Peace, Love, and Family HistoryAug 18th, 2009 | By Leonard Legends & Legacies | Category: Real People, Real Stories
I tried. I did. I really, really tried to avoid jumping on the Woodstock 40th Anniversary bandwagon. But the simple truth is this… it was a seminal moment in my life (git yer mind outta the gutter!) and there’s no guarantee I’ll be around for the Fiftieth Anniversary. I’m just sayin’.
What, you may ask, does Woodstock have to do with family history? Some of you youngsters may indeed ask, “What is Woodstock?” And that, my friends, is exactly my point. To me, the largest gathering of human beings on the planet had significance. I could say it changed my life. And I wasn’t even there.
In another generation or two, it might be all but wiped from the collective memory. That doesn’t diminish its significance. Who, then, is charged with recording why it was significant? At the risk of sounding self important, I would argue that it’s us. I only wish my ancestors had done the same for me. What, do you suppose, was a seminal moment for them?
I went through an exercise a few years ago, matching significant historic events with timelines of my ancestors. Not just any events, but events that happened near them, given the fact that television hadn’t been invented. Then I tried to imagine what their reactions would’ve been.
Did Solomon see the significance of the Mayflower? Was Isaac aware of the Salem Witch trials? We know that Caleb, Caleb, and Isaac were caught up in the Whiskey Rebellion (you were basically forced to take a side if you lived in Washington County), but how did they actually feel about it? We do have the occasional letter or diary, but for the most part, we’re pretty clueless about individual reactions to cultural and historic events.
So I guess the message is this… when you sit down to write your family history, don’t forget to record your own history. Where were you when Kennedy was shot? The shuttle Challenger exploded? Kurt Cobain (or Michael Jackson) died? See where I’m coming from? Yeah, I’m metaphorically coming from Woodstock and I did inhale.
And one final note on Woodstock. That couple in the picture? Bobbi Kelly and Nick Ercoline had been dating for about a month at the time the picture was taken. They only stayed the one night and they never saw the stage because they were too far away. Not the point.
The point is, they were a part of history, they were married two years later and they’re STILL married with two (adult) kids, a house and a dog. (If the Crosby, Stills and Nash song “Our House” is playing in your head right now, you’re my kinda people.)
And that photo taken 40 years ago? Is as iconic and the World War II photo of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square.
Now that’s some family history, eh?