Remembrances of Woodstock


I was 21 and had just graduated college two months before Woodstock. I went to the festival with my friend Rita…a couple of classic hippie chicks with long, straight hair and embroidered jeans.

We arrived at the festival grounds late on Friday afternoon. By then, the fences had already been knocked down, so we didn’t need our tickets to get in. We found a makeshift campsite as close as we could get to the festival hill, then pitched our two-person tent and started to make dinner. All we brought with us in the way of food were cans of spaghetti and beef stew–and a little hibachi to cook it on.

We lit the grill, opened a can of spaghetti, and plunked it on the grate. Neither of us thought about the fact that pasta expands when it heats up. Within minutes, Rita and I watched in awe as a can-shaped cylinder of spaghetti rose slowly from the can, then exploded and scattered bits of pasta all over the ground. All we could do was stare at the mess and whisper “Wowwwww…” Fortunately, the people at the next campsite had brought real food, so they invited us to share their cheeseburgers.

As the evening progressed, the rain picked up. Three guys with no means of shelter wandered by and asked us if they could share our little tent. Of course, we said yes. After all, this was to be a weekend of peace and love! Our ignorance kicked in again at this point, because Rita and I didn’t know that a tent is waterproof only as long as you don’t touch the canvas from the inside. When our new friends settled in, I was jammed against one side of the tent, and the upshot was that I was soaking wet when I woke up the next morning. Again, neighboring campers saved the day by inviting me to change into dry clothes in their tent, which was large enough to stand up in. (NOTE FOR MOLLY FISK: I dressed in red, white, and blue, narrow-waled corduroy, hip-hugger bellbottoms and a navy blue shirt with a long pointed collar.)

On Saturday morning, we made our way to the festival hill on foot. After finding a place to settle in, we listened to bands that included Country Joe and The Fish, Janis Joplin, and The Who. That night, since the rain had stopped, we opted not to go back to our campsite. We slept outside on the festival hill, and awoke to a dry, humid morning and Jefferson Airplane. We had no food or water, but a few bikers were circulating a motorcycle helmet filled with ice chips. Breakfast!

The weekend was a blur of incredible music, warnings on the loudspeakers not to eat the brown acid, and lots of mud. The atmosphere was one of incredible warmth, marked by genuine caring and concern among the festivalgoers. We made a point of taking care of one another in any way we could–whether with food, shelter, or friendship. I think we all realized, even at the time, that we were part of something amazingly special and that we were, in fact, making history.

Since Rita and I both had to go to work on Monday, we left the festival grounds on Sunday afternoon.(NOTE FOR MOLLY FISK: I wore embroidered bellbottom jeans and a bikini top.)We were driving Rita’s Corvair convertible (with the top down), which Ralph Nader had recently and historically damned as a safety hazard. As we were leaving, several people asked for a ride to the main road. Within minutes, we had 13 people in and on the car. As we drove past one of the campsites, a guy looked up, grinned, and shouted, “”Ralph Nader eats sh–!” It was the perfect ending to the most extraordinary weekend.


2 thoughts on “Remembrances of Woodstock

  1. Fabulous memoir!! I actually owned a Corvair too for about ten days until the accelerator stuck as I was gunning my way from the Tam Valley entrance onto 101 S, and the only reason I knew what to do is that my dad and his friends had been talking about a woman killed the week before in the same situation because she wore out the brakes and the handbrake and wasn’t smart enough to turn off the car. So I turned off the stuck-at-70-mph car and coasted into the Marin City exit and then got out and threw up. I have no idea what I was wearing, though…

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