I turned 18 the summer of '69... the summer of Woodstock and the Moon Landing. And I got to see both. Sort of.
I worked as a maid that summer at the Spring Lake Hotel, up in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, in Parksville. Being a long blonde-haired California girl at a Jewish resort I was quite the novelty. They all asked if I surfed to school. Yeah, behind my Mom's Rambler. The owners were too cheap to hire real talent for the evening shows, so one of the acts was me... dancing. Exotic?... no. Ballet??... no. Lifted up into the air by Patrick Swayze, like in Dirty Dancing???... yeah... uh, well... no. Actually it was just me and some guy, in bell-bottom corduroys and a t-shirt, dancing to Jefferson Airplane. Right foot cross over left foot, left foot cross over right foot.... Pretty dorky, but California was a novelty, I guess.
The night America landed on the moon, July 16th, was quite the night. The black and white TV was blaring in the lobby with the rabbit ear antennas twisted into the best position - the only TV around. The guests and workers were all gathered round the tube, aware this was pretty damned significant. I was also aware that the bitchin guy from housekeeping had a cute smile. Lunar module... can I catch his eye... One giant step...he's so cool... The only photos I have from that night are in a little plastic key chain thingy, pink, about 1-1/2 inches long. You hold it into the light, peek into it, and there is the picture at the end. Pretty corny, but we sucked them up at a buck a whack from some guy who came around once a week.... who the heck had a camera those days?
I cleaned rooms every morning, then swam all afternoon. I became a pro at the jack-knife, and mastered a perfect 180 spin dive by summer's end. I remember climbing over a bed once, to get away from a dirty old man. And I mean OLD... with a hunchback and a shuffle so slow I admired his belief he could pull it off! He didn't.
By night, I snuck into the kitchen and stole Napoleons off the tray in the refer. Every Friday night the international group of workers went into town to eat strawberry waffles, with tons of whipped cream. The group of guys from Scotland led us in singing filthy little ditties... I can't believe they didn't throw us out. "Roll me ooooo-ver in the clooo-ver, roll me over, turn me 'round, and do it again...." I can still sing them in my sleep. (Crap, I hope I don't).
August came, and we heard there was a big concert coming a few miles away. A bunch of us took off for Woodstock, needing to be back for work the following morning. As we got closer, the traffic became a nightmare... cars parked along side the road. Then just parked... IN the road. We knew that if we got in, we would never get out. And if any of you think 18 year olds don't have a sense of duty to their jobs, I'm here to tell you different. We did. So we turned around. We CAN't miss work... they'll fire us. What a cock-a-mamie idea THAT was! To turn around, I mean.
Did I ever get to claim I had been to Woodstock? Here's where the "sort of" part comes in. I went on the fourth day. It was a 3 day concert. But the action kind of spilled over to the 4th day. We wandered around amid the piles of garbage... soaked sleeping bags, squished old shoes, torn blankets, pants, diapers... you name it, it was there in a heap. It always has reminded me of what a battle field must look like the day after. Groups of people were congregated playing music. Was Richie Havens still there? It felt like it. I chose to remember that he was. Just don't confirm it with him.
It was raining, as I recall. The massive stages were still set up. We crawled all over them, amazed, for some reason, that the colored gels used for lighting effects had just been left in the light modules. All that stuff looked expensive.... and it was just left out in the rain. Later, when I watched the Woodstock movie, I marveled that I had been on that light tower. Admittedly, after the bands were there, after the people were there... well after the concert of a lifetime, that I missed because I was so damned responsible.
So kids, next time you have the chance to go to a concert, but have a job to attend to... screw the job. It might turn out to be the concert of the century. The one that changes the history of rock and roll. And your job? You got your whole life to work.
Peace. Love. Understanding.
It 's all good.
flickr photos by Mountain_man_ny_2, toptechwriter.us, cielchen