Saturday, August 18, 2007

Woodstock 1969

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.


kristen said...

Far out.

robert said...

What makes me cool to my kid is that I let him wear shorts on a cold day! Looks like I have a few years to go before he even knows what "cool" really is! You're my idol!

jen said...

Congratulations on surviving Woodstock (with a little help from your mom.) When you consider all the horrors we protected our kids from, do you ever wonder how we got to be middle-aged? Sorry for my Andy Rooney moment but did anyone ever protect us from these things? A few examples:

Many of our mothers,mine included, smoked and drank their way through pregnancy. I certainly did not have a low weight at birth or at any time thereafter. Maybe my IQ was stunted but I somehow managed to convince some fools in the halls of academia to give me a master's degree.

And speaking of weight, it seems to me that our typical after school snack wasn't apples and skim milk but oreos and coca cola. In our generation we were actually expected to take gym and sweat. God forbid that kids today have to take off their clothes in a locker room and shower bare-assed naked.

And speaking of food, what did our mothers know about food allergies? Lactose, peanut butter,honey, gluton,MSG, etc., etc. And organic--who knew?

I still remember the first day of third grade going to a newly constructed school. Our teacher proudly told us that we wouldn't have to worry about fire beause our building was completely lined with ASBESTOS.

And remember science class when the teacher let us roll those little balls of mercury around in our hands?

We truly are the miracle generation to have survived the 50's and 60's.