Monday, June 27, 2011

“Hey, Charlie… Black Beard Charlie!”

"One morning (the day after I’d been told that Charlie had warned the girls to “Watch Paul!”), I returned from Spahn’s following an all-night hike. Though totally thrashed, I borrowed Mark Ross’s camper and drove it out to Topanga Canyon. I felt the need to see the ocean. Near the base of the canyon, just before it enters the coast highway, I stopped to buy a cup of coffee. As I pulled into the parking place, I saw I guy get out of his van and trot across the street toward the gas station. He looked familiar, but I wasn’t sure. I rolled down my window and shouted."

“Hey, Charlie… Black Beard Charlie!”


This is the gas station that Paul Watkins was parked at when he spotted Charles Melton, as desribed in his book "My life with Charles Manson". For what it's worth (which is little), it was a Gulf gas station at the time.






14 comments:

Panamint Patty said...

Blackbeard Charlie strikes Patty as a dude who might have known a few things about the Family's activities having been BFFs with Robert Kasabian...she wonders what his real name is/was, and whether or not he was ever questioned. Anyone?

MrPoirot said...

Dunno if it was a psuedoname for the book. Watkins was not with the Family at the time he met Blackbeard. Watkins had no job nor his own apartment. He lived as a drifter within the hippie community around Topanga. Though Watkins was a big Manson groupie at times he also retained his desire to go partying and roaming on his own. He was never into Charlie's heler skelter violent crapology. Murder and prison interfeared with his leisure time.

MrPoirot said...

BTW, is the ocean behind the viewer in this pic?

louis365 said...

Seems to me....Charlie's violet turn may have begun to start at the Spiral Staircasee...

Ken619 said...

Yes, the ocean was behind me. The Malibu Feed Bin is across the street to the North.

I've been working on a panoramic view of the Lower Topanga area circa 1969. Hopefully the image will help provide a better understanding of the layout of the area.

Ken619 said...

louis365 said...

Seems to me....Charlie's violet turn may have begun to start at the Spiral Staircasee...

Ken said.....

I think the Lower Topanga area as a whole had a great influence on CM. The people that lived in this area were very much set apart from those that lived in Topanga Canyon. Doing research on the area has brought up some names that are unbelievable. When they say they lived at the Spiral Staircase, I don't believe they did as a whole. There were 50 plus houses in the area and I'm sure the girls and such scattered among them.

beauders said...

i think they actually lived in the bus while it was parked at the spiral staircase house. they participated in the activities in the spiral staircase house as a group and not individually. who are some of figures who lived in lower topanga canyon, ken? i think the spiral staircase brought a lot of interesting people into manson's orbit and would love to know who some of them were.

MrPoirot said...

louis365 said...
Seems to me....Charlie's violet turn may have begun to start at the Spiral Staircasee...

Mr Poirot replies:

There's a peculiar mention in Watkin's book occurring at Barker's during the Family's 1st sojourn up there. Watkins mentions during one of Charlie's nightly lectures a bizarre moment where Charlie made a wild eyed nonsequitor. Somethin about how he came to them innocent as a deer and yet you killed me etc etc etc.

I think this was Watkins 1st notice in hindsight that Charlie's madness had begun to emerge by around New Years 68-69.

So Manson says in Emmon's book that evil crept in at the Spiral Staircase yet Watkins spotted it first at Barkers.

Ken619 said...

beauders,

Let me rephrase that.. where Charlie parked the bus and encamped next to the Spiral Staircase on Topanga Canyon Lane, there would of been at least eight other houses or shacks that surrounded the bus. This doesn't include the other forty plus other houses or shacks that were in the area. The bus, like many of the houses and shacks in the area didn't have running water. Some of the houses did and this would suggest out of necessity that they would wander. You can only bath in the ocean so much before you need to actually clean yourself up, every once in a while. I believe the bus was more or less a home base for the bunch and at times, they probably slept at various locations in the area for many reasons. That's my opinion.

As for names of people connected to the area, I probably should have seperated it from the rest of the paragraph. The only so called famous people that I've been able to connect to the time Manson was there are "World Famous" surfers from the 60's and 70's. Hal Jepsen, Dora and Brian Bleak to name a few. Research the surfers and you get a very clear definition of what Lower Topanga and Topanga Beach was about. If you want an extremly exaggerated and fictional description, read "The Family".

As for names connected to the area historicaly, which is what I meant. After years of reading and researching this area, I've learned quite a bit about it. I have found enough evidence to suggest that William R. Hearst is the person who built the Spiral Staircase. As I have said before on this blog, I believe he built it for Marion Davis and himself prior to building the Mega Mansion for her farther down the coast. He is the reason that Topanga Canyon Lane exists do to negotiations with the State when they built Roosevelt Highway (Coast Highway). He negotiated with the State to allow access to his property. Topanga Canyon Lane ended at the Spiral Staircase. I'd like to do a right up on this. It's not CM related, but it is relevant to the History of the area.

If you remember way back to the 90's when Robert Downey Jr. lost it do to drugs and disappeared. He was here and there are pictures of him in the Snake Pit and looks pretty wacked

MrPoirot said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-fJGxTfeqI&feature=related

This youtbe is where Squeaky herself said she ejected the chamber bullet in her apt. SS agents found the killer bullet on the floor. Otherwise she'd have shot Ford.

MrPoirot said...

That's kinda rundown looking property for a beach area. In SC beach area property is extremely valuable if not unworldly valuable. You don't see empty, abandoned properties. I'm aware that Venice Beach is known as a bad area with lots of drugs. How about the Topanga area? Is the beachfront there a run down or druggie area? Are hippietypes still there? How has it changed in 40 years?

Ken619 said...

The State took over the area called Lower Topanga in 2006 to make it a Nature preserve. They tore all the houses down and this is a great example of our Government at their best! They should of left it as it was. Oh well. The other nickname for the Lower Topanga area was and might still be "The Ghettos of Malibu". The Malibu City limit is just up the road on the Coast Highway.

This gas station would of been the dream station to work at when you were a kid. It was the only one from Santa Monica to Malibu. The list of famous people that would of bought gas from here would be unimaginable.

MrPoirot said...

The spiral staircase fell off its foundation and was leaning. Was this earthquake related? I've seen other pics of homes in that area that looked shanty-like as if part of a hippie ghost town. They appeared to have been abandoned by their owners. Was there widespread structural damage to homes in the lower topanga? Earthquake and flood can wreak havoc. If you look at the big hill behind blackbeards gas station you can see a concrete wall which was designed to stop mudslides from falling onto the station.

MrPoirot said...

Being a landlord myself i know the struggles of paying high property taxes and the expense of maintaining rental property. California had a major property tax revolt a few years back. Perhaps too many forces were acting against property owners in that area? Finally there was nothing to do but bulldoze the area. A once popular area fell to neglect because there's only so much a property owner can survive before it's necessasry to just walk off from a bad investment. Most local governments act contrary and become destuctive to the needs of property owners. The end result is a dead neighborhood.