Growing up during the Summer of Love: Freda (Suburban Guerrillas, not reviewed) describes a young man’s coming of age in upstate New York—a few miles down the road from Woodstock.
Nick Lauria’s hometown of Delaware Ford seemed pretty far from the center of action in 1969. For Nick, as for most of the young people thereabouts, life was something that took place elsewhere—in Haight-Ashberry or the East Village or Washington, D.C.—anywhere other than this little cow burg nestled between the Poconos and the Catskills. But there are some signs of life stirring on the horizon: Nick is getting ready to go to college, an old schoolmate has been posted to Vietnam, and the greatest rock concert in history is about to kick off on Max Yasgur’s nearby farm. There is trouble brewing even closer to home, too: Nick’s father has recently taken on a new partner, Ted Miles, to help run the campsite on his family farm, and Ted has borrowed heavily from loan sharks to buy a fleet of Winnebagos. Now he’s having difficulty making the payments, and the Lauria farm may have to be sold to save Ted’s hide—literally. As if that weren’t bad enough, the campsite is mobbed with hippies and freaks headed for the concert, and the crowd becomes so large and unruly that Nick’s father tells him that he has to stay over the weekend to help keep order. Ten miles away from Woodstock, and Nick’s not going to see a thing! And to top it all off, the famous torrential rains that flooded the area during the concert are swelling the river, which may well overflow its banks and deluge the camp. Is this the end of the world? Not quite—just the end of the ’60s.
A somewhat slow-paced but well-crafted and leisurely account of public strifes intersecting with private griefs. Unexpectedly weighty and serious.