By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest."
I know it’s hard to believe, but we are now 50 years beyond Woodstock. There are just so many memories I have from 1969 that it’ll be hard to limit this week’s column to its normal length.
My fraternity brother and roommate (my sophomore year) is from the Monticello NY area – not far from (at the time) 49-year-old dairy farmer Max Yasgur’s farm which he agreed to rent to the organizer’s for the Woodstock concert/gathering/happening.
My roommate attended the festival. To this day, his (and many others) most significant memory was the knee deep mud throughout the festival – where it rained fairly hard as the massive party was just starting.
Among the “acts” that first gained national attention were: Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, which was, in fact, the first major musical act to sign up for the event. Just look at this list of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s recorded songs.
For anyone who doesn’t appreciate what a significant cultural event Woodstock was, as they say – “If you remember the 60’s, you didn’t live through them.” The concert ran 24/7. Even major acts performed during the “graveyard” shift – after midnight and until early morning.
They ran out of everything; water, sanitation, food. But mostly due to the “hippies” who attended (by the hundreds of thousands), it was peaceful and as orderly as one could imagine due to the fact that many were so laid back due to the massive amount of drugs consumed.
The Space Program
Those old enough to recall the brief Presidency of John F. Kennedy might remember his “call to arms” where he said in 1961 that we would put a man on the moon before the end of that decade. In fact, we did it, but unfortunately President Kennedy did not live long enough to see it.
The year before Woodstock (1968) also saw two cataclysmic events which would also help shape history, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.
Looking back now, I am certain that few alive then recognized as these events unfolded the historic significance of them. I certainly know that I didn’t.
Other historically important events of 1969
Joe Namath guided the New York Jets to the Superbowl victory (SB III) in which Willie Joe “guaranteed” the young upstart AFL league would beat the “senior” NFL (and the Green Bay Packers – which had won SBI and SB II).
Namath gained immortality with that performance, unfortunately something the Jets have yet to repeat.
It was also the year that OJ Simpson was drafted by the Buffalo Bills into the NFL. (By the way, Simpson is still looking for the real “killers”.)
One of my childhood heroes – Mickey Mantle – retired from baseball.
To his dying day, Mantle was upset that he played a bit too long resulting in his final season batting average dropping his lifetime average to just below 300 (it was .298 lifetime).
Those of you old enough might recall that the reason baseball had a “spring training” season was that many of the then players let themselves go to pot over the winter off-season requiring that they play themselves into shape for the start of the new season. In fact, many players of that era had “serious” drinking problems (and many of them smoked as well).
Mantle died of cirrhosis of the liver due to a lifetime of drinking. As I learned more about the “real lives” of my Yankee heroes, it brought home the great scene from one of my favorite movies, "A Bronx Tale".
The most significant event of 1969
This month, my wife and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. If I did not write this paragraph, I would be spending our anniversary date sleeping out back in our garden.
This brings up a very old joke as follows:
A man is being interviewed about his just celebrated 50th wedding anniversary.
The interviewer asks: “What is the secret to a long marriage?”
The man answers: “The key is whenever my wife and I have a disagreement, I find it useful to take a long walk.”
He went on to say, “You would be amazed what 50 years of fresh air will do to a relationship.”