Back to Woodstock Part 1

 Finally back on line so onward as my friend Bob says……………..

                                                        Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back. This week marks the 45th anniversary of a musical milestone and so I am taking you back in time to August 15, 1969. Until then Bethel Woods, New York had been a small village in the mountains about a three hour drive from New York City. Four young partners who were looking for a location for an outdoor music festival changed the town forever. Just thirty one days before their heavily publicized event was scheduled to be held in Wallkill, New York they lost their original location and has to scramble to find another.

The spot they found was on Max Yasker’s farm in Bethel and the event was called The Woodstock Music and Art Fair. In the matter of a week people started pouring into the small rural town and by the opening day of the festival on August 15th over 500,000 people were there making Bethel briefly one of the largest towns in New York State. What followed was three days of peace, love and music that has come to symbolize the 1960s and all the cultural changes that took place during that era.

As you regular readers probably know, when I discover something new I can get carried away with all the details. This may be one of those times but I hope you will find this interesting nonetheless.

Today the Museum at Bethel Woods sits on the grounds of the festival. The not-for-profit museum was created by the vision of one man who also had a lot of money. Alan Gerry was a cable vision pioneer who wanted to preserve the original site and who also wanted to help the local residents of one of the poorest counties in New York State. Gerry bought the property and seventeen thousand acres surrounding it. The land, combined with seventeen million dollars, was used to launch the Gerry Foundation in 2004 which was the beginning of one of the greatest museums of its kind on earth.

 It’s hard to know where to start with all the information about the museum and the grounds. Fifteen thousand people can sit in the outdoor amphitheater for summer concerts and there are four hundred and forty indoor seats for indoor shows. There are also eight hundred acres of manicured grounds where the actual festival took place. The museum hosts concerts, community workshops and all kinds of educational programs on art, history and culture. In the true spirit of Woodstock, most of these events are free.

 Bethel Woods has become a premier venue for big name entertainers and everyone from Bob Dylan to Elton John has played here. I was most impressed with the 6,728 foot exhibition hall which showcases thousands of objects that take you back to a changing time. When I was there twenty different films about the ’60s were available to watch as well.

 In celebration of next week’s anniversary, Santana will return along with Crosby, Stills and Nash and John Fogarty from Credence Clearwater. There will also be a free showing of the director’s uncut version of the award winning documentary about Woodstock on a giant screen and everyone I spoke with expected it to be a great party.

 Before I go off to meditate I have a few more interesting facts about Woodstock. Of the estimated half million people who attended, only two hundred people were arrested for drug offense. As many people were barefoot, foot injuries were common. There were two deaths, one from a drug overdose and one that occurred when a person sleeping in a pasture was run over by a tractor. Richie Havens wrote his signature song Freedom on the spot and by time Jimi Hendrix took the stage on Sunday there were n 35,000 still there.

                                                Till next week and with more from Woodstock, I’ll see ya down the road…

 P.S. The Will Rogers and Wiley Post Fly-in is coming up on August 17th at Dog Iron Ranch in Oolagah. Mark your calendars for this fun, family friendly event!







The Brooklyn Bridge Incident

  I have been off-line with computer problems so I apologize for the down time. I will be posting several articles over the next days and stay tuned for an exciting announcement in the next thirty days.                                                              

                                                                               Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back. On location in NYC this past week I’ve had the opportunity to visit with many well known news people at Fox Studios including Geraldo Rivera. Also at the Today Show I again talked with Matt Laurer, a very pregnant Savannah Guthrie and the always jovial Al Roker and on Monday at the Madison Café I got caught up with TV personality Rikki Klieman. As I mentioned a few weeks back, Rikki is married to NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. I could dedicate my entire column to any one of these fascinating people but after the Brooklyn Bridge incidentlast week my interest turned that way.

 If you haven’t heard, someone climbed to the top of the two towers, took down the American flags that usually fly along the bridge and replaced them with bleached flags that appear all white from a distance. I walked across the bridge myself and it is a massive structure.  When the Brooklyn Bridge opened on May 24, 1883 it was the largest suspension bridge on earth and at the time it was dubbed the “8th Wonder of the World.” On opening day it was estimated that over 150,000 walkers and 1800 vehicles crossed the bridge. It took fourteen years of hard labor to construct the mile long bridge which spans the East River, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn.

 According to The Great Bridge by David McCullough twenty men died during construction including bridge designer John Rambling. Rambling’s son then took over and completed the project but not without encountering serious medical problems himself. The opening of the bridge was a major event in American history and people were excited. But when train tracks were laid across the structure in 1885, thirty million passengers a year began using it to commute into Manhattan which was a milestone in the development of mass transit in the area.

 In the course of my research I also learned that many people seeking notoriety or wanting to commit suicide gravitate to the Brooklyn Bridge. The first jumper was Robert E. Odum in 1885 and he was also the first to die but apparently his death did not dissuade other jumpers. Amazingly a few people have lived to tell their stories. Today over 100,000 vehicles, 4,000 walkers and 2,000 bicyclists cross every day so there are plenty of deterrents for jumpers as I found when I joined the walkers. Still periodically you will read in the obituary

With the construction of the Williamsburg Bridge, which is four and a half feet longer, and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Brooklyn Bridge lost its standing as the longest bridge in the world. Several other bridges now connect Manhattan to nearby boroughs including the Manhattan, the Geensboro and the George Washington as well as numerous tunnels for subways and railways, all bringing millions of people to work every day.  In 1964 the Brooklyn Bridge was officially designated a National Historic Landmark. It takes thirty men to maintain it and the entire structure is repainted every five years or so.

 Unfortunately, I don’t have the space right now to give you the whole history of this historic landmark or all the other details of my ongoing business trip to New York City but I will have more next week. Till then I’ll see ya down the road….