eyes met my muddy hairy lover, hippy guy! Epi caught me lockn lips with him. It was my first kiss and a groovy one, but that's all the further it went. I couldn't let anything keep me from my Jimmi, nor my Epi. I pushed hippy man away and ran to Epi. He was patient with me and understood my moment of free love. I told him it would be okay with me if he let go, but he was too cool of a guy to abandon any of us. It was near the end and we were prepared to hear the biggest and best of them!
Epi sat on the trunk of a far out car painted with the American Flag. He waited there for me to snap a few shots of the crowd. He didn't know it, but I snuck in a nice shot of him. When Jimmi got on stage, the crowd let out an ear shattering roar that could be heard as far as the next town; electrifying, man! Epi and I danced and sang to the music. When Jimmi played "Foxy Lady", I tried to get as close as I could to catch a shot. After fifty tries, I finally got the one I knew would make history! Just when we thought we had experienced all the peace, love and cheering that was humanly possible, Jimmi came out with his finale; a guitar solo rendition of the National Anthem! It blew away me and Epi's minds. I was think'n about the girls and hoped they were hear'n it too. I don't know how Jimmi did it, but the anthem had sounds of artillery explosions and a strong message of our country's involvement in the Vietnam War. That's what the festival was partly about anyway, a peaceful anit-war demonstration.
When it was over, we headed for the buggy hoping to meet up with the girls. We thanked God when all three were there, even though all were hang"n on to their new hippy boyfriends.
"Break it up, my lovely flower girls, we're headed for home," Epi announced.
Home was never the same after that. We all came away from the peace festival renewed and full of independence, but at the same time, with a new appreciation for the comforts of home!!!
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