---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2001 09:49:41 EDT
Subject: local author celebrated 31st wed annivers. to girl he "met" at
I was twenty years old in 1969.
I was a seminary student for the priesthood and on summer vacation in the
summer of 1969.
I was a loner, a peripheral man on the fringes of both the counterculture and
society at large.
It was a turbulent time in America with wars raging on both the foreign and
domestic fronts. With assassinations of our liberal leaders, civil unrest,
discrimination and the questioning of all authority, The institutions of this
country were being rocked to their foundations. In this environment the
counterculture took on added appeal.
My favorite group was The Doors. I had a record player that played single
33rpms. The only record I owned was ^^Riders on The Storm^^ (The first choice
for my book title) which I played over and over. I also liked the later
Beatles, Temptations, Dillon, Lovin Spoonful, Rascals, Kinks etc.
Aside from the Temps and Four Tops, which were, feel good groups; the other
music acknowledged underlying feelings of alienation and angst.
The Hippie movement was more than bell bottom pants and long hair. It was a
state of mind. A world view. A philosophy and lifestyle. It was so pervasive
that it crept into and finally overran the mainstream culture. We were all
part of it to some degree. We shared common values such as basic human rights
for all people, the sanctity of life, the search for truth and a better
world, the power of change, a distrust of those in power.
Civil unrest was the first wave of change to sweep the country.
Demonstrations quickly turned violent Hatred and division ran rampant. Then
women rights and the counterrevolution. The ^^hard hats^^(Middle America) and
government were terrified and struck back. Black people were beaten and hosed
in the streets. The student protesters were savagely beaten by Mayor Daly^^s
police at the 68 Democratic Convention. Our fellow young men were being
brought home in body bags by the thousands. Daily bombings of Vietnam and
Cambodia. Assassinations of Presidents and Civil Rights leaders, all of the
above brought to us in living color each night on the 6 o^^clock news.
The Vietnam War was evil. Perpetrated on a foreign people by industrialists
and government determined to advance their capitalistic and political agendas
with total disregard for human life.
The drug scene was a way out (not a real good one) of the day to day oblivion
and despair many of us felt. I began riding motorcycles, studying philosophy,
visiting a friend in the town of Woodstock regularly, riding the subways of
Manhattan alone late at night and spending time in Greenwich Village.
I attended the Woodstock Festival in 1969. I was involved with student sit
ins at Lehman College during the Cambodia bombings:
: 1. I was barely twenty years old. 3. I followed a girl I had met the week
before in Tarrytown N.Y. She was in a camaro with her girlfriend and two
guys. One looked like Jimi Hendricks, the other like Lynyrd Skynyrd. I
followed on my motorcycle, with ape hanger handlebars and a sissybar to which
was tied a very large duffel bag. 2. I stayed the three days. 4. Pretty much.
5. I was a loner but followed a car with four people in it. One was a girl
that intrigued me. 6. I wasn't a protester but I was a seminarian questioning
my vocation. I was on vacation and went spur of the moment. Noone knew what
was in store for us up there. 7. I didn't get injured but the person I ended
up with did. 8. I lived in Sleepy Hollow i.e. Tarrytown NY. 9. I was single
and in the seminary as I stated. 10. I went to Woodstock 79, 99, and 30. 11.
At Woodstock 69 I did a few things I shouldn't have. At Woodstock 79 no one
was there. At Woodstock 99 I went around telling the young people to be
careful. 12. Yes. Heres the best Woodstock story ever told: I was barely
twenty as I said. I had my motorcycle against the curb on Beekman Avenue in
Tarrytown when a pretty girl pulled up in a new Mustang. She noticed me
admiring her car and asked me if I wanted a ride. I said yes if I could keep
my helmet on because I didn't rust female drivers. We drove around Tarrytown
for two hours and became friendly. She invited me to follow her and her
girlfriend up to Woodstock the following week. I met her and her girlfriend
and the two guys I mentioned above at the foot of the Tappan Zee Bridge that
Friday and we headed up the New York Thruway. When we got within 15 miles the
traffic began to back up. The girl jumped out of the car wearing only jeans,
a top, and no shoes. She made me throw my gear in the trunk of the car and we
rode along the edge of the highway into the festival site and waited for the
car to catch up. It never did. All the cars came to a stop and we realized we
would not connect with our friends. I turned to her and asked if she had any
money? She had $60 which was a fortune in 1969. I told her that the rules of
he road dictated I watch out for her the entire weekend but she would have to
split the dough. She agreed and jumped back on the bike and we got a bottle
of wine and rode into the Festival. She was barely seventeen. So there I
stood on the edge of the grassy oval with this pretty girl with hair down to
her waist (she looked like the girl on the Mod Squad TV show) a bottle of
wine and my bike surrounded by 400000 soul mates. It doesn't get any better!
Then we watched as a tractor drove along a cleared portion of earth (all the
grass was trampled and the mud and 500 years of cow manure were coming to the
surface) I watched as the tractor ran over what appeared to be a mound of
earth as a human hand flung out. It became evident that a person had been in
a mummy sleeping bag and had been run over. I ran to the trailers and banged
on a door until the doctor came out. I told him he had to come and help
because someone had been run over. "What do you want me to DO!" he said
explaining that thousands of people were overdosing, having babies etc. "Are
you kidding?" I said "I'll knock you out damn it!" " I'm sorry,^^ he said" but
I will call a medivac unit. The helicopter flew in and removed the young man
already dead. It was like a replay of the 6 o^^clock news with all my fellow
young Americans coming back in body bags from Nam. Then the rain came. We
were cold and wet and found refuge in other people^^s tents was we slept
briefly an hour at a time. We sloshed around together the entire weekend,
listening to the music and taking in the scene. My friend stepped on glass
and cut her foot. She got help in on of the medical tents. In between the
music played and everyone got along- no assaults or murders. People loving
each other. Saturday night Sly and The Family Stone came on stage and sung
"Gotta get Highyer" and 500000 young people shouted the lyrics at the top of
their lungs. By Sunday I was sick and thought I had pneumonia. So I decide
not to wait for Hendricks and took my friend home. Riding down the Thruway in
torrential rain I had a premonition of a crash. Just then the memory of my
roommate from the seminary entered my mind to remind me he worked in a camp
in the Catskills. I turned off the road and stopped at a store and asked if
they heard of St. Vincent^^s camp. It was just down the road! I pulled in to
the camp with a full beard and leather jacket, a big knife strapped to my
waist on my black bike. The young girl on the back was literally in tatters.
The old Irish Catholic nun at the gate was mortified when I told her I was
seminarian. My roommate identified me and was let in. I slept under ten
covers in a big log bed while news reports about the disaster area we had
just come from played on the TV. The next day it was sunny and clear as I
dropped my new friend of on a corner in Tarrytown, Tears welled up in her
eyes as I explained I was headed back to the seminary. Once back at school in
my vestments whenever I opened my prayer book the picture of that sweet girl
with tears in her eyes would appear. I put up with it for three months before
I cranked up the bike and rode back over the Throggs Neck Bridge to tell her
I might be able to see her once in a while. Ps. thirty two years later we are
still married! A very true story. June 28 we celebrated our 31st wedding
Christopher Cole www.xlibris.com/thecloserssong.html
There was no police harassment at Woodstock that I observed. Just the
opposite. They left everyone alone and were friendly.
I felt a camaraderie with the downtrodden and oppressed. I was poor, strong
willed, and a fiercely independent thinker. I was a philosopher and an
existentialist. When I ultimately decided to leave the seminary (I had
studied since age 13) I underwent a religious and moral crisis. It was a time
of deep emotion and psychological soul searching.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever be selling luxury
automobiles thirty years later!
I think a lot of us became disillusioned back then just after Woodstock, Alta
Mont and Kent State. We all went on with our lives and buried our ideals. We
became jaded and cynical. We ultimately matured (how horrible!). But there is
a reawakening, a resurgence beginning to sweep the country, I feel. A lot of
us including myself are beginning to look back to those times and question
the paths we have taken. (That^^s part of the reason I wrote my book) We are
trying to recapture the magic and the light we left behind.
The experiences of the past were both liberating and dehabilitating. Many of
us who experimented with mindaltering substances for instance, may have
actually changed who we were, the very makeup of our own brains and
personalities. There is something sad in that I think. Maybe that explains
the comical situation I put myself in at the twenty fifth reunion at
Woodstock in Bethel were I walked around at night telling young people
smoking pot that ^^you really shouldn^^t be doing that^^. Being a parent now
myself (a grandparent actually) I wished I had taken it a little
easier on my own parents. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if
I went all the way and became ordained. How many people would I have helped?
To borrow a phrase ^^It was the best of times and the worst of times^^. I have
enjoyed the fruits of my labors to some extent in my adult life although I
bought my first house at age 25, and drove fancy cars most of my life, I
never became a slave to money. But did become a slave to the retail business.
A workaholic, putting in 12 hour days for thirty years. I took few vacations,
and smelled few too many flowers. Yet for what, I now as others ask myself.
Thank you for your excellent questions. I hope I answered them
satisfactorily. Due to time constraints I couldn^^t elaborate further.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Jul 03 2001 - 16:59:52 EDT