Thursday, January 2, 2014

Manson Family Scabs


Imagine......you are in a dark, hot, cramped room with 20 or 25 other people, sweating, coughing, feeling down-right dusty, dirty, itchy, and feverish while trying to sleep after a night of passionate, but uncomfortable group love-making. Although you haven't had access to a shower, bathtub, or even a regular toilet in months, you stay, even if the discomfort is overwhelming. This group of people you call your brothers & sisters have shared everything, including food, clothing, bedding, sex partners & body fluids. The stench coming from the stained mattresses is enough to make a monkey puke, but you just can't think of any other place you would want to be. Of course, slowly the physical discomforts start to outweigh the camaraderie you have shared with your special family. You notice in the morning, after not sleeping a wink from the intense itching & burning coming from your buttocks that tiny, red pustule-like blisters have appeared in the webs of your fingers, and toes. You really start to feel ill now, especially after you try popping one of many hot, hard boils that have constantly been appearing & reappearing on your body throughout the last, few months. The group you have been with over the last year seems to have the same thing, and it has become common place to see pustules, blisters, scabs, bites, and lesions on the skin of just about everybody you are near, not to mention hearing all the complaints of frequent, burning sensations while urinating, and yellow/green discharge coming from the genitals of just about everyone. Your family seems to be grouchy, constantly hungry, itchy & dirty, and feeling like shit most of the time, but nobody seems to want to leave. The music, drugs, and oneness with each other is all that matters! And, of course, you couldn't ever abandon Charlie, could you?

The above narrative is probably an accurate description of a "day-in-the-life" of a typical Manson-Family member starting in the summer of 1969. Things really started turning ugly for this group of people, and their kinky, fairy-tale lifestyle started giving way to a more commando, militant life, that wasn't all flowers, music, good sex & fun. These people were living in cramped, dirty "shacks" with no running water at times. They also had a poor diet, eating food from dumpsters, and a lot of sugar. All of this could not have helped their health. In writing this piece, I really started to wonder about the different ailments some of them (or all of them) suffered from, so....I contacted Dr. David E. Smith of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, who was kind enough to answer some of the questions I had concerning this topic. As he remembers it, this group suffered from..... you guessed it, scabies, and staph infections due to poor hygiene, along with everyday, old-fashioned STD's. He said the skin ailments were treated with medications, soap & water, and pHisohex, which was a medicated cleaner used in the 1960's primarily to treat acne. He did say that these conditions appeared in a lot of communes at the time, and weren't unique to Manson's group. We would like to thank Dr. Smith for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions!


Here are a few examples of where I read about skin problems, infection & personal hygiene:

1.) Sadie, during her grand jury testimony was asked if she was barefoot the night of the Tate murders. She answered "Yes, I was. I had quite a few sores on my feet from infection, and I couldn't wear shoes. 

2.) During one of many police interviews, Stephanie Schram is asked by a Detective Gleason if she remembered seeing a girl out at Spahn's ranch that had infections on her legs that never healed, and left scars. Stephanie told the detective that she did, indeed remember who it was that had these. It was a girl by the name of Gypsy. She also told the detective that Gypsy was fat, and was staying out at Devil's canyon all the time. Was she banished, I wonder because of her weight? That seems a little bit egotistical. I thought they weren't supposed to have egos anymore?

3.) In Paul Watkins book "My Life With Charles Manson" he mentioned seeing boils all over Bruce Davis's neck while they were out in the desert.

4.) In Paul Watkins book he said that starting in the spring of 1969, the Family no longer had access to bathroom facilities, and were living in tents down by the creek at Spahn ranch. They did rinse off in the creek, but didn't have access to showers/bathtubs. Imagine the smell. Wouldn't have been pleasant. He did mention that they had, at one time been very clean, because Charlie demanded that everyone pay close attention to personal hygiene, and keep themselves, clothes, and the musical instruments spic & span. Things changed, though.






38 comments:

Phllip Mclennan said...

Charming. Heard they stank up the jail after the raid on spahn raunch.

Suze said...

I remember reading that LASO also found a turd in the refrigerator. Probably one more reason why they took the children into protective care.

What a bunch.

orwhut said...

I read that too, and still can't figure out why anyone would put a turd in the refrigerator.

Matt said...

To keep it cold?

Panamint Patty said...

Eeeeeeeew that's gross. But when you said that Matt, Patty got thinking about collection and storage of pediatric stool samples...if the stool was supposed to go to the doctor for some reason, it would need to have been kept cold. But Patty remembers hearing somewhere that it was a hard turd on a plate, not soft serve in a cup...Patty could be wrong though....eeeeeeeeeew sorry. That was pretty graphic.

Matt said...

Maybe it was exceptional in some way and they were saving it to show everyone. You don't want your friends thinking you embellish, right?

Panamint Patty said...

*gag*

Sun King said...

"The stench coming from the stained mattresses is enough to make a monkey puke"

LOL! What a description, made me chuckle. Yea, I'm sure their fairy tale lifestyle was anything but glamorous. Oh to be young and resilient.

I can see why even the bikers weren't exactly interested in the girls.

Hopefully all those mattresses were burned in the Spahn Ranch fire.

mrgroove said...

If I had been one of the investigators I would have demanded a gas mask and a hazmat suit.

AustinAnn74 said...

Well, I think in the beginning of their time together, they had better access to bathtubs, etc. Remember, they had Dennis Wilson's house to use as their own. I think when Manson started getting commando, the bathing wasn't as frequent. Well, at the very least it was probably very uncomfortable, especially if you would of been sick. No privacy, no bathroom readily available, no bed, or clean sheets, no good, nutritious food, and absolutely no medication. Yikes!

AustinAnn74 said...

Did y'all see the video from the Backporch Tapes where Johnny Echols from the band "Love" talks about Bobby Beausoleil? Johnny met Susan Atkins, and described how filthy she looked. He said she looked like she hadn't bathed in a years. He is the link, if you haven't seen it before:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=431byGLv7-E

orwhut said...

O.T.
Matt,
How much did you guys get for Liz when you sold her into slavery. It's been preying on my mind.

AustinAnn74 said...

What?

bobby said...

I had not bseen that before AustinAnne74. Thank you very much.

orwhut said...

Ann,
Someone asked about Liz and Matt said she'd been sold into slavery. Evidently you weren't in on the deal.

AustinAnn74 said...

Oh!

AustinAnn74 said...

You are welcome, bobby!!

Phllip Mclennan said...

Oh well, having one turd in the fridge is better than multiple turds. Or 3 heads like Jeff Dahmer.

Phllip Mclennan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
andy said...

probably smelled like a Grateful Dead show. My old band used to play in squats a lot. In Europe some of them are as nice as anyplace else but some are horrible, and the ones here in NY are pretty nasty. Lice runs rampant in places like that along with scabies. Im sure the Family had those issues too, not to mention rodents.
In looking at all the pictures ive seen of the girls through the years i always wondered something, i know its kind of irrelevant but did they shave their legs and all? cause they dont look all hairy.

Matt said...

ANDY! Where the heck have you been?

Panamint Patty said...

Welcome back, friend.

Robert Hendrickson said...

Where does a mattress like the one in the photo end up?

Well, several years ago, one of the investigative news programs actually INVESTGATED in LA.

They were being "reconditioned" which translated to: They were fitted with NEW covers, that were simply machine stitched over the old ones. Apparently there were NO laws that protected consumers from this dirty little practice. Of course, that little label had to have "reconditioned" stampted on it. Ever buy a mattress at a Goodwill Store? Ever sleep on a mattress in a hotel?

Want me to discuss resturants next? How about super markets? AND how about HOSPITALS?

Ever SMELL a real soldier at work or a cop after he goes "dumpster diving" for evidence. Ever shake the hand of some MAN after lunch - when HE got a lap dance just minutes before? Cops call it a "liquid lunch."

Ever put a PILL in your mouth after it was made in INDIA? Ever eat produce grown in Mexico, where it was irrigated with sewer water? Ever gotten high on drugs made in someones bathtub?

Ever SEE the movie "SlumDog Millionaire"? Welcome to the new and improved WORLD !!


AustinAnn74 said...

Hey, I have always wondered about the girls shaving their legs too. I wouldn't think Manson would of allowed shaving. I know their eyebrows looked extremely bushy, and unkempt.

Panamint Patty said...

In college none of Pattys friends shaved their legs...it was like, a political thing. One girlfriend went so far as to stop doing her pits. That was too far, IPHO.

Hey. Did u see where Cameron Diaz is campaigning for the return of pubic hair? Her contention is that the shaving down there thing is just a fad. Interesting, no?

Panamint Patty said...

Robert, Ever DRANK in a bar in the Yucatan with NO plumbing and only TEQUILA to wash your hands with? If not, you gotta try it. LOL

Seriously, Patty got pink eye one time in a rented limo, of all places. Take your clorox wipes with you. People DO NOT clean those things properly.

Mr. Spudnut said...

If you walk around Spahn's, you can still find the metal remains of the box springs from some of those mattresses.

CarolMR said...

Robert H., hospitals are the worst when it comes to bacteria. I know several people, including my dad, who came through their operations just fine, only to die of hospital-acquired staph infections. www.hospitalinfection.org will open everyone's eyes. Patty, I have to agree with Cameron Diaz - we have hair on our bodies for a reason. And now men are "man-scaping"? Ugh!

Panamint Patty said...

Uncanny that you should mention Hospital Acquired Infections, Carol. Patty used to make her money tracking that kind of event. Her boss was responsible for making infections look inevitable rather than the direct result of breeches in practice. Patty won't do that any more.

christopher butche said...

AustinAnn

Thanks for the Johnny Echols link.

Interesting to hear that Beausoleil wanted to get away from the group, and that he'd get into trouble if Sadie let on to Manson that he'd been visiting friends.

AustinAnn74 said...

Try this on for size: the gym I work out at is kept clean, but.....I witness on a daily basis, women going to the restroom, then stroll right past the sink/soap without a care in the world. They have no problem swiping after #2, then going back out to the floor to continue their routines. Nauseating!!

Matt said...

Not to mention "Angry Ass"!

andy said...

hi thanks, ive been lurking a bit. but every now and then i step back for a little while. Usually when it seems like things get slow. Plus you had the holidays and my old band did a string of reunions, so its been a busy few months But my passion for knowledge and info on the case, the family and everything involved with it never really goes away but...i dont know theres so many things im passionate and/or fascinated by that sometimes its hard to keep up on all of it. Im glad to see theres a lot of stuff here to read. Hope everyones doing well!

CarolMR said...

"Patty won't do that any more."

Good for you, Patty! I know too many people who have died of hospital-acquired infections.

AustinAnn74 said...

Thanks Andy! You'll be happy to know that there will be a lot of good stuff coming up!

hippiekiller said...

Not that I have first-hand experience, but I've read that good personal hygiene is a high priority in prison. You don't want to be the jerk who stinks up the joint I guess. Anyway, I believe Sadie wrote in her book that many of the girls had lifelong skin problems from constantly consuming bad dumpster food.

fiona1933 said...

Right, first of all: those boils on Davies also appeared on the rest of the family according to Watkins. And they weren't from dirt. They were from psychological stress, specifically, keeping something terrible hidden under a cloak of serenity.
In the Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan described how A doctor told her the so-called 'happy housewives' who were in fact dying inside often broke out in skin disorders and boils. The docs would tell the women it was caused by detergent 'But it isn't…and it isn't cured by cortisone" he said.
So the Family Boils were caused by acting like happy love hippies while knowing their leader had gone insane and they were living with killers…or actually were killers themselves or worse, may be called on to be killers.

And second, while I guess you must keep cleaner than they did while living outside and communally, there is no need to wash as much as we do. I recently suffered all my skin going rough like a loofah and no amount of lotion would heal. I decided I just had to give my skin a chance to heal by itself and stop all chemicals, all soap..except for the 'pits feet and seat'.
And it has worked, and furthermore, I can feel the chemicals leaving my body. I feel different. Cleaner, ironically. After all, all that crap , all those parabens, go through your skin, not mediated =by your liver or gut. Its poison. And we've all been hypnotised into believing we stink and must shower every day. Look what it has done to the environment. Look at all that crap pouring into the sea.
I didn't shower for five days. And then took a bath and the water was completely clean. And my skin is like a 16 year old's. It's so soft.

AustinAnn74 said...

Uh.....more power to ya there!