Here's an email I received:
Shortly after leaving the military in '72 my best friend and I went to a
concert in Evansville at a baseball field there. We had a blast. So, when we
heard about Bull Island we immediately made plans to go.
We loaded up my car with ice, drinks and a little bit of food and all of the
appropriate drugs and paraphernalia. We dropped some acid and left our
little town near the Anderson-Muncie area. Anyone who has never drove a car
on acid that might think I'm just bull-shitin' but that seemed pretty normal
Most of the accounts I've read tell about parking and walking for miles and
then having to sneak or force their way in. We arrived in the late afternoon
on Thursday and found ourselves in a line of cars just a few hundred yards
from the gate. We were told that the gates wouldn't open until Friday
morning and so settled in to wait out the night by getting high and just
watching the people who continued to park somewhere behind us and make their
way in our direction. Directly across the road from where we parked was an
abandoned house or barn or both (my memory is a little foggy you
understand). As night approached people began gathering in this area,
building a big fire with wood from the old structure and started what
amounted to a really fun party. This was actually one of the highlights from
the five days we were there. That's right, I said five days.
There were a couple of local men that came to the party that night. To us
they seemed really old, maybe 40 or so and were really pretty drunk but I
had the feeling this was their normal Thursday night routine except this
time they had a lot of unexpected company. At one point they began jumping
over the fire with the encouragement of the crowd. Fortunately nobody got
hurt. Alcohol wasn't prominent on the menu but there was one guy there who
had hitched from somewhere in the east and was drinking. He wore a colostomy
bag and seemed to be celebrating even more deliberately than the rest of us.
When one of the local men commented about how he and his buddy were the only
ones drinking while everyone else was smokin' pot this guy jumped up and
said, "That ain't necessarily so because I've got two bottles of jack on
me". For years when my friend and I would talk we would often find some way
to work into the conversation the line, "I got two bottles of jack on me". I
guess this was just a way of keeping the memory alive and we always got a
laugh over it.
When Friday morning arrived we drove into the festival grounds. There were
maybe a couple hundred people already near the stage who had walked in ahead
of us but we were one of the first vehicles. The stage was way down the hill
and the parking area was at the top and stretched back a ways to where 7 or
8 feet tall weeds had not been cut down. I guess they figured there was no
need to cut all the weeds for the size crowd they were expecting. We parked
in the back close to the weeds and very near where the cars were coming into
the clearing on the theory that we could leave if we wanted to.
We sat there all morning and afternoon watching a never-ending stream of
people and vehicles of every discription pour into the festival grounds. At
first people gave some thought to where and how they parked but as the day
wore on they parked anywhere they could. By late afternoon the flow of cars
stopped for lack of space and it was clear we were going nowhere for the
foreseeable future. The foot traffic continued unabated.
At some point not long after the car traffic stopped we heard a strange
rustling sound behind us and getting louder. All of a sudden a car crashed
through the weeds and stopped just feet from where we were parked. It wasn't
just any car, it was a car full of our friends from our little town. We all
just looked at each other for a minute. We couldn't believe it could be a
coincidence. In the condition we were in it seemed more like preordination
or even creation. We were astonished to say the least. More cars followed
our friends and before long, instead of being in the back of the crowd, we
were now in the midst of it. Cars, trucks and vans now replaced all those
acres of weeds. By nightfall, miraculously in all that humanity, about
sixteen of our friends were together even though we came individually in
groups of two to five each without having made plans to meet or even knowing
the others were coming.
The next three days are a jumble of individual memories. The drug mart was
amazing. People carried signs advertising what they had to sell or wanted to
buy. Some people posted signs on car windows or antenna and set up shop.
Wares were on display like an open-air market in a third world city. That
was the atmosphere all weekend in fact, a third world city. It was a bit
frightening at times. Of all the drugs available the one that seemed in
short supply was pharmaceutical downers like Quaaludes or soapers. I know
one person that made a small fortune selling Phenobarbital. Late one night I
approached a crowd of people and found at it's center a guy sitting with a
single Quaalude. I think he was just screwing with people, pretending he was
considering selling it. I think he was enjoying the attention but I really
believe he was putting himself in danger. The crowd was not in a good mood.
What was not in short supply apparently was heroin. There was a shooting
gallery in the tent next to us. The guy running the joint started shouting
one afternoon and we saw him giving CPR to some guy who was turning blue.
One of the girls with us ran toward the stage to try to get some help.
Somehow they managed to get a jeep in there and take him away. I have no
idea if he survived.
On Saturday afternoon everyone went to skinny-dip in the river. Some local
boaters were out getting an eyeful and ran over one of the guys from our
town and didn't even stop. The prop practically took off his foot. He was
lucky the engine was not running at high rpm. He was evacuated by boat and
eventually recovered full use of his foot.
The lack of sanitary facilities was a real problem. I have a photo of a line
of about a hundred people waiting to use just one portable toilet and that
was before they were full to overflowing. Some people told stories like, "I
just shared a joint with some chick I was taking a crap next to". Having not
brought enough food was a bummer but the up side was it kept me out of the
crapping ground. I know what you're thinking, "TMI". I'll move on.
I've always regretted having left my camera in my car the morning the Amboy
Dukes played. It was dark when we left for the stage and I didn't know I
wouldn't be back before dawn. As it began getting light an unreal scene
revealed itself. A mixture of fog and smoke caused this mass of people to
gradually fade away in every direction. People had been camped there with
every kind of blanket, sleeping bag, folding chairs, coolers and campfires.
Most people were asleep or lying down and a few were standing watching the
stage. The paths between groups of people took on the appearance of alleys,
streets and highways. It looked like it had all been there forever.
When the Amboy Dukes played Ted Nugent was typically over the top and the
few people awake seemed to appreciate it. While he was playing a naked guy
came wandering through the smoke and fog. He was masturbating and trying to
put his hands on guys in the crowd. Some people simply moved away from him
and others reacted more angrily. One guy pushed him and he fell into a fire
but it didn't seem to faze him. He was obviously tripping really hard.
Almost no iris's, just black holes. He came over to where we were. One of my
friends was asleep in his bag and this guy stepped up on his back and starts
pissing like he was standing on a log pissing in a river. I swear to God
this is true. My friend woke up right away of course; thinking someone he
knew was trying to wake him up or just screwing with him. He looked up and
saw the guy pissing on the ground right next to him and freaked out. Talk
about a rude awakening'. Finally a group of five or six guys forced this
guy down and rolled him up in a blanket and carried him away to who knows
My friend and I didn't leave until Monday morning. Aside from the injured
foot we all made it back safely despite all the experimentation with
unreliable substances and lack of facilities, food and water. Even though
the normal constraining effect of authority was missing I'm not aware of any
actual crime, (other than drugs) and that is more than the average city of
300,000 people can claim on any given weekend. On the other hand, who was
keeping statistics? I wouldn't do it today but I'm glad I did it then.