Toronto man reminisces about his Woodstock adventure as event marks 50th anniversary
It was August of 1969 and Clay Borris was a 19-year-old budding filmmaker who frequented the music scene in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood.
“I heard about Woodstock because I was hanging around Yorkville a lot and people were passing out pamphlets saying, ‘Go to Woodstock – a weekend of fun – Woodstock, New York,” said Borris.
So Borris along with his two friends and a girl named Moe, who he said he met just a few days before Woodstock, all agreed to travel together.
“I just met her and I said, ‘Hey, you want to go to Woodstock?’ And she went, ‘Yeah, sure,'” said Borris.
The foursome flew to New York City from Toronto and then made their way to the music festival in Bethel, NY. The four fast friends each had a fake ID in the form of a media press pass they intended to use at the entrance only the passes were never needed.
“We just kept looking for a place where there would be a guard saying, ‘Where’s your pass?’ or whatever … We’re just following the crowd and all of a sudden, I realize we’re starting to walk over fences that are flattened out… and I look over and I see the stage,” said Borris.
After multiple delays with the show, the various bands finally started.
“Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, and I’m hearing all these people for the first time in my life, The Who, Country Joe and the Fish,” he recalled.
“And then Joe Cocker comes on does A little Help from my Friends — I couldn’t believe it,” said Borris.
But between the massive, unexpected crowds of people, the rain and then the mud, Borris said he and Moe got separated from the other two friends, so the pair found a rope, tied it around each other’s waists so that they wouldn’t lose each other. Borris said the concept of the rope didn’t go over so well with the Woodstock crowd.
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“We’d hear all these people saying, ‘What are you doing, man? This is a free planet. How come you’re dragging her around,'” said Borris.
With little to eat and even less sleep, the pair remained tied together throughout that damp August weekend in 1969. Borris said he and Moe dated for a short while after Woodstock, but then they drifted apart. Still, Borris said Woodstock was one of the best things that ever happened to him.
“I feel lucky to have been there,” he said.
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