May 19, 2009 by David Gillaspie
A weekend guest to the Entertainment Room had been to the Grateful Dead show at the Gorge Amphitheater in George, Washington.
But it was more than a Dead show. It was the Allman Brothers and the Doobie Brothers too. A fogie-fest, but that’s not how it worked out.
“My college boys had tickets to the show. The older one bought the younger one a ticket for his birthday. Then their ride dropped out. They called and asked if they could borrow a car for the five hour drive, or buy me a ticket and I could go with them.”
“I went without a ticket. A Dead show without a ticket. No problem. The narrow road to the site and the fifty dollars for a camping spot bothered me until I had to drive through the camp ground with people wandering in front of my car and looking at us like they’d never seen anything like it. Like they’d never seen a mini-van.
“The camp director in my area pointed to a piece of grass, my new campsite. It was close to the port-o-potties and a steel drum garbage can. It was a hot day but not enough to bring up the smell yet.
“I didn’t expect the opening act for the show to start one row of campers away from us, but a band had a sound set-up in their trunk and blasted away. I looked around and knew the bathroom doors would bang all night, bottles clanking into the garbage barrel, and the camper band would turn it up.
“Our first cruise through the crowd looking for a ticket showed most of the crowd also looking for a ticket, except they called it looking for a miracle and walked around with one finger raised. So I did too.
“Back at the camp a woman walked between two men. They carried her. One of my boys said, She’s not going to the show. I called out, Looking for a ticket, er, miracle. Jerry?
“They sneered and walked past only to return when the woman sat down and couldn’t get up. I offered water. A chair. One of the guys bailed. The other one said he’d give me her ticket if I helped get her back to their camp.
“I got her on her feet and talked her into moving. I’ve read where Jerry’s guitar could turn a bad trip good, so I focused on that. She knew the story and gave me a kiss and her ticket.
“We locked our tent zipper and started the walk to the stage. My ticket was an expensive down front seat. My miracle. The boys had tickets for the yard up top.
“One of the boys wondered how much they could get for their sixty dollar ticket. The next dread locked fan looking for a ticket walked by and the kid said he could have his ticket for a hundred twenty. Double the price, but no buyer. One of ticket seekers scowled and my kid said, See you inside.
“I asked how much we’d have to get if we tried to sell our tickets. We agreed on five hundred dollars and laughed like we’d never get that. Why would we? On the final stretch to the show one boy yelled out “Three tickets for four hundred,” and a guy whipped out four hundred dollar bills saying he and his friends had chartered a plane to get there and had no tickets. Now they did.
“Back at the camp we looked at the row of outhouses, the garbage barrels, the crowded lanes, and the camp band. A couple from a nearby campsite walked over with tequila and lime, all set to party down.
“That was the message to pack up and go home, which we all agreed to do. I left the Gorge Amphitheater with mixed feelings, sort of a seller’s remorse. We didn’t see The Dead, but we didn’t wake up the next morning looking for a ticket out either.”