In deepest winter, a souvenir of Queensborough’s summer of love

Queensborough rock festival swimmers

A look back in time, to a hot summer day in 1971 when long-haired young people from near and far, who had come to Queensborough for the Rock Acres Peace Festival, congregated at the historic mill on the Black River for a nice cool dip. (Photo courtesy of Graham Gough)

Ah yes, the Summer of Love. It almost sounds like I’m carrying on from my Grateful Dead reference in last night’s post, doesn’t it? (Both the Grateful Dead and the Summer of Love having been geolocated, as they say these days, in San Francisco. And hey, if you want a good soundtrack for reading this post, take my advice and click here.) But Queensborough‘s summer of music and (free) love was a few years after San Francisco’s in 1967. Ours was in 1971, when the Rock Acres Peace Festival came to town. Now, I have already extensively documented the Rock Acres Peace Festival here, having worked really hard and done a lot of research in the interest of providing the definitive record of that landmark event in our little village’s history. So I won’t go over it all again; if you want to read all about our very own rock festival on a local farm (à la Woodstock), when long-haired young people overran Queensborough and gave us much to talk about for a long time afterward, that post from last year is the place to go. (Oh, and also a couple of follow-up posts here and here.)

But amid the wintriest winter any of us
have experienced for a very long time, a great souvenir of that long-ago event has arrived in my inbox. It came from our Queensborough friend Graham, who is busy digitizing the slide collection of his remarkable late father, Art Gough, whom I wrote about and paid tribute to here.

Graham was probably as tickled to come across this photo as I was to receive it. Yes, it’s a bit fuzzy and faraway, but I hope you will be pleased to know that what it shows is the hippies who came to town for the rock festival – on a brutally hot August weekend – swimming at the dam on the Black River in “downtown” Queensborough (across the river from the Gough home).

Perhaps it’s just as well that it’s fuzzy, because – as the upstanding, church-going folk of Queensborough back in 1971 were horrified (and secretly thrilled, I think) to report: many of those kids swam in the – gasp – nude!

Heady times, my friends. Heady times. I feel like putting a flower in my hair.

9 thoughts on “In deepest winter, a souvenir of Queensborough’s summer of love

  1. A week or so after I attended that festival, my family had a visit from one of my uncles. When he learned that I had been at the Queensborough Peace Festival, the first thing he said was, “did you see any nude swimming there?” Well, uh, no, actually. It seems funny how that seemed to be the one thing that concerned so many people on that side of the generation gap! Great photo, BTW, and so nice to have a momento.

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