Saturday, August 18, 2007
In 1969, I was 17 years old. I graduated high school and that summer, went to the Woodstock festival. Going to the concert seemed to be a cool thing to do (or as I would say at the time, it was “far out”). A few weeks before, my friends and I went to a Greenwich Village record store and purchased our tickets. We drove to the site with a guy who owned a VW van and the four of us, with him at the wheel, took off that August 15th weekend to Woodstock. To this day, it is a mystery to me as to why my mother and father let me go. I am from a very strict, Armenian family. My mother was a hard working dressmaker and my father, retired, had very little to do but to tell me what I couldn’t do. He was the stricter of my parents and the only reason I think he let me go was that he must have thought I was going to an Armenian event – or he was drunk. Since, he never drank, I can only guess, he was very misinformed. Being it was August, I assumed that it would be very warm in upstate NY. My mother kept telling me to take a sweater. I refused. She insisted. I still refused. My friends picked me up and we arrived somewhere near the concert on Friday, parked the van and walked to the site. We heard a few acts and then went back to the van. That first night, traffic wasn’t going anywhere and we realized we weren’t going to sleep in that comfortable hotel room we booked. All of us slept in the van. The temperature in upstate NY really plunges at night and I was freezing and uncomfortable. I hated being cold and regretting coming. I wanted my mother or someone to save me. Before completely breaking down, I went through my suitcase to see if there was anything else I could put on. And there it was – my mother got her way. The sweater we argued about was stuck into my bag. I was saved. It was cold but I had my sweater - my wonderful sweater. As everyone knows, it poured 75% of the time that weekend but it didn't matter; I had my sweater. I didn't know it then but I was one of thousands that were part of an inspirational, monumental experience. Thirty-eight years later, I still have the sweater. It is safe, in my daughter’s closet. In her room, is the Woodstock poster framed with my tickets. It is what makes me "cool" to my kids and their friends.