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Woodstock memories
- by Richard Barber, MHS '68

Written April 2013, about events from August 1969:

I was stationed at an Air Force base 180 miles from Woodstock. Four of us went because we got free tickets. We went in a brand new yellow Firebird convertible.

When we arrived early, the crowd was pretty large but nothing like it was several hours later. The 2-lane road to the farm was bumper to bumper. We took 8 cases of Rolling Rock beer. By the time we were inside, it was a sea of bodies. The car was trashed and the music was loud. I was into Hendrix, and he stole the show. Richie Havens got a lot of applause, mostly when he left the stage. He played on and on, and, to be frank, everyone was pretty tired of hearing him. When it started to rain, it didn't matter much. Too much beer and too many women missing parts of their clothes! It was a real eye opener for this Indiana boy, way over my ability as a sober Hoosier!

We slept on the ground, in the mud in a sleeping bag. After the beer and the 2nd-hand smoke and the sea of bodies, there wasn't much space for sleeping. The only space was where the rain channeled off into the woods to the east.

For food we brought "K" rations. One of the guys was a cook, and he handed the food part.

But the biggest problem was restrooms. It was billed that 50 thousand would likely show up at best. Right! 50 miles out, people were hitchhiking and walking by the hundreds, and this was early morning. The only security at first was rent-a-cops. That quickly changed. They tried to stop people from entering, but people out numbered the cops so they just flanked them and tore down the fence.

The other problem was the drugs -- mostly LSD. You didn't dare take a drink from anybody because is was pretty freely around. Pot was all over the place. This guy standing next to us had a joint a foot long and 3" around. When he lit it, it flamed a foot high. Needless to say, the rations were better than usual. Things were pretty "mellow" for all those people.

I knew I wasn't in Mishawaka! In the back of my mind, I kept thinking what my mother would say if she knew.

My buddy's new car was trashed. They ripped the top off for shelter. Standing water on the floor was level to the bottom of the door rocker panels. It was full of garbage and debris. We had to ride back smelling of puke and #2.

On account of that wonderful event, I had to stand guard duty for 2 weeks because the promoters had billed the event to last 2 days. I was on a 3-day pass and got back late.

And to that beauty from Fairfield, NY, you can keep the sleeping bag.


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