- Susan Barnett, writer, journalist, mom and aspiring world-changer blogs about Woodstock below. She says in her profile, "I believe in the good that people can do, I believe that positive change is not impossible. I believe we have reached a point in history that makes rethinking our view of the world a matter of survival. All assumptions are up for examination. I also occasionally post some of my dad's writings on a companion blog, Alfred C. Barnett."
I live in Woodstock. I moved here when I was nine. I was twelve in 1969 - no way were my parents going to let me go to the concert fifty miles away. But I saw this town when it was clear why the festival organizers wanted to keep the name anyway.
Woodstock was a young town then. It had been an arts colony long before the hippies claimed it, but in 1969 the streets were crowded with long haired, friendly stoners. Music drifted into the street from the Joyous Lake on one end of town and the Cafe Espresso on the other. There was always the smell of leather from the weirdly named leather shop in the center of town. The biggest names in rock could be found jamming a the Espresso or grabbing a pizza at the Millstream Motel.
My first job, just a couple of years later, was to sit in the little rough-lumber shack that served as the Chamber of Commerce information booth at the main intersection into town in front of the Woodstock Playhouse and point down the road to the highway.
'It wasn't here,' I told carload after carload of people who wanted to see Max Yasgur's farm. 'It wasn't here.'
But people came anyway. There was a good vibe in Woodstock and the artists will tell you there always has been. They say it's the mountains.
I left when I went to college and didn't come back to live until thirty years later.
Woodstock 2009 is a changed place, just as the world has changed since then. The music business blossomed here, then withered. The hippies grew up and either burned out or assimilated. The leather shop is gone, replaced by a chic clothing store. The Espresso is a photo gallery. The Lake is a tee shirt and head shop. The musicians who stayed kept pretty much to themselves.
Woodstock has become an old town. Its young people huddle together on the stone steps in front of the empty storefront that was once Just Alan's; the first hip, urban gift shop in town. They show up at the convenient store, their red-rimmed eyes and wobbly gaits making the six packs in their hands seem like overkill. By ten at night, the streets are usually empty.
The older residents, some of whom have been here since before the concert, remember how it used to be and wonder what happened. They miss the music. They miss the life. The laid back attitude is still here, but it's not what it was. It's a quiet country town with a few eccentrics and a weekend tourist trade."