In 1969 Max Yasgur’s pig farm in upstate New York sounded like the place to be for three days and three nights. Frank had been delivering the Woodstock tickets for weeks on Long Island at his job as a summer letter carrier for the U.S. Post office. He and the other summer carriers knew it was going to be a big deal.
They decided to call in sick, all four of them, and even though they didn’t have tickets, they went anyway. They drove the two hours and parked miles away from the gate but had no trouble getting in. The organizers of Woodstock had planned for 200,000 music lovers. The event became exponentially bigger than that.
The pig farm had a natural amphitheater for a stage. The line-up was impressive, including CCR, Richie Havens, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Country Joe McDonald and the Fish, Blood, Sweat and Tears, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone, Sha Na Na, Jimi Hendrix, and a new band – Carlos Santana. Many other groups turned down the invitation, including the Beatles.
The post office gang guys weren’t prepared. They had no tents or camping gear, just money to buy food.
No one had anticipated half a million people. The bathrooms were inadequate. It was hot and humid. There was drinking, drugs, and sex everywhere. Then it rained. The post office gang, which was just drinking, had one rain tarp, which they all got under to stay semi-dry.
One of the vendor booths burned down, and people gave the vendor money to help cover his losses. Everyone got along, even though there wasn’t enough food. The vendors hadn’t brought enough supplies and sold out of everything. The women of Poughkeepsie, a neighboring town, heard the event was out of groceries, so they made hundreds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, put them back in the bread wrappers and gave them to the National Guard, which dropped them from helicopters to the crowds. People would take one sandwich and pass the bag down the line. Strangers helping strangers. People sharing food.
There were no fights. There were no arrests. The press had said the event was going to be a bunch of horrible hippies. By the time it was over, even the New York Times had to admit that the event had turned out to be a surprising success.
Frank missed out on three days of work, but he has the wonderful memory of sitting in the rain and hearing the best of the best musicians in America at the overcrowded pig farm in New York.
Couldda Wouldda Didda
Frank and his friends became part of history by attending Woodstock on August 15th, 16th, and 17th of 1969.