(TMU) — For most of the over 400,000 people who attended the Woodstock Music and Art Festival in 1969, it was an experience they’ll never forget. On August 15, Judy and Jerry Griffin met on their way to Bethel, a dairy farm in the state of New York and the location of the festival. They have been together ever since.
Friends and family have known the amazing story of their meeting, but the couple never had physical proof of their time at Woodstock until just before the 50th anniversary of the festival in 2019.
Judy’s car broke down on her way to the festival and she and her two friends were stuck on New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge, 90 miles from the festival. Fate, it seems, had a different plan when Judy’s friends made the decision to hitch a ride.
“I was just thinking, ‘Damn, now we can’t go,’ and we were dying to,”Judy, 72, remembers. “Then Jerry and his friends pulled up. I stuck my head in and I saw that there was a woman in the car. I’d never hitchhiked before, but I figured, ‘Well, since there was a woman, it was fairly safe, and I probably should just get in the car‘.“
Jerry and a group of friends, traveling in two VW Beetles, stopped and offered the group a ride. According to Jerry, he felt his luck had changed for the better. “I thought, ‘Okay, this is definitely unusual. We just picked up this really cute girl. And I’m going to Woodstock and I’ve got a tent and she doesn’t‘,” he said.
Their relationship, now approaching 51 years, led to love, marriage, two sons, and five grandchildren.
The couple never had a picture of them together at the festival until last summer when a PBS documentary celebrating the 50th anniversary of the festival was released. Included in Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation was a picture of Judy and Jerry, soaked from the rain and covered with a blanket.
“We both had cameras, but neither of us took any pictures,” says Jerry.
A friend sent them a snapshot from the film’s trailer. “For 50 years we’ve been looking for a picture of ourselves, and out of the blue one shows up,” Jerry says. “We’d known each other less than 48 hours when that was taken.”
“By the time we got out of the car and set up camp, we were into each other, and we basically were together from that point on,” Judy adds.
Judy and Jerry were both native New Yorkers, and they discovered they had a lot in common. For one, they both wanted to move to California and just five months later they drove to Los Angeles in a VW van before Jerry started law school. A couple of years later, they settled in Manhattan Beach where they still live 40 years later.
Although the couple got married in December 1975 that’s not when they celebrate their anniversary.
“We always celebrate Aug. 15th—which is also my birthday and the day we met as our anniversary,” Judy says.
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