Bobbi and Nick Ercoline were thrilled when they saw themselves on the cover of the Woodstock soundtrack album, released one year after the iconic 1969 festival in Bethel.
Their friends and family? Not so much.
“Once Woodstock was over, you did not hear much about Woodstock,” Bobbi said. “It left a bad taste in Sullivan County’s mouth. It traumatized them, so once it was done, it was done. So when we told our friends we’re on the cover, they’d go, ‘That’s great. Where do you want to go for dinner tomorrow night?’”
Bobbi decided the release of the album in May 1970 was a good time to inform her mother that she went to Woodstock.
“And when I did tell her, she was like, ‘Oh, that’s nice. Do you want pork chops for dinner?’” Bobbi recalled.
Photographer Burk Uzzle took the now-iconic photo of the two 20-year-olds embracing each other beneath a blanket.
Bobbi and Nick didn’t know their photo was taken and don’t remember what was happening at the time.
Uzzle later told the couple that it was captured Sunday morning while Grace Slick was singing.
“We were shocked that they took that photo and put it on the album,” Nick said.
At the time of the photo, Nick and Bobbi had been dating for three months and decided to go to Woodstock on a whim because “they (the media) told us not to go,” Nick said.
He remembers the media were warning the public about the miles and miles of stalled traffic.
“Our intention was just to take a quick run up, check it out and come back because I wanted to go to Mass on Sunday morning,” Bobbi added. “That didn’t happen.”
Because they were locals — Bobbi from Pine Bush and Nick from Middletown — they used their knowledge of the back roads to drive within five miles of the festival site.
From there, they walked to Woodstock along with tens of thousands of other people.
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Finding the blanket
The Ercolines didn’t initially bring the blanket that Uzzle caught in his photo. Bobbi grabbed it off the ground during that walk.
As people headed to Woodstock, they were tired of carrying their belongings and ditched them, according to Bobbi. They discarded items such as tents, lawn chairs, coolers and backpacks.
“As we were walking in, I saw the blanket and thought maybe we should have something to sit on, so I just picked it up on the way in,” Bobbi said.
The couple attended the festival with three of their friends and only packed the “essentials” of beer and wine, Nick joked.
By the time the Ercolines became famous for the photo, that blanket was long gone.
For about 10 years, they used it at the beach and for picnics. Nick, a retired union carpenter, used it in his Volkswagen Beetle to combat the drafts flowing through the car.
One spring he opened the trunk to take the blanket out and Nick said it wasn’t worth keeping because of the damage to it from road salt.
At least six people from across the country have contacted them claiming the blanket was originally theirs and to thank the Ercolines for saving it, according to Bobbi.
The international recognition for the Ercolines didn’t come until Woodstock’s 20th anniversary.
Life magazine put a coupon in local newspapers asking for people’s Woodstock stories, so Bobbi filled it out and mailed it.
Someone from the magazine called months later to speak with her about it and Bobbi said she didn’t mention how she and her husband were on the album cover until she was about to hang up.
The next day, photographer Bill Eppridge showed up at their home to take a picture for the magazine.
Since being identified in that edition of Life, the Ercolines have traveled the world to tell their story.
“I think that us being together for 50 years gives people hope,” Bobbi said.
Nick and Bobbi, now both 70, are retired and live in Pine Bush. They have two grown sons and four grandchildren.
Aug. 27 will mark their 48th wedding anniversary.
“Woodstock has not changed our life, but it certainly has enhanced our life, and I cannot think of a more wonderful thing to share with the man that I’ve loved for 50 years,” Bobbi said.
They’ve traveled to the Netherlands, Germany, Puerto Rico and conducted interviews with media outlets from all over the world.
This year, on the 50th anniversary, telling their story has become a full-time job.
Since January, they’ve received more than 1,100 interview requests and respond to each one personally.
This week, they’ll be guests at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts for the four-day celebration.
They regularly volunteer for Bethel Woods and strongly support its mission. Bobbi praised the organization for the job it’s doing to preserve the historical grounds so future generations can enjoy them.
“This world needs not another Woodstock necessarily, but this world needs more Woodstock,” Bobbi said. “It needs peace and love and understanding and sharing and caring for your neighbor.”