Worry not about the children

Observations on the historic relevance of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival Castlegar bi-weekly columnist

Groovy man!

I just had a flashback to the 60s. Well, not exactly a flashback. The other night I watched a documentary on Woodstock. Actually, it was more a compilation of home videos and so the show had a different sort of flavour than the standard Woodstock documentaries.

Watching the show made me wish for those days when peace and love were the cornerstones of society. Those were more innocent times before life was complicated with a hurry-scurry world filled with computers, cell phones and other electronics.

Anyway, during the show it showed free-spirited young people doing what young people do best (no matter what the generation). The “kids” were simply having a good time enjoying the music and enjoying their lives. I’m fairly certain they weren’t thinking beyond the day of revelry.

Besides the obvious drugs, (that’s a whole other subject best left for yet another column), the order of the event was to hang loose and have a good time. They did that in spades.

I laughed when I saw half-naked, and naked hippies sliding through inches of mud much like sleighs through new-fallen snow. The muddier they got and the further they slid, they more they laughed.

Some 500,000 people had somehow gotten the word that there was going to be a party – a big party – for three days at a dairy farm in the Catskills, near Bethell, New York in mid-August of 1969.

For the organizers it was more like a “Build it and they will come” attitude. And come they did.

Dressed in beads, bell bottoms, bikinis and paisley shirts, the revelers came from near and far looking for a party. They weren’t disappointed.

What struck me as I watched the show, was the fresh-faced youthfulness and the alignment of circumstances which resulted in likely one of the best free concerts ever given.

Now, if you do the math, that happened almost 43 years ago. Most of the attendees ranged in age from their mid-teens to their early thirties. Which means if the average age was 25 or so, many of those people would now be in their mid-to-late 60s.

They likely have children and grandchildren and maybe even great-grandchildren. I grin when I think about their grandchildren looking at that show and seeing grandma and grandpa cutting loose, running around half naked and getting high.

The point of this column is not so much about Woodstock, but more about the rite of passage – the transition through the years from young adult, to adult, to senior citizen.

Nowadays, if you passed one of those Woodstock hippies on the road it’s likely that all you will see is an older man or woman, with a lifetime of wrinkles upon his or her face. Unless they told you, you would never know that they were part of history.

These now upstanding, productive members of society were, back then, considered misfits and “dirty hippies” by the older generation which was absolutely certain the world was going hell in a hand basket once the hippies came of age.

No such thing happened. They became valuable and contributing members of society. They laughed, they cried tears, and they raised families and have now become the matriarchs and patriarchs of our society.

Next time you see a young person not fitting into the norm, next time you see our youth struggling to find their place in life, don’t forget those hippies.

Remember that as they are, so were you in your own way.

Fear not for our future. It’s in good hands.

Life has a way of working such things out.