It was the summer of 1992 and the Grateful Dead had scheduled the "Veneta Third Decadal Field Trip" to celebrate their own three decades in music. What was more, Veneta, Oregon was/still is the venue for the Oregon Country Faire, the biggest and best hippie fair on the West Coast, if not in the country, maybe the whole wide world.
It was not just the "Third Decadal" either. In 1972, the Dead had played their first show in Veneta in a big field at Faire for the express purpose of raising money to save the Springfield Creamery, a dairy owned by Ken Kesey's brother Chuck and his wife Sue. Ten years later, they played the "Second Decadal" show in Veneta. 1992 woulld be the Third. We were psyched!
I was so psyched that not only had I already bought the T-shirt from a traveling vendor stopping by the Blue Moon Tavern, as was customary, to hit up as many customers as possible before getting to the show itself. I had also ordered tickets for four: Richard and I, plus my kids, Christopher and Caroline. I had also bought round trip tickets for Christopher from Chicago to Seattle and from Eugene, Oregon back to Seattle.
That, along with Garcia cancelling the shows due to "health concerns," tossed a spanner into the works.
We would have been just as unhappy (cancelled show) staying in Seattle and bemoaning Garcia's untimely "health concerns" except for that little extra mile I had stuck on Chris's airplane ticket to fly home from Eugene, changing planes in Seattle, so he could get home on time. We called the airlines. Christopher, we told them, could not board the plane in Eugene. He would have to just pick up his flight in Seattle. No deal, the airlines told us. He had to fly out of Eugene or we would have to spring for another one-way ticket. I had already pretty much emptied the larder of cash for the summer. Luckily, we heard that a local Oregon farmer was renting out land north of Eugene to somebody who would stage an "emergency concert." We packed our bags and went.
I wish I could tell you that a grand time was had by all, but I can't. The camping was in a field full of hummocks of spiky grass and the bands were nothing to write home about, never mind driving five hours to hear. Lots of vendors were there trying to sell all they had made for the Decadal show, but I think the only thing I bought was a dragon pipe for Caroline. Yes, my daughter smoked pot and I knew about it and she turned out just fine, thank you very much. It was the Keseys who made the entire trip worth while.
I remember hearing cheers and feeling a little wave of anticipation ripple through the crowd, and when I looked up there was a bus. Not *the* bus. THE bus was still mouldering away in an orchard somewhere on the Kesey farm. But this might as well have been *the* bus for all the excitement it generated. Folks gathered around, and I think some were allowed in. I didn't try that. But I did gather my children together to join me in front of the bus. Richard probably took the picture. It's my favorite Family Foto!