Today was the day. I was going to get to see the site of the Woodstock Music Festival. This was a big deal to me so I was anxious to get there. A guy who lived down the hall from me in college skipped school to drive to Woodstock and attend the event. He was never the same after he came back. I think he got in to some bad pharmaceuticals.
We started the day off by walking across the parking lot to Tilly’s Diner. It turned out to be a 50’s style diner which could have been fun. Unfortunately, the waitress had a stereotypical New York attitude. Let’s just say the service was mediocre. The food was good so we survived the entire experience.
We had about an hour to kill to we headed to the closest Harley shop. I was surprised to see a good old-fashioned motorcycle shop – not the typical Harley fancy brick building. The people there couldn’t have been any nicer or more helpful They made me buy a t-shirt – honest, I didn’t want to. We were pretty effective in passing an hour in the store.
The Woodstock site is now known as Bethel Woods for the Arts, Bethel, New York. It was 10 miles down the road from our hotel. By the time we pulled in they had been open for 5 minutes. We stopped at the museum and I felt obligated to pay the price of admission. I should have been suspicious about a recap of Woodstock from the “art” community. In my opinion, the museum presented a very glamorous version of the events that unfolded in 1969. There was no mention of the drugs, very little about the rain, and not much about how people managed to just survive. There was a lot of information about how it changed society. I’m not a good judge of that. I know it changed one guy who lived down the hall from me in college.
The museum gift shop did not have anything I was looking for – no hat pin. We looked at some t-shirts but what we really wanted were wine glasses. Every year we buy a special set and this year I wanted Woodstock wine glasses – no joy. It made me wonder if this place has the right to use the “Woodstock” name – it may be trademarked by someone.
OK – now it was time to head to the center of it all – the location of the main stage. We drove the short distance from the museum to the site. We saw the “memorial” plaque / sculpture and took pictures to prove we were there. We ran in to a guy who claimed to have been there in 1969 but who knows if that’s true or not. I did talk to some motorcycle guys from New York. They were fun – making jokes and ribbing each other like only old friends can do. There was one younger guy (early 30’s?) who was from California. He had ridden his softail from Cali to New York in 6 days. He was in no hurry – he had a month off of work.
We were still on the hunt for wine glasses. Jana seemed to remember some shops when we drove right by here yesterday. No joy on that either. This wasn’t the route I had planned but hey – it’s an adventure. We ended up on some “highway” (52 I think). This was another rough road in bad need of new pavement. It took us into a small town – Jeffersonville, New York. We hadn’t had lunch yet so I pulled over to see what we could find. Michelangelo’s happened to be the only one of 5 restaurants open on Wednesday’s so in we went. An uneventful meal but the waitress was at least friendly.
“Let’s walk down the street and see what else is here.” We got about 2 blocks away from the restaurant and saw an interesting looking place that had “collectables”. There was an “open” sign just beyond the couple sitting in plastic chairs out in front. She was sound asleep but he said “hello” as we walked past into the “store”. The place was beyond description. I tried to capture some pictures to show what the old building held but there is just no way. The place was huge and lit by single bare light bulbs about every 25 or 30 feet. It must have been 3 blocks long and just crammed full of every flea market item possible.
Wine glasses surely had to be available here. Eureka!!!!! I found some really cheap looking glasses that someone had hand-painted small flowers on. They instantly became my all time favorite glasses. Jana also discovered a small glass bottle with a stopper in it – perfect for storing the sand we bring home every year from Florida. We were living large.
We walked out the door with our treasures and I asked the couple how much we owed them. I had visions of hearing “collector’s edition”, “extremely rare”, etc. I was prepared to leave empty-handed if this was the direction of the conversation. The gentleman (I’ll call him Bert because I forgot to get his name) said, “I don’t know – she handles all the money” in response to my question. Without saying anything, Mrs. Bert got up and went inside the structure. Jana followed her in. The next thing I know I’m being handled a plastic bag with the “works of art” inside. Still no information was given regarding the cost.
Finally when both of them were settled back in the chairs, Bert said “how does $3.00 sound?” I wish I would have had a $5 in my wallet. This was great. I asked Bert if the place used to be an auction or a “sale barn” (a term from my childhood meaning a place where farmers bring livestock to be sold). He said I was exactly right – it used to be a hog auction barn and was really busy in its hey day. He said that it just died out due to the ever-increasing popularity of huge pig lots. “Once it finally died, we decided to go into the collectables business.”
Bert told me a story about how he quit his job when a new owner bought the place and Bert didn’t like the way he looked – “No man is worth $3,000 a week and he brought in the unions. I think he was a mafia guy so I called the next morning and quit.” Bert is my kind of people. It’s people like him that explains why I choose to travel on 2 lane roads.