Scarlet Disko: How old were you during Woodstock?
Judi Grunstra: I was 19.
S: What were you doing at the time?
J: I was going to school in Buffalo, NY, majoring in art history/humanities, and was home for the summer. I lived in Rockland County which was south of the festival in the suburbs of New York City. I was living there with my mom and working at the New York Public Library.
S: Were your parents aware of you going to Woodstock? If so, did they allow it?
J: I had bought my tickets with some good friends of mine that my mom knew. So, I think she was ok with it but was mad when I got home since she thought I had been running around nude like the people she’d seen on TV. As I was in college at the time, I felt that I belonged and associated with the hippie/counter-culture; I’d gone to several protest marches and was loving the music.
S: How many people did you go with?
J: I went with two really good friends and some of their friends who I didn’t know as well.
S: What did you think you were going to exactly?
J: A music festival. Three days of music and peace, it sounded like it was going to be a big countercultural event that would be a significant memory for my life.
S: When did you arrive at Woodstock?
J: We arrived Friday and some friends pitched a tent. However, I don’t remember being in the tent that often, we mostly stayed on a blanket that we had laid down on the hill. I know I fell asleep through the Who, but other than that, I don’t recall sleeping that much. There was so much going on and you didn’t want to miss anything.
S: Was it the first festival you went to?
J: It might of been the first festival I’d gone to, but I had seen the Beatles at Shea Stadium and the Rolling Stones at Carnegie Hall. I really enjoyed going to see live music and being around that atmosphere.
S: What was your favorite memory from the festival?
J: It was more of a feeling, that people were tied together and that maybe this generation was going to change society somehow.
S: Who were your favorite performer/performers?
J: Richie Havens was great as he opened the show. The music Santana played always carried as it had a more tribally drum sound. Joe Cocker and Sly & the Family Stone were amazing. Ten Years After was fantastic. Unfortunately, I went to my car when it rained and became muddy as it made me realize that I was tired and ready to leave, so I missed Jimi Hendrix.
S: What were some of your other memories about the music, the crowd, and the overall atmosphere?
J: I thought it was all remarkable with everyone dancing and drinking and having a good time. I remember there was a point when I was sitting on the blanket and I turned around to look back at all the different people there. My eyes connected with somebody’s who was a few rows back. I didn’t know this person, but our eyes made this connection and there was a feeling of “I’m seeing you, and your seeing me” that we both understood and we knew what was happening and how great it all was.
S: Do you have any bad memories of the festival?
J: Only the rain, other than that, the festival was wonderful.
S: Are there any life-changing words of advice or inspiration that you discovered before, during, or after Woodstock?
J: It was all part of a liberating era. It influenced me to want to be in a profession that would benefit, not just a profession that would make money.
S: What did you do after Woodstock? Was it hard going back to the real world?
J: Yeah, it was the end of the summer and pretty soon it would be time to go back to school. After I graduated, I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, with two friends who were going to school there. Since I had graduated already, I worked for an underground newspaper. Then I went to graduate school in Denver for library school. In Denver I met my husband who was from New Jersey and had gone to Woodstock as well.
S: What do you do now?
J: I work as a librarian, which I believe is a job that benefits society fitting my influences from Woodstock.
S: If you could, would you go back to Woodstock to experience those moments/memories again?
J: I wouldn’t necessarily want to go to a revival, but I would definitely go again to experience the wonderful moments from the time.
S: Is there anything you would like to share with us that you haven’t shared yet?
J: I continued to love seeing live music through my life. Music is really important to me, it’s one of the greatest gifts to mankind. When I moved to Santa Cruz, I started taking drum/percussion classes. To participate in music is just as important as listening. It’s good to sing and dance along to the music in order to fully feel and appreciate it.