50 Years Later: Couple on Woodstock Album Cover Is Still Together
Nick and Bobbi Ercoline, both 20, were snapped by Life photographer Burk Uzzle on Sunday, Aug. 18, 1969, three months after they’d started dating and two years before they married. Five decades later, they remain together.
In a recent interview, they told how they identified themselves as they listened to the LP for the first time in May 1970 with a group of friends. “We were passing the jacket around when someone pointed out the staff with the orange and yellow butterfly,” Nick told AARP. “That belonged to Herbie, a guy from Huntington Beach, Calif. He was lost and having a bad trip, and we hooked arms with him until he was clear-headed. Then we saw the blanket. Oh my lord, that's us!"
“I realized I should tell my mother I had gone to Woodstock," Bobbi added.
The couple, along with a friend, lived less than an hour from the Woodstock site, and decided to make their way there after local media advised people against traveling. After encountering a number of police road blocks, they abandoned their car and walked the rest of the way.
“We found the blanket on the way and picked it up,” Bobbi said. “We had not come prepared. We didn't have tickets. We just took the challenge, and we didn't know what to expect. There were thousands of people walking miles and miles, carrying sleeping bags and instruments, and lots of stuff got discarded. When we got on that hill, we couldn't see the stage but we had amazing sound.”
She argued that, despite the quality of music at Woodstock, “it wasn’t about the artists. … What I remember the most was the people, the sea of humanity and the commotion all around us. It assaulted your senses and it was so darn exciting. We had never experienced anything like this.”
Recalling how the crowd survived on food handouts from locals, along with enduring bad weather, she said, “At my age now, it would be awful, but when you're 20 and falling in love, it's not an issue. We stood on our patch of ground. I don't think we realized what was really going on until afterward when you started hearing the news reports. There were no phones, no texting. We had no idea how many people were there."
“We were just regular kids in small-town U.S.A.,” Nick said, arguing that Woodstock had quickly become “old news” as a result of bad feelings generated by the mess left afterward. “We had similar ideals of our generation, and the war was a big deal. But we didn't see the racial strife that other people saw. Growing up in a small town, we just got along with everybody.”
The Ercolines, both now 70, have a print of the photo in their home, which they look at every day. Nick said that, as time passed and people became more interested in the impact of Woodstock, they began receiving offers for the blanket – as much as $30,000 at one point. By that time it had worn out through years of use and was “long gone.”
The couple will mark its 48th wedding anniversary later this month. They have two sons and four young grandchildren. Asked about the secret of their longevity, Bobbi replied, “Don't stay mad. People don't grow at the same rate. You have to be willing to let the other catch up or vice versa. It's never 50-50.”