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'A waterfall of love': Woodstock memories 50 years later

Updated : 2019-08-13 16:05:23

They helicoptered over crowds into the Woodstock festival and hiked in past abandoned cars. They danced at dawn on a muddy hillside and dodged drenching rain. They barely slept, phoned Mom to say they were OK and marveled at their sheer numbers. They left behind sodden socks and sleeping bags, but gained an enduring sense of community.

Fifty years later, memories of the anarchic weekend of Aug. 15-18, 1969, remains sharp among people who were in the crowd and on the stage for the historic festival. Here are their recollections of the Woodstock festival.

Kevin Rheden poses for a photograph with a photo of himself taken while in high school as he talks about his memories of the original Woodstock music festival. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
Kevin Rheden poses for a photograph with a photo of himself taken while in high school as he talks about his memories of the original Woodstock music festival. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
"I'm meandering up through bodies, you know, smiling faces and feeling this overwhelming feeling of comfort. I can't describe it except to say that the hillside was just like a waterfall of love ... It's like I'm not alone. There are other people out there that think like me, dress like me, look like me and live like me,” says Kevin Rheden. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
Kevin Rheden's memorabilia of his memories of the Woodstock music festival and his return trip to the site in Bethel are displayed on a table at his home. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
Kevin Rheden's memorabilia of his memories of the Woodstock music festival and his return trip to the site in Bethel are displayed on a table at his home. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
A flat piece of ground and some rocks are all that remain of the stage of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Fair. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
A flat piece of ground and some rocks are all that remain of the stage of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Fair. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Henry Diltz poses for a picture in the Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York. Diltz said he got to the site early during the setup:
Henry Diltz poses for a picture in the Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York. Diltz said he got to the site early during the setup: "All these hippie carpenters were sawing and hammering, building this huge plywood deck right at the bottom of this big, green hillside. It was like being on an aircraft carrier. The green alfalfa was waving in the breeze ... It was all wonderful. It was like summer camp." (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Ilene Marder Hinchey poses for a picture in Woodstock. Hinchey was one of the 400,000 people who flocked to the three-day Woodstock Music and Art Festival in 1969 Bethel. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Ilene Marder Hinchey poses for a picture in Woodstock. Hinchey was one of the 400,000 people who flocked to the three-day Woodstock Music and Art Festival in 1969 Bethel. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Vehicles head west on route 17B, near the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Festival in Bethel. It was a great spot for peaceful vibes, but miserable for handling the hordes coming in by car. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Vehicles head west on route 17B, near the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Festival in Bethel. It was a great spot for peaceful vibes, but miserable for handling the hordes coming in by car. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
David Crosby poses for a portrait in Park City, Utah. Crosby was one of the performers on stage at the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Festival.
David Crosby poses for a portrait in Park City, Utah. Crosby was one of the performers on stage at the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Festival. "I saw people tear a sandwich and share it. Being nice to each other, gave us hope. There is the significant thing. For a minute, we were hopeful." (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP, File)
An aerial photo shows the field on Max Yasgur's farm where 400,000 people flocked for the1969 Woodstock Festival in Bethel. Woodstock was staged 80 miles (130 kilometres) northwest of New York City on a bucolic hillside owned by dairy farmer Max Yasgur. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
An aerial photo shows the field on Max Yasgur's farm where 400,000 people flocked for the1969 Woodstock Festival in Bethel. Woodstock was staged 80 miles (130 kilometres) northwest of New York City on a bucolic hillside owned by dairy farmer Max Yasgur. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
A small peace sign is set into the grass at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, in Bethel. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
A small peace sign is set into the grass at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, in Bethel. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
A tourist looks at messages and items people have left at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in Bethel. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
A tourist looks at messages and items people have left at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in Bethel. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Photo shows the number 50 and a peace sign mowed into the grass at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in Bethel. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Photo shows the number 50 and a peace sign mowed into the grass at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in Bethel. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Rock music fans hike from the Woodstock Music and Art Festival, in Bethel. Some 300,000 fans began to leave as the festival ended in the rain. (AP Photo/File)
Rock music fans hike from the Woodstock Music and Art Festival, in Bethel. Some 300,000 fans began to leave as the festival ended in the rain. (AP Photo/File)
Grass and leaf huts are used as makeshift living quarters for some of the attendees at the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival. (AP Photo/File)
Grass and leaf huts are used as makeshift living quarters for some of the attendees at the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival. (AP Photo/File)
A portion of the 400,000 concertgoers who attended the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival held on a 600-acre pasture near Bethel. (AP Photo/File)
A portion of the 400,000 concertgoers who attended the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival held on a 600-acre pasture near Bethel. (AP Photo/File)
Fans relax during a break in the entertainment at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in Bethel. (AP Photo/File)
Fans relax during a break in the entertainment at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in Bethel. (AP Photo/File)
Hundreds of rock music fans jam a highway leading from Bethel, as they try to leave the Woodstock Music and Art Festival. (AP Photo, File)
Hundreds of rock music fans jam a highway leading from Bethel, as they try to leave the Woodstock Music and Art Festival. (AP Photo, File)
A crowd of about 400,000 people attending the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in Bethel. (AP Photo, File)
A crowd of about 400,000 people attending the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in Bethel. (AP Photo, File)
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