So Close, Yet So Far

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I was 15 years old in 1969 and spending the summer as a CIT (counselor-in-training, kinda like a camp counselor’s go-fer) at Holiday Ranch Camp, a horseback riding summer camp for girls in South Kortright, NY. There were three other girls my age, all CITs, we spent our days riding horses, waiting tables, going on barefoot hikes in the creek up the mountain, catching snakes, and melting crayons to make those psychedelic melted coke bottles covered in dripped colored wax. We also liked hanging out inside the culvert under the road smoking cigs (practicing to do it without coughing) and drinking our first cans of Pabst given to us by the “hunky” maintenance man that lived on the property. We’d all lay out under the stars all night ostensibly to watch the meteor showers, but really so we could watch the guy and his wife and friends all swim naked in the camp pool at night. Obviously, it was a summer of discovery.

One day we were listening to the radio and heard all about this fantastic Woodstock concert happening in White Lake, only about 50 miles away. Well that started all the plotting and planning. We were thinking we would just take “Aunt Kelly” and “Uncle Joe’s” Ford Falcon and drive there. Kelly & Joe were the elderly couple who owned and ran the camp. That’s what they told the campers to call them. But we soon realized it would be tricky to get the key from the house (if we even knew where they kept it), and…none of us had drivers licenses or even knew how to drive. We were all from either Long Island or Connecticut, had no clue where White Lake was. We thought it was about ten miles away, but in what direction? We heard on the radio that “the New York State Thruway’s closed”. We figured in our 15 year old brains that it meant ALL the roads in the area were jammed. Well, maybe they were. And then we thought, “Aha! We’ll just saddle up four horses and ride there!” We could ride through fields and mountain trails if we had to. Then reality hit. We had no clue which way to go, and if we did, Kelly and Joe would surely call the police about the stolen horses (never mind, the missing campers), or worse yet…our parents! It was killing us that we considered ourselves part of the hippy culture, but we were trapped here like doofy kids. It was so frustrating that we were so close, yet so far from where we wanted to be, physically and mentally.

And so, we resigned ourselves to listening to the news of the concert that was the “center of the universe”, and the “dawning of the Age of Aquarius” on the transistor radio, smoking and drinking ourselves silly in the culvert, and flirting with the married, but handsome young handyman. The music from the concert still brings back memories and feelings of being in the last days of carefree innocence and on the brink of hipness.

Black Diamond

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