Jerry and Judy Griffin, who met on the way to Woodstock in 1969, recently celebrated their 50th anniversary with family and friends

By Kara Warner
August 17, 2019 01:30 PM
Courtesy Chloe Kooper

Judy and Jerry Griffin are celebrating two special milestones this summer — their 50th anniversary and the fact that they finally found a photo from when they met at Woodstock in 1969.

The Griffins celebrated their anniversary earlier this week with family and friends, who surprised them with a very special celebratory confection.

“Our kids surprised us with this wonderful cake,” Judy, 72, says and shared a photo of the cake with PEOPLE. The writing on the cake reads, “Happy 50th Anniversary!,” alongside an edible re-printing of the long lost photo of Jerry and Judy at Woodstock that they had been searching for for the last five decades.

The Griffins met by chance, 50 years ago this week, on the way to the iconic music festival when Judy’s car broke down, and Jerry and his friends happened to see her hitchhiking.

“I was just thinking, ‘Damn, now we can’t go,’ and we were dying to,” Judy, 72, recalls to PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “Then Jerry and his friends pulled up. I stuck my head in and I saw that there was a woman in the car. I’d never hitchhiked before, but I figured, ‘Well, since there was a woman, it was fairly safe, and I probably should just get in the car.’ “

Judy and Jerry Griffin at Woodstock in 1969, Screenshot from American Experience|PBS, footage courtesy of Warner Brothers Entertainment
Screenshot from American Experience|PBS, footage courtesy of Warner Brothers Entertainment

The Griffins have been together ever since and they’d never seen a photo of themselves from the event that started it all until earlier this summer, when a friend texted them a screenshot from the new PBS documentary Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation, which features a brief bit of footage of a rain-soaked Judy and Jerry huddled together under a blanket.

“We both had cameras, but neither of us took any pictures,” Jerry, 72, says. “For 50 years we’ve been looking for a picture of ourselves, and out of the blue one shows up. We’d known each other less than 48 hours when that was taken.”

For more on Judy and Jerry Griffin, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE now on newsstands

Judy says their kids “always thought it was a cool story,” but the discovery of the photo and the footage has increased their cool factor exponentially.

“When the picture came out and the [documentary] came out, my daughter-in-law freaked out,” Judy says with a laugh. “She couldn’t believe it. She started Facebooking all her friends and the thing went viral in her little world. And we have hundreds of people making comments about it.”

Funnily enough, as eye-catching and memorable as the 50-year-old footage of the Griffins is, neither of them remember seeing anyone capturing it.

Judy and Jerry Griffin now, at their home in Manhattan Beach
Ben Trivett

“There was that giant rainstorm on Sunday and after the rain, or during some part of the rain, we were standing up,” Judy recalls. “I have no recollection of it whatsoever, but I guess there were people photographing the crowd. And we were standing there and they must’ve taken our pictures.”

Jerry adds: “Yeah, we were standing watching a lot of kids slide down the cow pasture mud, and that’s something we didn’t really want to do. We were soaked. We were tired, too. And it got cold and we were completely drenched when that photograph was taken,” he says. “But, I have no recollection of anybody taking photographs of us. But it’s a really cute moment.”

Woodstock forever holds a special place in their hearts and lives, and now after finding the footage and seeing the full documentary, their extended family also has a new appreciation for it.

“We always celebrate August 15 as my birthday and the day we met and our anniversary,” she says of the date, which was day one of Woodstock and her 22nd birthday. “We took the grandkids to see the movie and they just loved it — with the exception of the 8-year-old, she was bored,” she adds with a laugh.

Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation is now available to stream or watch on-demand via PBS.

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