Flower Power | Deep End | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » Deep End

Flower Power

Dusting off Romney’s Woodstock adventures.



One of the chapters (at the moment either chapter four or chapter seven) in Mit Romney’s upcoming book, No Apologies: The Case for American Greatness, scheduled to be published next March by St. Martin’s, will be an affectionate and nostalgic look back at the three days he spent at Woodstock 40 years ago.

My old missionary companion Mit (he’s dropped the superfluous second “t” in a symbolic belt-tightening measure) does what I think is a credible job of describing those transformational days on Max Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York. As befits the title of his eagerly anticipated book, Mit makes no apology for what many might see as his more than youthful indiscretions at the festival of music, drugs and free love.

He does, however, draw a discreet veil over many of the experiences we shared together at Woodstock. (Actually, the socalled “Woodstock Music and Art Fair” took place at Bethel, a number of miles from the town of Woodstock.) I fully understand Mit’s reluctance to go into a great deal of detail, but I think he leaves out a number of things that show him to be quite a groovy guy, or at least a groovy guy at the time.

In my opinion, too, many people still regard Mit, with whom I spent two-anda-half years in Paris, France, where we labored as emissaries of the Lord Jesus Christ, as a bit of a stick in the mud. By the way, he was hardly a stick in the mud at Woodstock—you should have seen him cavorting in the mud with a wide variety of other celebrants.

In the interest, then, of providing a richer portrait of our days together at Woodstock, I want to share just a memory or two of my own. Any fair-minded reader will have to agree that the picture that emerges of Mit in no way detracts from his image today as a ramrod, iron-jawed, too-good-to-be true man of moral virtue, spotless character and lovely hair. After all, Mit is no John Edwards, who recently admitted to fathering a love-child—I refuse even to entertain the rumor that Hilary Swank is Mit’s own love-child (fathered by Mit during a wild weekend in Panama City). I plan to publish my own affectionate account of the experience at a later date, tentatively entitled Mit in the Mud: How Our Next President Got Down and Dirty in ’69 and Got His Groove Back After Two-and-a-Half Years of Hassles With the Frustrating French People.

A bit of background: Mit and I had just completed our mission in late July of 1969 and found ourselves stranded in New York City after a bumpy flight from Paris. Both of us were grumpy because the stewardesses (as the female flight attendants were then called) cut us off after three, or at most four, drinks (if my memory serves me right, we were drinking Dewar’s White Label, though it might have been Johnny Walker Red). Furthermore, we were really bummed that we had missed seeing the moon shot—Mit was also upset because his childhood ambition was to be the first man on the moon.

Anyway, there we were at LaGuardia when we ran into a couple of chicks—long hair parted in the middle, unencumbered by either shoes or bras—who invited us to hitch up to Woodstock for this far-out festival. It didn’t take much persuading, especially since one of the girls—Lisa, I think her name was—told Mit he looked just like George Reeves, the guy who played Superman on TV, who had shot himself.

We arrived just as Richie Havens was finishing his set, and before too long, all four of us were tripping out. Everything that followed was a kaleidoscope of colors, sounds, Joan Baez, Country Joe, swaying bodies, Canned Heat, bare flesh, Big Brother & the Holding Company, growling stomachs, peace, peeing in the mud, sleepless nights and love. I remember Mit—who knows what he had been smoking—becoming absolutely obsessed with finding some Crest toothpaste— not just any toothpaste, but Crest with the taste of bubble gum.

Somehow, we made it back to New York City and caught our flights home. Don’t know what happened to the two chicks. Incidentally, you know that famous photo of a guy and girl wrapped in a blanket and embracing in the dawn’s early light? Who are they? None other than my old missionary companion Mit and the iconic, incomparable Grace Slick.