Wednesday, October 04, 2006

On the Road to Woodstock -part 21

Daylight came with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band playing, and the only reason I knew their name was because the acid had worn off, and I had been paying attention when they came on.

I had that gritty feeling I always got the morning after an acid trip, and though I was tired as hell I knew it was useless to try to get any rest. It always took me an hour or two to get to sleep after coming down off acid.

John and Linda were sitting up with Sherry and me, and we were all watching the music. I looked at Sherry and wondered what she was thinking. Our amorousness had slipped away with our acid trip, and the two of us sat quietly with the blanket around us.

My shyness had returned, and with it an uneasy feeling of not knowing how to act around Sherry. The acid had broken down my inhibitions, and now without it I was a scared kid again without a clue of how to act around the girl. Did she feel embarrassed about making out with me all night long? Was it only the acid that had made her horny, or did she genuinely like me? It didn't dawn on me that she might be wondering the same thing.

If all that were not enough, with the daylight came a realization that it was Monday morning, and that none of us as yet had a ride home. That was starting to weigh heavily on my mind.

The band started playing Born under a Bad Sign, a song I recognized from a Cream album I had bought on a recommendation from a friend. He had raved about it, but after listening to it, I didn't really see what the big deal was.

The band did two more songs that together lasted for better than a half an hour, and then quit. I imagined the concert was very nearly over now. The big hill that had stayed so crowded for three days now looked sparse by comparison. Only a few thousand diehards remained and in their midst was trash, lots and lots of trash.

After about a half an hour, a new group came on called Sha-na-na, and if nothing else they were a spectacle to watch. Several guys in 50s dress and greased back hair ran around the stage singing doo-wop with accompaniment from a band.

After they finished, it seemed pretty evident that the concert was over. Nobody new was setting up and after about a half an hour I decided that it was time for me to call my uncle's sightseeing office in DC to see if they were going to send anyone to pick us up.

I told John and the girls where I was going, and made my way down to the road where the payphones were. There were five or six phones all in a row on a plywood wall that was covered from the elements. The day before there had been lines of people waiting to make calls, but now only a couple of phones were occupied. I stepped up to one.

I dug a dime out of my pocket, dropped it into the slot and dialed zero. An operator came on, and I spoke to her. "I need to make a collect call to Washington, DC." She asked me for my name and the telephone number, and soon I heard a familiar voice come on the line.

"White House sightseeing," a woman's voice said.

"I have a collect call from a Mr. John Ivey. Will you accept the charges?" the operator asked.

"Yes, of course," the woman answered. She sounded excited.

"Go ahead, sir," the operator told me.

"Lynn?" I asked.

"Johnny Lee, I've been so worried. Are you okay?"

"Yeah, sure."

"I'm so glad to hear from you. We've all been worried about you."


"Yes! If anything had happened to you I would have felt responsible. I was the one who sent you up there with your cousin. Oh, I'm so glad you're okay."

"Yeah, well, we're okay. Are you guys going to send a bus up?"

"Hold on. Let me get John."

While I waited for my cousin to come to the phone, I began to hear the sound of an electric guitar coming from the stage, and I wondered who it could be. I had figured the concert was over.

"How are you doing there, guy? We've been worried about you." It was John Paris, my other cousin John. He ran dispatch at White House Sightseeing.

"I'm okay I guess."

"Well I'm glad you called. We want to send a bus up there to get you and the other folks, but we don't know where to find you. Can you help me out?"

"Do you know where the bus dropped the people off here on Friday night?" I asked.

"No, but I can check. Is that a good place?"

"As good a place as any, I guess."

"I'll get right on it. Can you hold on a few minutes?"

"Sure," I said. I leaned against the wall where the phone was attached and listened to the faint sound coming from the stage. The electric guitar sounded vaguely familiar, but I wasn't too concerned about it. I was looking forward to getting home.

All in all I had had a pretty rotten time of it at Woodstock, and the idea of spending the night indoors on a nice, soft mattress was pretty appealing.

After about 10 minutes, John came back on the phone. "Hey guy, you still there?"

"Yeah, I'm still here."

"I called your parents, and let them know you're okay. They've been pretty worried, you know."

"They were worried, huh?"

"We've all been worried about you, Johnny Lee. All we've been hearing about on the news is about the shortage of food and water and medical supplies up there. We didn't know if you were alive or not."

"Get out of here. Things haven't been that bad," I lied.

"Well, I'm glad you're all right. Wait just a minute, your Aunt Suzanne wants to talk to you."

After a minute she came on. "Johnny Lee, this is your Aunt Suzanne. How are you?"
Her voice was raspy as usual.

"I'm fine."

"How's John-John? Is he okay?"

"Yeah, he's okay."

"We've been worried about you two boys."

"That's what's everyone's telling me."

"Well, from the news it's a hell of a mess up there."

"It's not that bad."

"You tell John I said hi, okay?"

"I will, Aunt Suzanne."

"Here's John back. You take care. I love you, honey."

"I love you, too."

John came back on the line. "Okay, guy, I talked your dad, and he's going to drive the bus up there to pick you guys up. Sound good?"

"Yeah, sounds great! What time do you think he'll be up here?"

"That depends. Is there a lot of traffic up there? Can we get in?"

"I don't know what the main road is like, but it's not crowded at all here where we are."

"If there is no problem getting in there, your dad should be up there around three or four o'clock. How does that sound?"

"That sounds great, John. Thanks."

"No problem. We wouldn't leave you stranded up there. You're family, guy."

"Thanks, John."

"Thank you, Johnny Lee. I'll see you when you get back. Take care, guy." And then he hung up.

I hung the receiver up and wandered back out on the road. I looked at my watch. It was getting close to 9:30, and I figured I'd head up back the hill and tell the crew what was up.

It felt good knowing I had a way home. Everything seemed to be working out okay. The sky was blue with wispy clouds, and the rising sun had taken the chill out of the air. I was happy.

I got back to John and the girls, and they all tried to speak at once.

"Oh, man, you missed it," John exclaimed.

"Jimi Hendrix just played," Sherry added animatedly.

"He was incredible," Linda said. She sounded awestruck.
Damn. Just my luck. And I'd been in such a good mood.


Blogger Bibi said...

That would have been a bummer, to put it mildly. I love Jimi H!

6:39 PM  
Blogger John Ivey said...

Yes, Vicki, it was a total bummer. All in all, being a 14 year old at Woodstock was overwhelming to say the least. I was totally unprepared for the weather, the lack of food, the mud, etc. The best thing that came out of it was my being able to say I was there.

4:19 PM  

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