(CBS NEWS)- It’s been 50 years now since Nick and Bobbi Ercoline first walked on a particular hillside in Bethel, New York. “Brings me back to the time when I was 20 years old and falling in love with this beautiful woman here,” Nick said.
They were not alone that first time – far from it. Half a million others were camping out with them on Max Yasgur’s farm on that mid-August weekend in 1969. At the Woodstock Music and Art Fair – “Three days of peace and music,” the poster promised – what no one counted on was torrential rainstorms that turned the site into a muddy mess, with food, water and bathrooms all hard to come by.
One festival-goer told a CBS News correspondent at the time, “I’d like to say that I think this whole scene is out of sight, this is a real groovy scene!”
Correspondent Jim Axelrod asked Nick and Bobbi, “All those people packed in so tightly, conditions that weren’t ideal — what was the vibe like right here?”
“We were all in it together,” Bobbie replied.
They were all in it together, this Woodstock generation. A year after the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., and Bobby Kennedy, with the war in Vietnam raging, Woodstock was a counterbalance.
One young man told CBS News that day, “Once I got here and I felt the vibrations that these people are giving off, to see the sun come up with Jefferson Airplane was something, really something.”
“We hadn’t planned on going,” said Bobbi. “The tickets were $18 for three days; minimum wage [at the time] was $1.60.”
The festival succeeded despite the promoters’ ragtag, chaotic efforts. So many people showed up, it became impossible to control them, or to police ticketed entrances. The festival was declared open and free to everyone.
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