Happy Hippy Time
It's all in good fun. The following story will make you feel as if you were there as one of the young peace-loving participants during the infamous Woodstock Concert in upper state New York, August of 1969. Part of the fun includes made-up characters from fellow Hubpages.com hubbers including, Ruby, aka "Always Exploring" and Martie Coester. This story is one in a series written by hubber friends. Ruby took us through a hillbilly, root'n toot'n good time. Martie took us dancing with white lions. Now it's my turn to take us on a psychedelic trip! Hubbers also included in the story; Epi "Epigraman, Erin Le Fey and Nell Rose. Far out, man!
A Woodstock Story
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. We gotta do someth'n groovy before school starts!" she tried to sway me.
Immediately, I thought about what my parents might say to that. They were always warning me about Ruby; said she was a wild child. But I envied her free spirit. You always knew where you stood with her, being the type who 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 exactly what they'd say if I dared ask permission!" I said.
"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 yet in my young life been to a live concert. To actually see my dream boat, Jimmi Hendrix, 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."
"What about the girls?" I asked referring to our best buds, Martie, Nell and Erin.
"They're into it, baby," she assured me.
Good thing my parents liked Martie and they were okay with Nell, too, having been neighbors ever since we were little kids. They and Nell's parents spent a lot of time together. With her coming along, I figured if I got into trouble, she'd be there to support me and maybe subdue their fury. Erin's family had just moved into town so my distrusting blood relations had no preconceived negative notions about her.
The day had arrived and to our relief and excitement, our escort, Epi, showed up at Ruby's house with his hippy van where we all had decided would be the best place to split the scene. His attire fit in with the occasion wearing a red bandanna wrapped snug around his head tied in back with a long tail. He looked groovy in his blue and white stripped pants with a yellow paisley shirt tucked in, obviously raring to go grinning from ear to ear. Epi had a special liking for the ladies so he was in his glory to be in our company; five to his one.
Ruby's parents practically let her do anything she wanted so it was no big deal when Epi showed up in his peace buggy splashed with wild colors and peace signs. We all piled in yelling and waving good-bye to Ruby's carefree kinfolk.
"Have a good time, Kids!" they joyfully called out while waving to us, "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. I was thinking how they sure weren't anything like my parents. Mine would have chained me to the house if they could have. They were big worriers and choked me with their over protection. I had a hunch Ruby's parents were exactly the opposite, probably to the extreme, not knowing which was worse.
When we got there, the place was really happen'n with our long-haired generation gathered every which way. You could feel the wave of anticipation in the air threading us together. And everyone was super friendly. Love and peace gushed over the hearts of the people. We caught on to the good vibes so much so that we didn't even mind having to walk three miles from our peace bus for a comfortable spot to watch the concert.
"So this is what a half 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 on in her head, but she was look'n all starry eyed. 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 baritone vocals to the tune of "Freedom". I remember that song most of all, except, of course, Jimmi's final number!
I get goosebumps just thinking about that amazing moment as Richie Haven fired up the crowd. Ruby was especially feeling the music. She twirled round and round till she fell to the ground. I think she was catch'n some of that funny 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 above the crowd. Epi stood there in shock as he watched our friend fade out of sight into the masses! Ruby 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 try and find her. We all realized from then on we had to be careful if we wanted to stay together.
Later, Martie's favorite band began setting up for their performance. Her face lit up like campfire sparks watching the procession. She had a thing for guitar genius, Carl Santana. When they played their famous song "Black Magic Woman", Martie closed her eyes and took it all in. She swayed back and forth mouthing the words. Carl Santana had these magic fingers that could manipulate the guitar strings as if there was 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 wailed, "Hope Ruby and Martie will 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 suddenly 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 as if she was drowned in a total trance. She was having a moment that would last a lifetime of memories. When Santana was through playing their captivating numbers, we eventually settled down and 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 fine. Let her be."
We all took in a deep breath hoping that Erin was right. One thing we knew for certain, Martie was feel'n no pain. Deep down, I envied her too. I thought to myself why couldn't I be more like her and Ruby? Everybody at Woodstock was feel'n the peace and love! I felt it too, but not enough to really let go of my inhibitions. In the back of my mind, I wondered which one of us was going to let it all hang out next. I mostly just wanted to see Jimmi and snap a few photos. I resigned to stick to my goal.
The answer to my question came when Erin was next to let it all hang out. While the band, The Who, played their melodious "See Me, Feel Me" she took it to heart. I watched her slowly walk away from Nell, Epi and me.
"Sorry man, this is my bag, gotta split. Meet you later at the peace buggy when its over," she spoke in a whispering 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. Later that day as evening drew and the music stopped, he wrapped her in a blanket to to keep her warm. She really knew how to pick em.
Nell, Epi and me were all that was left out of our group. We let go worrying about our friends and blissfully watched Roger Daltry, lead singer of The Who, dance and contort on stage while admiring his curly mane flying wildly in the air. He provided beautiful eye candy for all us girls. Then, the band's famous lead guitarist, Pete Townsend, jumped three feet into 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 tripp'n to the music. Epi took off his paisley shirt and raised his arms high in the air while singing along with the tune. Nell and I joined in; me with my dark rimmed glasses and Nell in her peasant blouse. We couldn't remember a time when we had felt so free and happy! I wanted it to last forever!
"I really love you guys, man," I said to Nell and Epi, surprising myself with unusual openness.
"Far out, man, we love you too," they both replied at the same time.
By the second day of the concert weariness was setting in, people slept wherever and whenever, some even on top of their cars. Unabashed, they bathed openly in nearby ponds. Hunger was taking its toll on those who were left out from a food shortage. We too were feeling the hunger cravings. But there had been no way for organizers to predict a turn out of 500,000 people and hadn't prepared for those numbers. When the citizens 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 also helped out with the food situation, plus provided non-traditional gentle security tactics. There were forty doctors flown in and medical tents were set up for people who were sick or having bad trips from drug over-dose.
Nell couldn't hold out any longer. Epi and I saw her in bibs with her blouse missing flash'n the peace sign to two dudes resting in the trunk of their car!
"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 one of the dudes from the trunk. 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 girls 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 came! Regardless of chants from the crowd, "no rain, no rain, no rain", it came down in buckets. What could anybody do? The people were stuck, but chose to make the best of it. They played and played in the mud, slipping and sliding and getting relief from the heat. For some, it was even a spiritual event. Heck, for that matter, the entire three days was out of this world.
So far, we also heard uplifting performances from Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone, Country Joe, Arlo Guthry, Creedence Clear Water Revival, to name a few, but not yet from Jimmi. I suspected they were saving him for last and had my camera ready for the moment.
Well, it was finally my turn to let go! All the heaven's down pouring and mud splashing finally got to me. Joan Baez started singing "We Shall Overcome", and in that moment, my eyes met my hairy, muddy, lover-hippy-guy! Epi caught me lockn lips with him. It was my first kiss and a groovy one, too, but short lived. I couldn't let anything keep me from my Jimmi, nor my Epi, for that matter. 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 if he let go, but he was too cool a guy to abandon any of us girls. It was near the end of the concert and we were getting ready 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 a 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 our minds. In that moment, I thought 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, a strong message of our country's involvement in the Vietnam War. That was the underlying theme of the festival, sort of a peaceful anit-war message to the world.
When everything was all over, we felt exhilarated if not exhausted. We reluctantly headed for the buggy hoping to meet up with the girls. We thanked God when all three of them were there, even though all three were hang'n onto their new hippy boyfriends.
"Break it up, my lovely flower girls, we're heading for home," Epi announced.
Home was never the same after that. We all came away from the peace festival refreshed and full of independence, but at the same time, with a new appreciation for the comforts of home!