Woodstock at 50: Good-for-You Groovy In a Dixie Cup
Dairy has always been good to Newberry, and in my never-humble opinion, I believe we have a duty to reciprocate. Whenever possible, children, we should celebrate anything dairy-connected. Therefore, we must celebrate the 50th anniversary of a shining dairy-moment in American history.
On Aug. 15-17, 1969, the “peace love and music festival” forever known as “Woodstock” was held on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York. That is correct. Woodstock was not held in Woodstock. Woodstock was not an ordinary rock concert, either.
Academicians and historians and sociologists—even TV stars—have for 50 years profoundly pontificated about the the artistic, psychological, pharmaceutical, socio-political and anthropolgic significance of the bovinely-inspired festival. Woodstock has been called the three days that defined a generation, the “music and art fair” that gave voice to the 1960s counter-culture, the “Aquarian Exposition” that proved justice and harmony and generosity can prevail (even when sanitary conditions and food supplies do not). As for the lifelong impact of Woodstock on individuals? The wonderful Sandy Smith of Newberry College interviewed my children’s fun-tastic “Uncle Walter” in 2009 after he returned from the 40th anniversary Woodstock concert (from which, BTW, he brought us two way-groovy Woodstock souvenir Christmas tree ornaments).
In Sandy’s interview, she asked the late Uncle Walter how Woodstock had affected his outlook on life. His reply was, “You always have...a little Peter Pan left in your soul.” Profound, I think, as Uncle Walter so often was. Absolutely, Woodstock had a tremendous impact on the individuals who attended and on the society that watched. Woodstock also changed your breakfast food options. You doubt? Truly, you can bet your sweet lava lamp on it.
You Can’t Always Get What You Plan
In some ways, the plan of Woodstock’s four organizers—all men under 30—worked out.
As expected, music fans were dazzled by the line-up of 36 big-name performers, including: Credence Clearwater Revival with “Bad Moon Rising” (aka “The Bathroom on the Right” song); Janis Joplin with “Ball and Chain;” Jimi Hendrix with the national anthem; Blood Sweat and Tears with “Spinning Wheel;” and Newberry Opera House alum Arlo Guthrie, with “Amazing Grace.”
As expected, ticket sales went well, as did negotiations with performers. As not expected? The original location dis-located 60+ miles, from Woodstock to Max’s dairy farm in Bethel. Only 50,000 were expected to attend, but over 400,000 showed up. Sanitary conditions were not sanitary. Nathan’s hot dogs agreed to provide concessions but backed out when the crowd size exploded. Promoters depended on pretty weather for the outside concert, but rain poured and kept pouring. Sleeping bags and blankets were soon “sopping muddy soaked.” Many festival-goers brought (using a bit of discretion here) chemical substances related to pharmaceuticals for which they had no prescription. Not surprisingly, people soon become over-heated, over-soaked, over-buzzed and over-hungry.
Enter the Hog Farm: Breakfast in Bed for 400,000
The Grateful Dead clown, a guy called Wavy Gravy (nee Romney), had invited the Hog Farm commune from New Mexico to provide festival security. (I did not make that up. It was the 60s, remember?). Gravy instructed the security teams to keep the peace (amongst a half-million young people) by throwing cream pies or squirting seltzer water on trouble-makers. (I did not make that up. It was the 60s, remember?) Wavy’s plan must have worked, and Woodstock lived up to its name of “peace love and music” festival. Fifty years later, most folks agree it’s a minor miracle that a half-million people spent three days under such awful conditions without a heap of awful trouble.
The most awful big trouble? There was little to no food.
Nathan’s had backed out, few vendors came, and those who did quickly ran out of food that was outrageously priced. In the absence of a miracle involving loaves and fishes, the Great Hog Farm Breakfast Intervention became necessary. (Yes, I made up the name, but the rest is real. It was the 60s.) Festival organizers gave Lisa Law of the Hog Farm $3,000 and sent her into New York City. Her mission? Feed the 400,000. She returned from New York with apricots, almonds, rolled oats, currants, honey—And Dixie cups. Lots of Dixie cups.
The Hog Farm folks started cooking at hyper-drive speed, and Gravy announced from the stage there would be “breakfast in bed for 400,000.” The granola was distributed in Dixie cups, handed to the awake and set beside the blankets of the sleeping. Most of the Woodstock hungry were not familiar with the breakfast food in their Dixie cups. It was not a new food, actually, but it was new to them. (Kind of like your first car, right?) In one muddy swoop, hundreds of thousands of young people from across the nation were introduced to granola.
America, meet Granola; Granola, meet America.
The wet and huddled masses fell in love with the crunchy/sweet granola, and when they left Woodstock for home and/or college, they wanted more. So it was, families all across the nation were introduced to granola by the young people who gathered on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in 1969.
Yes, Mr. Dylan. The times, they were a’changing. Breakfast was, anyway.
Lisa Law has kindly shared her delicious, nutritious recipe on the website, woodstockpreservation.org, which was also among the websites used in research for this article. Google and see for y’self the Wavy Gravy stories. (He was so impressive, Ben and Jerry named an ice cream in his honor.)
Back to Lisa’s recipe. No M & M’s candies are included, even though some folks at Woodstock remember them fondly. (Of course, it has been said that if you remember Woodstock, you weren’t really there. Again, the 60s.) In any case, granola recipes are like potpouri. Lots of choices, do what you like. Mix and match, play as you will. You can use honey instead of molasses, but under no circumstances should you forget the salt. It’s important.
Summer is a great time to enjoy granola, even when we are not celebrating the Golden Anniversary of Woodstock. Granola gives added sweetness and crunch to ice cream and yogurt, and you can make several days of breakfast with only one day of stove-heat. As for the Dixie cups? My search for traditional, cone-shaped white Dixie cups with musical notes at the top was not successful. Instead, use birthday party cups, clear plastic cups, whatever you like. What’s important here is not the cup itself, but what’s inside the cup.
Hope you and yours enjoy this bit of morning sweetness from 50 years ago—from that music festival forever known as Woodstock, held on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York. Remember: here in the ‘Berry we celebrate anything dairy, and that would include the Woodstock Aquarian Exposition, aka the peace love and music festival. Now, dear children, take those old records off the shelf, find your air guitar, and let the celebration commence.
PS Some of you, I know, have had one burning question on your minds since the very beginning of this article. I will hold you in suspense no longer. Max Yasgur favored the Gurnsey breed, not the Jersey. You’re welcome.
Sunshine Happy Hippie Granola
Recipe courtesy of Donna (Hog Farm Collective)
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup cashews or walnuts (yes, you can use pecans)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 sunflower seeds
1/4 cup (packed extra full and a little above the top) of dark brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup (very full 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup canola oil
two pinches of salt
1 cup raisins (golden preferred), to be added AFTER cooking
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Combine oats, nuts, coconut and brown sugar. Mix well.
In a separate bowl combine maple syrup, oil and salt. Add this to the oat mixture and stir until thoroughly blended. Pour onto two cookie sheets. Bake for about 75 minutes (stir every 15 minutes for an even color). Remove from oven, pour into large bowl, and stir in raisins.
We believe there is a wealth of kitchen wisdom in Newberry County, and we would like to hear about it. Please, share your good family recipes with us, and tell us about good cooks whose stories you would like to hear. Call Sue 276-6197.