Love stories that stand the test of time are truly remarkable, not just because of their longevity, but also due to the unwavering commitment and devotion that they entail. The beginning of a 50-year journey is a significant milestone, and many people are curious to know how it all started.
Judy and Jerry Griffin are a couple who have spent five decades together, and their story began at Woodstock in 1969. Over the years, they have shared their story of how they met and remained inseparable with their friends and family. However, there was one thing missing – physical evidence of their first date at Woodstock – until last year.
On August 15, 1969, the first day of the iconic Woodstock music festival, Judy’s car broke down on New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge, which was about 90 miles away from the concert grounds. She and her two acquaintances decided to hitchhike to the event.
Judy and Jerry Griffin at their home in Manhattan Beach | Ben Trivett
“I was just thinking, ‘Damn, now we can’t go,’ and we were dying to,” recalls Judy, 71. “Then Jerry and his friends pulled up. I stuck my head in and I saw that there was a woman in the car. I’d never hitchhiked before, but I figured, ‘Well, since there was a woman, it was fairly safe, and I probably should just get in the car.”
At that moment Jerry was caravanning to the festival with a group of friends in two VW Beetles, and he thought his luck had definitely changed for the better.
A story of long-lasting love can be heartwarming, and this is especially true when it is accompanied by consistency, patience, and love that persists for many years. The 50 years of life shared by Judy and Jerry Griffin, a couple who met at Woodstock in 1969, is a testament to this. They have told their story of how they met and never separated since to their friends and family, but they lacked one thing: a physical proof of their first date at Woodstock. That is until last year.
On Aug. 15, 1969, Judy’s car broke down on New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge, about 90 miles from the concert grounds, on the day of the iconic Woodstock music festival. She and her two acquaintances decided to hitchhike, and that was how Judy met Jerry. They rode in the back seat of Jerry’s friend’s 1967 VW Beetle, which led to 50 years of love and marriage. The couple has two sons and five grandchildren.
Interestingly, they never saw a photo of themselves from the event that brought them together until this summer when they saw a brief bit of footage of a rain-soaked Judy and Jerry huddled together under a blanket in the new ‘PBS documentary Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation.’ Although they both had cameras at the event, neither of them took any pictures. They had been looking for a picture of themselves for 50 years when a friend texted them a snapshot from the film’s trailer earlier last summer.
“We both had cameras, but neither of us took any pictures,” says Jerry. “For 50 years we’ve been looking for a picture of ourselves, and out of the blue one shows up. We’d known each other less than 48 hours when that was taken.”
By the time they got out of the car and set up camp, they were already into each other, and they were together from that point on. The native New Yorkers quickly realized they shared a desire to leave the state and start fresh in California. Five months after the festival, they packed up a VW bus and drove cross-country to Los Angeles, where Jerry was starting law school. The Griffins settled in Manhattan Beach, where they’ve lived for 40 years, and were married in December 1975. They always celebrate Aug. 15th — which is also Judy’s birthday and the day they met — as their anniversary.
“The experience was so unexpected,” says Jerry. “It was breathtaking how enormous the crowds were. It was such a positive thing that the music almost faded into the background.” The iconic festival will always hold a special place in their hearts.
Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation is now available to stream or watch on-demand via PBS.
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