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Date Posted:15:50:55 01/28/14 Tue In reply to:
joseph orchowski sr
's message, "summer jam watkins glen july 28 1973" on 08:12:30 01/05/12 Thu
I was there 40 years ago.
I was 20, and the concert held many firsts for me: my first rock concert, first time I hitch-hiked; and first time I dropped acid. And even in that huge crowd, they were all positive experiences. Everybody wanted it to be like Woodstock again – and we succeeded.
About 8 pm on July 27th, 1973, two friends (I think it was Ed and John) and I were getting stoned at Ed’s house and heard about this concert on the radio. We grabbed some blankets and immediately set out to hitch-hike from Bricktown, NJ to Watkins Glen, NY. (285 + miles) I had $5 in my pocket (I was wealthy) – John and Ed had a bunch of weed and about $2 each. Got a ride right away with some people going to the concert.
Got within about 7 miles until traffic came to a complete standstill, so we started walking. This was about 5~6 am July 28th.
Someone was selling acid. I bought some. Within about an hour, my memory of what happened afterwards for the next 12 hours is kind of hazy.
I do remember: Lots of weed being passed around. It got really hot – over 90 degrees. Because I was getting badly sunburned, I lay on the ground in a fetal position, and drapped the blanket, (an old olive green wool Army surplus number)(in 90 degree heat!) over me and started rocking to the music. I remember someone walking by stopped and asked one of my buddies – “Is he ok ?” And hearing the reply “Yeah, he’s just trippin. ” Then – “Oh, OK, cool ! ” ( I’m pretty sure I was not the only person tripping that day.)
It says the Grateful Dead played for 4 hours – I only remember hearing one song – Truckin’.
Later, we went looking for a restroom. There were a couple of dozen Port-a-Pottties, (for 600,000 people).
They were so disgusting, we went to the woods. Then it started to rain. I think it was Ed who decided to get naked and take a shower in the rain showers. Someone gave him some soap, he got all lathered up, and then the rain stopped ! Then the sun came out and it got really hot again, so he got kind of itchy with all that dried soap under his jeans and tee shirt.
I don’t recall the Band or Allman Brothers playing during the rest of the day at all. I know they did, but for me it was all kind of just background music.
As evening came on, it started to really pour. That at least made Ed happy. And I was coming back from my trip. We found an abandoned food stand stall and, along with a few dozen other prople, appropriated it to get out of the rain. About midnight I fell asleep in the mud, with my head up against the boards of the wall. Then the Band, the Grateful Dead, and the Allman Brothers all started to jam together. Some guy who was sitting right above my head started kicking the wall in time to the music. That kind of woke me up. And even though I had not been drinking anything but water, I had the worst hangover. I asked the guy who was doing the kicking if he could go somewhere else. He said sure, said he was sorry, and he moved over about 6 inches. I went back to a partial sleep and woke up at sunrise the next morning. (July 29th) At least the hangover was gone.
We started hiking home. As we were leaving we saw that somebody had set fire to the Port-a-Potties.
I decided it was probably the best thing that could have happened to them.
Since there were about 100,000 people trying to hitchhike out of there, and we didn’t have any pretty young girls with us, and we were all muddy, dirty and bedraggled, we ended up walking many, many miles. Probably close to 15. If you look at the pictures of the grounds after the concert, I suppose we probably resembled those pictures.
Finally some guy and girl with a an old pickup let us ride in the back. We were cruising down the New York Throughway past some very beautiful countryside, all smoking some weed, when all of a sudden: BANG !!! It sounded like a huge explosion; and the truck slowed down and the driver pulled it over to the side of the road. We opened the hood of the truck. The bang had been the piston blowing through the sidewall of the engine. None of us had ever seen anything like that before, and although none of us were mechanics, we all knew that truck wasn’t going anywhere ever again. So my buddies and I went into the woods and let the the guy and girl start hitch-hiking first. They got a ride right away. Then we started hitching. Some really old psychiatrist (he must have been like 45 ! ) picked us up. He was very interested in our mindsets, and asked all kinds of questions all the way to New York City. We were probably the first ‘hippies’ he had ever spoken with. He dropped us off at Grand Central Station.
Since we did not have quite enough cash left to buy bus tickets home, we started pan-handling. (Begging)
We finally got the dollar or so we needed, and caught a bus back to Bricktown. Got back to Ed’s house about 9 pm that night. And for the first time in about 49 hours, we got some food.
So 40 years ago that is how I spent the last weekend in July.
And to this day, I’m still happy I did. Go figure.
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