“The thing the sixties did was show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.”
– John Lennon
Well, I finally made it to Woodstock, 39 years too late.
Back in the summer of ’69, just out of high school, I was on the New York State Thruway, just over the Tappan Zee Bridge, when the transmission on the old Ford woodie wagon gave out. Never made it past Tuxedo Park.
I did see Jimi Hendrix at the Westchester County Center in White Plains in 1968, and I caught the Who in an amazing concert at Holy Cross College barely a month after Woodstock. Yeah, and in 1973, I made the trek to Watkins Glen in upstate New York along with 600.000 others to see the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead and the Band live and in concert.
But Woodstock was THE rock concert of all-time, the singular event that defined the Sixties for present and future generations.
So this week I drove up to Bethel, N.Y., near Monticello, to see The Museum at Bethel Woods, shown right, which celebrates the Woodstock festival and the spirit of the Sixties.
(To clarify, Bethel is about an hour and a half from Woodstock, which bore the name of Music and Arts Festival. Frame of reference, Max Yasgur’s farm was in Bethel.)
It’s a wonderful museum and brought back some memories and flashbacks of that time in America’s life. And the music — from Richie Havens to Hendrix, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Santana, Janis Joplin and the Jefferson Airplane — was amazing.
How did they ever pull off a show like Woodstock, in the middle of nowhere, with more than 400,000 people? And with no cell phones?
Woodstock Weekend in Sports
Meanwhile, there are some sports parallels for Woodstock weekend beginning Friday, August 15, in the summer of 1969. Going into baseball action that weekend, the Mets were in third place in the National League East, 10 games behind the Cubs and a game behind the Cardinals.
Over the weekend, the Mets swept Saturday and Sunday doubleheaders from the expansion Padres, and were sitting eight games back of the Cubs by the time Hendrix played the National Anthem at Woodstock on Monday morning. The Miracle Mets run was underway.
The Yankees were in fourth place in the newly-formed American League East, tied with the Washington Senators 22 1/2 games behind the Orioles. The Yankees did win two of three in Chicago on Woodstock weekend.
The Jets, fresh off their Super Bowl III triumph, crushed the Giants, 37-14, at the Yale Bowl before 70,874 fans to stamp themselves and the AFL as legitimate, at least in New York.
And In golf, Raymond Floyd edged out Gary Player by a stroke to win the PGA tournament in Dayton, Ohio.