40 years later, Woodstock remains a unique journey
By Tom Tolan of the Journal Sentinel
Posted: Aug. 8, 2009
John Carnes, a friend of my sister's who was at the Woodstock music
festival with me 40 years ago, witnessed a scene that symbolized for
him what that seminal 1960s happening was all about.
A guy in a Volkswagen Beetle has a flat tire on the little farm road
leading in to the music. It's the second day of the festival, and
there's a steady parade of long-haired young people going back and
forth along the road. The guy is standing next to his car. He's got
the hood open, looking for his tire jack.
One of the passers-by says, "Don't bother with that," and about six
of them immediately cluster around and lift the back of the car off
the ground. The guy changes the tire and they all set the car back down.
"No jack, no problem," says John.
The myth of Woodstock - myth verging on reality - was that there were
no interpersonal problems at all among the hundreds of thousands of
people who flocked to Bethel, N.Y., in August 1969 for a three-day
concert featuring many of the biggest acts in rock 'n' roll.
The huge crowd completely overwhelmed the facilities that had been
set up for about 200,000. There were drugs everywhere, people
skinny-dipping in the pond behind the stage, free love. But there was
no violence. For a generation fighting to end an unpopular war, it
became a symbol and an arguing point: When we take over, we'll put an
end to greed and violence, and bring on an era of love and peace.
It was not an irrefutable arguing point, of course. Bob Reitman, the
Milwaukee radio personality who played a leading role in the city's
counterculture during the late 1960s, points out that darker stories
soon dimmed the euphoria over Woodstock. Hells Angels bodyguards
stabbed a man to death at a Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont
Speedway in California that winter. Clashes over the war and racism
became more violent the next year, with deaths in Ohio and
Mississippi, and even at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, with
the Sterling Hall bombing.
Reitman himself didn't go to Woodstock - he was in California that
week, where the newspapers were full of the group of hippie types
surrounding Charles Manson and the shocking Tate-LaBianca murders.
Still, it was possible for us, for at least a brief time, to think of
Woodstock in the words of a song playing on the radio that summer:
The dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
For me, the greatest music festival ever was never about the music.
In fact, I have little recollection of the songs I heard over three
days in a muddy field. (In 1989, writing a 20-years-later
recollection of Woodstock for the newspaper where I worked in El
Paso, Texas, I praised the performance of Joni Mitchell, who wasn't
For me, it was all about tribe - the big tribe we all seemed to be a
part of, and my own little tribe, consisting of people I'd promised
to meet at the festival, right next to the hospital tent. Trouble
was, there wasn't a hospital tent.
Forty years later, my memories of Woodstock are admittedly patchy.
But here are some about the state of the tribe back then.
Hearing of Woodstock: I was one of the 186,000 people who actually
bought tickets for Woodstock. I'd seen an ad in Kaleidoscope, the old
Milwaukee hippie newspaper, at the apartment of a friend who worked
that summer with me as a longshoreman at the Port of Milwaukee. I was
20, between my sophomore and junior years of college.
This apartment was at 18th and Clybourn, and my friend shared it with
a couple other guys, one of whom we called Gross, along with a
beautiful white dog named Lara, assorted cats - and, in the kitchen,
cockroaches. They were Marquette University students, but the
apartment was pretty much a hippie pad. A lot of beer was drunk there
(this being Milwaukee) but a lot of pot was smoked, too.
Anticipation for the big music festival was high, too. Many of our
Milwaukee friends were going, and several of my college friends.
Getting there: I hitchhiked from Milwaukee to Akron, Ohio, to meet a
college buddy named Dave, who planned to drive to New York for the
festival. (Hitchhiking was the major means of counterculture travel
in those days; one of my friends had his best success using the
two-finger peace sign to get rides.) I got as far as Cleveland, and
then was picked up by a VW bus full of hippies who planned to leave
for Woodstock in a few days.
They agreed to take me to Akron, but on the way, they suggested I get
stoned with them and go hear the Cleveland Symphony playing the 1812
Overture outdoors. Sure, I said, and a few hours later they dropped
me off, still high and reprising Tchaikovsky on my kazoo, at Dave's
parents' house in Akron.
Arriving: Dave and I drove to New York and picked up another college
buddy on Long Island, then got caught in the huge traffic jam that
surrounded the festival. We ended up parking about five miles from
the concert. Just as we were pulling over to the side of the road, I
looked to the left, and saw a pretty, white dog running by. "Lara," I
yelled, and looked around to see Gross parking his big Plymouth right
behind us. The moon was in the seventh house. Jupiter aligned with Mars.
My tribe: One of the people I'd promised to meet at the hospital tent
was my sister Kathy, who had just turned 19. She was driving to New
York in my dad's red Rambler with four friends, including John Carnes
- mostly people she'd known at Riverside High School. Also in the
car: John's dog, Brandy.
When I realized there wasn't a hospital tent, I got in line for a pay
phone to call home. There Kathy was in the phone line. My friends and
I spent most of the festival with her and her friends, sitting on a
muddy hilltop far from the stage and making trips to fetch things
from my dad's Rambler, which was parked in a field not far away, or
to search for latecomers.
I found a college roommate, John, walking along the main road; he'd
hitchhiked up from New Jersey and was just about to head home, not
having found anyone he knew. Another college friend just emerged from
the crowd and into our group.
Kathy's pal John Carnes had dropped out of college and spent the year
hitchhiking around the country. He took a contrarian view of the
festival's dominant drug culture and made a point to buy beer. I
vaguely remember drinking it out of an old hunting horn John had
brought with him.
John also conducted a social experiment. He told everybody he met to
join him later in August in Strawberry, Calif. Apparently a friend of
his had proposed a reunion there. John thought it could balloon into
another massive gathering of the tribe.
The music: I really don't remember. I think Richie Havens was singing
when we arrived Friday - at least Wikipedia tells me he was the
opening act. My sister remembers everyone lighting matches and seeing
a sea of light while Joan Baez performed. And my college friend John
- the one I found on the road - has a vivid memory of the music early Sunday.
Here it is: Saturday night, the music went all night, and John
remembers being asleep, and having the singing of Janis Joplin work
its way right into his dreams. Later, he woke up and everyone around
him was asleep. The Who were playing. He walked down close to the
music, stepping over sleeping bodies all the way down.
The band was right in the middle of the climax of "Tommy," their rock
opera, singing, "Listening to you, I get the music . . . " They
played "Summertime Blues." The sun was coming up, and Jefferson
Airplane came on. They sang "Volunteers." ("Look what's happening out
in the street/Got a revolution . . . ")
"I had all these chills," John says.
Leaving Woodstock: Kathy, her friends and I left on Sunday, missing
some of the best bands - The Band, Crosby, Stills & Nash and the
great Jimi Hendrix. But John Carnes wanted to get to the next big
counterculture event in Strawberry, and I wanted to go to a friend's
wedding in Idaho. As we walked down a country road away from the
music, we passed a skinny, bearded drug dealer seated next to the
road, staring straight ahead, repeating in a monotone, "Coke. Smack.
I thought at the time that if I were a reporter for Time magazine, I
could end my article on the festival of peace and love with ominous
references to cocaine and heroin and the impending doom of the hippie movement.
The long trip home: There were six of us and the dog in the Rambler
headed west. The one thing I remember from the trip: When we got to
Omaha, a sign gave the population as somewhere between 300,000 and
350,000. It was a big city, with a substantial downtown. I remarked
to Kathy that we'd just come from a city bigger than this.
My sister dropped me off in Winnemucca, Nev., so I could hitchhike
north to Idaho for the wedding. It took me nine hours to get a ride
out of Winnemucca, and I spent part of that time in a bar trying to
befriend the locals by playing Johnny Cash's "Walk the Line" on the jukebox.
Kathy dropped John Carnes, his dog and his friend in Strawberry,
where just two other people (friends of John's before Woodstock)
showed up on their motorcycles for the next big gathering of the
tribe. She and her friend, Brena Lachowicz, drove home to Milwaukee
through Canada, almost running out of money. My college friends got
pulled over on the Jersey Turnpike and spent the night in jail.
Forty years later, my Woodstock tribe and I are spread out all over
the country. Kathy - Kathleen now - is a playwright, and teaches
play-writing at a state college in Purchase, N.Y. Dave from Akron is
a doctor on the West Coast. John from New Jersey is retired from a
legal career in Philadelphia. John Carnes does body work (massage
therapy and something called Rossiter Workouts) in Columbus, Ohio.
I'm here at the Journal Sentinel, having survived the latest
downsizing, and feeling sad about the ones who didn't survive.
A few weeks ago, Kathleen and her daughter Sarah were in town for my
60th birthday; Sarah's just out of college, trying out for acting
jobs in Chicago, and playing her violin on street corners with her
boyfriend, Fed, to help make ends meet.
At a big family dinner, we were talking of the plight of newspapers,
and what's being tried to save them, and Sarah spoke with intensity
about what she thought would work, given what she knows about people
her age. She reminded me of her mother, who was just as intense in
her 20s, but I especially loved hearing Sarah speak on behalf of her
generation. That is how we felt back then, that we knew what our
generation wanted and could do, and that we'd all be doing it together.
I talked to John Carnes last week and he pointed out that the month
before Woodstock, Americans had walked on the moon for the first
time, so we all had a sense that we could do anything: End war,
eliminate greed, pull off a huge, peaceful gathering with no
violence. Got a revolution.
We all know better than that now, of course. We're not young anymore,
and we've known tragedy. The world has changed, but it has also been
resistant to our efforts to change it. We know that just making a
living, raising a family, often takes all the energy you can muster.
Still, it's worth saying this: Happy 40th, Woodstock Nation. Peace and Love.
Tom Tolan is an editor on the Local News desk of the Journal
Sentinel, as well as a veteran of Woodstock, which was held Aug. 15
to 17, 1969.
Even after 40 years, sounds still emanate
August 9, 2009
Forty years after Woodstock, the three-day peace and music marathon
is remembered as the high point of the 1960s counterculture.
Songs, CDs, documentaries, books and an upcoming feature film
directed by Ang Lee attest to it as an event of Homerian proportions.
"The greatest event in counter-cultural history," said historian
William O'Neill in the book "Coming Apart in the Sixties."
"Here was conclusive proof that the love generation could survive and
even flourish under the most adverse circumstances," David Pichaske
wrote in "Coming Apart: An Informal History of America in the 1960s,"
"conclusive proof that a new consciousness had been born."
The legendary festival on Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, N.Y., is
remembered for its massive crowds of more than 400,000 people, its
music lineup of 31 artists, and it's relatively disturbance-free
safety record that gave it a Utopian reputation.
Four men with Coachella Valley ties experienced it from an insider's
point of view.
Elliot Tiber, who wrote the memoir on which Lee's film is based,
operated an 80-room motel in Bethel that presented chamber concerts.
When Woodstock promoters Michael Lang, Artie Kornfeld, Joel Rosenman
and John Roberts were denied a permit for a proposed 50,000-person
festival in nearby Wallkill, N.Y., in July 1969, Tiber offered them
his music permit. He introduced them to his neighbor, Yasgur, and
they rented his 600-acre farm for the festival.
But Tiber, who tried to stage a Gaystock festival in Palm Springs
before moving back to New York, never got close to the Woodstock stage.
Steve Madaio of Palm Desert played at Woodstock as a trumpeter for
the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. What he remembers most about
Woodstock is "the continuous amount of music going on for three days,
day and night.
"They had some breaks because of the rain," he said, "but it was
Paul Krassner of Desert Hot Springs co-founded the Youth
International Party (the Yippies), a prank-loving activist group that
disrupted the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention. He recalls
the festival's sociological implications.
"The police riot in 1968 at the Chicago convention spoiled our vision
of presenting a culture with an alternative value system," Krassner
said. "Woodstock turned out to be what we had originally envisioned
for the (Chicago) counter-convention on a much grander and peaceful scale."
Dr. Michael Gatto of Bermuda Dunes saw much of Woodstock from inside
a medical tent. A pre-med student at Fairleigh-Dickinson University
in Madison, N.J., Gatto said they treated "mostly drug overdoses,
drug-related incidences. I think it was about 5,000 treatments. There
was also dehydration, abrasions and cuts."
He said the crowd could have been a nightmare. In his medical
opinion, he said the rampant marijuana use "probably made (festival
goers) more mellow.
"There was Vietnam, racial unrest and here you've got 500,000
so-called hippies in one place," Gatto recalled. "In three days of an
event, there were no murders, no stabbings, no fights. It was very
mellow and people really came for the music. There were problems with
sanitation, there were problems with food, there was problems with
traffic, but somehow, everybody made it. It was just an event we'll
never see again."
Gatto paid $28 for four tickets. Then the fences were torn down and
it was declared a free concert. Soon, artists were mingling with the fans.
"I saw Janis Joplin in the crowd and she was drinking all day," he
said. "She had to wait 10 hours before she performed and how she ever
got up on stage to perform, I'll never know."
"You were out there going crazy," said Madaio. "Half the people
didn't have clothes on. It was a different period. It was a
tremendous sociological change in the country."
Madaio said the artists hung out anywhere they could because they had
no place to go.
"We went in in the middle of the night on a helicopter and just hung
there," he said. "Once we got in with the helicopter we couldn't get out."
Madaio recalls talking with Jimi Hendrix, David Crosby and Stephen
Stills. But he has trouble recalling what they were talking about.
"'Pass me the joint'," he said with a laugh. "Look, if you realize
how much goes down in your life, multiplied by 25 or 30 years of
doing this, it's impossible to remember it all (even) if I was
totally straight. And a lot of times, I wasn't."
Gatto didn't really understand what it meant to be a part of the
"Woodstock nation" until years later. But Krassner said he realized
Woodstock was going to be historic when he saw the crowds arriving
"like some kind of pilgrimage.
"The sense of community was super- palpable," he said. "For all of
these young people who might have been the only Martian on their
block, this event turned out to be a Martian convention.
"It was, in a sense, a Declaration of Independence by a generation
who did know what was happening, Mr. Jones."
Musical highlights were abundant. For Krassner, it was Hendrix'
version of "The Star Spangled Banner" on Monday morning, after he was
supposed to have closed the festival on Sunday night.
"That rendition came as such a bittersweet surprise," he said, "(it
was) a perfect coda to the event."
Gatto's musical highlight came after a nap between The Who and
"All I remember was waking up to (singer) Grace Slick saying, 'Good
morning people,'" he said. "Jefferson Airplane was performing at 7
o'clock, and they were a big group."
The legacy of Woodstock for Madaio was the leverage it gave musicians
to command large performance fees after showing they could attract
hundreds of thousands of fans.
"It was the beginning of a lot of people's careers, like Crosby,
Stills & Nash," he said. "After that, all of a sudden, everybody's
price elevated monstrously. The exposure built a lot of major careers."
Krassner sees it as a trailblazer for future festivals.
"The vibes and the openness and cooperation and friendliness had a
tipping- point influence on countless individuals who were at the
celebration," he said. "It also set the tone for future outdoor
weekend music festivals, from the Grateful Dead at Woodstock to Phish
at the Empire Polo Club this October."
Gatto said it was a coming of age celebration.
"It was almost a protest in that young people were being in an area
without having any major incidences," he said. "It was a small city
and people did what they had to (to survive). It was a challenge,
something I didn't think I could do. But we all made it through."
Local concert-goers remember how they took part in history
By John W. Barry
August 9, 2009
Ann Lessin of Poughkeepsie grew up in Monticello and as a child
attended school with Max Yasgur, who lived nearby in Bethel.
"When I think of Max Yasgur," Lessin said, "I think of him as a farm
She said Yasgur as a child was "very independent and sure of himself;
very, very assertive."
Forty years ago this month, Yasgur saved the Woodstock Music and Art
Fair. At the eleventh hour, Yasgur allowed Woodstock Ventures to
stage the show on his dairy farm in Bethel, Sullivan County, after
officials in the Town of Wallkill, near Middletown, rejected a
request to hold the famous festival there.
Lessin didn't go to Woodstock, but she and other women in Monticello
made sandwiches that were air-dropped into the concert site. And
Lessin, a big fan of folk music and folk dancing, encouraged her
15-year-old son, Herschel, to go after learning Joan Baez would perform.
These are only two of the hundreds of thousands of stories from Woodstock.
"I liked Joan Baez," Lessin said, "but not particularly Joan Baez; I
liked the type of music she sang."
Lessin said she told her son, "Herschel, how can you have a place in
town where you're going to hear Joan Baez and you're not going?"
Lessin convinced her son to go, and a neighbor drove Herschel Lessin
and some friends to Woodstock.
"Harry Steinberg drove us," Herschel Lessin, now a doctor living in
Poughkeepsie, recalled. "He knew it was going to be crowded, so he
took the back roads. He drops us off and tells us when he's going to
pick us up. Once we got there, we realized nobody was picking anybody
up. The place was a madhouse. We bought tickets, for heaven's sake.
We were good kids. We were ready to pay our money, go to the show and
go home. But we didn't know what we were going to do, because there
was no way to get home. It had been driving rain all day and the
place was a real mud bath."
Lessin and his friends got to the stage to see Baez perform, but they
had no food and realized they would have to walk the 12 miles back to
Meanwhile, Ann Lessin's husband, a pharmacist in Monticello, was
filling prescription after prescription for concertgoers who had
fallen ill. She joined other women from Monticello at the Jewish
"We made sandwiches, like on an assembly line, hundreds of
sandwiches, which they dropped in the field," she said. "I felt we
were being useful. We felt sorry for them, actually. Especially
because my kid was there."
Herschel Lessin and his friends had a mile left to go until they
reached home when they came upon a pay phone and called home. No one
in the homes they passed allowed them in to make a call, or to use
the bathroom. They were picked up at 6 a.m.
"I was frantic," Ann Lessin said. "I didn't know what could happen to them."
Herschel Lessin did not have a great time at Woodstock. But, "It's
really amazing to be able to say that you were there, even if I was a
little too young. If I was three years older, I would have had a heck
of a lot more fun."
Ann Lessin had a different take on things.
"I thought it would be a nice concert," she said. "But it turned out
to be an absolute horror, actually."
To show their gratitude for the sandwiches, Ann Lessin said, the
concert organizers invited her and the other women to the premiere of
the Woodstock documentary, which was released in 1970.
"They hired a bus and took us into New York," Ann Lessin said. "All I
remember was, 'Shut it off!' My ears were exploding. It was so loud."
While the Lessins were navigating their Woodstock adventures,
hundreds of thousands of others were making their own way through history:
• Daniel Carlson of Irving, Texas, was a Dutchess County Sheriff's
Deputy in August 1969 assigned to work at Woodstock. A former City of
Poughkeepsie police officer and future state trooper, Carlson and his
colleagues drove a communications van, Chevrolet wagon and old school
bus - for prisoner transport - to one of modern history's most famous
"I can recall a motorcyclist coming down 17B and he didn't have his
helmet on … in this sea of humanity, this helmet-less biker came by
and the police officer next to me admonished him to put his helmet
on. I remember thinking, with all this going on around us, that
seemed to be an issue I probably wouldn't want to take a stand on.
That probably could have been left alone, if for no other reason of
making sure everyone stayed calm and composed. That one thing always
kind of struck me as being a bit out of place. I guess he put his
helmet on. But it struck me as odd, with him putting his helmet on
and the people over there taking their clothes off to swim in the
lake off of 17B."
• Ray Neuenhoff lives in Bethel and in August 1969 was a security
guard at Kutsher's Country Club in Monticello. Wearing his security
guard uniform and packing the .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver
he brought to work every day, Neuenhoff drove a truck carrying food
in and out of the concert site:
"At night time it was cold, it was damp. People were trying to burn
wet wood so you had all this smoke accumulating on the top of the
hill and because of the weather, it was layered and it wasn't the
only smoke because in that smoke was some kind of marijuana smoke and
everybody was happy. You could say they were stoned, including me."
• Ike Phillips of Woodstock, Ulster County, knew Woodstock concert
promoter Michael Lang and went to the festival in a helicopter:
"On the Thursday, we went from (the Town of) Woodstock to Woodstock
in a helicopter, which was the way to go. It was at that point that
everyone realized how huge this thing was going to be. We went back
to Woodstock the town. We just thought we would drive back. But there
was no driving back - one road in, one road out."
Reach John W. Barry at email@example.com or 845-437-4836.
By the time we got to Woodstock … By the time we got to WOODSTOCK MEMORIES
Tallahasseeans remember the music, mud and magic on the festival's
By Mark Hinson and Kati Schardl
August 7, 2009
Most of us know about Woodstock the "Aquarian Exposition" and
"Music and Art Fair" that turns 40 on Saturday thanks to the film
documenting the massive music festival that came out eight months
after the mud in Max Yasgur's field had dried.
The 184-minute flick gave us a glimpse of the Woodstock experience,
with clips from truly great performances (Sly and the Family Stone,
The Who), iconic sound bites ("Don't take the brown acid!") and
defining moments (Jimi Hendrix playing an electric version of The
National Anthem before a field strewn with trash on the last morning).
It was, as The Band drummer Levon Helm once said, "a really big weekend."
But there was a lot more to the festival than the film let on. For
starters, the original movie left out performances by some of the
biggest acts that played Woodstock Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead,
Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Band. Blame the lawyers,
managers and promoters who wrangled over film and recording rights.
Some things in the music biz never change.
There's no denying Woodstock's impact on American popular culture.
The hippies weren't called The Woodstock Generation for nothing, you know.
Instead of rehashing a lot of third-party Woodstock lore, we decided
to revisit this month's milestone by letting some of the folks who
were there tell their stories. We asked Woodstock alums who are
living in and around Tallahassee, or have Tallahassee connections, to
share their memories of the days spent on Yasgur's farm.
There's an old joke that goes: "If you remember Woodstock, you
weren't really there." We found out that wasn't true at all. Our
contributors remember more than just the mud and masses of people.
We've highlighted a few excerpts from the Woodstock tales here in the
print edition, but if you travel over to Tallahassee.com/Woodstock,
you can read them in their entirety. You'll also find a gallery where
you can page through a copy of the original festival program (who
knew there was a program?), kept intact and in mint condition after
all these years by contributor Kevin Mangan. We've even posted a
sound bite or two.
We know our dozen contributors aren't the only ones out there with
Woodstock memories. Please feel free to share your own stories and
DENNIS O. BAKER
During this time, which was also the height of the Vietnam War, it
was a chance to let it all go. The friend I traveled home with that
night would shortly thereafter lose his brother, Allen Milk, to a
grenade in Vietnam. Others would follow to war and suffer loss. In
another year, I would join the Navy. I traveled back for the 20th
anniversary of Woodstock and it just wasn't the same different
music, different people. I am so lucky to have been part of this. In
some ways it completes me.
Dennis O. Baker served 28 years in the U.S. Navy and 10 years as an
I was one of the few people I knew who actually had tickets. Of
course, we never had to use the tickets. It quickly developed into a
free-for-all with waves of people arriving every hour to fill the
field with a sea of happy bodies. It is appropriate that it became
known as the "Woodstock Nation," because I remember thinking that we
had spontaneously formed our own country.
Sandy Beck, a nature writer and environmental educator, lives in
Tallahassee with her husband, Bob, their dog, Buddy, and several
permanently disabled wild birds and animals. Beck writes the
Democrat's Northeast and Eastside Chronicle Wild Classroom column.
I was 16 years old the summer of Woodstock. When I learned of a
concert that was three days long with all of the musicians I would
most want to see, I immediately sent off for tickets and convinced
two of my friends to do the same. We somehow convinced our respective
parents that we would be fine driving to the country for a three-day
concert. So off we went in the family station wagon to Woodstock.
Dr. Maggie Blackburn, a native of Long Island, N.Y., is director of
rural health at FSU's College of Medicine. She is married to Democrat
Senior Writer Doug Blackburn.
By the last day and the last night, most had left and I got to see
Jimi Hendrix from right down front, about 50 feet from stage left. I
stayed another day after that and helped clean up some before heading
back to Long Island to see my grandparents. I lost most of my
souvenirs over time but still have the official program booklet and
many good memories.
Scott Copeland currently hides out in the deep woods west of
Tallahassee while counting down the days to "retirement." He still
believes one should volunteer often, question everything, challenge
authority and "let your freak flag fly!"
I got to have my 19th birthday at Woodstock. I got to join as one
with hundreds of thousands in that ridiculously silly but
outrageously defiant and liberating "Fish Cheer" by Country Joe
McDonald. And, with the few hundred that were still awake, I got to
walk right up to the edge of the stage and watch Jefferson Airplane
and Grace Slick while a new day was dawning …. Besides my daughter
being born, going to Woodstock was definitely the great adventure of my life.
Andy Downs will be 59 Aug. 15 on the 40th anniversary of Woodstock
and is a pianist-turned-computer-programmer. He lives in Tallahassee
with Shirley, his wife of 34 years, and their cat Bevis.
The highlight for me was Joan Baez on a small stage. I believe her
feature performance was on Friday night and I had missed it. There
was, however, a smaller stage off through the woods where musicians,
generally not so famous, were playing. Joan Baez came over there and
played to a small, more intimate crowd. I loved that.
Debby Kearney is a lawyer currently serving as general counsel for
the Florida Department of Education. She has lived in Tallahassee
since 1971 with husband Jim and Toulouse (standard poodle),
Fitzgerald Jr. (English springer spaniel), and several unnamed geese.
(Woodstock) was a utopian fantasy that expressed our ideals of peace
and love that couldn't have, and didn't, exist in the outside world.
But for half a million of us, on that hillside in upstate New York,
for three days, it did.
While living in Chapel Hill, N.C., Kevin Mangan became involved in
human rights work in the north of Ireland and met the love of his
life, Linda Vaughn. In 1999, he and his daughter moved to Tallahassee
to be with Linda. Kevin is half of the Irish duo Two for the Brew.
What I remember most is the people at the concert …. Many were naked,
or close to it it was really hot, humid and wet. (Coming) from
Pennsylvania Dutch country, this was a cultural awakening for me in
the very broadest of senses. I stayed pretty much a hippie chick
until I had children 20 years later.
JuDee Pettijohn is Deputy Secretary for Cultural and Historical
Programs for the Florida Department of State. She has lived in
Tallahassee since 1974 and is the mother of Fred and Jeannie.
(At the festival), I somehow, miraculously met up with my girlfriend
Debby (Kearney) from college. We happened upon a tiny empty stage
somewhere through the "magic forest." While we were sitting by the
stage, Joan Baez just walked out, unannounced, by herself, and
started singing. I'd have to say that was the most memorable
performance I saw that weekend.
Bob Pulvino, a longtime friend of Tallahasseean Debby Kearney,
lives in San Rafael, Calif. He still stays in touch with his
I knew I had been a part of history, not just musical history, but
human history. A small city has all kinds of elements, but most of
them are good. That's what we created a small city of kids,
interested in music and each other.
Leslie Sawyer works at FSU as an assistant director in finance and
administration and resides in Tallahassee with a man, a dog and
several fish. She still loves music and believes in the collective
Favorite groups: Santana, incredibly high energy. Sly and the Family
Stone he sang "Let me take you higher" and half a million of us
sang back "Higher!" I was thrilled to my soul to be a part of that
chorus. The Who played at sunrise. Janis Joplin … I started playing
piano again later that year and have never stopped.
Steve Sternberg is a Tallahassee pianist and composer who has
released two self-produced CDs. He spends time with his wonderful
lady, Tallahassee artist Mariann Kearsley, and has a 30-year-old daughter.
Forty years ago, I was not at Woodstock but at the other major
outdoor event that year … serving as an infantry rifleman with 199th
Light Infantry Bridgrade in Vietnam. All the new replacements always
came to us talking about Woodstock. In 1991, I was able to
participate in the Wheel and Rock Woodstock 150 mile Bike Tour, the
first official event held at the site after the original music
Festival. We rode our bicyles 150 miles over two days in the
Catskills. As we rode into the site, we were greeted by music fans
and rock bands on the stage. I had finally made it to Yasgur's Farm.
Fred Waterman is a retired health care administrator who moved to
Tallahassee in 2005 with wife Pat. He has worked for the VA as a
therapist with a focus on Vietnam veterans with mental health issues.