Wavy Gravy is famously supposed to have said “If you can remember the ’60’s, you weren’t there.” That may be the case for you and many others of our generation, Mr. Gravy, but I do remember them, and I was there. I kinda wanted to be a hippie chick, but my parents were strict, my college, Texas Tech, was in the middle of the Bible Belt, and my husband was a law student at Baylor University, then an Army captain, so my hippie plans didn’t work out for me.
Until August of 1989, when I answered the call from Arlo Guthrie to join him on a trip to Europe to avoid the commercialism and hype of the 20th anniversary of Woodstock. I wasn’t sure what might happen, thinking the other travelers might be aging, microbiotic-eating, shaggy-haired and bearded people with whom I couldn’t relate. I had am image of Arlo as a good guy, a hero of my youth, and I didn’t want to find out he had feet of clay. I took the chance anyway. Boy, was I wrong on both account!
Thanks to Janet Alley, here’s a photo of some of my fellow travelers. The Japanese tourist, who look variously happy or terrified, weren’t part of our group:
Some of us tried to plan a 20th anniversary of our escape from the 20th anniversary of Woodstock, but we couldn’t pull it together. Instead, there were mini-reunions at various spots around the country. Here’s a photo of my mini-reunion at the WoodyFest with Judy B., Margaret Barton-Ross, T-Shirt Cathy and me – thanks to Shelley Caldwell for the photoshopping – note, this is still a work in progress:
The trip was the start of my new life. I met some wonderful people who are still my friends, and some I haven’t seen again but remember fondly. I discovered that Arlo Guthrie is who you want to believe he is, no feet of clay. And through him I did get to meet some amazing people – my guru, Ma Jaya, and my guru bai at Kashi Ashram, all of Arlo’s kids & his wife Jackie, a strong and fabulous woman, Kris Kristopherson, Richie Havens, and a bunch of other performers who came to the Indian River festivals in Florida in the early 1990’s. Oh yeah, at Thanksgiving 1989 a bunch of us reunited at Arlo’s Carnegie Hall show, and I got to go backstage, and one of my biggest heroes of all time, Pete Seeger, offered me some popcorn. I even met Wavy Gravy, who was standing in the pond at Kashi that represents the River Ganges, playing a ukelele and singing “The Old Gray Goose She Ain’t What She Used to Be.” It was a surreal moment, and I’ll never forget it.
Twenty years ago, on the twentieth anniversary of the weekend that would change my life twenty years later (do the math) I was with Arlo & the Blunderites at a little hotel in either Austria or Switzerland. Some of us were sitting outside, when the hotel manager came out and said “Mr. Guthrie, we’re showing the Woodstock movie inside, do you want to watch it?” Arlo declined, but the rest of us decided it was a fine idea. The manager looked at Arlo, his hair now a reddish shade somewhat like a lion’s mane, and said “You know, you don’t look the same.” Maybe not, but he was the same inside, and still is, even though the dark curls are now all gray. Thanks, Arlo, for being who you are and for changing my life in such a good way.