Thursday, January 6, 2011

Outlaw. Part 1. © 2011 Dakini Verona

Outlaw. Part 1. © 2011 Dakini Verona

The first time that I can recall any run-ins with the law was when the local police in the small Upstate New York town of Saugerties would tell us to move along. We weren’t doing anything wrong; we were just a bunch of local school kids hanging out. But the police did not want us to gather. Maybe they thought we would start some kind of trouble, maybe they thought we were conspiring against the local government or maybe they thought we would riot like the rebellious students from Berkeley that they heard about.

We were not that sophisticated, in fact, the people I hung out with barely had a thought bigger than themselves. Small towns tend to breed small thinkers. The only thing we were conspiring to do was to find a way to stay out after curfew. We would be looking for dark corners or alleys where we could just hang out and get high: smoking pot, dropping pills, eating acid. Just your “normal” illegal drug activity; that is, if you consider any drug use normal.  Oh, there was one other thing on the minds’ of the boys: they wanted to see if they could “cop a feel”. Big aspirations, right? Major outlaws? Never.

I found myself gravitating to the nearby Village of Woodstock. Not to break the law, but because the people there were more accepting of those that did not fit into the pigeon holes of the high school cliques. I was one of those that never seemed to fit in. I tried to, believe me. I did a lot of things that I later regretted, thinking it would help gain me acceptance in the tightly knit groups. But as you can probably gather by now, I never was able to really fit in, not in Saugerties. Woodstock was a whole new world that greeted me with open arms.

This was the Pre-Festival days, when the town was not on the map and was invaded on weekends by the successful and even not-so-successful artists and musicians. Woodstock was always a mecca for the hip. It was “The Place”. To the locals, it was known as an “Artist Colony”, which really was just a label to put on a place that had an usually high number of very talented artists and musicians.

Woodstock was known for its laid back atmosphere. Coffee houses were filled with the aroma of freshly brewed espresso. The kind that was so thick you had to dilute it with 8 spoons of sugar. The kind of coffee that “puts hair on your chest”, as my father would say. The coffee served in the commercial coffee houses of today does not for one second resemble that rich liquid.

 It got to a point that the local Woodstock cops all knew me by my first name. They would actually drive up and call to me: ‘“hello Valerie, I see you are ditching school again… you know we will have to call your parents to take you home. Get in the car and let’s go, NOW!”  In fact, it became a routine. Like the typical cat and mouse game. I was the kid, hiding and running from the cops (or pigs as we called them back then).  

~ continued in the book ~

1 comment:

  1. I do not yet know how much was right or wrong. No situation is that simple or easy to answer, if fairness is to be carefully administered. But things were changing so fast, that the adults were terrified. Long continuous life and values were going up in smoke. I think WWII was a big catalyst all that. But the effects would not be realized till the kids came of age. The 60s was that time when it began to be made commonly manifest among them all.

    There was a lot to revel against and some things that should not have been thrown out. But in frustration and lack of experience and lack of communication and teaching from parents and dumbed down school agenda, the kids were fairly naïve at first, I think. Too much so. Not their fault but that of those who gave birth to them. My mom did not fit in, in a small town in northern Maine, not that far from Canada. Girls were her problem, too. Mars Hill, Maine.

    Loved hearing your description of Woodstock, pre 69. Never heard it before. You would know! I note the war had scared the devil out of the government and police. They had been encouraging rebellion of some sorts but had not anticipated the Viet Nam resistance and it was a very unwelcomed development. It was the line in the sand. UNconventionalism was not liked, either. We were all supposed to continue to fit in that mold they made for us. Crimes of the times were daring to question authority. The nerve of them youths ;-)

    But as I see it now, having discussed things with a friend of the same age as myself nearly, I think the 06s was a tough time to be a teen since the whole scene had changed and no one knew it or how to navigate it. It had never been done before. And what to do with all those pent up feelings and ideas. I think of Cat Steven’s Father And Son song. Neither would listen to the other and both had valid points. The young man has to find out for himself. Great song done in great vocal style. Cat had some good ones.