The three young security guards finished their shift sometime around 1 a.m. that Saturday, Aug. 16, 1969, in the fields of Bethel, N.Y.

Their job was to control parking at a farm not far from the stage. And so the boys did that Friday evening, directing stoned drivers and, yes, leaning into windows for a hit here and there.

Finally, in the haze of the night, Frank Moore and pals Steve and Bill made their way to the action. Woodstock still raged.

At his Colorado Springs home, Moore traces their course in an aerial photo spread across his memory book. From the green pasture where they started, his finger follows toward the stage. “We walked right down that road to this gate. The guy was somewhere here, and we just walked right up that ramp and sat right there.”

His finger lands on the stage. “Baez was right there.”

Joan Baez was maybe 25 feet away, Moore recalls. And here he was with Steve and Bill, watching her command a sea of similarly dazed hippies. Moore remembers them all falling silent while she was cast in a glow, singing “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” a capella. “Amen,” she ended.

“It was dead silent,” Moore says, “and then to hear this big ‘Woooooooow.’ Three-hundred thousand people going ‘Woooooooow.’”

He can hear it now 50 years later over his picture book. He also keeps the red T-shirt he was given on the security detail, the logo of the guitar-perched bird faded on the back. “Like a dumbass, I washed it and dried it,” he says.

And he still has the $7 ticket he secured for the following Sunday — another source of regret.

For some reason, Bill wanted to leave. He wanted to get back to the New York lake where the trio had lifeguard jobs for the summer. Reluctantly, Moore and Steve agreed to go with him. “How else would they get a ride back?” they foolishly thought.

It would only occur to them later, Moore says: “What the hell did we just do?”

However generationally defining, Woodstock was a moment like any other, fleeting. And it was indeed more fleeting for some. What was it that Baez sang? “When time is stolen, it flies, it flies ...”

Still, Moore can count himself among the living half- million attendees reflecting this anniversary weekend.

He remains in the Springs where he spent much of his youth, graduating Wasson High School in 1967, the son of an Air Force man and woman who played the organ at the church. Moore let loose at Western Colorado University, not thinking college much suited him — he wanted to perform like his folk heroes — but it sure beat Vietnam.

His longtime pal Steve followed him to Gunnison. It was that sophomore year when they befriended Bill, who had a lead on the lifeguard job across the country. It just so happened that side of New York had a big festival happening that summer.

So off they went in a beat-up Volkswagen along with four cases of Coors. The beer was exclusive to Colorado at the time, and they figured they could sell cans to afford the trip. But they drank it all by the time they got to Kansas City, where the van broke down.

They managed to reach their destination, feeling something like anomalies. “The great portion of the people there were from the East Coast,” Moore recalls. “They thought we still had cowboys and Indians. They were sincere when they asked that.”

But they fit in just fine — only briefly. Woodstock came and went.

Moore was back in Colorado to continue school and start his music career. It worked for a while there in the ‘70s. “Then I realized I wasn’t gonna be John Denver,” Moore says.

He’s gone on to make his living in real estate, though he still gigs around town with his guitar. Sometimes between songs, he’ll talk about that time at Woodstock, keeping the memory alive. He doesn’t know anyone else who shares it.

He lost touch with his buddy Bill long ago. Steve was still a good friend a decade after the festival, before he suddenly died. Especially then, that summer of ‘69 came flooding back to Moore.

And it does again this weekend. To celebrate, he’s hosting a throwback party at his house. He’ll entertain, his setlist written out, topped with one of his favorites. He’ll start as he often does: “Come gather ‘round, people, wherever you roam ...”

Load comments