I was at Woodstock.

Or at least that is what I told everyone. Even though I was just fourteen that Summer of Love and spent my time pretending I could drive my mother’s car as it sat in the driveway.

The headline and accompanying black and white photo on the front page of the Newark Star Ledger was huge, boasting growing numbers as the days went on. 200,000. 400,000. 500,000 People! I wondered who was counting them all! I am a product of the Sixties. I wore love beads, dandelion crowns, Landlubber bell bottoms, peasant blouses, and no bra.

For three days in 1969, August 15th, 16th, and 17th, my friend Ricka and I got up very early and disappeared into the Woodstock fantasy. Ricka lived behind me and was also fourteen, with unruly hair, lanky legs, and a love for Led Zeppelin that began with their unknown first album. She was much more daring than I was, and I’m sure it was her idea that made us do half of what we did. I know it was her idea to stand up during the singing of the National Anthem when Led Zeppelin played Madison Square Garden and yell to me, “Run, run, run!”, so that by the time we stopped we were leaning on the stage. I’m sure that is why I am deaf in one ear since their amplifiers were right by my head. Though seeing Robert Plant from that angle is a vision I will never forget.

That August, however, we’d sneak out of our houses early in the morning, though in the summer in Millburn, NJ, no one was looking for us, and we’d hang out next door pretending to be much older, at least 19. We were waiting for Georgie.

Georgie was much older by 7 years. He was tall and slim, with long hair, denim work shirts, worn jeans, and a bad boy reputation. I know that first hand since he babysat for me when I was 7 and wanted to play the game of ‘I’ll Show You Mine, If You Show Me Yours.’ I didn’t. He did. By the time Woodstock rolled around, Georgie was cool, and hot at the same time. I gulp just thinking about it.

Ricka and I hung out on Georgie’s back porch shooting the breeze with each other. His house was empty so we pretended it was ours. It’s amazing how much two fourteen year old girls have to talk about. Every now and then we would hop into my mother’s Chrysler Newport and pretend to drive somewhere. It was hot out, and of course there was intermittent rain. I’m sure we took a break for lunch.

On the last day of Woodstock, Sunday the 17th, Ricka and I were once again hanging out on Georgie’s back porch waiting for him. We had heard he’d been in California, so the chances of him actually showing up were slim to none. We were laughing like fourteen year old girls do when out of nowhere, strolling up the driveway in all his denim tallness, was Georgie. We gasped. And gawked. Caught on his back porch. Wide eyed. Busted.

He said, “Hey, didn’t you go to Woodstock?”

In unison and in all seriousness, we said, “Yes.”

And then we ran away giggling. It was the highlight of our summer.

When 1969 ended, I was sick with mononucleosis which I caught during my first make out session in 10th grade. Ricka was allowed to come over and visit me while my parent’s hosted a New Year’s Eve party downstairs. Birthday presents for me were piled up in my room. Plaid shoelaces, Butterscotch Krimpets, a silver bracelet with a peace sign, the new Rolling Stone’s Let It Bleed album.

We were bored. I was sick. It was cold out. No Guy Lombardo for us. I did, however, have a new Princess phone. We decided to call the White House. Ricka did it because I was too chicken. It rang, and an operator picked up. Ricka asked for President Nixon. Apparently he wasn’t home. I heard her say, “Can I leave a message for him?” I guess the Operator said, “Sure,” since I was only hearing one side of the conversation. I then heard Ricka say, “Please tell President Nixon ‘Happy New Year’, and that maybe if he has one, everyone else will.”

With that, the Sixties ended. But my own life, was just beginning.

A few years later, I did finally get to go to Woodstock. It was for a bar mitzvah held in someone’s backyard. No, not Max Yasgur’s, but now when I say, “I was at Woodstock,” I know it’s true.

by Harriette Knight


Harriette Knight

Santa Clarita, United States

  • Artist

Artist's Description

A true account of 3 Days in the Summer of Love.

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