This photo was featured on the cover of the Woodstock soundtrack forty-five years ago. The couple in the picture were Bobbi Kelly and Nick Ercoline, who was then girlfriend and boyfriend. Bobbi is from Pine Bush, New York where she worked at a bank; while, Nick is from Middletown, New York where he worked two jobs at the same time while going to college.
When they heard about the Woodstock, an approaching festival, on the radio, “we just had to go,” Bobbi says. And thus, their little adventure started. They took the roads to Bethel, New York. When they couldn’t go farther, they parked their car and walked two miles to witness the festival. It was only a night that they stayed. Unfortunately, they didn’t see the stage because they were so far away. It was in their most serene moment, in which they have no idea, that a photographer took their picture in a sweet embrace, draped in quilt.
This photo appeared on the Woodstock soundtrack. Even though they weren’t able to see the stage, Bobbi and Nick instantly became a legend.
According to Bobbi, now Bobbi Ercoline, “Woodstock was a sign of times. So many things were churning around in our world at that time: civil rights, the Vietnam war, women’s rights. It was our generation.”
“I know some people would say Woodstock changed their life. But I don’t think it contributed to who I am or who Nick is. I think we became the people we would have become anyway.”
On August 15 – 18, 1969, an estimated half a million people, like Bobbi and Nick, went to Max Yagur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York just to witness the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. And it was the documentary film and soundtrack of the music made the said event into a legend and will forever be in our history.
For their 40th anniversary, Woodstock is being immortalized once more. We’re getting more than a dozen of books written about it; the Taking Woodstock film by the Academy-Award-winner director Ang Lee; the original Woodstock movie which is now expanded and HD; and a six-CD box set featuring music from every performer in the festival, for the first time.
Featuring some of the performers forty-five years before, The Heroes of Woodstock tour even visited the original site in Bethel today. Same place, more than four decade ago, where the legend began.
Does Woodstock hold meaning today?
Forty-five years ago ‘it was a time when things were pretty grim both in America and around the world.’ says Michael Lang. He is the producer of the original festival as well as the anniversary festivals in 1994 and 1999.
“We were in a horrible war in Vietnam. We were engaged in many many civil rights struggles. There was this huge generation gap between the youths and their parents…and then along comes Woodstock, this miraculously peaceful gathering of half a million people. I think it just took everybody by surprise. It was this moment of hope and light in the midst of the very dark period.” Michael added.
Robert J. Thompson, the founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and the Popular Culture at Syracuse University, says that Woodstock remains a badge of identity — a badge that will always be a part of them. Those who were there were truly part of the Sixties, he added.
Woodstock’s defining moment
“Woodstock became a symbol, really late in that decade, of so many of the things that were swirling around,” Thompson continues. “It was one of the real last gasps of still a relatively innocent interpretation, and to some extent unambiguous interpretation, of the whole counterculture and youth movement.
“In ’69 there still seemed to be a grip on some kind of revolutionary vision for the nation. In a very short period thereafter, we would lose the war in Vietnam. Watergate would kick in. All those things that kind of broke the spirit of that American identity, in very significant ways, were just around the corner. But we hadn’t quite turned that corner.
“I don’t know that we can say: ‘Thanks to Woodstock, this happened, or that happened,’ ” Thompson says. “But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t important. …When the war ended, and the draft went away, there was the extent to which it — I wouldn’t want to use the word ‘fizzled’ — but it certainly … lost a lot of that energy that was aimed at getting us out of the war.”
When asked about what’s the generations’ defining moment, Joel Makower, a veteran writer and speaker answered,“First of all, when we’re talking about that generation, we’re really only talking about the white, middle-class part of the generation,” says Joel Makower, a veteran writer and speaker who compiled
“That said, it was a defining moment. … nothing more or nothing less than a symbolic moment.”
The Woodstock nation
Also known as the love generation, it seems that the people matured and even joined the culture it had rebelled against, thanks to Woodstock.
Makowers says, “Sure, everybody’s older and everybody has kids and grandkids and mortgages, and so, eventually, like most rebellious kids, you end up maturing and moderating your craziness and becoming part of the system by choice or necessity. But that doesn’t detract from that particular moment.”
That same moment remains as vivid to Bobbi and Nick as it does to anybody.
Two years after Woodstock, they’ve married and they now have children ages 33 and 35. They’ve always been community-minded and would have been so whether or not they had gone to Woodstock, said Bobbi. She is a school nurse. She also started a food pantry out of her office, while Nick inspects houses of poor people that were about to be renovated by the government.
“I think the further we get from the original event the more meaningful it becomes, the more we realize how phenomenal it was: all those people coming together with no violence, just peace, love and sharing,” Bobbi says. “Forty years later it’s just remarkable that it could have occurred.”