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Song & Memory

Song and Memory: "Let's Get Together"

Ann Heppermann

Kara Oehler

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Strawberry Fields Poster
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My name's Harley Hansen and in 1970, the song that stuck in my memory was "Let's Get Together," by the Youngbloods.

I was kind of at the state that's euphemistically known as "finding yourself." I knew what I didn't want to do was join the Army and go to the Vietnam War. I did not know what I wanted to do. Consequently, I was going to school.

And when my first year of school ended, I did not want to go home to my parents because they were not fond of long hair, so I went out to Peterborough, N.H., where my sister, Karen, and my brother-in-law, Andrew, lived. They were very nice to put me up over the summer.

When I was up there, I heard that they were having this rock festival north of Toronto in Ontario, Strawberry Fields. And I took off without a ticket. People would yell, "Get a job!" "Get a haircut!" They were not fond of seeing people hitchhiking with backpacks and long hair. I was at a rest stop and I saw a group of three cars, New Hampshire license plates and I said, "Hey! Are you from Peterborough?" We determined that we were going to the same place. So there I was, I had a ride to the rock festival with these guys.

One of the people in the car was a kind of pretty girl. She had long dark hair and dressed in the typical uniform of the day. She had the jeans, the blue jeans, the little John Lennon shades. And of course, I'm 19 and attracted to anything that moves.

We got as far a Buffalo and proceeded to cross the Peace Bridge there. The Canadian authorities were not overly impressed with three carloads of hippies. And they kinda grilled us. They asked: "How much money do you have?" "Where are you going?" We told them we were going to the rock festival up in Ontario. "Well, the rock festival doesn't start until tomorrow."

Ok, so, back across the bridge. And when we got across the bridge, welcome to the United States. Unroll your sleeping bag. Put all the contents of your bag on this table. They searched us thoroughly. Asked me for ID. Said, "Where's your draft card?" I didn't have my draft card on me, since it had been destroyed in a very unfortunate small fire earlier. And I'm sure they suspected I was evading the draft.

Finally they let me go and there were three or 400 hippies waiting to get across the bridge. They had all been turned back as we had.

The next day, the rock festival started. Grand Funk Railroad was there. And Canned Heat. And Sha Na Na. And the Youngbloods. And anyway, I was wandering the festival site with this pretty girl and we noticed that there was a carnival up at the back of the concert site. And we decided for some reason that we wanted to ride the Ferris wheel because you would be way up high and have a view of the whole grounds and be able to see all around. So we get on the Ferris wheel and it just happened to stop right on top and we're right on the cat bird seat, overlooking the grounds of 50,000 people, and the Youngbloods right at the second happen to launch into, "Let's Get Together."

And so I look over at this beautiful woman thinking, "Maybe I should try to kiss her. No, I'll make a fool of myself." And then of course, the Ferris wheel started up, the song ended and we wandered back to our group and enjoyed the rest of the rock and roll event.

I saw her a time or two after that around town, but then, that was it. And I always wondered over the years, you know, what happened to this person.

Of course, now to this day, whenever I hear the Youngbloods play "Let's Get Together," I close my eyes.

And I can feel the sun in my face and I'm back, a 19-year-old in 1970, on top of a Ferris wheel, stopped, overlooking the grounds of 50,000 hippies and the Youngbloods are on stage playing that song.

So, anybody from Peterborough, N.H., who went to the Strawberry Fields Festival in late July or early August of 1970, if you were in one of three cars, one of which was a Mustang, and you were in a Ferris wheel while the Youngbloods were playing, you need to get in touch with me.

More stories from our Song & Memory series

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  • By Linda Ryan

    From Asheville, NC, 12/14/2014

    My bf and I were impatient so hitched up to the festival but rode home with the Peterborough caravan. Could you be thinking of a girl named Terry? I can't remember who the other girls were but can prob find out if you'd like.

    By Martin Edwards

    From Toronto, ON, 08/09/2014

    Happy 34th birthday to all the folks who attended Strawberry Fields back in 1970! I've won a couple of bets wagering with people who were 'SURE" it was 1969!I was preparing for my birthday tomorrow and i thought I'd punch up strawberry fields just to see what popped up,you know? Anyway..take care ;)
    Martin

    By Martin Edwards

    From Toronto, ON, 08/09/2014

    Happy 34th birthday to all the folks who attended Strawberry Fields back in 1970! I've won a couple of bets wagering with people who were 'SURE" it was 1969!I was preparing for my birthday tomorrow and i thought I'd punch up strawberry fields just to see what popped up,you know? Anyway..take care ;)
    Martin

    By Dr. B

    From Guelph, ON, 08/11/2011

    I was 18 and rode my motorcycle up to Mosport for the Strawberry Fields concert. I was living in Chatham ON at the time. I picked up a fellow moto guy riding past London and we continued together. He had an incredibly large bag of very good smoke so we stopped frequently to have a toke. I barely remember the ride, via Hamilton to Bowmanville and Mosport. Like Harley, I remember the Youngbloods "Get Together" along with Feliciano, Mountain (loud), Tull, Procul Harum (WOW!), Chip Monck and more. Lots of the bits in between are a bit of a smoke-fog. Like Harley, I met a pretty lady named Marcy Braun from Toledo there. She gave me her U of Toledo t-shirt and I wore if for a long time afterward, until it was a totally tattered rag. Sure would love to hear from this lady again....
    I'm going to Mosport again this weekend for motorcycle racing. Every time I go back there, I get a rush...just like going back to the Woodstock site. Now that's a story.

    By Michael Rosenthal

    From livingston, NJ, 12/01/2010

    I was there in 1970 at Mosport raceway. I drove up with two friends from NJ at last minute with no tickets. We picked up a hitchhiker named Janet just before the Canadian border who swore that she could get us into the festival. She told us that she had tried to cross the border the day before but was stopped and so she tried to "ram" the gates with her car. When we got to the border she pointed out her car: "there it is". We knew that she was nuts, but she got us into the festival just like she said she would. There were hallucinogenic drugs everywhere which my buddies enjoyed. I was the responsible party, so I kept away from those temptations. We sat at a campfire with Jose Feliciano, heard some great music, remeber hearing them plead for the people to stay off the racetrack because if the motorcycles couldn't race, they would have to call off the event! I remember that it was incredibly HOT. Maybe 90-100 degrees. It truly was like a mini Woodstock. That was 40 years ago. Where did the time go?

    By Michael Rosenthal

    From livingston, NJ, 12/01/2010

    I was there in 1970 at Mosport raceway. I drove up with two friends from NJ at last minute with no tickets. We picked up a hitchhiker named Janet just before the Canadian border who swore that she could get us into the festival. She told us that she had tried to cross the border the day before but was stopped and so she tried to "ram" the gates with her car. When we got to the border she pointed out her car: "there it is". We knew that she was nuts, but she got us into the festival just like she said she would. There were hallucinogenic drugs everywhere which my buddies enjoyed. I was the responsible party, so I kept away from those temptations. We sat at a campfire with Jose Feliciano, heard some great music, remeber hearing them plead for the people to stay off the racetrack because if the motorcycles couldn't race, they would have to call off the event! I remember that it was incredibly HOT. Maybe 90-100 degrees. It truly was like a mini Woodstock. That was 40 years ago. Where did the time go?

    By valerie harrison

    From miami, FL, 11/24/2010

    I really enjoyed reading all the stories about the 'Strawberry Fields' rock festival i to was there and i know for a fact it was in 1969, i am from miami,fl an was living in hazelton,pa at the time with my grandmother an brother and heard about this rock festival in canada so me an two friends of mine deciced to get on the pa. turnpike an hitch hike to the festival after calling my parents of coarse amd telling them i was goingbecause i was only sixteen at the time an left my grandmoter a note telling her i would be back in a week,.We wre lucky enough to catch a ride with some nice people that were also going an got a ride all the way there and had no problem getting through the border made to the festival at mosport and had a great time,i remember alot of the bands playing because they were from the statesand yes it did rain,i also remember a big barrel everyone was drinking from and they called it electric kool-aid so i had some an actually don't remember much after that except that i had a great time and then it was over and we hitchhiked bact to pa, stopping back through niagra falls,then back to hazleton,thats how i know it was in 1969 cause all my friends were leaving to go to this concert in upper state new york when i got and wanted me to go but i saidno i couldn;t leave again ;of course that turned out to be Woodstock i dont regret going because every happens for a reason an it just wasnt in the cards but i can tell you i had a great time at strawberry fields festival an will never forget it I remember one of the guys i went with his name was dave from montrose, new york and my name is valerie

    By Brian Freeman

    From Annapolis, MN, 09/15/2009

    I also thought it was in 69 We traveled in a vw bus with peace sign on front. We were up on the hill somewhere. Flew some kind of flag. Remember motorcycle races. Had a great time just don't remember much.

    By tony stella

    From bklyn, NY, 08/11/2009

    i was at strawberry fields with6 guys in a u haul van. a great time was had by all.first up was melanie then my favorite jethro tull. plenty of fun and drugs.

    By Bill brez

    From burlington, MA, 08/07/2009

    My brother and I drove up from burlington ma.. I was 16 -I dont know how my parents let me go.. things change

    By Bill brez

    From burlington, MA, 08/07/2009

    My brother and I drove up from burlington ma.. I was 16 -I dont know how my parents let me go.. things change

    By Jerry & Dr. Dan

    From Highwood, IL, 03/22/2009

    We were 16 years old when we went to this concert. What an era and time. Doc insisted we camp in the nudist colony section???? Ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and smoked hash for three days. Hitched a ride back to Toronto and took the bus home. Lastly, our passport into Canada was our concert ticket. No problems going to and from.

    By Paul Gennaro

    From Laurel Springs, NJ, 03/03/2009

    HMMMM strawberryfdields,,,was there at the festival,,,spent the daze there wearing nothing but an american flag,,,and eating only organic mescaline,rember jamming brought my conga drum with me, in the largest drum circle , I've ever partisipated in,,,liked canada so much, got together a bunch of hippies like myself to take a road trip,,, across canada, three months,,four vw buses ,, a merry prankster style trip,,,,was awsome,,,that summer was memorable,,got out of the marines earlier that year,,,, , protested against the war,turned into a radical, freethinking, music loving freespirited, hippie that I am to this day, keep the faith, what a long strange trip its been,

    By karen atlas

    From parkville, MD, 07/20/2008

    I would like to have been you! I was a little afraid to let go that much and most of my boy friends were older. They didn't completely get it. Still those were great times.

    By Dr. T

    From IL, 04/19/2008

    I heard this while driving in my car, I was listening to NPR by chance when this story began. I had almost forgot about this festival, but not really. I was there in Mosport looking for something as I am still now. At that time, I was at this concert with my best friend , Rocket John. No romance or tales of the heart for either one of us. I remember now that he was yelling (jokingly?) "Faith! Faith!" throughout the day, claiming that a woman of this name would answer and redeem his life. Never happened, but not a tragic ending, but a good time with a poignant twist.I'm now a doctor, but still have a hippie/freak heart. Thanks for the warm memory!

    By A Noel

    From MoCo, MD, 03/31/2008

    Thanks for the wonderful story! http://astanoel.blogspot.com/2008/03/song-and-memory-lets-get-together.html

    By jane souzon

    From port townsend, WA, 03/23/2008

    "Lets get together" is the also the song that most holds my memories--'haunts' me--from the Viet Nam era. My husband died in navy plane crash landing at Da Nang airbase March 15, 1970. We were living at an airbase in Japan at the time. The guy from his squadron who came to tell me he was gone was already a friend, and for the 3 weeks afterward that I was packing to come home from Japan, he and his wife became the ones I depended on to keep going and do what had to be done. That summer the two of them came back to the states for a vacation, and i flew out to the west coast to spend time with them. We went to his parents beach cottage with his family, and the first evening had a campfire on the beach, and his sister played her guitar. Up to this point I had been pretty numb, not really feeling much of anything, still in shock, but when his sister played "Lets Get Together", I fell apart and to this day the song brings me to tears. But I don't think its just the memory it evokes, since she played lots of songs that night. I think there's something about the song itself that gets to me. Both the words--the call to unity with "everybody" evokes transcendence, and the melody, the simple resolve, plus the harmony somehow does the same thing.

    By Kimberly Eades

    From Oceanside, CA, 03/22/2008

    As I listened to your story, I was inspired to make heartfelt prayers for the Chinese and Tibetans - may they find a way to "come together right now" . . . I try to remember it is not the Chinese people, but their Administration that is dispicable in their policies, as I pray others from countries that are not the USA do as well for us. Om Mani Peme Hum.

    By Mark Morong

    From Durham, NH, 03/22/2008

    I am from NH and went to that concert with a couple friends. I had just turned 18 and it was quite an adventure. We drove up through Vermont and had no trouble until coming back across the border in NY where we were strip searched and detained. I remember it as being in Mosport Ont. at the Mosport Speedway , not New Brunswick as the poster indicates---at least that's what I think that I remember?

    By Mark Morse

    From VT, 02/27/2008

    I was also at the Strawberry Fields Festival but I thought it was in 1969.I remember Grand funk Railroad as mesmorizing as any body ,also Ten Years After and Cactus were very impressive ...Mark in Vt.

    By Bob Reidy

    From New Paltz, NY, 02/18/2008

    I was laying on the ground just looking up into the clouds and when the Youngbloods started singing "lets Get Together" a Canadian Lancaster Bomber flew over dropping boxes of long stemmed roses out of the large side door of the plane. The roses fell spinning round and round and one landed near me
    and I was struck by the fact that the Canadian
    soldiers had taken all of the thorns. Groovy -
    at least I think thats what happened anyone else remember that or was it all going on in my beautiful head !

    By Joanne Jensen

    From Sacramento, CA, 02/14/2008

    Hey Harley--

    Very, very nice recollections and sharing with all of us--I love the poster and the pictures of the kitty and the mountain. Did you save that poster since the event? I think another cool story will be gathering the reactions of everybody who finds you because of this little exercise. Ah...life is good! Here's to many more memorable times! jj

    By Kris Hartley

    From Colorado Springs, CO, 02/13/2008

    Harley,
    How come I never heard this story before? I like it so much, thank you.

    By Gloria Wilen

    From Chicago, IL, 02/11/2008

    I'm rarely home on a Saturday afternoon, but just happened to turn on PBR and you were telling your story - and what a wonderful story. It brought back fabulous memories of an era never to be forgotten - All it takes is a song i.e. "Let's Get Together" to take me back to the concerts, the demonstrations, the rap sessions - the fun - what a fabulous time to be young... and thanks for bringing "them" back!!

    By Katrina Smits

    From Tucson, AZ, 02/10/2008

    "Let's Get Together" was my first time tuning in to Song and Memory. Oh, what a song and oh, what a memory. I'm a convert and will now make sure to tune in on Saturday afternoons. Thanks!

    By cynthia m

    From Sacramento, CA, 02/10/2008

    I had all but forgotten about the Strawberry Fields mega concert in Ontario. "Bigger than Woodstock!" was the hype. I wasn't Harley's girl, but could have been .... The time and place were right. Ah, nostalgia!

    By Sherry Johnstone

    From Sacramento, CA, 02/10/2008

    What a nice valentine Harley, made my day and probably my week. I have known you and shared so many musical memories with you for so long, that this is one that although I wasnt there, I will cherish. Keep sharing, we all travel with you.....

    By Donna Begay

    From Kern Valley, CA, 02/10/2008

    Harley - I hope you find your "Youngblood" mystery girl. I enjoyed your story and I recall the "Let's get together" song. I was in junior highschool, but I do recall the crazy late 60's and early 70's period. Your story was great - thanks for sharing.

    By Lawrence Musial

    From Chicago, IL, 02/09/2008

    What a true capture of those times, experiences that molded us. I was 21 in that year: collage, Vietnam, the draft, outdoor music concerts, and my lifetime lover was life then. It's good to hear from a past friend.

    By Kelli S

    02/09/2008

    Being from NH, born in 71, surrounded by this music as I kicked around in my halter top and braids, I totally FELT this story...I hope she looks you up. (and Jon Ds comment is right on... this stuff chokes me UP.)

    By Jon D

    From MInneapolis, MN, 02/09/2008

    This story made me cry...and i'm a 30 year old grown @ss man. I don't know why but I just thought it was so moving.

    By Craig Jones

    From Blue Ridge, VA, 02/09/2008

    This story brought back memories from my High School days. My father and family were stationed at Patch Barracks outside Stuttgart Germany in the early 70's. Our evening entertainment was the base movie theater. I had a crush on a high school classmate. When The Good, Bad and The Ugly movie was shown, that film score went to the top of my music likes. She was at that movie and I walked her home with her girl friends. She had beautiful black hair. I will never forget her name, Ronnie Alcarez. I wondered what happened to her. I hope she's having a great life. If things are different, I liked to tell her that a new beginning just takes one new step. Love, peace and joy forever. Craig S. Jones, Blue Ridge, VA

    By Marilyn Hagerty

    From Grand Forks, ND, 02/09/2008

    I would have given you a ride! MGHH

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