Thursday, March 14, 2013

Windy discusses Spahn Ranch

Windy was kind enough to take a Life magazine picture of Spahn Ranch and label it showing what each part of the main building was used for and what the surrounding things were in the picture.  She accompanied this with a narrative of how living and eating arrangements were before Charles Manson and the others arrived.  Windy also included a little bit about after the Family's arrival.

"OK, LOOK AT THE photo I have attached. This was it. No road covered with trees, no bungalows or whatever they were supposed to be. One of the guys, either Larry or Ben slept in the jail. It had a bunk, dresser, nite stand and a place to hang his clothes. It looked just like a cell in the old towns. It had a desk for the sheriff and places to hang guns, hats wanted posters, etc. during the day the jail was open to visitors but the cell was locked. It had electric lights etc. Now the general store was always locked but had posters of stuff you could have bought if it were a real town. The saloon was open for visitors but didn’t sell nothing. People could go in and sit and bring a picnic lunch if they wanted, we did sell soda. The café had an adjoining door and could also be used by visitors but we didn’t use it ourselves unless we were having a party with outsiders. We cooked and ate at the table in Georges house. YOU went up the steps and into the living room. To the right was Pearl's Room - always kept locked, and to the left was the area where the table set with the kitchen beyond that with a open divider and on the back wall was George's room. In the living room on the back wall was a beautiful marble mantle hand carved with colored marble animals. Near that sat George's chair. He sat there all the time with a little dog. At the far end of the living room (it wasn’t real large) was a couch and a couple overstuffed chairs. Under George's house (as you were facing it) to the right were steps going down (rather steep) turn left and there was the bathroom and next to it a shower. (the only one on the whole place except down at the lower ranch house. Both places (I believe) were connected to cisterns for water.

Now the reason the general store was locked: you could enter it from behind through the harness shop and it had been divided into several small private rooms each with a bed, dresser, chair and closet. The men decorated to suit themselves. There was also a storage room off the saloon and it too was a room for a man (or a woman) the same with the café, it was a pantry I guess. There were times when all the rooms were full. When we all lived there, we kept the mountains clean and had no near fires. It took a crew to run horses to graze each spring. We grazed the entire area off until there was no fire danger. Manson’s crew caused the fires because no one would stay there to work.

There were some trees leading down the road to the lower ranch house and the outlaw shacks. We had electricity there and running water. But there were no flowers to pick or hardly anywhere to run around like they showed. There was no water fall at Spahn’s ranch. They would have to cross over and go down into Devil’s Canyon. That was on the other side of the road.

Actually, never saw the older kids much, I believe they kept them out of site, as they didn’t go to school, doctors, etc. I usually just saw the babies laying on blankets out in front of Spahn's house., Cold or not they would be naked. Sometimes a half a dozen or more. I covered them up and Charlie would have a fit. He said they’d grow up strong and never feel the cold if started that way (he had on a jacket off course).. I said they’d probably die of pneumonia. I still believe some did.

There were a lot more people staying there than they show in any book, movie or magazine. A lot of them were probably runaways and stayed hidden. I would see half dressed pregnant girls down by the shacks and the lower house that I never saw up top.

The dancing and partying they showed could have been in the saloon or café although neither were very large. The room they showed didn’t exist. Neither did the rooms or the beds or the cleanliness of it all. There were no laundry facilities. The shower under Georges house was mainly cold because we couldn’t keep the hot water tank working. Sometimes it did and we’d all rush to take a warm shower. Lots of times it was just was in a bowl with heated water from the stove. They generally wore those long dresses that the hippies made popular, and it seemed they all had greasy hair. Or the girls ran around with no bras, tank tops shorts so short they might as well have been naked, boobs showing etc. Most of the men ended up looking the same. Hair a mess and stubble or beards, again half naked most of the time."






17 comments:

sherm maniac said...

Thankyou so much for Windy's accounts, they have all been fascinating.

leslir willard said...

I am wondering about the babies she thinks may have died. Was their more babies then we know about?

AustinAnn74 said...

Combine not bathing that often with lots of sex, menstrual cycles, doing # 1 & 2 daily (probably in the bushes with not even toilet paper), and you had a buffet of smell!! Ugh.....

Marlene Ful said...

Windy I love to hear about your time there.What was Ruby Pearl like she seemed like such a great charactor and what was George like and how did the ranch
have an income and support all those staying there.

Heidi S said...

It seems like I remember seeing a video where they talk about babies being buried behind the ranch? Did I imagine this?
Also, what photo is she talking about, comparing what was really there with what she remembers? The Life Magazine layout?
Windy's account is so interesting. AustinAnn, I was thinking the same things...Gross

MissTone said...

"Down by the shacks" - where is that?

DebS said...

About the babies.

Windy does recall there being more babies around the ranch than what we know from pictures and the police report on the children taken into custody. One baby that Windy remembers in particular was redheaded and had a redheaded mom who was quite young.

Windy would see mom and baby around the back ranch. One day she saw the mom without the baby and asked the mom where the baby was, the girl replied "Oh, she died". Windy asked what the girl did with the baby and the girl said I buried her in the baby graveyard with the other ones.

I contacted Paul Dostie about this wanting to know about remains that could have been at Spahn. He and Buster did do a search of the ranch. What he told me was that Buster hit on a place below an oak tree near a creek. Paul went on to tell me that babies bones are not fully developed with all the strength that adult bones have. Babies bones when buried tend to basically dissolve.

Paul believed that Buster may have hit on the area below where any babies might have been buried. Due to runoff and gravity the scent would have gone from the oak tree to the creek below. I must admit that this is not a subject that I am knowledgeable about and needed to turn to an expert for an explanation and opinion.

As far as I know, Windy recalls only this one particular redheaded baby as having died and been buried at the ranch but she believes there were also stillborn babies.

Matt said...

From my conversations with Sgt Dostie that is my understanding as well. Baby bones dissolve & disappear too quickly.

rfoster1 said...

Matt, with regard to baby bones surviving over the decades, it largely depends on the moisture content of the soil in which it is buried. The bones of a deceased child can remain intact for decades, and possibly hundreds of years when buried in an extremely arid environment. On the other hand, the bones of a child buried in a very wet environment will not last long at all. I don't have specific data at the moment, to back up what I say. I will leave it to anyone interested to do the research, if so inclined.

DebS said...

rfoster, I am guessing that it would also depend whether or not a child was buried directly in the ground or in a coffin of some type.

SJ said...

It sounds like she is comparing what it was really like with what they showed in the Hendrickson movie.

monamontgomery said...

Where was Manson torturing the dog and after Windy shot the dog, where did Windy run on horseback to escape Manson?

DebS said...

Monamontgomery, going back over my notes from conversations with Windy, she said that the dog incident took place in one of the movie set buildings. I do not know where Windy went after she escaped Manson.

One thing I would like to note about Windy and the stories that she told was that I had problems verifying even the most basic things. There is no record of her and Randy being married. I told her that I was unable to find a marriage record and she admitted they did not have a legal marriage.

Also, the daughter, Starlina, that she said was Randy's child did not have the last name of Starr or Randall or even her maiden name. Randy Starr's true name was Joseph Randall. The baby had the last name of Spurling. Windy had told me that she was married to a man named Spurling before Randy, of course I could not find a record of that marriage either.

I think Windy read a lot of Manson related books and added her own touches to some of the stories. I do not doubt that she was at Spahn at the same time that the Family was there. She is a compelling story teller but in the end I felt that she was just that, a story teller.

monamontgomery said...

Debs: Windy is part Cherokee and so was Randy so they got married in a Cherokee ceremony with the medicine man on a brown horse (or maybe a mule) and Windy was on a white horse and Randy was on a black horse or vice versa. Thank you so much for telling me that the dog incident took place in the movie set area. I could not get that figured out.

Also, I am linking of Windy's statements in my animation. (1) she says she heard one of the guys describe Manson and his gang killing Shorty. She says they threw his body parts in acid which exploded and started a fire. (2) in another part of her statement to TLB Radio she says that there was a fire and she describes herself and two other ranch hands fighting the fire while the Manson people were screaming about Armageddon.

I am putting these two events together as if they were connected but I would love to know if I am wrong.

Thanks again for your input.

monamontgomery said...

Debs, I researched. Shea was murdered August 28, 1969 and there was an electrical fire December 18, 1969. Still I find it intriguing that the guy who participated in the murder of Shorty Shea was heard by Windy as saying that the vat of acid exploded into a fire so I'm not through with this point yet.

DebS said...

Mona, let me preface my reply. When I do an interview with someone where I am going to put down in writing what was discussed I feel it is incumbent for me to try to verify what it is that the person has told me. In general that is what writers do, they try to make sure that the information they are disseminating is accurate. I spoke to Windy 6-8 times for a couple of hours at a time, the woman can talk and easily went off topic numerous times. Many times to try to test the accuracy of what is being told to me, when I know that it will be difficult to verify, I will ask the same question worded a bit differently 3 or 4 times. If the answers to the questions elicit the same response, although perhaps worded differently, each time then I feel more comfortable about the validity of the statements. This technique is not unlike what law enforcement does to test the truthfulness of a witness.


When the responses to my same questions, which I will ask on different days, varies widely with more detail that sometimes contradicts what has been previously told to me then that tells me the person may not be completely truthful but may be trying to just please me by providing "juicy" tidbits.


When someone is conducting a live radio or television interview there is no expectation that the interviewer will, at that moment, try to verify what the interviewee is saying is the truth. That is left up to the listener to decide for themselves and perhaps do what you are doing, go back over what has been said to get a firm idea of what could be accurate, or not. Unfortunately, many people do not think beyond what they are told and tend to go with the flow of what has been said particularly if the interviewee is a compelling storyteller.


As to your concerns regarding Shorty's murder and the fire at Spahn. Well, we know that Shorty was not burned or exploded in a fire. We also know that what Barbra Hoyt said about Shorty being decapitated was not true. Both of these statement were derived from secondhand information which boils down to hearsay. You can view Shorty's autopsy report for yourself and form your own opinion.


https://www.scribd.com/doc/35709412/Donald-Jerome-Shorty-Shea-Sherrif-s-Investigation-Autopsy-Report

There were two fires at Spahn. The first on Dec. 18, 1969, which was the electrical fire was contained to a trailer and caused $1000 worth of damage. Sharon Rayfield who was not a Family member was living in the trailer at the time. As this fire did not spread beyond the trailer it would be unlikely that it ignited a vat of acid.

The devastating fire that destroyed the ranch happened September 26, 1970, more than a year after Shorty was killed.

DebS said...

Mona I almost forgot to address the Randy Starr was part Cherokee portion of your comment. This is the first time I've heard that. It might be a simple thing to check which I will leave up to you.

I have Randy's death certificate with information that you could use to check on that. His legal name was Joseph V. Randall, he was born in Illinois December 13, 1931. His parents were Clyde Randall born in Illinois and Fay Riddle born in Arkansas. At the time of Randy's death his mother was remarried and her name was Fay Rey, I kid you not! She was the informant who gave the personal information on Randy's death certificate.

Also, as for evaluating Windy's character I have a Google search you can do to check that out. It is not a huge secret that Windy's true name is Lee Saunooke. Do a Google search for Lee Saunooke Animal Cruelty.