By the Time We Almost Got to Woodstock

Winner of the Opinion8ed “Where Were You?” Contest

 Eileen Lloyd MacDougal

The Endless Traffic Jam

 Tom, a guy I worked with at the Sands Beach Club invited me to join him at Woodstock. He bought the tickets (I still have mine – not worth as much as one would hope) and I bought the food. One of his primary attractions was his ride, a powder blue Mustang. Of course we would have been much better off in a Winnebago but that was unbeknownst to us at the time.

 To this day I cannot remember how I ever convinced the parental units to let me go. Tom College came to the house to meet them and they seemed to be impressed (more than I was) by his maturity. We left and all was well until we hit the Thruway, miles from the site and completely stock still. We waited, waited, waited, inched, inched, inched.

 “We drove that car as far as we could

Abandoned it out West

Split up on the docks that night

Both agreeing it was best”

       – – B. Dylan, Tangled Up In Blue

Well, not quite. We did drive as far as we could and did abandon it (several hours north of NYC). We were tangled up in a blue (Mustang) and we did split up, but I’ll get to that in a minute. After running out of gas on the Thruway, we grabbed our sleeping bags and joined the line dance moving towards the festival. It poured, it gushed, the rain cascaded off of and into our sleeping bags. We finally gave up at some ungodly hour, spread out our drenched sleeping bags by the side of the road, and passed out.

The next morning dawned in a curtain of rain. We decided to return to the car for food and then hike back and try for the festival again. We managed to find the car and I was still so soaked, exhausted, and miserable that I crawled into the back seat and fell asleep again.

I awoke to find the sun shining (most briefly) and Tom finishing up the last of the food, which was a whole watermelon. I had slept through his solitary feast and there was not a crumb remaining. Well, you guessed it – this is when we split up. After screaming at him, I changed into dry (or less saturated) clothes, grabbed my gear and took to the Path to Nowhere once again. I was starving and money was of no use. But then off to the side of the road I beheld a splendid apparition: three clean blonde girls in dresses and a hibatchi, cooking burgers for the masses.

Fed and feeling a bit better, I moved with the hordes until the skies darkened and once again the deluge resumed. That was it; I was done. Done with Woodstock, done with my sleeping bag which weighed about as much as ten watermelons, done with the whole adventure. All I needed to do was make a 180 degree turn and hop onto the back of a pickup which was headed in the opposite direction. They were going back to the city. “I do believe I’ve had enough.” They hadn’t – they were going to buy a ton of weed and food and bring them back to the Festival.

They dropped me off in Times Square. I was covered with mud and just wanted to crawl down Seventh Avenue to Penn Station. Instead, I was surrounded and detained by anxious adults. “Were you there?” “Did you see my son?” “We heard a lot of kids got electrocuted!” I reassured them that nothing was bad except the rain and that their kids would eventually be home in about the same condition as me, so they should stock up on food and just keep the hot water flowing.

And I’m sure I had seen their son, and everyone’s son, and everyone’s daughter. I just hadn’t seen The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, or Santana.

Published in: on September 1, 2009 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

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