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Laurie Nadel

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Woodstock's Real Hostess

Posted: 08/24/2009 4:58 pm

After watching the commemorative pieces on the anniversary of Woodstock, I contacted my childhood friend Dr. Marilyn Bruno whose family owned property adjacent to Max Yasgur's farm. What was it like?
This is her account:

"I have nothing but sad feelings when I remember Woodstock. Over the years, I have seen the perpetrators of the trespass, kidnapping and vandalism being honored and enriched at the expense of my family. It is not true that there were no casualties at the August 1969 Festival of Peace and Love.

"Since the 1950s, my immediate family (Philip and Alda Bruno, Irma Micera, and Gilda O'Moore) jointly owned several acres on Pine Ridge Lake in Bethel, New York, including a 4-bedroom house located under the pine trees. We had an easement permitting our access over one of Max Yasgur's pastures from the public road to our isolated property, which was surrounded by a gate. Three generations of my family vacationed there. My grandmother died there.

"I have some home movies from the '50s and a few photos from the '60s showing us during summers at the house, overlooking Yasgur's pastures in the front and the woods in the back.
LIFE's Special Edition on Woodstock and Wadleigh's movie feature our house, white fence, pier, boats, etc. What they call "Philipini's Pond" was what we called "Pine Ridge Lake." It was no pond -- about a mile long by 1/2 mile wide.

"In the summer of 1969, during the flurry of activity of switching the venue of the music festival from Woodstock to Bethel, N.Y., Mr. Max Yasgur sold to the promoters access to his pastures. He apparently led them to believe that my family's property was included in the deal.

"Neither Max Yasgur nor anyone else notified my family about the festival. By the time we found out, Woodstock Ventures, Inc. had sold over 114,000 tickets to the event, 300 people were setting up the festival site, and hundreds of attendees were already arriving on our property. We promptly served an order against Woodstock Ventures, Inc. and Bethel Supervisor Daniel J. Amatucci, asking for a temporary injunction to prohibit the promoters from using our property. The case was heard by Supreme court Justice George L. Cobb presiding in State Supreme Court at Catskill, Greene County (Third Judicial District). The injunction was denied because Judge Cobb held that the economic benefits that the festival promised to bring to this most remote part of the Catskills far outweighed my family's property and privacy rights. My family was denied security by Yasgur, Woodstock Ventures, and the White Lake and Monticello Sheriff's offices.

"During the festival, the promoters, their staff, and most of the artists trespassed on our property, invading our house, using our toilets and showers, and using our car park area as a heliport. My brother John, now deceased, went immediately to defend the property. He never recovered from trying to block access to our house. I don't think my brother Johnny ever got over it. He was threatened y the promoters, who locked him in the back of a van for two days. He was emotionally ripped up because he loved the artists, loved their music, loved his generation. And yet those who claimed that Woodstock was only about peace and love had destroyed one of the few beloved places he had.

"By the end of the festival, our house had been trashed by invaders. The organizers insisted that they were not responsible. The sheriff's office said that they were not responsible. Yet, photos appearing in newspapers and magazines and movies in news reels and the feature film produced by the promoters, clearly show our canoe and row boat sunk taken by revelers and sunk, our pier detached and floating toward the middle of the lake, our lawn invaded by hundreds of people, and a helicopter on our property. On each and every anniversary of the festival thereafter, our house was broken into by people commemorating the event, spray painting graffiti on the walls, and stealing literally everything from the house as souvenirs. Unable to get insurance on the property, my family was forced to sell several years later.

"In an effort to set the record straight, I have sent this account to editors and producers at all four networks , local newspapers, and national news magazines. Although I have offered to produce a copy of the injunction, a local newspaper article about my family's property published in August 1969, and to be interviewed, there has been no response from anyone in the media."

Marilyn Bruno can be contacted at bruno.marilyn@gmail.com

 

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