43 Years Later, CBS4’s Al Sunshine Remembers Woodstock
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – I was flipping channels last night and saw the old movie “Woodstock “ on TV. It documented the historic music festival that branded the Woodstock Generation of Peace, Love & happiness while the country was being torn apart by the Vietnam War.
I checked the calendar and realized it was showing as part of the 43rd anniversary of the 3 day Music & Art Festival in Upper New York State. Suddenly, I got a knot in my stomach and felt tears welling up in my eyes. I was at Woodstock 43 years ago this week and remember it like yesterday.
It was right after my freshman year the University of Miami. I had a close friend who’s family had a home in Whitelake New York, which was right next door to the event.
As a news photographer and columnist for the “University of Miami” Hurricane, I thought it might be a cool event to check out. Little did I realize I wasn’t the only one there thinking that way.
“Three days of Peace & Music” suddenly attracted hundreds of thousands of fans. The roads were mobbed as I got closer to Woodtstock and my old VW barely made it thru all the traffic.
It took hours to get to the main intersection to get there and it was blocked by NY State troopers sending everyone else back out of the area. I thought my trip would be cut short before I even got close.
Without much of a thought I whipped out my “Miami Hurricane “ Press card and looked up at the huge State Trooper blocking the road.
“Press Card!” I said. He smiled down at the kid driving the red VW Squareback and said “Let him pass.”
And so it was, I got clear sailing down the road to the event. I remember Woodstock’s “3-M’s” very well: The Mud, the Music, the Mobs.
I don’t remember the acts, who I saw and heard , but the music was incredible. I got soaked from all the rain, dried out and soaked again as summer storms swept thru Upper New York State.
The event was complete chaos. Too many people, no security, few food vendors, lack of any facilities other than rows and rows of outhouses.
But incredibly, between the music and everyone’s mood, it was a peaceful “happening” that turned hundreds of thousands of strangers into close friends.
So how were my pictures from the historic event?
It was so wet and muddy, I didn’t take any. I didn’t want to destroy my camera gear.
At the end of the festival, I hosed down all my clothes, packed up my soaked and muddy camera gear and packed it back into my old VW.
I drove back to Miami with “Woodstock” memories that have lasted 43 years.
I watched the old movie “Woostock” Thursday night.
I remember it like it was yesterday. And it brought me to tears remembering the summer of ’69 in an old cow pasture in upstate New York, as a young Long-Haired UM student made a trip that he didn’t realize he’d still be talking about 43 years later. With a lot less hair, and most of it now snowy grey!