John ‘Juanito’ Tidwell (english)

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In 1972 I was a high school senior at Caribbean School in Ponce. I drove up to Vega Baja with my younger brother, a classmate and two friends in a VW Beetle. It’s amazing that my parents let us go–but it was a more innocent age. One guy with us had made a homemade teepee just for the event. He sewed canvas together for the outside and for the poles he used some plastic pc style pipes. On the way up, we stopped to eat some wild grapefruit on the side of the road and we saw a stand of bamboo. Since the plastic poles had sagged when we tried it out in Ponce, we decided to use the bamboo. We only had one large kitchen knife, so it took a long time(and we were in a condition) to cut the poles and tie them to the VW. By the time we got to Vega Baja, it was pitch black and we couldn’t see a thing. We pitched our teepee and when we woke up the next morning we were surrounded by thousands of people and many tents. We were so excited to be there!

The first music I remember hearing was Herbie Mann’s flute, and we followed it to the stage. We spent the first night glued to the music and digging the vibes. I remember BB King played that night as well. It was the first time I ever saw him out of many more to come. He was so warm and gracious as he wished us well and asked for us to be safe. He said he couldn’t stay and would be leaving. after the gig. I remember the line of one of his songs “my brother in Viet Nam..” and it got a huge reaction because the war was still going on and some of the kids in my school had low draft numbers and had gone or were going. I think there was only one other teepee there. There is a teepee on a you Tube video of the festival and I wonder if it’s ours.