Reflecting on Woodstock 50 years later …

“By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong, and everywhere there was song and celebration.” [Excerpt from “Woodstock” written by Joni Mitchell]

You’ve probably heard them already – those news reports focusing on Woodstock attendees, or Woodstock attendee wannabees, reflecting on that music festival held August 15–18, 1969.  I heard a great radio station retrospective marking the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.  Click here if you would like to hear that audio. 

As for me, I really wasn’t groovin’ to the tunes that were the likes of the musicians and singers featured during that first-ever rock concert.  In fact, at the time, I’d not even heard of most of the line-up.

Like most teenagers, circa 1969, I walked around with a tiny transistor radio in my hand or tucked into a pocket.  Tethered to the radio was an earphone that snaked directly into my ear.  Unlike today’s earbuds that give you stereo music by fitting into both ears and tuning out the rest of the world, the earphone went into one ear only, so it was just a mono music experience.  The long, skinny, covered wire cord hooked from the radio and ended up as an uncomfortable hard plastic piece that fit into your ear; if you jiggled it the wrong way it fell out.  But you were able to play your favorite tunes without your parents complaining about “your music” … so what exactly was “my music” in the Woodstock era in the Summer of 1969?

I know I listened to radio station WKNR-Keener 13 and every Saturday I’d run down to the dime store to pick up a free Keener 13 top hits list, and, if my allowance permitted, a new 45 RPM record to spin on my portable record player.  I was not really into the music of the Beatles anymore as their music had ceased being the fun-loving stuff of the mid-60s and had become a little more controversial. 

No, this 13-year-old was more into the bubblegum music of the day,  like “Sugar Sugar” or “Build Me a Buttercup”  or, I was swooning with the other teenyboppers over Bobby Sherman and his hit “Little Woman” or lovin’ Elvis Presley’s snarl and hip swivels while he belted out hits like “Suspicious Minds” or “In the Ghetto”.  In fact, if I close my eyes, I can picture those 45 RPM records spinning ‘round and ‘round and listening to those songs over and over.  Today I remember songs from the 60s and 70s word for word and can sing along to those tunes, but if I go downstairs to fetch something, I may get to the bottom of the steps and won’t recall what I went there for – go figure.

Unlike the moon landing when I, (just like most of you of a certain age), was planted in front of the TV watching that memorable event, I had to read about this historical musical experience through the years.  I was not here to watch the news clips about the crowds, or the music, as I spent the month of August 1969 in Germany with my father, who returned there for the first time since moving to Canada in 1950.  My grandfather died in April of 1969 and my grandmother, who lived in Toronto, came to spend the Summer at our house, so my father and I went on a little jaunt over to his homeland. 

So, while 500,000 strong came to Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm near Woodstock, New York to enjoy the very first rock concert, I was with Max Schaub, at a bier garden sipping watered-down apfelwein and tapping my foot to German Oom-Pah music.  I have photos,  albeit somewhat blurry, that memorialize that trip where we were enjoying torte at an outside café, riding down the Rhine River on a day cruise, or there I was bopping around the Alpine flowers and petting bulls in the Austrian Alps.

It was my first trip abroad – the scenery was beautiful, but I spoke no German and thus felt a little left out of the total experience as my father visited with friends and relatives who spoke no English.

I hope you get a chance to reflect on the era of Woodstock and read about a generation of folks who lived in peace and harmony while they enjoyed their music, a sharp contrast to concert attendees who might enjoy such a large musical event today – nuff said.

[Photo of poster advertising Woodstock 1969 courtesy of  Pinterest]

About lindasschaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, and this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for over three decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, although I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too.
This entry was posted in Music, Travel, and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Reflecting on Woodstock 50 years later …

  1. Ally Bean says:

    Your photos of your trip to Germany are great. Thanks for sharing them here.

    I only know what I know about Woodstock from what I’ve read and heard about it. It was a moment, like the moon landing, that changed the country for the better if for no other reason it shined a light on a subculture that represented ideals of love and peace. Not bad ideas. Can you imagine those ideals being covered by the news and promoted today? Oh such different times in which we live.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lindasschaub says:

      Glad you liked the photos Ally. After I posted I left on my walk. While walking, I was thinking that perhaps I would have had pictures without the photo corners on them in another online album. I took an entire Thanksgiving weekend two years ago to scan in every picture from family and travel albums, and scrapbooks I had through the years, then put them in albums on Shutterfly and put it on a flash drive for safekeeping as well. It was a massive project. The photos have to be edited as I had to scan in entire pages with as many as eight small photos on one page in some cases. Some of the albums were falling apart. The binder strip had come away from the overlay and I worried about the integrity of the photos down the road. I have some family photos nearly a century old and in good condition. Anyway, I decided to look in the online album at Shutterfly and I was happy to see that I had taken them out of the photo corners and had much better photos, so I reposted those pics – it looks much better now, although the photo corners gave it a quaint look.

      I really was not into that type of music but I had a link to the playlist for each artist at Woodstock – it was fascinating. But the link was broken when I previewed the post so I eliminated it – there was a lot of talent on that stage over three days. And Max Yasgur’s dairy products were boycotted by many in the area who did not believe in the type of music and counter-culture that he permitted on his farm during the festival. It is sad that we could never recreate what happened there again – maybe we could have tried for the 25th anniversary with other artists but not today sadly.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Shelley says:

    Aw, such fun memories. I love the photo of you petting the bull (right?). Your expression is priceless. Woodstock was before me, so I’m thankful to live through the stories of others. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      I laughed when I read this comment Shelley. Well, clearly my grandmother would be horrified at me for calling a bull a cow. She and her eight siblings grew up on a farm. Thank you for pointing it out – I didn’t notice the horns or the size of the animal when I got the pics ready for the post. It didn’t pose a threat as you can see, as it closed its eyes in the sunshine. In the Alpine village where we stayed in 1969 (and we returned again in 1979 with my mom), the owner of the bed and board had a herd of cattle and would take them out to the pasture higher up on the mountain to graze all day. That’s all good, except he did it at the crack of dawn and a bunch of cattle running past the bedroom window, hooves clapping on the road, and each one had a huge cowbell on. The souvenir for these Alpine towns was a cowbell with painted flowers on the bell and it hung on a leather strap. I had one in my car on the mirror for years. So the cattle made a lot of noise.

      I was not immersed in the whole Woodstock era, except what I read or saw on TV through the years.

      Like

  3. I was recovering from an appendectomy as my friends traveled to NY.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lindasschaub says:

      Well that’s a bummer – did your friends enjoy the event Kate? I had a great link to share in thispost which was the line-up of all artists, their appearance date and what songs they sang and the link was broken so I had to leave it out of the post.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mostly they did. It was rainy, muddy, buggy. Not enough food or water. No potties. Since I’m not a camper, I would have been miserable. I think the concept of having been there that is more intriguing than actually having been there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I agree with you Kate. I went camping with my parents one time, my father’s great idea to rent camping equipment to “try it out” as a co-worker went camping all the time. The tent had a hole and leaked all night and my mother said “we’re staying in a hotel the rest of the trip” … it was long ago on Route 66 going out West.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You wouldn’t get me in a tent!

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Me neither – and if I saw a spider, centipede, mouse or a snake when I got to the campsite, I’d be spending the night in the car! I am no fan of anything that moves faster than I do.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Joni says:

    What a wonderful trip down memory lane Linda! I can definitely relate, being the same age as you, and just a tad to young for the hippy experience. I too preferred the bubblegum music of the clean-haired Monkees to the long haired weird Beatles, who I only appreciated when I was older. Great post, and I loved the pics and the fashions!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Glad you enjoyed it Joni and while out on my walk, not only did I remember I was going to link to your post of songs that we listened to that Summer, but I was thinking I might have cleaner copies of the pics that were in the photo corners. So I hopped on Shutterfly and sure enough I did scan them in separately, so replaced the original pics – they are clearer now. I had scanned in the pages with multiple photos and photo corners first, in case I ripped or marred the photos taking them out of the photo corners as they were stuck in there for many years. I noticed when the picture was larger/clearer in the Rhine River shot, that I was wearing a headband and that was a style back in the day. The headband didn’t push your bangs back, it was only to match your outfit. 🙂 I am looking forward to your Woodstock post next week.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        Woodstock party was a bit of a disappointment in some ways – the food was awful, glad the tickets were free. It’s too bad seniors have to eat such institutionalized stuff. The music wasn’t good either. But the costumes were great – and I had fun dressing up and chatted with some nice people. It kind of reminded me of going out in my younger years – when the most fun was sometimes just in the getting ready to go out, but then the evening/party/whatever/event would be a drag, and you’d just end up going for coffee someplace after.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Oh, that’s too bad because they could have made it so much fun for those seniors. I know how you’d anticipate what you’d wear and putting your outfit together was more fun than the event. We had an event back in high school our senior year and I want to say it was called “The Millionaire’s Party” but that doesn’t make sense. But everyone dressed up like the Flapper era, guys and gals and they brought in a company which had an old-fashioned casino (maybe the millionaires does make sense?) and we bought tokens to play. All the money raised was used for our “All Night Party” the night we graduated. They had food catered in and a movie “Play Misty for Me” playing all night and a band. So that is what it was used for. I sewed my own flapper dress, red silk with rows of fringe and had a headband, fishnets – I have pictures of it … my five girlfriends and I had our picture taken together and we all dressed for back in the day. I’m thinking one of my friends dressed like a guy with a suit and fedora – I’d have to look at the picture again. It was fun and lots of planning for the outfit.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        The costumes were by far the best part of the evening, and I think that some people had fun. There were people there from the community as well. I take my mom to seniors lunches there once a month, and I find a lot of the residents just go back to their rooms after the meal, they don’t stay for the music. The musician wasn’t very good. But my main complete was the meal – would you serve chicken legs and thighs and beef pot pie casserole at a buffet dinner??? The carrots were okay, but the cheesy potatoes were something out of a box. Their salads are always good, as you can’t really ruin a salad. Dessert was squares they probably bought at the grocery store. None of the food is homemade, it’s a catering company which brings it in and then reheats it, and it tastes like processed institutionalized food. They only serve one meal a day, and are charging $4000 per month for a small one bedroom plus den, so it’s not cheap. I just feel bad for people who move into those places, eating that day after day – what kind of nutrition is that? I wonder if they realize that might be why only 25% of the units are occupied. It’s a retirement home, (as opposed to a nursing home which is regulated) so there are no government rules about nutrition or dietitian review. Of course, some people might not care, if they don’t have to cook, but for a “foodie” like me, forget it. I ate years of hospital cafeteria food that was way better than that. Your high school party sounds like fun – I’d like to go to a flapper event – then I could wear the Downton Abbey headband I have. They had one here last January, but the tickets were $100/person – it was a charity event. Too steep for me. I just bought two tickets to an outdoor HarvestFest supper in Sept which were $40 each, and thought that was expensive, but it can be a blog topic at harvest time. It would be nice if we could make money off these blogs, and write this stuff off as business expenses!

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        That’s a shame and surely they could have come up with a more-fun menu since it was a theme-related event, though I’d be hard-pressed to figure out a menu that would be like the late 60s, but maybe they could have brought in hamburgers and fries or pizza just to be something more of a “young” menu. Sometimes they don’t use their imagination. The prices for senior residences or nursing homes is horribly high. My friend Evelyn who just completed her grad work and is now looking for a job in gerontology administration had to complete 600 hours at a nursing facility as an intern.
        She told me how much the residents paid and I thought she said $6,000.00/month but they have a doctor on call 24/7 and also residences geared for a couple or a single and three meals a day. I wish a long time ago I would have considered long-term living insurance – if you ever, God forbid, need it, it would wipe you out in a heartbeat. If I could think of a reason to use the pics I would – maybe when Robert Redford passes away – now, I’ve not read many of the classic books, but I did read “The Great Gatsby” and saw the movie with Robert Redford. And didn’t he have a few parties where the women were in flapper-type dresses and cloche hats? I guess I should not complain about the $15.00 sunflower festival tickets but I saw when I Googled it that people said that it was too expensive to spend $60.00 for a family of four for one afternoon. It’s the same way for going to a sport event – the price is crazy and then if you eat there – the price of food is crazy as well. Especially to see our teams, most of whom are not good, especially the Tigers who are in rebuilding mode.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        I think here nursing homes run about $2500 for a private room, but you only get into a nursing home if you meet the government criteria (stroke, etc). Retirement homes usually offer 3 meals a day, so how this one thinks just one meal is okay I don’t know, they do have a full size galley kitchen in the units, but such a tiny living room area, you couldn’t fit a sofa or a big screen tv, not even a condo sofa, and the bathrooms are large, but no tub, only a shower. It’s really mind-boggling how poorly designed it is, plus that large lobby atrium must cost a fortune to heat/cool. That’s why my mother stays in her own home, and I hope I can keep her there – she has no desire to go to one of those places, and since her house is all one floor, with laundry on the same floor, it’s basically the same as being in an apartment. I think people move to those places as they are afraid of being alone, esp. if they are in poor health. I lived in apartments in my younger years and hated it, all the noise from the neighbours tv coming through the walls, no way to go outside for a breath of fresh air. They might charge 5000/month in Toronto and there are plenty of people there who would pay it, but this is small town Ontario, and that’s where this retirement company went wrong. The government keeps saying it’s cheaper to keep seniors in their own home, but then they don’t provide the services to do that. There’s a terrible shortage of personal support workers and RNA’s here, they can’t even fill the shifts. I’m lucky my mom doesn’t need any of that right now. I’m not sure how you could work your flapper dress into a post either but it would be fun. I saw the remake of The Great Gadsby with Leonardo DiCaprio a few years ago, and hated it. I don’t like him anyway, other than in Titanic, which he was miscast in but passable, and the girl who played Daisy I can’t remember her name either. I never cared for that book, and could never understand why people made such a big fuss over Scott F. Fitzgerald, or Hemingway either.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Wow, I didn’t know they remade “The Great Gatsby” and I don’t think I would care for Leonardo DiCaprio in that role – I think Robert Redford was better in his heyday. I’ve never seen “Titanic” and I’m probably in the minority. I did see the B&W movie “A Night to Remember” years and years ago – the memorable last shot of the lights on in the ship and it was vertical in the water as it took its final plunge.

        I’ve never read anything else by F. Scott Fitzgerald and NO Hemingway and our high school reading list was atrocious –
        when I got to community college, the other high schools had their students read the classics and a lot of Shakespeare but I had read none. And in literature classes in college, I read books and had to analyze them and it took the fun out of reading for a long time. Hopefully when retired, I can read all these classics finally.

        Our home health care, and not just hospice care, can run $4,000.00/month – horribly expensive!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Fred Bailey says:

    I’m left feeling older than dirt. I was a skinny apprentice helicopter mechanic working in Quebec at the time. I wish I’d better appreciated the wonderful era I was living in.
    Fred

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Ha ha – well, I too, would give anything to go back in time and savor those years this time. I kind of liked the 50s era myself. I had a friend in high school who had a greaser band. He played a sax and his brother was the singer. They played a lot of high schools and then throughout college they branched out to local events like street fairs and the like. They’d dress up and play songs from the movie “Grease” – they were great, and now they are still together but are a little more sedate in their repertoire. My friend is a now district court judge and his brother is the City attorney. They played last night in a nearby park and I was going to go and it was raining, so I skipped it.

      Like

  6. AJ says:

    What a neat memory!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Michael says:

    Awesome post! Thanks Linda

    Liked by 1 person

  8. John says:

    Wonderful old picture, Linda!😊 The 50´s celebration of Woodstock had not been a success because the old is old and the young listen to music in their phones!😄😄😄
    Hope we meet sometimes, Linda, I rely like your post and your pictures.😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Glad you liked them John – it was fun putting this post together. I had really hoped they would have had themselves together better and done a 50th anniversary event, but it kept falling apart. I think all they managed to pull off was finding the original stage and selling off pieces of it as pieces of wood and/or embedded into peace symbols. They could not have recreated such a concert of that magnitude today unfortunately. I can’t imagine that many people at one venue these days. Thank you for saying that John – you never know … it is a small world at times. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I didn’t realize that your father was German! What a fun trip that must have been, even without speaking the language. As to Woodstock, I didn’t hear about it until much much later. I’ve never been a fan of huge crowds!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Hi Sabine, I was looking forward to you reading this post. Yes, he was born there and moved to Canada in 1950 at age 24, met my mother shortly thereafter and they married in 1953. He had not been back to Germany in almost 20 years. The older couple in the pictures was his aunt and uncle. His parents died young and he was close to the aunt and uncle. The uncle was a retired chef who worked on long-distance trains. They lived in Frankfurt in an apartment and had a garden plot with a little shed, not a shed really, but a place where they’d go inside to cool off after tending the garden. We visited Frankfurt and then went on a road trip to Bavaria, Austria and probably some other places that I can’t remember now. I had just turned 13 and my father didn’t always tell me where we were. It was a beautiful trip and we returned in 1979, this time with my mother, and we went to England for one week before, took a train to Frankfurt and then basically the same places as in 1969. It was hard on my mom as she did not get around well and there was a lot of walking, but a nice trip then too. I’m not a fan of big crowds either – when I went to concerts in the 70s/early 80s, there were lots of people, but nothing the likes of Woodstock.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s quite the family story, Linda! It’s nice that you got to go to Germany with your dad, and also with both of your parents. It’s beautiful over there!

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Yes it was very scenic Sabine and we did stay in some nice places which were typical of the German and Austrian tourist places. In Austria, when we were there in 1979, the owner of the chalet spoke English … the first time we visited in 1969 (just my father and me), no one I encountered spoke English.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I read the headlines about Woodstock, but I was busy tending to almost one-year-old daughter Lise.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. AnnMarie R stevens says:

    Miss Linda………………………………I’m surprised by your picture of you and your dad…………………….in Germany………………………….you were always tall and skinny???…………………I missed Woodstock and the Beatles too………………………………….

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Hi Ann Marie – yes, I’ve been tall since I was in my teens and my father was just 5’2″ tall and my mother only 5’2″ tall. I will look for a picture and send it to you that was taken when I graduated from high school and I am standing between them, towering over them. I’ve read alot about Woodstock this year as we approached the 50th anniversary and they originally planned to have another event to celebrate it, but it fell through.

      Like

  12. What a wonderful memory with your father! It is so nice you have pictures too. I can’t believe it’s been 50 years already since Woodstock.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Thanks Diane and I’ve said for years that one of the best inventions ever was the camera. I can’t believe it either. I never saw the movie “Easy Rider” but I remember when it came out and when the news mentioned Peter Fonda’s passing and “Easy Rider” came out in 1969, I thought the same thing – where has the time gone?

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Sweet photos, Linda! 🙂
    I loved that “Build me up Buttercup” song a whole lot too. 1969 was the year that i graduated from high school. New York was just too far away. Years later, Marla and i saw Creedence in concert. They were very good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Thanks Tom, glad you liked the photos.
      A lot of the music then, like “Build Me a Buttercup” were all perky and short songs, stuff you could sing to … I still know all the words when I hear it on the oldies station.. I did see that Creedence was on the lineup and CCR had so many songs back then and early 70s as well – they were so identifiable with their music. The music was great back in the 70s and 80s … don’t know anyone these days. I had a great link of the performers and their songs and included it in my post, but when I did a final preview before publishing the link was broken – perhaps they were just updating it or it crashed as too many people were on the site: https://www.woodstock.com/lineup/

      Like

  14. Laurie says:

    I can remember Woodstock too, Linda. I bought the album after the fact, but of course, I was too young to attend the actual event. I was a fan of some of the performers like Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, etc., but I was mostly a Beatles fan. Bill and I watched a Woodstock documentary that was on PBS the other evening. It really brought back memories. How THIN most of those kids were!

    Loved seeing photos of you and your parents in Germany in 1969!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      I really wasn’t into the music of those artists at that time either as I was so young, but was familiar with their music many years later. I liked the Beatles, then they got into a dark period and their counter-culture phase and I struggled with liking their music, although that said I probably could sing every song, word for word of “Sgt. Pepper” … it is amazing how many of Woodstock’s singers are no longer here today, with only Joe Cocker being alive from the group you mention. Did you know Ringo Starr played at the 2019 Woodstock lineup Friday night? Funny, when the Beatles were introduced, it was just “Ringo” – now he’s referred to as Ringo Starr. Pretty sure not too many people named “Ringo” are walking around. Here’s a video from the local paper with Ringo singing “With a Little Help from My Friends”:
      https://midhudsonnews.com/2019/08/17/woodstock-50th-anniversary-celebration-rocked-friday-night-with-ringo-starr/

      Like

  15. Although I wasn’t in Germany, my mind wasn’t really on Woodstock either. I liked some of the music, but at my age then, my tastes also ran more to cute boy bands and sickly sweet songs. Since we were on the other side of the country, none of my brothers’ friends (who were older than me) went either. Woodstock was an amazing event with incredible music (I now believe) but being among all those people in the rain with not enough food or bathrooms doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      I agree with you Janis. I happened to mention to a fellow blogger the other day that of all the outside concert venues I’ve been to (and my college friends and I went to the same six groups in a series every year) that I have never been caught in the rain. Either we were lucky or it didn’t rain as much as now – good thing as we always had lawn seats. I’d have been miserable for sure. At least it was warm weather, but still …

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: Woodstock Revisited – thehomeplaceweb

  17. Oh what sweet memories you write of. I love the petting bull memory, your love for animals seems to have always been with you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Thank you Zena – hard to believe it was a half-century ago and that really makes me feel old. I remember the music of that era vividly but it was not the music of Woodstock I was listening to – I was a wee bit young, but so many famous artists that I discovered years later.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s