Monday, August 17, 2015

Watson Grocery and Station Dec.1,1969

Blog reader Tom writes:

Here is one you don't see very often, a photo of Watson Grocery the day after the arrest of Charles. If you look carefully above the fuel pumps you will see the Watson grocery sign. I live just minutes from Copeville and grew up in Collin County. That is the store Tex worked in with his dad. People hardly mention ole' Charles anymore, never did really like to bring him up. That is Denton Watson in the hat loading Pepsi's onto a dolly to bring into the store. Detectives seen under the awning. Check out that price of gas in 1969. The Watson house was just to the left of the store. The old place has been for sale lately. For the most part those old buildings still stand, but no businesses are left in them.







70 comments:

ziggyosterberg said...


Note the telephone pole to the right of the gas station.

I'm sure Tex never climbed it and he probably didn't stare at it all day while waiting for customers to show up.

What was that BS that Tex said in his book about not knowing what he was doing, but Charlie's "instructions" on how to scale the pole and cut the wires played like a tape in his head, so he was able to accomplish the task?

Yep, Tex was totally unfamiliar with telephone poles. He just had one right in front of his face for most of his life that he never noticed. Yep, I believe it.

MHN said...

ziggy, if I were a teenager again, and into writing fiction laden with Freudian symbolism, I'd picture it like this. Watson grows up bored, frustrated and mommy-dominated ('momminated'?). He stares at that pole day after day. It becomes a symbol of his unchanging, rooted, strict life.

On the night of the Tate murders he sees the pole and climbs it, cutting the wires as though cutting off all communication with his past life, as though throwing off the anchor of family, morality, and home.

Then in the house he comes across another tall Pole - Frykowski - and reserves for him the heaviest beating, the most vicious stabbing, wound after wound after wound.

In prison he comes to forgive that pole, he realises it resembles the cross of Christ, and he allows his soul to return 'home'.

Yuck.

Boots said...

I knew Tex was inbred but I didn't know he grew up in a shit hole like that.

AstroCreep said...

I brought up the telephone pole wire cutting question a while back. Agreed that Tex probably knew which wires ran telephone versus which wires electricity surged thru based on working at the gas station. I'm sure during a Texas sun devil storm the phone was out and service was performed etc. My point was also to the fact that prior planning was required by way of bringing bolt cutters and as well, knowing where the pole was located and which wires to cut. That still leads me to believe he scoped the place at some point prior to the crime. Like- "oh yeah, that's right... there's a pole right there and it runs to the gate and to the house and it's located here" isn't generally something people visiting a house would identify and remember. Especially after all the drugs everyone was supposed to have been taking that night. I can't remember to grab half the things I need any given morning and I'm clear headed but somehow, Tex under the influence of coke, mescaline, speed etc remembered to bring bolt cutters...

AustinAnn74 said...

That part of Texas is so much different than where I am from. It's like a whole other world. I bet he yearns for Texas every, single day. My heart bleeds......NOT!

Suze said...

So Tex Watson was a pole climber from way back and it didn't happen after the revocation of conjugal visits for convicted murderers? LOL!

Robert Hendrickson said...

I know you guys think YOUR comments are funny-clever, BUT THEY may actually be spot on.

AND also, where most of us SEE a scene like this as a representation of abstract poverty in a third world country, at the time, this type of Norman Rockwell image was EVERYWHERE through-out TEXAS. The telephone POLE represents the ONLY connection to the civilized world. AND the GAS for sale actually says: Here traveler, let m help YOU get the hell outta here.

I spent two years in TEXAS and while I eventually came to understand that Lyndon Johnson was simply another "mass murderer," HE too had somewhat of a complicated excuse. Of course, NOW he blames JFK for actually getting the idea of a WAR in Vietnam started, NOT unlike Watson NOW blames Manson.

Interesting, I too as a Kid growing-up saw the telephone pole in the back of my property as sometimes "the Cross of Jesus."

Sometimes NOW, knowing what a relevant issue the Christ thing is, especially in WAR, I question why we don't have some kind of "child indangerment law" to protect young and impressionable kids from ALL that "evil" shit "Tex" and "Lyndon" had to endure, at least, while having to grow up in a "pig" pen.

ziggyosterberg said...


@astrocreep - Your post a while back pretty much convinced me that Tex was lying about all the drugs that he was on that night. Could the recon required for such a job be as simple as driving over hours before and noting the telephone pole and the direction of the phone wires (usually on the bottom of a phone/utility pole) leading to the house?

According to Paul Watkins, Tex spent most of his time at the ranch fixing things, cars, dune buggies, etc. He was mechanically inclined, yet he wants people to believe that he was this dumb rube who needed Charlie to tell him how to climb a telephone pole and cut wires?

I assume that Tex's lies stem from the blame game that he's always played. He blamed the drugs and he blamed Charlie and he blamed Helter Skelter and he also plead insanity, but he's put little to no blame on himself.


ziggyosterberg said...


@MHN - I read your post in the voice of Karina Longworth. :-)

AstroCreep said...

Hey Ziggy- I wonder if maybe they'd (or just Tex and Charlie) gone up a day or two prior. It'd seem like someone would have blabbed if it was that night earlier in the night... Just seems illogical that they pull the car right up to the correct telephone pole. If it's as dark as what everyone says and headlights not being as bright or well placed back then as they are today, seems like a stretch. Or just incredible dumb luck...

MHN said...

@ziggy - that's the sexiest thing anyone's ever said to me. I love you.

MHN said...

Robert - now that made me think, and made me feel slightly ashamed of being a flippant asshole. Interesting points indeed.

Robert Hendrickson said...

OK Matt: now put a photo of "Olancha" up against the Watson "estate" area.

AND Olancha is where "TEX" was dropped off AFTER the massacre. GEE, that's a relevant coincidence.

Kathy Lee Gifford explained WHY her husband FRANK was so peaceful when he died: "He knew EVERY sin he ever committed was FOREGIVEN !

Maybe TEX discovered that SECRET also.

Matt said...

Robert, this photo reminds me of Olancha too! Maybe he was killing his father with Karl Stubbs as the stunt double.

MHN said...
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MHN said...

The kind of man who can kick an old-timer to death might be the kind of man who could also enjoy stabbing a pregnant unarmed woman dead also.

However, if Charlie wanted Tex to keep a low profile after the TLB nights, why send him to hide at the one place where he might be recognized as the murderer of a local man the previous year? Too risky, surely.

Manson: "Good work Tex. Seven dead piggies. Now we need to get you away from the heat that is coming. Where do you wanna go to unwind and keep your head down?"

Watson: "Uh.... Olancha?"

Manson: "Why Olancha?"

Watson: "Reminds me of home and mommy."

Manson: "Charles, you know I don't like that kind of talk. It disturbs me."

Watson: "Uhhh.... well... I did also kick an old man to death there last year?"

Manson: "OK. Good enough for me. Off you go."

But Robert was right - that old photo of Olancha you posted was eerily similar to the Watson homestead.

Robert Hendrickson said...

AND you SEE how even folks like ME can learn something NEW.

The lesson is: It's "NEW" to me. Imagine YOU are one of the 2 cops listening to the WATSON audio tapes and "TEX" spills the TRUTH !

FIRST thing I would do is contact the "publisher" of Helter Skelter and say" "Let's make a deal."

Fiddy 8 said...

Sometimes, a telephone pole is just a telephone pole.

christopher butche said...

Robert Hendrickson, did you see much of Watson during his trial?

MHN said...

fiddy8, I disagree.I believe if we spend more time pondering the potential psychological impact of telephone pole placement we might just crack this case wide open and bury Helter Skelter once and for all :D

SusanB said...

Fiddy 8.... very true. And there's always another one along the road.

ziggyosterberg said...


@MHN - I posit (thank you Karina) that Tex Watson killed that old man in Olancha, based on the fact that he was the only psycho killer (qu'est-ce que c'est?) in Olancha at the time of the murder.

People like Tex Watson don't grow on trees. And even if they did, there aren't many trees in Olancha. But there are some telephone poles. <----- See what I did there?

ziggyosterberg said...


The current Google Street View of the gas station :

https://www.google.com/maps/@33.0794665,-96.4192558,3a,35.1y,10.72h,79.83t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s0AXxaWQNmfVxQKwH-fP14g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

MHN said...

Nice work Ziggy. Any dune buggies rotting there??

It looks like time has stood still. I love those places.

MHN said...

ziggy, you're begging the question! If someone else kicked Mr Stubbs to death then Watson was not, that day at least, the only psycho-killer in town. You can't use your conclusion as the basis for your argument!

We could debate whether or not the person who kicked the old man's head in was even intending to kill. The world is sadly full of thugs who will happily kick anyone perceived to be defenseless and alone. Tex, on the other hand, made sure he killed. I don't believe Tex would've left the man alive.

But yeah - if there were two violent sociopaths in a town as small as Olancha that day, strange coincidence indeed...

william marshall said...

New program on Manson tonight on CNN The Face of Evil 9 pm east coast time

Robert Hendrickson said...

I think most of us would agree that in this case: A picture really is worth a thousand words. Just the old metal bed frames rusting away in front of what could have been a used furniture store, is most telling.

BUT what strikes me cold, is WHY nobody, up until NOW, has been interested in how "TEX" actually grew up. AFTER the first TATE / LaBianca murder trial was over, we were the only ones who even filmed Tex going and coming from the courtroom.

It was really a case of "we got the EVIL mastermind who tried to ignite a world wide race WAR," so WHO cares about the soldiers WHO carried out the mission ? They were just insignificant robots !

It's kind'a like the "illegal Mexican immigrants" Are they NOT really "refuges" fleeing from a corupt and evil "cartel posing as a government ?

Here is where 'perception' really comes into play. Besides the telephone poles I can SEE a young TEX staring down the road, each way, and wondering what kind of a world is at the other end. If I escape this Hell, is Jesus going to follow me and drag me back to that freak of a mother - violently waving her broom stick ?

Mr. Humphrat said...

funny to the right of the Watson store and the next one over is the Watkins Gro. & Feed. Small world.

ziggyosterberg said...


@Robert Hendrickson - That's very telling - that you were the only one filming Tex going to and from the courtroom.

So why did the "All-American boy" who loses his shit and kills 9 people get less media coverage than the aberrant, dirty hippie, ex-con, "cult-leader" who allegedly "told" him to do it? Did media and/or societal prejudices come in to play? Or was it because, as Nixon said, Manson was "a glamorous figure"?

Is there any connection with how the current day long-haired, bearded, dark-eyed, boogeyman is being sold to us, while the clean-cut guy in suit and tie in Washington and on Wall Street is free to f*ck us six ways to Sunday?



@MHN - Truth be told, I don't really know much about Olancha and the murder of Karl Stubbs. I just wanted to use the word "posit" in a sentence, like Karina Longworth does. And you completely ruined it. Damn you, M!!!!!

MHN said...

ziggy - Yeah yeah, all my fault, or Manson's, or Bush's. I've been a scapegoat all my life. I am what you made me, ziggy. I am just a mirror of yourself...

ziggy, robert - the attention disparity between the two Charlies - it doesn't even seem that puzzling to me. Manson is the complete package. He has the look. He has the hair. He has the girls. He has the talk. He has crazy, he has ideas. Has Watson ever said a memorable word in his life? Manson is the marketing man's dream. He looked, talked, and lived the 60s. He was the personification of a culture, or an era, in the dock, on trial. For mass murder! How often (in human history, anytime, anywhere) has something like that happened? The only thing that could top it would be Adolf Hitler standing trial at Nuremberg having failed to kill himself.

Religion, sex, Hollywood, the devil, LA, beauty queen movie star, Jesus, counter-culture, the desert, rock'n'roll, race, the apocalypse - Charlie Manson brought together all of those things in one person.

Manson was a philosophy. Watson had a knife. Manson wins every time.

MHN said...

To clarify: I don't hold (or "posit") that Manson was all of those things. But he was close enough, vocal enough, and just incoherent enough that he could be made to carry their weight on his back by a society that for some reason wasn't satisfied with this being merely the sensational murder of the actress wife of a famous director in the Hollywood Hills.

ziggyosterberg said...


@MHN - Spot on analysis, as usual.

I always enjoy your posts, M. It's great to watch a brilliantly creative mind at work. One minute you're pulling sides from a script out of thin air and the next you're deconstructing the Manson mystique.

My hat is off to you, good sir.

Robert Hendrickson said...

Ziggy & Michael; Thanks, you re-sparked my interest in the Legend of Charles Manson. CM was ALL those things Michael AND we ALL were so turned off to slease-bag politicians. I mean the Vietnam War was enough to say "fuck it ALL" BUT then you had LBJ and Richard Nixon TWO of the most unattractive beasts God ever created.

IF anyone is aware, Donald Trump has caused the same excitement. NOT that HE is so great, BUT that it is our American way of revolting. He says what the silent majority is thinking. Everyone else is looking for a JOB, and Trump is a self made success. Charles Manson, said Fuck YOUR insanity, right or wrong, I'm my own man.

It was like when TEX returned from Texas, the media tried to make something of it, BUT Manson and the Girls immediately UPstaged him and the media then KNEW they had a winner in Charles Manson. The same just happened with TRUMP, nobody even cares WHO the other wanabes are. AND poor Hilary, it's like she doesn't even exist. HER email controversay is the only issue that even keeps her name in the papers.

Do you guys THINK others would be interested in what made Manson such a stand-out figure ? I've got to find a good hook if it's going to be worthwhile to finish the 5 hour mini-series.

MHN said...

Robert, yes exactly! No-one else could've come up with that, but there is something true in there - Manson and Trump! And that makes me think of one other thing that makes Manson (for better or for worse) a culturally significant figure above and beyond what Tex could be: Manson does not repent. Manson does not turn his back on himself or offer his past up to society on a plate. Manson's 'mystique' might vanish overnight if he ever announced he was sorry for what had happened and wanted forgiveness from society and from Jesus. Imagine!

And the same is true, to some extent, of Trump. Any other politician running for President would say "I apologize if anything I said inadvertently caused offense, that was never my intention" etc. Trump hits right back and calls his accusers 'deviants'.

There is that same individual resolve at work.

Robert, to answer your question: I wasn't born when TLB happened, and I live on the other side of the planet. This website is one of my first stops online each and every day (Christ, I must get a life....). In other words, we KNOW many are interested in what made Manson an anti/icon, and I'm sure all 5 hours would be essential viewing for many people.... as long as there is enough crazy and enough sexy in there to keep people hooked, of course :)

MHN said...

ziggy - too kind, really. I'm just rambling mostly. Thanks buddy. Amazed no-one's worked out yet you're just another ID I use here ;p

CrisPOA said...

Mr Hump,
I thought the same thing :)
That's what we call a coincidence

Vermouth Brilliantine said...

Speaking of rambling, I got my copy of Goodbye Helter Skelter in the post yesterday.

I've already looked at ALL the pictures (there's a good one of George and Charlie looking pensive on the back cover, and another of Charlie beside a sign saying 'Parents Must Maintain Control Over Their Children At All Times'). And of course the bit at the back about Hitler. And I've started reading it a bit too, starting (unconventionally) from the front. It'll be interesting re-reading the blog's chapter-by-chapter reviews in conjunction. Better late to the party than not turning up at all.

I love that photo, btw. Love anything like that which gives an insight into how people lived in the (near)past. If it's Manson-related that's a bonus. Here's another I love (non-Manson-related):

http://i.imgur.com/18tE9Ou.jpg

MHN said...

Vermouth - wonderful image! Nobody can now doubt the location of Mac's Cleaners. Or the existence of Coca Cola. Honestly it sometimes looks as though 1950s America was composed almost entirely of adverts reminding you to drink Coke. Or to think about Coke.

Six Miles From Cielo said...

Did anyone happen to see Faces of Evil The Charles Manson Murders that aired on CNN Tues at 9PM eastern? I missed it and wondered what thoughts any of you might have.

Fiddy 8 said...
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Fiddy 8 said...

The CNN special report was about as annoying as you would expect.

"Charles Manson transformed a group of young women into vicious killers", and then at the end they mentioned there was also some guy named Tex there too.

My favorite part was Bugliosi reminiscing so evocatively about how he heard on the car radio about Manson's death sentence having been overturned by the U.S. supreme Court. Except it was the California Supreme Court that first overturned all California death row sentences, a few months later the U.S. Supreme Court overturned all death row sentences nationally.

AustinAnn74 said...

I watched the "special." They called it "The Charles Manson Murders." Tex was mentioned as if nothing. Now, don't get me wrong, I think Manson is as guilty as they come for a variety of crimes, such as conspiracy to commit murder, especially due to the fact that he was the one who tied up the hands of the LaBiancas' so they couldn't defend themselves, yet, hardly anything at all is mentioned about Watson being the main murderer. Oh, Barbara Hoyt made her appearance as usual too. No offense to Barbara Hoyt, but it would be nice if the media would interview someone else that was there to get a different perspective. No offense, of course.

william marshall said...

I watched the CNN special ho hum same old same old

william marshall said...

Oh there was some nice video coverage of the August 16 raid on Sphan ranch so it's worth a look

Dawes said...
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Robert Hendrickson said...

"Charles Manson is ALL those super-duper things (see above) wrapped up in one person," AND he was convicted of mass murder.

45 years later, CNN just did another TV 'special' on HIM, not the REAL killers. AND most "people" really don't even care WHICH U.S. Presidents (Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon) had WHAT to do with the 10 year Vietnam "race" WAR.

Seems to me, maybe one Chares Manson has actually UP-staged the everlasting Jesus Christ. OR is it possible that one simply conpliments the other.

Dawes said...
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ziggyosterberg said...


I didn't watch it, but did Bugliosi regurgitate his "I told Manson that he's never been in the green room at San Quentin" story again?

Here's a drinking game that you can play when watching a Vincent Bugliosi interview :

If you want to get really drunk, take a drink anytime Vince says "Helter Skelter".

If you want to get less drunk, take a drink when he says "black", "blacks", or "blackie".

If you want to stay sober, take a drink when he says "Tex Watson".

william marshall said...

Dawes col. Tate didn't stay at Cielo but staked the place out observed two bikers ride up & attempt to scale the fence but where chased off by guard dogs he tailed the bikers back to Sphan ranch this is all in the book Restless Souls

Fiddy 8 said...

The idea that Paul Tate could successfully follow a group of bikers all the way from Cielo to Spahn would seem a very difficult feat. With faster speeds on the twisty roads and lane splitting, I have to think the bikers would realize they were being followed (if Tate could keep up at all) - and I gotta think they would want to find out just exactly who was following them, in a bad way.

But I don't know how well this story has been documented before, so I'm just commenting on the story aired last night.

MHN said...

William Marshall - I haven't yet read Restless Souls. Does Col. Tate mention what time this incident took place and/or the route they took back to Spahn? If it was late, and they headed north up Benedict Canyon Drive, for example, I too find it impossible to believe they would not have become aware that they were being trailed.

Hell, maybe the bikers were just souvenir-hunting true-crime junkies like us...

MHN said...

ziggy - nice work. Punchline made me laugh, wife asked what was so funny, I began to reply, "a good joke about Charlie Ma -" she instantly said "Never mind, forget I asked" and went back to her reading. :(

Poor Tex. What did he ever do to deserve all this obscurity? He did everything Charlie asked, and still he's a nobody. A nobody who'll die in jail. Unless he's raptured first! :D

william marshall said...

MHN please give me a day or so im not home staying with girlfriend until Friday I will look it up in the book I remember correctly the book is broken down in sections col. Tate was working on a book that was never finished but it's pretty well documented & remember he was in army intelligence in my younger &-dumber days I was a prospect for a 1% bike club here in Jersey & they weren't the brightest bulbs

william marshall said...

MHN please give me a day or so im not home staying with girlfriend until Friday I will look it up in the book I remember correctly the book is broken down in sections col. Tate was working on a book that was never finished but it's pretty well documented & remember he was in army intelligence in my younger &-dumber days I was a prospect for a 1% bike club here in Jersey & they weren't the brightest bulbs

MHN said...

William - thanks, appreciated.

By the way, I hope our colleague equinox is alright. Haven't seen him here for a little while.

equinox12314 said...

Hi Michael,

Nice of you to think of me. I am in the middle of exams at the moment, so I just read the comments, rather than participating. This thread has turned out to be really funny. I am convinced you and Ziggy may be conjoined twins, or perhaps you MHN are simply schizophrenic:);)

Speak to you all soon when I have got less on my plate.

Robert Hendrickson said...

William: you made me think, August 16, 69 - plenty of video showing the Sherrif's deputies rounding up the Manson Gang and then THEY let them ALL go.

November, the Sherrif's deputies have the Manson Gang in THEIR hands at Mark's house (re: ZERO death ) and walk away to finish THEIR donuts.

WTF - no wonder Charlie had to blow-up that michigan loader in Death Valley - to get some attention. Doesn't that make you think: Maybe the Tate LaBianca Massacre was simply a way to try and get some attention. OR make "TEX" famous !

I'm guessing TEX could have stood out by the highway in Olancha, with a cardboard sign reading "I need a lift, just killed an old man, help me escape," AND a cop could have stopped by and asked him "how far you go'in.?"

AustinAnn74 said...

Restless Souls was sort of fiction, sort of non-fiction. I don't think Col. Tate stayed at that house after the murders either. That's another rumor that got started from Restless Souls book. But then again, who the hell knows for sure.

william marshall said...

Sorry for the double comment if I remember correctly Col.Tate turned his head lights off & kept a safe distance Army Intelligence two bikers hanging with Charlie don't think they offered much of a challenge also of interest in the book Tec was put in a room with Col.Tate can't remember if this was during the trial or a parole hearing

Fiddy 8 said...

I dunno, if Mr Tate with all of his espionage training had that one single lead, seems like he would have gone back to Sphan to see what's up, every day. The story says the cops went to Sphan one time on Tate's request, but it just so happened to be on the same day as the ranch raid, so nobody from family was there. What a coincidence.

Fiddy 8 said...

...or maybe the day after, but CNN said nobody was there.

Dawes said...
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Fiddy 8 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fiddy 8 said...

Here is the actual transcript from CNN last night that I was getting at:

"Tate notified Los Angeles detectives about the suspicious bikers at the ranch, but LAPD did nothing. It turns out another police department was already there."

Vermouth Brilliantine said...

Motorbikes are noisy fuckers. If a herd of hairy leather-clad thuggees rode up on bikes, then tried to swarm up a high wall, surely someone would notice? How isolated is the Tate house? No neighbours to peek out their window to spy on the comings and goings of a place that was so recently infamous?

I do like the mental image of black-clad bikers climbing a wall in the dead of night, though. No doubt with knives between their teeth and Manson's evil orders rattling around their Seconal-addled minds, too.

MHN said...

Good luck equinox, see you back here soon.

AustinAnn74 said...

Hairy leather-clad thuggees? That's a new one. Haha....That's hilarious.

CarolMR said...

Did Paul Tate actually tell the story about chasing the bikers or was that just from Alisa Statman?

Matt said...

CarolMR said...
Did Paul Tate actually tell the story about chasing the bikers or was that just from Alisa Statman?


Carol, Col. Tate didn't do press interviews, so no it's not on record anywhere, but he talked about the experience to family members, including Patti Tate. I don't recall Restless Souls saying he "chased" bikers. It wasn't like a like a French Connection moment. He tailed them out to Spahn.

CarolMR said...

Thanks, Matt.