Please Walk on the Grass
“We’re going camping!” That’s what Tommy Hayes, 16, of Saddle Brook, New Jersey, told his parents, but he didn’t tell them exactly where because he wasn’t sure if they would have approved. He hitched a ride with some older friends, and his Woodstock adventure had begun.
Trudy Morgal, 23, was the drummer in a house band called Light. They worked six nights a week and were never free to go to shows when bands came to town.
“Our friends would come by and tell us who they just saw, and we’d be like, ‘God damn it. We don’t ever get to see anybody.’”
Seventeen-year-old Robin Chanin remembers seeing the poster with the dove and guitar. The festival’s energy was simply omnipresent in their world. Chanin and her siblings Marc, Michael, and Lynn piled into her brother’s ’67 Ford Galaxy 500 convertible and headed for Bethel.
“We borrowed sleeping bags from our neighbors,” Chanin recalls. “We didn’t even have backpacks, so we didn’t take a thing. No food or clothes. We were the kids from suburban Fords, N.J., who never camped a day in our lives.”
Producer Michael Lang woke up Friday morning to realize that something was missing … the ticket booths. Others had known for days, but Lang said that morning was his first inkling that Woodstock would never collect a single dollar at the gate.
“By then, the main road leading in had become the busiest two-lane highway in America as everybody converged for one big cosmic, cultural celebration. Signs read ‘Welcome Aquarians’ and it looked like the entire Aquarian Nation was marching past. The multiple lanes of traffic heading west ground to a halt, and the roadsides became littered with abandoned vehicles. People found it easier to proceed on foot and joined the mass heading down the road to the festival site,” says Stu Fox of Ithaca, New York.
Paul Lehrman was 16 at the time and attending high school on Long Island, N.Y. He bought advance tickets as soon as they came out, making him one of approximately 186,000.
“I hooked up with my friend Roger, who was a couple of years older than me and able to borrow his mom’s Plymouth Valiant to get us there,” Lehrman says. “Equipped with two sleeping bags, two rain ponchos, a couple of changes of underwear and a canned ham, we headed to Woodstock.” Shortly after noon, they found themselves at a dead stop in traffic about 10 miles from the site. They spent the next several hours crawling along the back roads looking for the concert site.
“As we got closer on 17B,” Trudy Morgal says, “the police were stopping cars and questioning where you were going. If you said Woodstock, they wanted to see your tickets before they’d let you pass. There were people camping and sitting all along the roadside, and I remember people jumping on our van [Light] just to catch a ride for the last couple of miles.”
Fifteen-year-old Jeryl Abramson from Brooklyn was staying at a bungalow colony in August and recalls that “we were totally taken by surprise at what was happening when that weekend began. We had no TV, the phones were party lines so nobody could stay on them long, and we never even got a newspaper. We were very cloistered at the colony.”
For Iris Shapiro of Long Island, Woodstock was her first taste of freedom. She and four friends from work got into their friend’s big black Chrysler but soon found it faster to walk than drive. “It looked like a pilgrimage to Mecca,” she says.
Lee Levin-Friend, 23, from