Monday, July 30, 2007
Who was at Wadena and Why did They Go?
August 2, 1970 in Iowa. Hotter and more humid than any place I've been since. A Rock Festival! Why did we go - well, it was the thing to do. I don't even know who was playing there. By the time I made arrangments for my children and found a ride there, people were leaving - it was over with - but on with the story:
What else was going on this hot day in 1960? "Politiking at Clear Lake Iowa, a Governor and Senator listened to an angry young widow: 'A Viet Cong may have killed my husband, but we, everyone in this room, all other Americans are responsible for his death.' A withdrawal was being discussed, but talk was that the President's announcement of a deadline to withdraw would limit options to ending the war." Does this sound familiar? Deja Vu!
The H-bombing of Hiroshima was seeing its 24th anniversary.
But, back to Wadena, to free love, almost free drugs, few clothes and really, really weird people mixed with the young folks who were there just to have fun.
Another excerpt from the Des Moines Register: "I turned around, to be confronted with this guy who looked like Charlie Manson's spiritual adviser __ Jesus length hair , fierce beard, and eyes that looked as though they would melt asphalt."
"God wants this festival," he was saying, "The man wants this festival to take place. The devil doesn't want it to take place." He was talking to no one in particular.
Another: "Excuse me, but did you just use spare change as a verb?"
"I don't know. I just walk around asking people if they've got any spare change."
"A young man had moved into the conversation by then, a long-haired, bearded Young man with octagonal sunglasses and a leather head-band. 'I'd never do that,' he said. 'I think it's degrading.' 'Well, what do you do for a living?" I asked. 'I peddle dope, man.'"
Another excerpt from an article about concessions at the festival - including sliced cantaloupe, deep-fat-fried egg rolls, beaded necklaces, sweetcorn (after all, it was Iowa), and - the ever present drugs.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness was there working hard to "take many of the kids off drugs by introducing them to chanting."
The pale green outdoor toilets looked like voting boothes.
Marijuana grew wild in the ditches in Iowa. Summertime was a good time for hippies, both full time and part time.
Those were the days.