Atlanta Pop Festival

In July of 1969 the world came to Hampton, GA.  Somewhere close to 100,000 hippies descended on our little sleepy town.  I was there in my bell bottom jeans.  I saw my first and only naked people who were not related to me, not counting a handful of PE locker rooms.  I was 12, almost 13.  Kids always count the age they are about to be.  Some images you cannot erase.

The place.  Atlanta Motor Speedway.  The very house where Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, and Fireball Roberts  burned up the track turned into a frenzy of rock music and other activities which my mother warned me about.

I never got inside the event.  But I didn’t have to.  You could hear the music from the moon.  Canned Heat, “Goin’ Up the Country”. Joe Cocker, “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window”.  Led Zeppelin pounding out “Whole Lotta Love”.  The stuff I played on a 33LP in my bedroom was flowing out over the south grandstands live.

It is reported that “the concession stands were woefully inadequate.”  It actually says that on Wikipedia.  Which is probably why my Dad conceived and carried out a plan that has become one of the more notable stories of my life.

I have no idea how any actual conversation went, but it had to go something like this.

Dad:  “All those fine young people over there at the race track have to be hungry and thirsty.  We could sell them donuts and water.”

Mama:  “You’re nuts.”

Dad and I got to the Krispy Kreme in West End, near the Sears Roebuck store, before daylight.  The camper shell was on the Chevy long bed and we filled that sucker up to the roof and back to the tail gate with white and green dozen boxes of the finest donuts on the planet.  We stuffed the cab with gallon jugs of water filled out of the spigot from our well.  And we went to the show.

Those fine young people were happy to see us.  We drove through the fields around the race track and peddled our goods.  The cash flowed.  One rather sleepy guy threw back his blanket, got up, and walked up naked to the back of truck, pouring out the remaining contents of a Jack Daniels bottle as he headed our way.

“You got any water in there?” he asked.  I couldn’t speak.  I tried not to look.

“Sure,” Dad said.  And he handed us a dollar.  Two donuts and a drink.  I always wondered where a naked guy keeps his money.

Woodstock might have been bigger, but this one belonged to Hampton.  All of the stores were out of ice.  Lake Talmadge had hippies swimming in it to cool off.  More naked people.  Sensible adults looked cross eyed.  All the kids were bug eyed.  Rock and Roll came to town.

I still listen to Led Zeppelin in my truck from time to time.  “You need cooling. Baby I’m not fooling.”   And, when I do, for some reason, I have a hankering for Krispy Kreme donuts.

10 thoughts on “Atlanta Pop Festival

  1. I was just telling someone the other day about Daddy selling water at the pop festival. I didn’t remember that you went with him or about the donuts. Now I do!


  2. Ah……. I was there ( only got to go with my sisters). Did not see some of the most notable performers, as we left before midnight each day. The Hampton Fire & Rescue actually played a part as the “sprayed” the crowd with fire hose one hot afternoon. Woodstock has nothing on Hampton. Thks for the memories


  3. How I remember, but from a distance. Daddy actually opened his store and let a few in at a time. But,of course, I could not be exposed to that”sort”! In the end I think daddy felt like he had helped some of those young people too. I did not know that you and your dad did that great story!


  4. Oh, Paul. That’s such a great story. I just can’t imagine your Dad getting in the middle of that; the mental image image is cracking me up!!


  5. This is so weird. I don’t remember this at all. I had just graduated. I know some of my friends probably went to this.
    I was working at the KOA campground with cousin, Suzy Walters.
    Also, Gail Fellows, Vicky and Johnny Babb, Johnny Swinney
    worked there that summer. If any of them went, they didn’t tell me.
    I usually remember things!!


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