A legacy of peace and freedom turned into a family business for one Bethel resident. FOX Fan caught up with Cornelius Alexy, founder of PeaceFence.com, to go inside his business and find out just how Woodstock has touched the town of Bethel, NY.
FOX Fan: Tell us about Peacefence?
Cornelius Alexy: We have the original entrance gate from Woodstock from 1969 along with a chain link fence. We decided back in 1993 or so that we should make something historical out of the fence, so we now make peace pendants out of the original Woodstock fence. We straighten it out on a log splitter and then shape it into a peace sign.
We've since loaned the entrance gate to Bethel Woods where it's currently on display.
FF: What has the reception of the peace pendants been?
CA: People that buy them really enjoy them, some people even feel they can... well, one guy said that when he closes his eyes, he feels like he was actually back there.
The fence failed in 1969 in the sense that it didn't keep the crowds out, and because of that, it was a free concert. We're giving people a little reminder of that sense of freedom with the pendants.
FF: What do you remember about Woodstock? What sticks out in your mind?
CA: I remember it quite well in the news, the NY State Thruway was closed. I remember I thought it was up in Woodstock, and I had customers up there. And it didn’t seem to out of whack that the Thruway was closed, because it was close by. But there's no Thruway here [in Bethel]; it’s 50 miles away. Cars were jammed up and people began to walk from that far away.
FF: How has Woodstock impacted your life?
CA: My older son, who passed away, lived right across the street from the original site. There were impromptu concerts going on there all the time. We went to all of those things, but they could become a little disruptive to your normal way of life. [In the end] I figured we might as well join them if they were going to be there.
I don’t think there’s anyone in the town who doesn’t remember it. Some people are bitter about it, some not. Whether it's true or not, I don't know, but I’ve been told that everyone who was elected for anything was not re-elected after Woodstock.
FF: How did Woodstock shape the town of Bethel?
CA: It’s put it on the map. For example, I work on cleaning equipment that’s used in industry. With my business, I had a choice of being in Jeffersonville or Bethel – I said, 'if I'm in Bethel, they’ll know where I am.'
Prior to 1969, the main thing was tourism. Then, after the festival, it declined.Now, with the [Bethel Woods] arts center, it’s becoming better known that the festival was here -- not actually in Woodstock, NY.
Sometime in the early 1980s, someone erected a monument here, and there would be people there all the time taking photographs. It’s astonishing how many people would be there, looking around the field.
FF: Do you think there should be another Woodstock?
CA: I think there should be, but I don’t think there will be. There were things going on in the world in the time, there was this counter culture, there was the Vietnam war going on.
But it’s just a different world now ... the world is a different place.