Make History Again!
Were you at the Woodstock festival? Share your story in the Woodstock Alumni Registry and help the Museum build the definitive record of the defining moment of the 1960s. Registry alums will also receive information from time to time about special events and networking opportunities designed especially for them.
The information you provide will become part of the permanent museum archive and will be a useful research tool for visitors and scholars to learn more about the festival and its participants and enrich our understanding of the festival and its impact.
Future plans for the Registry include a viewable/searchable database (with all personal identifying information securely hidden).
Sample Stories From The Registry
Here is a small sampling of the stories left by Woodstock alums in the Woodstock Alumni Registry. These are unedited accounts, so the grammar and spelling is just as it was written by the person who experienced it.
I had a hard time explaining to my mother. Why after going on a three day camping trip the fact that I was so hungry and dirty. She also didn't understand why we arrived at home so late on Monday.
Words are hard to describe it but here goes. I think this was the largest gathering of people where true peace and love was shared. We handled the good and bad with dignity. There will never be another one because you cannot duplicate what happened there. It was heaven in a disaster area.
Getting to the festival was a wonderful adventure. i started out by myself and going through Virginia i met David and Cate. David was 18 and his sister was 15. they had started to the festival, but they had car trouble & i met them at a truck stop where they were going to try to get a ride w/ a trucker. David had promised his parents to take good care of Cate & I convinced him that riding with me would be a lot safer for the two of them. i was finally not alone anymore. in fact that's when the party began. and I became the one to take care of cate. i took care of cate until i brought her back to Virginia several days after the festival.
i grew up at Woodstock. the experience of Woodstock instilled confidence in me that i did not have. woodstock also played a role in who i became. at woodstock i met a ny state police officer who impressed me greatly in the way that he conducted himself and in the way that he treated me and many others with respect and dignity, that was probably not always deserved. after college i became a police officer, retired after 29 years, and am now a magistrate judge in georgia.
Just getting there was an adventure as well. We decided to hitchhike the 90miles, hearing reports of roads closed and abandoned cars miles from the festival grounds. The less than 2 hour drive from Danbury, CT took us about 7 hours to complete. The last 10 miles on 17B from Monticello Raceway to Bethel was literally bumper to bumper. When traffic moved, we climbed onto the trunks and hoods of cars. When it stopped, we slid off and walked, thus making better time on foot than any car on that last leg of our journey. There are so many more memories that are indelibly etched in my mind's eye, even though we were there from Saturday to Sunday afternoon . . . barely 24 hours.
Being a part of something, albeit a small part, so spontaneous and so historically significant, a culminating event of one of the most turbulent and emotionally charged decades in history, is something I can and will never forget. I happened to be at the Museum the day it opened 2 years ago. It was the 1st time I had been there since August of 1969. And enroute, as I exited Route17 in Monticello and proceeded up 17B, it all came flooding back as if it was only yesterday. I don't talk about it much. I do, however, think about it often . . . and smile.
My girlfriend's father, Joe Grippo, was an on-vacation NYC police captain who took the job as Head of Security. He hired me to be a security guard and also to help build the place. A few days before the festival, the NYC Police Commissioner recalled all cops back to their precincts. Just before he left White Lake, he and Mike Lang made me and my friend, Andy, one of several Assistant Heads of Security. It was the easiest job anyone has ever had! Plus, a few months later, I got paid! So there was no traffic going up or going back for me. A few years, after my divorce, I sold all my memorabilia. My yellow security slicker was bought at auction by The Hard Rock Cafe. My Wartoke Concern Press Kit also went for big bucks. Buried somewhere in my shit is my security I.D.
A lot. No outdoor concert has ever compared to that experience. My sense of community has been etched in my head. My 'John Lennon' hippie aesthetic has governed the way I've lived my life, sometimes to the detriment but, what the hell! Music is my career. Woodstock was a life-changing accident that turned my head around forever.
This was the beginning of my future. Because of the festival I was fortunate to meet the love of my life. We have been married for 36 years, have three wonderful children and three grandchildren.
My wife and I chose August 15th 1970 as our wedding date while sitting in the mud on August 17th 1969 . We still go to the site on August 15th every year to commemorate our nuptuals (40 years so far) Most of our friends that attended the wedding were Woodstock veterans and left the reception for a while to visit the site.
I don't think the significance of this life altering event was apparent until many years later when people kept visiting the site and it became an icon of the 60's. I look back at the blur that was Woodstock and am proud to honestly tell people that I was really there. I will probably never be involved in an event of that magnitude ever again.
Left my parents home in Middletown, NY, on that Friday morning. I was a 17-yr.-old on a bicycle, with sleeping bag and backpack, and I told my parents I was camping for the weekend at a local park with some friends (never told them where I was really going, either before or after). Met up with another guy I only knew vaguely from around town before I got far, also on a bike headed for Bethel, and we rode to Rt. 17, where we soon hitched a ride on the back of a pickup. Traffic stopped us several miles before the Rt. 17B exit, so we rode the bikes the rest of the way there, past thousands of stranded cars, many already abandoned. By the time we reached the Herd Rd. turn-off and headed down, fences were already down and no one was being stopped for tickets (which was good, neither of us had any). Almost as soon as we entered the grounds, my companion vanished into the crowds and I never saw him again to this day. Very little of what happened that weekend is in my memory banks, other than flashes of disconnected pictures of scenes barely remembered. By the time I was heading home on Monday, I'd lost my bike, backpack, bedroll, and shoes. I wore sneakers I found, and hitchhiked home, a very different person.
I went there a very confused, naive 17-yr.-old who did not feel a connection to anyone or anything. I left knowing I was connected to an entire generation of people who thought like I did - a true revelation, and one that has stayed with me throughout my life.
Having grown up in a small town in New Hampshire, the sheer magnitude of the Woodstock event really trumps everything else. Even without any psychoactive substances, my brain and view of the world was literally blown wide open by the Woodstock festival. My perception of life as a far bigger and more varied enterprise than I had ever imagined in the comfortable confines of New Hampshire was one of Woodstock's gifts to me. It was an unaticipated rite of passage that has left an indelible legacy for which I remain grateful. I still treasure having gone to Woodstock and its legacy continues to inform who I am now in 2011.
We turned out be incredibly lucky by dint of some good planning. My father co-signed a lease so the five of us could rent an RV and we left Thursday so we could have some time to settle in. We arrived early enough to park in the field on route 17B right at the end of the road to the festival site- $5 for the weekend and the 8x4 dayglow painted sign for that field is up at my parents' in New Hampshire. It was an effortless drive and we encountered no traffic until after passing thru Monticello. We congratulated ourselves on our planning when we heard of the traffic jams come Friday.
It was truly a magical moment in time. From my perception, there was an energy there that embraced and reflected all of what the sixties have come to represent.. However, that energy was truly present, and not some symbolic representation. For 350,000-400,000 to spend a weekend out in a field with as little trouble as there was, particularly considering the often less than hospitable weather conditions, I see as miraculous. This is especially striking when stacked against the narcissistically degraded culture that the Me Generation ushered in in the 1970's. This has only metastasized since then. Woodtock's spirit of collaboration, connection, hope, respect, openness... still burns for me like a beacon, along with other influences, challenging me to continue to grow and contribute in meaningful ways to the preciousness that is life itself. I think Woodstock lit that light in me and it has never gone out, for which I am thankful. And I can feel a tear or two well up as I write this.
We hitchhiked up from the scranton area of pennsylvania at the time.I was in on military leave on my way to viet nam with the air force.there were three of us and i was the only one with a military shaved head at the time.we each had a backpack and today it is about an hour and a half ride to bethel woods but back then i remember it taking us at least six hours of hitching rides and walking to get there.not long after arriving at site i was asked by a real good looking girl how come i did not have my robe on.she thought i was a hare krishna monk.we all laughed over that.my two buddies were hustlers and as i said made connections and were doing unpaid work when we were there before the festival started.we have been lifelong friends but one of the group has since passed away.for years we used to get together and do the hare krishna chant and remember the festival.we hitched a ride home days later and in september i arrived in viet nam passing on my memories to a whole new group of friends
How Else Can I Share My Story
In addition to the online Registry, there are two “Personal Stories” booths located in the Museum’s Main Exhibit, where Museum guests may comment on four prompts: “I was at Woodstock...no, really I was,” “I wasn’t at Woodstock because…,” “The Sixties still matter because…,” or “Today I learned….” Stories may be spoken or typed, and other Museum guests are free to browse through the responses.
The preferred method for submitting your Woodstock story is through the Woodstock Alumni Registry, but If you would prefer, you may also email your Woodstock story directly to The Museum at [email protected].
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