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  • Approved for CNN

  • Posted August 2, 2009 by
    Bethel, New York
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Woodstock: 40 years later

    More from jeffpickens

    By The Time We Got To Woodstock (we were headed back to NJ)


    "The New York State Thruway is CLOSED, man!"


    Thus spoke Wavy Gravy, the legendary announcer at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. By that time the crowd had swelled to "half a million strong", according to the Joni Mitchell song.


    The Pickens family was about to find that out while on our way home from vacation in August 1969. Now, if everyone who claimed to be at Woodstock was really there, the entire state of New York would not have been able to hold everyone. But we were there - sort of. I didn't go to the Woodstock music festival because I was 12 and couldn't go myself, and didn't have hippie parents to take me.


    That summer, my parents had decided to forgo our usual vacation to the Jersey Shore and spend a week in the Adirondacks instead. We went first to Saranac Lake, then Lake Champlain, with a side day trip to Montreal.


    On the way home, Saturday 8/16, the NY Thruway had reopened, but the traffic was still bumper-to-bumper, and I remember my Dad grumbling about some hippie music thing going on in NY and we were stuck in that traffic.


    We eventually made it home, and that Christmas my folks got me the live album, a three-record set, which introduced me to all the great musical acts of the time. I listened to it so much it was almost like I had been there.


    The photos:


    1 & 2: My brother and I at our rented trailer at Lake Champlain, and then at Fort Ticonderoga, blissfully unaware that the seminal cultural event of the decade was happening 200 miles south of us.


    3 & 4: My Woodstock album and cover.


    So, if anyone asks me if I was at Woodstock, I can say, yeah, I was there.

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