Iris Asamoah

Woodstock In My Heart

Recently someone called me an old-time Hippie, which made me feel real flattered, although I am not sure I am entitled to that description. To be honest, I was more of a pretender, always very carefully at the outskirts.

The first clear thoughts about the world, seemed to have reached my brain cells in Colorado, probably inspired by freedom of the press and mountain air. In Germany I had been lulled in by the Springer press, because the common publications where laying around for the taking, everywhere. It was enough claim to fame, to be a Berliner, anyhow.

Parts of my awakening were gruesome! When I ran sobbing to my neighbor, and asked, did she hear about Martin Luther King having been shot, she said it had been high time, somebody was bound to kill that nigger. The neighbor was such, as would be called a `nice young lady.´ After this incident and her statement, I felt it necessary to distance myself from the `nice´ people. I never spoke to my neighbor about Bobby Kennedy.

That was bad, also! I just wanted to turn off the TV for the night, when, instead of sending the expected National Anthem, there were these sad pictures of Bobby Kennedy, laying on the ground.

Ron was in Viet Nam, and I wracked my brain all year, how I could explain to him, that I had become convinced the war was real shitty. A fierce statement, because I was married to a soldier, who’s friends were dying away over there. That problem wore out by itself, finally, because when Ron returned, he had reached the same conclusions about the war, as I. He did not follow up with consequences however, but continued his stay in the Army. He claimed he was the Underground, which had a right to exist, under the circumstances. I never noticed any actions, that would have fit his many words.

I met Claire in Colorado and finally realized that it was a lot easier to talk to a woman than a men. We were astonishing open and honest with each other, never tried to deceive one another. I never knew anything like this friendship, from before. I admired Claire. She was 35 years of age already, but still very lively. She was smart, and also what we called artsy-crafty. She was really a sculptress, but she could do all kinds of carpentry, as well as paint wonderful pictures. For me she fixed a `God’s eye´ out of colorful wool and wooden sticks, for protection. She also made me narrow, black, stand-up shelves for keepsakes, semi precious rocks and other treasures. For my birthday, she drew me a big poster of `Cannabis Sativa´ supposedly, so I could recognize the herb, should it ever turn up somewhere.

Claire always had great ideas, and our scene was real cool. One time she came over to my place and told me all excited, the Polish lady in her house had criticized me for looking like a Hippie. We were very happy about this for hours. Claire did not have it that easy, concerning her looks. Once, when she confined to a friend that she’d like to become a Hippie, he answered wryly: " More likely a Hippo."

That was an uncool remark! But Claire seemed to find it funny, anyhow.

She did not seem to be concerned about all the extra pounds, she carried around. ---

Sunday’s the kids and I always tried to be on our best behavior, because we went to visit my parent’s in-law. Meanwhile Claire drove around with her old car, which she had christened `Bessie, ´ to check the action in the area. Often she wound up in the Park, at Love-Ins, Be-Ins, or Free Concerts. One time people passed Kool Aid around, from which Claire’s little daughter drank. She was far out for days, we suspected there had been acid in the brew. I decided not to take my kids to any such Happenings.

Drugs were a problem to me. Timothy Leary seemed much too high, but I could never get off the ground at all, with my banana and nutmeg experiences. The music was full of hints about trips and drug experiences, and I was full of curiosity. Oh, but curiosity! It was a real longing!

Jefferson Airplane inspired me to read `Alice in Wonderland´ once more.

I heard Lewis Carroll was supposed to have been on cocaine. Whatever, he was unquestionably stoned while writing! I discovered a certain affinity to the white rabbit, because I too often feared to be too late, and hurried a lot to get anywhere. That in turn made me too fast, very often, and in final analysis even without Alice’s `EAT ME´ and `DRINK ME´, quite often very small. I was rarely too big.

At this time, we were still very much into plastics, earrings and stuff, mainly. One time I ordered an entire dress of this material, but then I did not want to wear it, after all.- I had a lot of love beads, many of painted wood, others of colorful seeds.- Much to the dismay of my mother-in-law my skirts were getting shorter and shorter. I was a skinny Twiggy type, after all. Therefore I only wore blue jeans anymore, when I went to visit Mother. She did not like that, either.- There was always the smell of incense in my clothes, we liked Sandalwood best.-

Time and again Claire and I talked to Hippies, who were passing through Denver on their way to the Haight Ashbury. I am still wondering what kind of life I would have led, what adventures experienced, if I had given in to my desire to hike along. A sense of duty toward the kids, or just chicken I clang to my small suburb. Bob Dylan sang it from my

turntable: " I walked the line!"

We got our kicks from marshmallows, Hershey kisses and Merry-Go-A Rounds. We watched the kiddy programs on the TV up and down, we roamed about with the kids, I read children’s books to them in the evening, I tried out new recipes in the kitchen. In short, we kept our longing for freedom under control even so that was kind of hard. We were good housewives and mothers.

I decided to follow the call to go `inner space,´ practiced Yoga and tried meditation.

Claire and I had to part, and after that, everything seemed a lot less hip. I did not find a girlfriend in Montgomery County, New York, but at first sight, via TV, I recognized Janis Joplin as my true sister. That was a related soul, even so I usually did not make it over a 6 pack, and never tried Southern Comfort.

Somehow my dream of being a Hippy started to go down the drain already.

We were living in a beautiful house at Bulleville Road. I never saw any bulls there, but a pack of wild dogs was threatening my comfort. - There were wasp nests in the roof of the house, which no one seemed to be able to get rid of. In the cellar we kept a common, brown rabbit. Our cat was everywhere and always turned up where we expected her least. Her favorite hiding places seemed to be in the toy boxes. The cat was named `Coocacho´ after `Coo coo ca-choo, Mrs. Robinson´ by Simon and Garfunkel. Next to our house, in an oversized trailer lived a truck driver with his large family. They all drank very much beer and were very loud.

The whole thing did not seem quite right to me, so I stayed mainly `inner space.´ Most of the time the Beatles kept me company, `Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds´ was my favorite song then. I did not own many records yet.

Then came the day of shame and disgrace: I failed to go to Woodstock!

Really, I must have been living behind the moon, because I did not hear about the event until Ron got home, much later then usual. He explained angrily that the streets were packed full of cars, he hardly made it through. Thousands of cars were trying to reach Woodstock, because there had been a rock concert scheduled.

If so many people where on the way there, than a lot of groovy things must be happening, and Rock had always been my thing! I wanted to go there, too! Woodstock was only a few miles away, so, why not?

I bet Canned Heat were already doing their `Going up the Country´ when Ron was still arguing that it would really be impossible to get through all the cars. Later the people next door, told me they had driven there, only to make fun of the Hippies. That got me very angry, even in retrospect.

Crosby, Stills and Nash probably sailed away on their `Wooden Ships´ already as Ron was still trying to convince me that I would not want to take the kids into such a crowd of people.

I suspect Richie Havens dreamt with his guitar of `Freedom´, while I had to listen to Ron’s argumentation that the weather was too bad, it would more than likely rain soon.

I am ashamed to admit it, but I was still so programmed that the though of going to the concert by myself, did not even occur to me.

`Ball and Chain´, Janis!

I had stashed some hash and smoked a pipe, as a protest symbol. Ron spend the evening in a big chair in front of the television. When there was a newsflash that Woodstock had been declared a disaster area, he felt redeemed!

Years later, when Ron wanted to show off as cool and hip, I had a habit of spoiling his scene when I said:

"Remember Woodstock!"

That continued to be a sore point.

It did not take long, and the music of Woodstock was being heard every where. As soon as the records came out, I bought them, and I played them day and night. My record collection grew quite a bit during the years, but now and then, I still play Woodstock. It wasn’t just the rock, it was the feeling of a special generation. The music was great, and the musicians expressed nearly everything, which was moving us at the time.

10 record sides, I took into my heart! It was like with a great love. I know it is passed, but the love continues to be a part of me, stays in my heart, won’t be removed by time nor reason.

Many years later my daughter complained:

"I think you are the only mother, singing Jimi Hendrix."

We were back in Germany at that time, in the Schwabenländle, and I belief she felt embarrassed.

At times, even now there is a "do do do do do do do do dam, da dam, as she go walking down the street---" sounding through my head, when I go somewhere. In the subway I look at my follow passengers and wonder how they would look, if they were on a different trip. Some of the Yuppies in their suits, I could easily imagine in Hiphuggers and with love beads.-

Don’t think it would be bad, if today’s kids would keep feeding each other, instead of pulling off each others jackets or stealing little old ladies handbags. One of my favorite fantasies is, that hair would suddenly grow on the scalps of Skinheads, and they’d sing "I Want to Take You Higher" instead of mouthing Nazi paroles. Just imagine, they’d exchange their Doc Martens with Jesus sandals. Instead of swinging baseball bats, they’d hand out wild flowers, smiling sweetly all the while and wishing peace!

Wasn’t that a wonderful way to demonstrate! I long for the good old times. I’m growing old but staying young, with Woodstock in my heart!


All rights belong to its author. It was published on by demand of Iris Asamoah.
Published on on 12/11/2005.


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