Nevada City, CA — Retired 10th grade English teacher David Blakemore of Nevada City recently spoke to a small gathering in Nevada Union High School’s drama department about his exciting adventures during the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair. Mr. Blakemore didn’t attend the 3-day festival, but rather spent the entire time stuck at mile 3 of the massive 10-mile traffic jam leading to the event.
“It was the highlight of my young life,” said Mr. Blakemore, who was 22 years old at the time. “My girlfriend and I heard about the festival on the radio. We were living in Connecticut at the time and hopped into my Fairlane and made our way there. It changed the way I thought about life.”
Although Mr. Blakemore never saw any of the acts, he spoke of the great transformation he went through during his three days he and his girlfriend spend in his Ford.
“There was no water or no food. We didn’t think to bring any of that stuff because we were in the moment. But here was the big lesson,” continued Mr. Blakemore as the drama students huddled in closer to listen. “It was horrible. Occasionally someone would come by and ask if we were OK, and I would say no, and they would say something like ‘sorry man,’ and keep walking. I couldn’t walk because my girlfriend had a bum knee from a bike accident she had as a kid, so she made me stay with her. So we were just stuck there.”
Mr. Blakemore went on to discourage the students from following their dreams and do something more practical with their lives like learn accounting or financial planning.
“Here’s what I learned from the Woodstock thing,” said the stern retired teacher. “Do something so you can make a living and keep good hobbies. About the only real thing I learned from sitting and rotting in that traffic was I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life. But I ended up doing that anyway when I took a job with Honeywell in Santa Clara [California]. I spent what seemed like years stuck in the [Highway] 101 traffic. I finally snapped out of it and got my teaching credential.”
During the question and answer period following the presentation, High School Junior Allison Walters asked Mr. Blakemore if he would do it again if he had the chance.
“Hell no, I wouldn’t. It was a waste of time, and I almost died. Others almost died too. Save your money and go to a good movie or something like that.”