Cramming vs Woodstock

Programming School

     A little over a year later, the company enrolled me in the systems programming school in Poughkeepsie. More specifically, the training involved learning how to design, program and maintain operating systems that ran on the models 360 and 370 series of computer hardware. Classes were intense with lots of problem solving and homework exercises. Drawing flowcharts (inset at right), is a tool we were taught for developing program logic.

     The first phase of training were classes in applications programming. Upon graduating from this phase, we were so glad to get through, that most of the students—guys and gals—went out and celebrated. It just so happen to be Saint Paddy’s Day. The drinking became so serious that I and some of the other guys began doing chug-a-lugs of green beer. It was like a German beer fest. One guy from India—who was the top student in the class—had a fender bender that night, and wound up in the hospital. Evidently, all the hard studying took a toll on him, so he had to finally let off some steam by getting soused. Of course, at the time, I recalled the accident I had at Dead Man’s curve back in Binghamton.


     The classes were complete for about half of the students, since they were only being trained to be applications programmers. The other half of us continued on to attend the operations phase of training. While attending this phase of training in Poughkeepsie, a guy I had been rooming with told me about a rock concert being held in Bethel, New York, during a weekend in August. He wanted me to attend with him, since he didn’t have his car. He was the nerdy, preppy looking timid type, with black rimmed spectacles; so I figured maybe he couldn’t be hip to any haps. Since he was attending classes with me, he couldn’t have been nothing more than a plastic hippie. Anyway, since I wasn’t doing much that weekend, I drove him down the highway from Poughkeepsie to what was to be the Woodstock Rock Concert of ’69.

     When we arrived in the vicinity, I was surprised at what I saw. Hippies as far as the eye could see. I hadn’t realized so many kids had migrated to hippiedom. Traffic was backed up and barely inching along.

     Many of the folks looked well prepared for camping out over the weekend, with backpacks canteens, blankets, tents, etc. With the traffic jambs, crowds and being unprepared, I recommended we go back. After some brief discussion and disagreement, he was determined to continue on. So, he jumped out and soon blended into the throngs of other hippies headed towards the concert area. I pegged him to have lots of guts, since he wasn’t packing any supplies. I reluctantly turned around and headed back up to Poughkeepsie.
     The following Sunday night back at the ranch, he came staggering back in unshaven, clothes soiled and wrinkled, hair snarled up and reeking of marijuana. He immediately lit up a dubby and offered me a hit, which I accepted.

     When he told me what happened, I became highly disappointed; especially after I had heard the news reports on TV. Till this day, I can kick myself for missing the most happening and biggest party of all time.

     Later I concluded that he wasn’t a plastic hippie, but a hippie in disguise. In contrast he wasn’t a fake nerd; since he easily grasped technical concepts, and did well in class. When it came right down to it, I was the one who wound up being the square. This revelation caused me to take another hit.
     Meanwhile, while he was gone, I sat on the edge of the bed and picked my feet as I normally do. A few months later, I had to laugh at myself for doing this after seeing the French Connection movie; especially the segment that shows Popeye Doyle harassing a hustler about sitting on the edge of the bed and picking his feet in Poughkeepsie.

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One comment on “Cramming vs Woodstock

  1. Very informative post. What a blast from the past. Here! Here, for the hippie in all of us.

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