Thursday, June 13, 2013

December 19, 1969 LIFE Magazine: The Green Caddie

Another cool tidbit from the December 9, 1969 LIFE magazine:

"The strange story of Charlie Manson and his brood of nubile flower children charged with murder begins on p. 20 of this week's issue. Written in New York by Paul O'Neil, it is based on legwork by our entire California staff plus a few others. In search of facts and pictures, they travelled from the surfers' canyons of Los Angeles to the heart of Death Valley and San Francisco's decaying Haight-Ashbury, and on the way they had some adventures of their own. Los Angeles Bureau Chief John Frook reports:  
"After all the pounding on doors, false steps and blind leads, there always seems to be that one shiny moment you remember. Reporter John Fried and Photographer Vernon Merritt, for example, got the job of covering the Manson Family's existence at the Barker ranch. Its a terrible place to get to and their journey involved four-wheel-drive vehicles and a helicopter, but they made it to the ranch, got their words and their pictures, and made it back again. The day ended in a restaurant in Death Valley with two Japanese journalists approaching and asking, please, for directions to the Barker ranch. Fried and Merritt couldn't say a thing."
"Reporter Judy Fayard tried to tack down people who might have known Manson or his followers. Late one night - "Make that one very dark night,' she says - in Las Flores Canyon, she scrabbled (sic) up a hillside to reach a deserted-looking house where some promising sources were supposed to live. 'Their apartment was in the very back. I went in and quite literally groped my was across the living rom and for the first time in my career the thought crossed my mind that yes, sex DOES make a difference in this business. But when I found them, they turned out to be nice and they gave me some good material."
"Luck - good and bad - figures mightily in a story of this kind. Merritt and I had been to Death Valley on a different story about 10 days before the Manson thing broke, and when it did I called a friend I had made there and asked if he'd heard of this desert commune. 'Sure,' he said, 'Why didn't you ask?' Now that is bad luck. But there was one moment when luck did seem to be with us. Trailing through Devil's Canyon, which was to have been Manson's escape route to the desert, we came upon a new, green Cadillac convertible, complete with a bullet hole in its trunk, wedged into an arroyo. We were sure we had a giant clue. Short of a parachute there is simply no way it could have got in there. Unfortunately I couldn't find any connection between the car and the Manson tribe. But I checked the registration, and Mr. J.E.Lopez, if you're interested, I know where your Caddy is."






8 comments:

Quentin said...

Looks like we go about it pretty much the EASY way,computers, text, tapes etc...kudos!!!

Quentin said...

Im kinda wondering after reading the article if Mr.Lopez has been missing a daughter(or son) since that time. Might have borrowed the car for the evening....seems like the desert was the dumping grounds for all refuse at that time..like Nevada for Vegas during the 50's and 60,s.

orwhut said...

Patty,
Thanks for putting this up. I had other things on my mind when the Life article came out and missed it.

Trilby said...

Cool post, Patty!
www.oldprowriterforhire.com is John Frook's website. I'd be curious to know if he kept his notes for this article, along with the original plate number for the 'Caddy. If he has the info, we could do research on the original owner (Lopez).

Panamint Patty said...

Patty hopes the LAPD has already looked into that, but they got so many things wrong so who knows?OoEEoo!

Panamint Patty said...

Maybe Patty WILL write to Mr. Frook if Trilby has not already. Just for shits n giggles.

Trilby said...

No, Patty, I haven't. Would be great if you did - every loose thread left dangling in this case that can be cleared up is one less question to be answered, no matter how minor or major a detail it appears to be... I'm in the camp that firmly believes there are bodies at Barker, & more unsolved murders. The green Caddy is suspicious - unless they were manufactured that year with bullet holes and the ability to levitate. Since James Bond didn't drive one, I guess not. :).

Trilby said...

Plus, Frook sounds like he's an interesting personality - I love the name he picked for his website!