Woodstock has been a one-of-a-kind event, one that inspired so many generations. Over 400,000 people attended the festival held in Bethel, New York, on a dairy farm owned by Max and Miriam Yasgur, and witnessed the performances of the greatest stars of their time, such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, The Who, Santana, and many more.
The major cultural event changed the history of music and became a symbol of an era. The 1969 concert sent messages of peace and love and showed the power of youth to the rest of the world.
Yet, the three days of “peace and music” meant much more to two youngsters.
Judy and Jerry Griffin met at Woodstock and they have been together ever since, but they never had any physical proof of their first encounter until last year.
It was August 15, 1969, and Judy was on her way to the festival with her two friends. However, her car broke down on New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge, 90 miles from the festival.
“I was just thinking, ‘Damn, now we can’t go,’ and we were dying to. Then Jerry and his friends pulled up. I stuck my head in and I saw that there was a woman in the car. I’d never hitchhiked before, but I figured, ‘Well, since there was a woman, it was fairly safe, and I probably should just get in the car.’ “
Jerry and his friends were driving in the VW Beetle that picked them up, and he instantly knew that it was the beginning of something big:
“I thought, ‘Okay, this is definitely unusual. We just picked up this really cute girl. And I’m going to Woodstock and I’ve got a tent and she doesn’t.’ ”
And from that moment on, they remained together until present day, and their loving marriage resulted in two sons and five grandchildren.
Last summer, they finally got a picture of them together at the festival. The PBS documentary Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation showed the 22-year-olds soaked from the rain and under a blanket.
A friend texted them a snapshot from the film’s trailer.
Judy screamed: ‘There we are!”
“That’s us. That was it, that was the first time, the only time that we’ve only seen a photograph of us at Woodstock and we’ve been looking.”
“We both had cameras, but neither of us took any pictures. For 50 years we’ve been looking for a picture of ourselves, and out of the blue one shows up.
We’d known each other for less than 48 hours when that was taken. By the time we got out of the car and set up camp, we were into each other, and we basically were together from that point on.”
The native New Yorkers had so many things in common. They both also wanted to move to California, so 5 months later, they went to Los Angeles, where Jerry was going to start law school.
They settled in Manhattan Beach and got married in December 1975.
However, they do not celebrate that anniversary date. Judy, a retired interior design and architecture teacher at Cal State Northridge, explains:
“We always celebrate Aug. 15th — which is also my birthday and the day we met as our anniversary.”
The photo captured during the legendary music festival reveals their clear affection for each other.
“It feels wonderful to have found it. Now we can prove it.”
They both agree that Woodstock was a special event. Jerry said:
“The experience was so unexpected. It was breathtaking how enormous the crowds were. It was such a positive thing that the music almost faded into the background.”