Un-Auto-Biography: The Cars Of Woodstock – I Almost Made It There

(first posted 11/25/2012)     Now why would I suddenly find myself thinking of Woodstock on this gray and cold morning? Especially since it’s a bit of a sore spot in my memory banks: I came within a cat’s whisker of going there, even though I was just sixteen (more on that later). But it’s fun to see the cars those did make it arrived in; quite the eclectic collection, and obviously a combination of their own cars and Mom and Dad’s.

Let me start out by saying that I would give credit to the original photographers of these photos, if I knew who they were. These pictures have floated around the web for years, so it’s almost impossible to attribute them. But whoever you are, thank you. And did you have a good time?

Well, at least we know where this one came from. I should be in that picture, since my ride was going to be in the back seat of my brother’s ’66 VW. We had just come back to Towson from a long summer trip back to Innsbruck, and my college-student older brother told me about the planned big party in upstate NY, and offered to let me go along with him and his buddy.

Given that I was sixteen, the truth would not have gone over well with my parents. Truth wasn’t exactly a commodity in the Niedermeyer household at that time. So the ruse was that we were going up to see car races at Watkins Glen, NY, something my older brother had done before. We were literally packing  stuff in the car when my Mom came trotting out the back door with “that look”. She had just heard on the radio about the NY Throughway being jammed for miles because of a half-million kids heading to a music festival in Woodstock, NY. Uh oh.

Was I ever bummed. If we had just left fifteen minutes earlier… And hearing all about it on the radio and tv…and my brother’s stories when he got back, looking a bit worse for wear.

I’d really have something to write about today, instead of just showing you the cars of Woodstock.

I’d hazard a guess that there were more VWs there than any other single model of car.

The tired old stereotype of Woodstock is that it was a “hippie festival”. Obviously, they were represented there, but probably 90% of the kids there were like my brother and his friends: college-age kids driving their VWs or Mom’s Chevy looking for a big party. Undoubtedly it exposed them to, or reinforced the nascent cultural themes and values. Perhaps a deep immersion, in some cases. My brother dropped out of school not long after, and has lived a rather un-traditional life. Who knows what would have happened to me if I’d actually gotten there? I might have done the same thing….

Did any of you make it?