The universe is one strange mofo. Exactly one week after standing in the rain and hearing Paul McCartney remark that it was the anniversary of Woodstock, this postcard of Southeast Asians on a bicycle arrived in my mailbox. It said:
40 years ago you bought my Skidmore t-shirt in Woodstock. Hopefully this card will find you, email me at ____ or write at ____ or call at ____.
Peace — Gary.
The idea of a doppelganger who had attended Woodstock — I could not resist. Peace! I called Gary in New Jersey.
“Hey, Gary. It’s Robb Skidmore. Got your postcard.”
“Is this the Rob Skidmore?”
“No. It’s a Rob Skidmore, but not the Rob Skidmore.”
I explained my fascination with Woodstock (from the movie, I’m way too young). The following is the story Gary told me of the t-shirt.
He arrives early to the 1969 festival on Thursday, only about 500 people there. They all hang out together with the Hog Farmers and Wavy Gravy. The Grateful Dead play music all night. It was “really great.” On Friday, arrival day for most, Gary is walking across a field wearing a t-shirt from his sister — who attends Skidmore College — that says ‘Skidmore ‘69.’ A raving guy runs up to him, comes charging across the field, yelling and wanting the t-shirt. Gary’s reply is “Wait a minute, cowboy. I don’t know you.” They hang out and chat for awhile. Finally, Gary strips off the t-shirt and hands it over. Gary’s total time with WRS is about twenty minutes.
Gary spends Woodstock on a blanket about twenty yards from the stage. Ravi Shankar, Ritchie Havens, Sha Na Na … Gary and his girl friend take it all in. He later tries to pick himself out in the movie but “we all looked the same.” Sunday morning at about 3:00 am, Gary and the girl look at each other, muddy and wet, and say, “We’re done.” They hitch a ride with an unmarked cop car back to New Jersey, getting there in time to watch the sunrise. By now, Woodstock is all over the news, and they had left early — they are pissed.
Now ten years later in 1979. Gary is in Atlanta, selling his paintings door to door. He comes across the name of a law firm with the name Skidmore in the title. He goes to the law firm, and who should walk out… but WRS! They chat once again, reminiscing about the t-shirt exchange.
Flash forward thirty years to 2009. Gary sends out postcards to Robert Skidmores in Atlanta, San Diego, and elsewhere. The evening before my postcard arrives in the mail, I channel flip to a VH1 Woodstock documentary and see footage of the Hog Farmers, long haired and bare-chested, arriving in their big yellow school bus.
**KNOWN THING No. 29: You can never go wrong with early attendance. You might spend an evening listening to the Grateful Dead play all night.
**KNOWN THING No. 30: Do not think an exchange of t-shirts is merely an exchange of t-shirts. You will earn a lifelong friend.
**KNOWN THING No. 31: When attending a multi-day concert festival, see your journey through to the end. Otherwise, you will miss Jimi Hendrix and regret it the rest of your life.
**KNOWN THING No. 32: Some festivals begin and never end.