The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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I interviewed my father, Glenn Young. I grew up with annual camping trips to Watkins Glen. My father still makes the trip. It was obviously a life-altering experience for him. I grew up hearing the story so I had taken it for granted. Hearing it now, gives me a lot of insight to my father as a person and the absolute crazy times that young people of the 70s had experienced.

Image from nagativecollection.com

Exhausted from his 200-mile journey, Glenn had arrived at his destiny. The scene was one of chaos. A miles-long traffic jam had formed, but it didn’t deter the half-million visitors of this sleepy upstate New York town from reaching their destination. The Summer Jam at Watkins Glen. A music festival that followed in the footsteps of Woodstock, the summer jam was the biggest thing to happen to Glenn in his short 16 years of life. 

He set out on his journey from a small town in rural Central Pennsylvania. It took 2 days of hitchhiking to get to Watkins Glen. He had no money, no food, no way to call home, no plan. “The best experiences in life can’t be planned”. Getting here was the easy part, surviving the concert and journey home would turn this young boy into a man. 

The concert was scheduled to last one day, but so many had gathered at the stage on the day before, soundcheck turned into an actual jam session as promised in the concert's name. Like many of the young visitors (it is speculated that 1 in 3 young persons from Boston to NYC was in attendance), Glenn arrived early to the concert. “Hitching was a reliable method of transport, but you had to give yourself extra time to reach your destination”. 

For 2 days before the concert started, Glenn camped with new friends, college students who “came prepared to party”. They were directly in front of the first row of delay towers. The crowd was so thick that Glenn had to stay put. Leaving this spot, meant not getting back, and this was a chance that he was not willing to take. The day of the concert was Glenn’s 17th birthday. It was a birthday celebration like no other, before or after. He drank beer, did lots of drugs, and truly experienced the summer of love. 

In the following days after the concert, Glenn, and a few hundred thousand friends, stuck around the concert grounds. They had no choice really, there was no way out of town, and it would take days for the roads to clear. Glenn made a tent out of the many discarded blankets and survived off of a healthy supply of canned food left behind. When the roads cleared up, he was on his way. Back to his ordinary life in an ordinary house in a  small town. He didn't have any souvenirs to prove where he was, but he did have the memory of the experience of a lifetime. 

Summer Jam

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Summer of 1973
Watkins Glen, NY

I interviewed my father, Glenn Young. I grew up with annual camping trips to Watkins Glen. My father still makes the trip. It was obviously a life-altering experience for him. I grew up hearing the story so I had taken it for granted. Hearing it now, gives me a lot of insight to my father as a person and the absolute crazy times that young people of the 70s had experienced.

Image from nagativecollection.com

Decade: 1970s
Rating:
Recorded by Neil Young on June 1, 2020
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