Why this boomer didn’t buy tickets for Woodstock

Lots of baby boomers are talking about Woodstock this year because, well, it’s the 50th anniversary and that’s a long time in our lives. But London’s Tom Curtin, a reputation management consultant, talks about it in his new novel, and he didn’t even go. Why not? Read this and you’ll find out.

I turned down tickets for Woodstock in 1969.

Woodstock, 1969.

On a cockroach exterminator’s pay of $125 a week ($90 after taxes), they were just too expensive at $18 a pop. And I had better things to do with my money.

Two months earlier, I had landed in New York on a student visa from the West of Ireland. I came in search of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. In that strict order.

MacDougal Street in New York in 1969.

Priority one was to get rid of the shackles of virginity … as many times as possible.

And, unlike the tickets, the sex was free– if you leave out the guilt trips. So Woodstock was out.

In those good old days (bad old days, some would say) we really had free love. No AIDS, penicillin for any little itches, and girls on the Pill. Thank you, Big Pharma.

On a Friday night, dressed like beachballs, we would head for New York’s “tony” Upper East Side to what were known as Singles Bars.

Here, stewardesses from the airports would be laying over. Literally, in many cases.

Eastern Airlines “stewardesses.”

Airlines had strict guidelines for their stewardesses. Here is an advertisement for Eastern Airlines in 1966:

A high school graduate, single (widows and divorcees with no children considered), 20 years of age (girls 19 ½ may apply for future consideration). 5’2″ but no more than 5’9″, weight 105 to 135 in proportion to height and have at least 20/40 vision without glasses.

And there were hundreds of these staying in hotels overnight. We thought we’d died and gone to heaven.

Tom Curtin in the ’60s.

Naturally I learned not to share my profession of “cockroach exterminator” with these young ladies. In my naivety, I had mentioned it to the first girl I propositioned, and I would have been more successful saying I was a pedophile. She’s still running.

No. I became a young manager working in “office hygiene.” That worked much better. (How I got the job is another story and you better read my new novel if you want to find out.)

Tom Curtin today.

Of course, visiting these bars cost money, but a mathematically-inclined colleague did what he called a “cost-benefit” analysis. His conclusion: it must be really tough on the hookers as they are being driven out of business by these talented amateurs.

So, to give up $18 or a day’s pay to hear rock music in a field, compared with the same price for drinks in a Singles Bar, was no contest.

Oh! And if your name is Lindy, Mandy, Sandy, or whatever ending in ‘y’ and you were a stewardess in 1969, it wasn’t me.


Tom’s book, which you can buy here, is “Land of the Free: An Irish Odyssey in America.”

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