You Went to Woodstock?

R-13471089-1563892691-9421.jpegThere’s not been an event in my life that’s made me feel more like a hot shit than going to Woodstock.

On August 15,1969, everyone I knew in my small circle of dope smoking friends were either headed there, planning to meet there or trying to get there. Hundreds of miles of caravans disrupted the pastoral dairy farms of lower New York state, rolling upcountry from the Jersey Shore. Reveling to the world’s greatest rock and roll bands melded our bodies and souls to three days of peace and love.

Throughout the festival Wavy Gravy danced to the microphone with updates on the number of cool cats sitting on the hillside of Max Yasgur’s farm. When he exclaimed half-a-million, whoops and whistles rose up to the spirit in the sky. All the hippies in America, maybe the world, had come together. I was right where I was supposed to be.

My friends and I told and retold Woodstock tales for a time afterwards. And then it was over. Or so it seemed.

Eight years later as I stirred spaghetti sauce in my Sandburg Village kitchen in Chicago, my ten-year old son and his friends were snickering in the doorway.

“Go ahead. Ask her.” My son elbowed his friend.

“Did you really go to Woodstock?” He asked.

“Yes, I did.”

“See, I told you.”

“Wow. What was it like?”

I brought out a small box of photos and souvenirs including my prized ticket to Woodstock to show the unbelievers. Until that point I’d kept Woodstock quiet.  No one in my new crowd of straight and sober friends was or ever had been a hippie. Woodstock wasn’t yet a badge of honor, rather the confession of a derelict life.

But after wowing those ten-year old boys, I knew I was on to something.

In 1969, half a million was only .2% of the population. By 1979 we were an elite group, only 500,000 of us. In 1994 I interviewed for a twenty-fifth anniversary story in a local Chicago paper. The Presbyterian church showed Woodstock the movie and asked me to give a talk about my experience. 

My ten year old grandson called one day in 2007 and asked, “Regan, my dad said you went to Woodstock. Is that true?” I assured him it was.

“We just watched the movie. It looks pretty wild.”

That box of souvenirs mysteriously disappeared after I showed it to his father’s pals at the same age. My grandson didn’t need proof to tell his friends though. Unbelievable reality turns believable with age. He asked about my favorite Woodstock band. The next Christmas he gave me a complete set of Janis Joplin.

Using “Woodstock” in the description of my upcoming book on Amazon optimizes search engine results. Even in my seventies friends introduce me as “…she went to Woodstock.” What are they implying? Drugs? Hippie? ‘60s radical? Or simply that I used to be a hot shit badass.

10 thoughts on “You Went to Woodstock?

  1. alas, Regan, I was not a hot shit badass at the time of Woodstock.

    what was I, you may wonder, or not?

    well, I was a mere south sider, going to summer school at SIU, a former greaser coerced by the hot, humid climate of southern Illinois to abandon my gobs of eye make and hair spray and liking it, to my surprise.

    I saw a flyer for Woodstock, bearing the image of the dove and guitar, in the cafeteria one hot August day. White Lake, N.Y. may as well have been the moon, it was so far away.

    the wording on the flyer that I saw mentioned arts and crafts and music. it looked like an arts and crafts fair, really.

    I had classes to go to, finals to take, school to finish. no one I knew was going.

    but I did sense something prescient about that flyer. standing there and looking at it I had a feeling of something momentous. I really did. I felt that the flyer was understated, whether by design or by fate, I didn’t know. but there was a feeling about that flyer that was different from all the other flyers that I’d ever read on bulletin boards throughout campus.

    not long after that, I came down with mono and sat out the fall quarter. after time–I think it was winter quarter of ’71–the album appeared, and it was a “major score.” I was enthralled with the music, but when I saw the rain and the mud and the crowds, I knew it was not the place for me. I was glad I hadn’t gone.

    but I loved the spectacle, as transmitted by the album’s cuts and stills, and the music was the best–then and since, in my opinion.

    deb “syndicate acid kills” hines

    On Thu, Jul 23, 2020 at 11:43 PM Regan Burke Back Story Essays wrote:

    > Regan Burke posted: “There’s not been an event in my life that’s made me > feel more like a hot shit than going to Woodstock. On August 15,1969, > everyone I knew in my small circle of dope smoking friends were either > headed there, planning to meet there or trying to get there. ” >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic! I once heard that when Elizabeth Taylor was asked what she wanted on her gravestone, she said: “She lived!” Baby, you did, too! 😚 Carol

    On Thu, Jul 23, 2020 at 11:43 PM Regan Burke Back Story Essays wrote:

    > Regan Burke posted: “There’s not been an event in my life that’s made me > feel more like a hot shit than going to Woodstock. On August 15,1969, > everyone I knew in my small circle of dope smoking friends were either > headed there, planning to meet there or trying to get there. ” >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Those were the days! Woodstock, nuclear disarmament, VietNam! Caroline

    On Thu, Jul 23, 2020 at 11:44 PM Regan Burke Back Story Essays wrote:

    > Regan Burke posted: “There’s not been an event in my life that’s made me > feel more like a hot shit than going to Woodstock. On August 15,1969, > everyone I knew in my small circle of dope smoking friends were either > headed there, planning to meet there or trying to get there. ” >

    Liked by 1 person

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