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East Hall man recalls days at Woodstock
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Robert Krainson looks at a self-portrait of himself with his daughter as they looked in 1969. Krainson worked security at the Woodstock festival in 1969. - photo by Tom Reed

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Robert Krainson of Gillsville talks about his experiences at the Woodstock music festival that ended 40 years ago today.

These days, Robert Krainson paints and tends to his garden on three acres of countryside between Gillsville and Lula.

Forty years ago today, he was spending the last of three days at what had been a rural location — a 600-acre dairy farm in New York — before it became a sea of people in Woodstock, one of history’s largest outdoor music festivals.

Now 65, Krainson recalls fondly those days of “peace and music.”

“We all loved being ... a hippie,” Krainson said in an interview Sunday. “... There were many problems in our country (at the time), so as a cultural event, the fact that a half a million people got along ... it was amazing.”

“I have the fellows who went with me up there e-mailing and talking to me about it, reminiscing and all,” Krainson said.

“The people I was with were all security, and in the pouring-down rain, we slept beneath the bridge that went to the stage.”

In the 1960s, Krainson was living in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of his native Miami.

He was friends with Woodstock co-creator Mike Lang, who owned a drug paraphernalia store. He told Krainson he could get backstage passes and work security.

Krainson, a road manager for a band in Miami, made the trip with six friends — also musicians, wannabe or otherwise — in his brand-new, maroon Volkswagen bus.

“I probably parked about three miles away from the venue,” he said. “By the time we got (to the venue), there were no more ticket booths, no more food pavilions. So, we went to the backstage pavilion where Mike had asked us to come.”

The security chief assigned Krainson and his buddies to secure a bridge leading to the stage.

“It was a wonderful event,” he recalled. “I didn’t even have a problem with people trying to crash the back stage.”

Krainson said the thing he remembers most about Woodstock is “probably Jimi Hendrix playing the ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’” he said.

Krainson also remembers waking up Sunday morning to piles of trash everywhere.

“Everybody was very nice about it — they piled their stuff in mounds,” he said. “But after the rain, it stunk and boy was it something.”

Krainson already knew some of the performers first-hand; many performed regularly in Coconut Grove.

Still, he got to brush elbows with the likes of Hendrix and Janis Joplin, iconic figures from that era. “That was probably one of the most wonderful things about (Woodstock),” he said.

Several years ago, he decided to escape Miami’s hustle and bustle, researching different places where he and his wife, Kathleen, could live.

East Hall turned out to be a happy medium of too rural and too urban.

“We didn’t go too far into the mountains and didn’t get too close to Atlanta,” Krainson said.

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