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Subject: I Remember It Well

Dan Hugos (happy)
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Date Posted: 08:15:26 06/07/13 Fri

I went a day early. There were four of us. I was 16, my buddy Russ and his girlfriend Sue were 17, and Nancy from the restaurant I worked at in Brewster, NY was 23.

We had to park our Peugeot several miles from town due to the traffic and the fact that the car engine was air-cooled, which was a problem because we weren't going anywhere too fast.

But we somehow made it there, pitched a tent, and then moved up maybe 50 yards from the stage to enjoy what turned out to be an all-night soundcheck.

I can remember Jerry Garcia, still with black hair, surveying the crowd, most of which was either sitting or lying down, in one of the mellowest summer evenings imaginable. Wisps of smoke all around, and the occasional wine bottle being hoisted. Even at 16, I knew full well how terrific the experience was.

Anyway, the next day started out nice too, though I woke up to feet all around me. The Dead played again starting around noon, then The Band. It got pretty hot, but I didn't want to give up our spot, even though now it was a WHOLE lot more dense-packed. So I just held it, and didn't think about it.

Then it rained like mad. An hour or two later when it stopped, I beheld a sea of sopping-wet humanity. But it was summer, and everybody kept it together, at least that I saw.

I don't think kids can do do that now, certainly not under those circumstances. That place would have turned into a mosh pit with breaking bottles and bonfires everywhere. Young people wired so much different now, but I guess we have only ourselves to blame for that.

Anyway, halfway through the Allman Brothers set, I finally had to go intensely, and so I walked back to the porta-johns, which I don't recall being bad at all. It was the most memorable piss I ever took. The fabled sound system was indeed doing its job beautifully and I recall my sweet relief, coupled with the strains of "Whipping Post."

By then it was just me and Nancy, as my other two friends had left and indeed when we walked back to the original campsite, they were gone.

So we began the long midnight trek into town, and I remember hearing the encore version of "Mountain Jam." I was just about asleep on my feet and my jeans were caked with mud up to my knees.

When we got to town, we went into a diner and somehow got a seat. Some guy was hitting on Nancy, so we thought what the hell, let's see if we can get a ride home out of it, which, after a few miles to his car riding on the hoods of other cars, we did manage - all the way home. Which was a feat, because there were about 200,000 other hitchhikers.

I finally made it home to Brewster, NY, maybe 3 hours away. My dad had put the front-page picture from the NY Daily News (where my mother was a reporter) on the refrigerator - an image shot from stage, and he had circled me with red ink there in the crowd. I looked closer, and, indeed, there I was.

Then I slept unconsciously for 18 hours, which was the longest I'd ever slept, and still is. The next day, I took the car without permission, and thus began another round of new things for my parents to deal with.

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