< back to reviews

Vietnam, Woodstock & the Delaware River

The Patience of Rivers, a novel by Joseph Freda

on OFF THE PAGE with Bill Jaker

Listen to the program now in RealAudio© format
(requires free RealAudio© player)

Originally broadcast Tuesday, April 8th at 1 & 7 pm on WSKG Radio

The year 1969 can be seen as the summit of “the 60s,” a decade that saw social upheaval, disillusionment and danger. The American involvement in the Vietnam War was engendering a national trauma.  There was the emergence of a youth culture (“never trust anyone over thirty”) which you think would bypass a serene rural area like the Upper Delaware Valley. But the pressures and the changes were felt powerfully in the community of Delaware Ford, which was sending its sons to fight in Vietnam at the same time as an event called Woodstock – the biggest rock concert in history, just down the road in Sullivan County, at Max Yasgur’s farm.

Delaware Ford might be a fictional hamlet, but every other place in Joseph Freda’s novel The Patience of Rivers is real and accurately observed. The protagonist, Nick Lauria, will be working all summer at the campground his parents own, anticipating college that fall at SUNY-Albany. Nick’s parents, Kit and Francis, are feeling strains in their marriage, in part because of the irregularities in their business caused by their business partner, Ted Miles. Ted’s son Charlie is Nick’s best friend and the two young men are developing into powerful canoe racers along the Delaware.

Joseph Freda set his story in a rural community that is used to intrusion and excitement, but one that is literally swamped by the thousands that show up for the Woodstock Festival, just as they are unprepared for the war in Vietnam. Nick’s friend Felix Gustave volunteers for the war, telling Nick “Every generation has its war…Vietnam’s mine.  It ain’t much of a war but it’s the only one I got.” 

Meanwhile, Nick misses Woodstock completely while working at his family’s overcrowded campground (where he meets a girl from New Jersey who’s been left behind by her friends and becomes romantically involved – a relationship that seems as much an expression of the Woodstock spirit as anything happening at Yasgur’s farm).

Join us, as we talk with Joseph Freda about his new novel, The Patience of Rivers...

Listen to the program now in RealAudio© format
(requires free RealAudio© player)

Copyright WSKG Public Broadcasting

© 2002 – 2015 Joseph Freda. Website design by Freda + Flaherty Creative.