Charles Manson was born in 1934 and enjoyed a brief career as a song writer, which had been influenced by a chance association with Dennis Wilson, drummer and co-founder of the Beach Boys. But the devil soon took hold and he became the master of the creepy and the macabre. By the time he strolled into the Haight Ashbury District of San Francisco during the Summer of Love, he was already a seasoned criminal.
One day in 1967, I drifted down from my apartment on the corner of Hayes and Stanyon to investigate the latest goings-on. Standing on an orange crate in the Panhandle was this scruffy, wired dude preaching and singing on the merits of an all-white society. Four wide-eyed girls gazed at him with this far away look as if he was the next coming. But for the rest of us, the name Charles Manson meant little. He was nothing unusual at the time. After all, the Haight was full of castaways, leftovers, and drifters of every species. And then there was the summer along the banks of the Russian River where everything started to get twisted for Mr. Manson.
Charles Manson at the River:
My source tells me that in 1969 he was walking along a sparsely inhabited section of beach near Guerneville (where Burke’s retrieves their canoes) and came across a guy with a couple of female friends, all of whom were wearing their one-piece birthday suits. The stranger invited my source to party with them but he declined as his instincts kicked in. In the local newspaper the next day, there was a photo of the man. It was Charles Manson and he had been arrested on suspicion of two murders the previous night. One of the victims was found in a plastic bag, alive but with a .22 in his belly. The bullet degraded to the point where lead poisoning had taken over. He died en route to a hospital in Santa Rosa.
Charles Manson had turned the Beatles’ song, “Helter Skelter”, upside down and infused it with apocalyptic racial overtones. The Manson family committed nine killings over a five-week period during that fateful summer of 1969. Fortunately, my source was not counted among the victims. It wasn’t until the Sharon Tate killing(s) in 1971 that a murder decision was finally rendered. Since 1949, Manson has spent all but four years behind bars.
If you wish to send Charles Manson some chocolate chip cookies, you can reach him at Corcoran State Prison in Corcoran, Ca. Until next time, keep turning those pages. Hasta la vista, my friend.