Monday, November 12, 2018

The Coffee Heiress, Part 4: The Estate of Abigail Ann Folger

Other Posts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

On September 4, 1969, Abigail Folger’s father, Peter Folger, opened probate proceedings in the Superior Court of California in San Francisco. Abigail had died without leaving a will. 

Under the laws of intestate succession (no will) her heirs were her father, Peter Folger, and her mother, Inez Folger. Her brother, Peter M. Folger and her half-sister, Elizabeth were contingent heirs, meaning they would not inherit unless her father and mother declined to accept the inheritance. 

Peter Folger, senior, was appointed the executor of her estate and received what are known as letters of administration. An appraiser, Spiron J. Tentes, was appointed by the court to value Abigail’s estate for tax purposes.

Creditor’s Claims 

On September 15, 22, 29 and October 6th a notice to creditors was published in a newspaper called The Recorder alerting any potential creditors to Abigail’s death. The following creditors responded: 

Dr. Marvin Flicker, M.D. 

Dr. Flicker was Abigail’s psychiatrist. He submitted a bill for his services from August 1st through the 8th for $240. The 8th of August was a Friday, as was the first of August. If we assume Abigail saw Dr. Flicker every day as Vincent Bugliosi claimed in Helter Skelter, Dr. Flicker's claim supports that claim. He charged $40 an hour. 

Dr. Flicker’s submission confirms that Abigail saw Dr. Flicker on the afternoon of her death. But it also tends to refute the idea that she was at Esalen or anywhere else in the eight days leading up to her death, except, perhaps, Saturday the 2nd or Sunday the 3rd. Her appointment was at 4:30 p.m. Dr. Flicker’s claim specifically says it is for treatment from August 1-8, 1969. If she was out of town on any of the week days one would have expected the dates of service specified to omit those dates. 

Bugliosi places Manson at Esalen on August 5th.

"On the night of the fifth Manson and Stephanie drove north to a place whose name Stephanie couldn’t recall but which Manson described as a “sensitivity camp.” It was, he told her, a place where rich people went on weekends to play at being enlightened. He was obviously describing Esalen Institute."

(Bugliosi, Vincent. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (25th Anniversary Edition) (p. 317). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.)

Aside: Ed Sanders in The Family calculates the date as August 3rd. I tend to believe Bugliosi since his investigative resources were better. 

It is interesting that in the formal court pleadings closing Abigail’s estate where the creditors’ claims that were paid are listed this claim is listed as “medical services”. Perhaps that is evidence of Peter Folger’s efforts to protect his daughter’s reputation. 

Peter Folger accepted and paid the claim. 

Woodside Chapel of Crippen and Flynn

These were the funeral home expenses including the cost to transport Abigail’s body from Los Angeles to San Francisco. They totaled $1,420.86. This claim was also accepted and paid. 

I Magnin

Abigail visited two I Magnin stores in Los Angeles in the month prior to her death. On July 28, 1969 she shopped at the Los Angeles store and on the 29th she shopped at the Beverley Hills store, the same location where Joan Didion purchased Linda Kasabian’s court dress approximately one year later. 

Peter Folger also accepted this claim. 

Pickwick Bookshops

On July 10, 1969 Abigail purchased three hardcover books and twelve paperbacks from the Pickwick Bookshop at 6743 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California. She gave as her address the home she was renting at 2774 Woodstock Road. If we assume that charges were due within 30 days this may be an indication that on July 10th Abigail did not plan to be at Cielo Drive long after August 10th. The claim was accepted. 

Ah Sam, Holy Cross Cemetery and The Limousine Service

These were her funeral expenses, including white flowers (not yellow) for her funeral. The claims were also accepted. 

Monique Papke dba Revolution Boutique

This shop was located at 8800 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. On July 11 Abigail had commissioned several articles of clothing to be tailored by the proprietor for the sum of $540. That would be $3600 today. A letter from Ms. Papke’s was attached to her claim. It appears to the right. Aside from displaying a somewhat insensitive response to Abigail Folger’s death Ms. Papke filed her claim late. Peter Folger denied the claim. 

What is missing from the creditor’s claims is any claim for rent at 2774 Woodstock Road. Abigail probably had paid the rent for August by the 8th. However, there is no claim for any remaining balance on a lease. This could mean that Mr. and Mrs. Schultz, the landlords, simply forgave the debt under the circumstances. It could also mean that Abigail did not sign a lease for any specific term and was a month to month tenant. It is also possible that she paid first and last month’s rent when she signed a lease and the term started in September, 1968. This would tend to conform to the accepted narrative that she and Frykowski came to LA sometime in the early fall of 1968. 

Abigail Folger’s Estate

Below is the complete inventory of Abigail Folger’s estate. 

After the receipt of addition stock dividends and the addition of a small savings account that were not listed in the original inventory a supplemental inventory was filed. Abigail’s estate was worth approximately $408,000. Adjusted for inflation that would be approximately $2.7 million today. 

Included on the inventory are four promissory notes each with an interest rate of 7.5% totaling $8,000 ($2,000 each) loaned to Sebring, Inc. The inventory also reveals that in addition to loaning money to Sebring, Abigail also owned 60 shares in Sebring, Inc. 

Disposition of the Estate

A significant portion of Abigail’s estate, approximately $123,000 went to pay taxes, including estate taxes. Her brother received the proceeds from a life insurance policy (about $50,000), which is not included in the estate total, above. The remainder was divided equally between her mother and her father. The estate was closed in November, 1971. There is no indication in the file why it took two years to close the estate. 

There is no record in the estate file explaining what happened to the Sebring loans. There is no order allowing the ‘sale’ of the promissory notes and they do not appear in the final distribution. The inventory recites that the loans were to Sebring, Inc., not Jay Sebring, personally. If they would have been personal notes the appropriate procedure would have been to file a claim against Sebring’s estate. Since they were corporate loans that avenue was not available. It is possible the notes may have been paid after Sebring’s death by the corporation and simply appear as cash in the estate. It is not possible to track the cash after the estate filing, especially since Inez Folger and Peter Folger waived an accounting of the estate. 

The Sebring notes were due on January 2nd 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974. This struck me as a little bit odd. Typically, I would expect to see a single note with a payment schedule. However, the notes all have the same due date, January 2nd and the same amount of interest due. That would tend to suggest they were signed separately but at the same time. 

The cover sheet signed by the appraiser states that he valued the assets as of the date of death, August 9, 1969. $15.62 was due on each note. The interest rate was 7.5% per year. That translates to 41 cents per day and means Abigail received the notes on July 2, 1969. 

It is interesting that the loans were not personal loans. If Sebring Inc ‘failed’ Jay Sebring could have ‘stiffed’ his investors. 

Sixty shares of Sebring, Inc are also listed in the original inventory and in the final accounting submitted to the probate court by Peter Folger. However, those shares also do not appear in the final distribution and again there is no record of what happened to them in the file. 

Abigail Folger’s Income

One question that I have seen occasionally is 'what was Abigail Folger's annual income?'

We know that Abigail did not hold a paying job during the year 1969. She was either a volunteer social worker or a campaign volunteer for Tom Bradley. 

Gibbie’s estate file provides enough information to make a rough estimate of her actual income from her various assets. That file contains a request to the court to liquidate stock to pay taxes. The bulk of those taxes are estate taxes. However, Peter Folger also needed to pay Abigail’s income taxes for the year 1969. 

Abigail owed $18,997 in federal income taxes for 1969. From this site, by sliding the dot on the graph it is possible to determine Abigail’s effective tax rate.

We know she paid $18,997 in taxes. I moved the slider to 1969 and increased the income to various numbers eventually reaching $275,000. The effective tax rate at that level of 2012 income in 1969 was 43.1%. This also reveals a 1969 income of $43,958. I multiplied that income figure by the effective rate and it generated a federal tax liability of $18,945. That is pretty close to what Abigail owed. That would mean her income for 1969 was about $44,000. Adjusted for inflation that would be about $290,000. But there may be a catch. 

“In general, the final individual income tax return of a decedent is prepared and filed in the same manner as when they were alive. All income up to the date of death must be reported and all credits and deductions to which the decedent is entitled may be claimed.” 

Assuming the tax law was the same in 1969, Abigail Folger’s annual income from all sources could have been more in the range of $75,000 per year (or $500,000 today) assuming the $44,000 was received equally over seven months. Divide $44,000 by seven and multiply by twelve. 

It is unlikely she received a set income each month given that her income was derived largely from dividends, interest and stock sales. While interest income would be consistent, dividends are typically paid quarterly and can vary quarter to quarter. A stock sale could happen at any time.  I believe it is safe to assume her annual income was somewhere between the two numbers or about $50,000 per year in 1969 dollars. 

One of the small assets listed on the estate inventory, above, is a bank account at Banker's Trust Co. in New York. This account may be evidence that Abigail may also have been the beneficiary of a trust fund above and beyond her personal assets. Back in the day Banker's Trust, as the name implies, managed trust funds. If she was the beneficiary of a trust the assets in the trust would not appear in her estate. The terms of the trust agreement would determine what happened to her interest in the trust after her death. It would pass to other listed beneficiaries. 

Abigail Folger was a very wealthy young woman. She certainly had little to worry about, financially.

Pax Vobiscum


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

What was the influence of Robert Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land" on the Family?

The subject of science fiction author Robert Heinlein's book "Stranger in a Strange Land" and the philosophy of the Manson Family have many parallels.  This was first noted in an article in a San Francisco newspaper in about February of 1970:
"Tate Massacre By The Book?
There is compelling evidence that the murder of actress Sharon Tate and at least six others were part of a grotesque, psychotic drama improvised by Charles Manson from a novel he read over and over.

The central character and the sequence of events in the science fiction novel are hauntingly similar to the personality and the style of life that Manson cultivated while he lived in San Francisco and Death Valley.

His gathering of a nomadic harem, his “hypnotic” domination over his “family,” their communal marriage and free sexual sharing with visitors, their attitudes toward human death, and the Los Angeles killings — all are mirrored in the book “Stranger in a Strange Land,” by Robert A. Heinlein.

In the opinion of a close acquaintance of Manson’s, these and numerous other parallels between the book and reality are not coincidental for it appears that Charles Manson has spent the past two years acting the key elements of the plot.

The acquaintance, who asked not to be identified*, is a respected drug researcher who came to know Manson when the accused killer lived in the Haight-Ashbury district in 1967-68.
*It's obvious the source is either Dr. David Smith or PO Roger Smith.

The drug researcher who knew Manson well says he read the book “over and over” and seemingly integrated his life with that of the book’s main character—a young man named Valentine Michael Smith whose description is strikingly Mansonesque: Small, notable for his sexual prowess, a gleam in his eye, and a hypnotic collector of women. ...

V. Michael Smith is held at first as a prisoner of the federal government. ...
V. Michael Smith soon escapes from the government and enters the custody of one Jubal Harshaw, an aging but hip lawyer and doctor who helps familiarize Smith with earthly ways and eases his transition to freedom.
In effect, Jubal acts as a parole officer for Smith. Manson saw the similarity and nicknamed his own amiable parole officer in San Francisco “Jubal.”

As the story progresses, V. Michael Smith leaves (Jubal) Harshaw .. and heads for San Francisco, where he begins to mold his own brand of reformist religion. He spruces it up with carnival mysticism and appoints himself as a Christ figure — at the same time asserting that all creatures are collectively God.

Manson’s family is closely parallel to the fictional version:

– Both reached a peak membership of about 20, with girls in the great majority.

– Domestic nudity was the rule in both, and uninhibited sexual sharing a common bond.

– Conventional love or romance is notably absent between Smith and his girls, as it was between Manson and his family.


Of course we know Charlie named his son with Mary Brunner 'Valentine Michael Manson'(aka Pooh Bear) directly after the main character in the book, 'Valentine Michael Smith.'

More similarities, directly from the novel:

"...only men had souls."

[Females are "separate creations. .. They don't need souls, they are spirits to start with, eternal, unchanging, and beautiful."]

"He accepted homage from the girls as if a natural right"

Valentine and his girls communicate via telepathy

[Didn't some followers say that Charlie could read their thoughts?]

"... a young sinner in the country school he went to shot a poor little birdie... and he picked it up and stroked it and it flew away unharmed."

[You may remember the tale that Charlie once picked up a dead bird and breathed life back into it.]

Share water "this is like being baptized... and like getting married. .. It means you trust us and we trust you.. we are partners, now and forever. But once done it can never be broken. If you broke it, we would die--at once.

[After Charlie's incarceration, his followers would allegedly at certain times gather to 'share water' with him remotely.]

"Mike(Valentine) liked her snakes and could handle the poisonous ones....they grokked with him."

[Charlie could allegedly pick up a rattlesnake and not get bitten.]

"Foster(the huckster leader of an evangelical church that Michael Valentine copies) had in common with every great religious leader of that planet two traits: he had an extremely magnetic personality, and sexually he did not fall near the human norm. ... He borrowed ... from earlier scriptures in composing his New Revelation. He sugarcoated it all as a return to primitive Christianity. ...The New Revelation did not specifically encourage lechery, but it got quite mystical in discussing sexual conduct. ...
Inside the overt church was the Inner Church--a hard core of fully dedicated who made up the priesthood, the lay leaders, all keepers of keys and makers of policy. They were "reborn," beyond sin, certain of heaven, and sole celebrants of the inner mysteries."

"He looked for men like himself and for women like his priestess-wives--dynamic, utterly convinced, stubborn, and free (or able to be freed, once guilt and insecurity were purged) of jealousy in its most human meaning--and all of them potential satyrs and nymphs, as the secret church was that Dionysian cult that America had lacked...."

"Then she grokked that Mike and Patty were two of a kind--God's innocents, unable to sin no matter what they did."

" is impossible to kill a man..."

"Mike said gently, "Look at me. I am a son of man." "

"How can he be dead when no one can be killed?

Love Needs Care; a history of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic and its pioneer role in treating drug-abuse problems by Dr. David E. Smith, M.D. and John Luce, published in 1971; written in 1970
In addition, he (Manson) started espousing a philosophy which bore a striking resemblance to that set forth in the book which interested Ken Kesey and so many other early leaders of the psychedelic movement. This was Stranger in a Strange Land.
...  Roger Smith... was impressed by how closely he modeled his own fantasies to its plot. Charlie was deeply interested in Valentine Michael Smith's Christ-like character...
... Many(of the girls) had read Stranger in a Strange Land.  Like their fictional and real leader, they believed that a child would lead them toward the creation of a worldwide family in which they would play prominent roles.
Turn Off Your Mind, Gary Lachman, pgs. 223-224
The link between the book and Manson was so strong that Heinlein turned down an interview with Playboy because Hugh Hefner wanted to ask questions about its influence on the Family.

The Hef


Now what's interesting is that no one in the Family has ever spoken of this obvious link.  Despite what the parole officer said, Charlie has denied he even read the book:

Manson In His Own Words by Nuel Emmons  pg222
Manson:  "I... never read a book all the way through in my life..."

Or he didn't read the book because he was functionally illiterate:

Robert A. Heinlein by Leon Stover  pg57
For his own lawyer had discovered, by interviewing Manson in jail, that the murderer had never read Stranger, had never even heard of its author's name.  Indeed, he turned out to be scarcely literate, a reader of no books at all.

Though that was probably just Charlie doing his "me-so-stupid" routine.

Taming the Beast: Charles Manson's Life Behind Bars by Edward George c. 1998  pg43
He(Charlie) read a lot, dispelling the much repeated notion that he's illiterate. The illiterate tag was something he promoted himself, apparently to lure his adversaries into underestimating him.

Manson In His Own Words by Nuel Emmons, published in 1986  pg82
"As a matter of fact I just got out of the joint and am kind of like a stranger in a strange land."
(And this curious comment is the only reference to the Heinlein book.)

There is no evidence that Tex ever read the novel, but he did say this back in 2012:
Manson's Right Hand Man Speaks Out by Charles "Tex" Watson c. 2012  pg50
"...I got to a pretty low state in the Los Angeles County Jail--to the point of not wanting to live. I felt like a stranger in a strange land."
(An innocent comment, or did Tex make a deliberate reference to the book?)

But whether Charlie read the book himself, or heard about it from other cons in the Can, or from Family members, it would have been hard not to know about it, as this book had a huge effect on the counter-culture of the time:

Love Needs Care  by Dr. David E. Smith, M.D. and John Luce  pg97
Ken Kesey(one of the original Merry Pranksters and an early promoter of LSD use) was a fan of Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land.

Robert A. Heinlein by Leon Stover   c.1987
In the event, the novel became a how-to-do-it cult book among successors to Kerouac's beatniks, the hippies. In the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco and elsewhere these dope smoking dropouts of the so-called counterculture formed "nests" of free sexual sharing and group nudity. They did this, as they were wont to say, "by the book" out of Heinlein's book--much to the author's surprise.
Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon, David McGowan, pgs. 58-59
Heinlein's best-known work is the novel Stranger in a Strange Land, which many in the Laurel Canyon scene found to be hugely influential. ...

Got a revolution; the turbulent flight of the Jefferson Airplane by Jeff Tamarkin, c.2003  pg18
David Crosby(of CS&N):  "We were trying to make a living being folkies.  We'd all read Stranger in a Strange Land and we kept all our money in a bowl, on the mantelpiece--if you put it in there and if you needed some you took it out.

One wonders if the whole group had somehow been caught up playing some huge 'game' they couldn't get out of, even after two years of it:

Snapping by Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, c.1978  pg201-3
When it came time to play Helter Skelter, life in the Family had become a game with no borders on fantasy and reality, an extended "trip" that kept up long after any chemical effects had worn off.
 In a scenario perhaps reminiscent of Mark David Chapman's and John Hinckley's infatuation with Catcher in the Rye, could Stranger in a Strange Land somehow have been Manson's program-trigger mechanism?  Was the concept of Helter Skelter part of Manson's program?

The big question, though, is why didn't Bugliosi even mention the obvious influence of this book in his own tome "Helter Skelter?"  One gets the feeling Bugs wanted to steer people away from this link, just like he steered his readers away from any links to the Black Muslims or The Fountain of the World(FOTW).  But why?

I think the answer is that, if the public had found out the "Helter Skelter" philosophy wasn't Charlie's idea, and if the very concept of the "Family" wasn't Charlie's idea, they might wonder to what extant TLB wasn't Charlie's idea.


 "And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land."
     --Exodus 2:22


There were some other odd connections by Heinlein to the case:

Heinlein shared this strange proclivity with Charlie:
Heinlein was in an open marriage with (his second wife)Leslyn, a poet and script editor. He had a habit of encouraging his close male buddies to take Leslyn as a lover. As (his friend L. Ron)Hubbard would later marvel, Heinlein “almost forced me to sleep with his wife.” Sharing his wife’s body was a form of male bonding for Heinlein, and it served as a precursor to the communal orgies that he imagined in Stranger in a Strange Land, which helped the members of his imaginary religion form group solidarity.


Heinlein was corresponding with Catherine Share while the Family was in the Inyo County Jail:

Member of the Family by Dianne Lake
Gypsy, who also used another alias, Minon Minette, spent her time(at the jail in Inyo County) writing letters to author Robert Heinlein to see if he would help bail us out, since we were only acting in defiance of the establishment. He wrote her back a nice letter admitting he had done some pranks in his youth, but unlike the character in his book Stranger in a Strange Land, he was unable to offer any other type of legal or financial support.

There were apparently three letters:
January 7, 1970: Virginia Heinlein(third wife) letter to Lurton Blassingame
"Some weeks ago, a fan letter came in from the jail in Independence, California. In a burst of generosity, Robert tried to do something about this girl who'd written him. It turned out that she was one of the Manson family. So if we're knifed in our beds like Sharon Tate, it's because of three letters from members of the family. Just tell the police. I'm leaving these notices everywhere I can, in hopes of preventing anything from happening.
Heinlein, Vol 2 pg313
In the mail was a disturbing letter from a young woman in Inyo County--out by the Mojave Desert near Los Angeles--who asked him for help: She and her friends were being chased by police helicopters. It was a crazed letter--the margins filled with decorative drawn fancies--and yet there was something about this one. ... ...he placed a call to the Inyo County Sheriff's Office and found that the bare outlines of the woman's story--"Annette or Nanette or something"--were accurate. The police were chasing down a group of young people, but in answer to Heinlein's question, the sheriff's office told him drugs were not the issue--and that was all they would say.

How did they get Heinlein's address while they were in the jail?  Why would Heinlein have personally answered this letter, out of all the other pieces of fan mail he got?
Turn Off Your Mind, Gary Lachman, pgs. 223-224
.. at one point Heinlein was asked to lead a seminar at Big Sur's Esalen Institute, sharing the bill with Alan Watts. ...

Could members of the Family have met Heinlein at Esalen?  Is this why Gypsy felt comfortable enough to contact him while they were jailed in Inyo County?  Is this why Heinlein felt the need to write back?


Heinlein even met Polanski:
In March 1969, Robert A. Heinlein flew with his wife Ginny to Brazil, where he had been invited to serve as a guest of honor at a film festival in Rio de Janeiro. Another passenger on their plane was the director Roman Polanski...


And for those of you who grok with the author Dave McGowan's "Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon" theory about curious connections between the Laurel Canyon music scene and the military and intelligence worlds, it turns out Heinlein was living in Laurel Canyon at the time, and was himself a graduate of the US Naval Academy.
Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon, David McGowan, pgs. 58-59
David McGowan writes:  "Another famous resident of Laurel Canyon was science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein, who resided at 8775 Lookout Mountain Avenue.


There was even a tangential link to The BEL:
--the Brotherhood of Eternal Love
His(Ron Stark) textbook for security, exhorting others to follow his example, was, of all things, a science-fiction novel published in the 1960s by Robert A. Heinlein, called The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. It is the story of a lunar colony's attempt to free itself from the control of Earth through a movement based on a system of cells, each kept in ignorance of the others.


If Charlie was an actual fan of Heinlein, he may have read this book too:

Robert A. Heinlein by Leon Stover   c.1987 pg60
"....When Farnham's Freehold(c 1964) appeared, at the height of the Black Power movement, it met with a storm of critical indignation. The title hero is flung into a future in which the rule of North America has passed to the Black Muslims. ... They(critics) jabbed at the novel's hero, Hugh Farnham, for the single-minded attention he gave to rescuing his family from black enslavement, and then for defending the family freehold upon the return of the Farnhams to the postwar anarchy of the "present" time."


Monday, November 5, 2018

The Coffee Heiress Part 3: A Yellow Firebird and a Yellow Bicycle

Other Posts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

A number of sources claim that Abigail Folger’s favorite color was yellow. They claim she wore a yellow dress to her debutante ball (it was actually white). She drove a yellow Firebird and, they say, purchased a yellow bicycle on the morning of the murders. I have not been able to find any ‘witness’ who confirms that yellow was, indeed, her favorite color but here is what I was able to find about yellow bicycle and the  yellow Firebird. 

The Yellow Firebird

The image to the right is the car owned by Abigail Folger at the time of her death. It was a 1968 Pontiac Firebird 400. While researching this post, it amazed me how many sources either describe the car as a ‘yellow Camaro, identify Sharon Tate’s rental car as being Abigail’s car, get the color wrong or identify the car pictured to the right as Sharon Tate’s car. Among those who didn't get it right was the prosecutor. 

Vincent Bugliosi, in Helter Skelter:

“About 3 P.M. the second gardener, Tom Vargas, arrived. As he came in the gate, Abigail was driving out in her Camaro. Five minutes later Voytek also left, driving the Firebird.” (emphasis added)

(Bugliosi, Vincent. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (25th Anniversary Edition) (p. 85). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.)

And this guy:

"As he drove through the gates, he saw Abigail Folger climb into Sharon’s rented yellow Camaro and drive out. She was going to keep her regular 4:30 PM appointment with her psychiatrist, Dr. Marvin Flicker. A few minutes later, Voyteck also left, in Abigail’s red Firebird."

(King, Greg. Sharon Tate and the Manson Murders (Kindle Locations 3783-3785). Open Road Media. Kindle Edition.) 

Notice the bumper sticker on the Firebird to the left of the license plate? It says "Bradley". Gibbie worked on Tom Bradley’s unsuccessful 1969 campaign to become mayor of Los Angeles. 


Wheelbase, inches: 108.1
Weight, lbs: 3,450
Number built: 21,336
Base price: $3,750
Top Available Engine Type: ohv V-8
Displacement, cid: 400
Fuel system: 1 x 4bbl.
Compression ratio: 10.75:1
Horsepower @ rpm: 340 @ 5300
Torque @ rpm: 430 @ 3600
Representative Performance: 0-60 mph, sec: 5.5
1/4 mile, sec. @ mph: 14.2 @ 100”

“Pontiac may have broken late from the gate in the pony-car derby, but it quickly made up ground. Carefully considered alterations made the 1968 Pontiac Firebird 400 perhaps the best compact muscle car of the year.

Horsepower on the standard 400-cid V-8 increased by five, to 330. Ram Air continued as the rarest and strongest engine option at about $600 over the regular 400. It again had a hotter cam, stronger valve springs, and exclusive use of functional hood scoops. At midyear, the 335-bhp Ram Air mill was replaced by the 340-bhp Ram Air II.”

Abigail likely purchased the car when she arrived in California from New York. Ed Sanders in The Family claims that Abigail and Wojciech Frykowski drove a "Drive-a-Car" across the United States from New York City to Los Angeles in the fall of 1968. Of course, he does not offer any source for his statement. To my eyes the car appears to have California plates. That is why I believe she purchased the car in LA and why it was not the "Drive-a-Car," if that is how they actually travelled. 

The car is listed in Abigail’s estate inventory (above) as a 1968 Pontiac Firebird and is valued at $2,000. The Firebird does not appear in the final distribution of the estate and there is no court order allowing the sale of the car. I find this somewhat odd since transferring the title, it seems to me, would have been more difficult without a court order. Abigail’s final estate distribution consists of cash, stocks and a one third interest in real estate. This means that her father, Peter Folger, the executor of the estate, either gave the car away or sold it while the estate was pending.  

The image to the (above, left) purports to be a recent photo of Gibbie’s Firebird, located somewhere in Georgia. It could be photoshopped. It could be someone who ‘dressed up’ another yellow Firebird to look like Abigail’s car or, it could be the actual car. To my eye there appear to be some differences. 

I am not a 'car guy' but I know a couple and asked for their input on this post. I was told the 1968 Firebird is one of the iconic 'muscle cars' and as my friend "B" said "One hell of a fun ride". I was also told that the yellow color was a 'standard' color in 1967 and 1968. 

A Yellow Bicycle

On Wednesday, August 8, 1969 Abigail Folger purchased a bicycle from Hans Ohrt Lightweight Bicycles in Beverly Hills. The purchase did not happen the morning of the murders as some claim.

Q (Bugliosi): In the summer of 1969, were you employed?
A (Dennis Hearst): Yes.
Q: By whom were you employed at that time?
A: Hans Ohrt Bicycles.
Q: Is that located at 9544 Santa Monica Boulevard in the city of Los Angeles?
A: Yes.
Q: Does your father own the shop? 
A: Yes, he does.

Q: What was the reason for your going to that address on that date?
A: To exchange a bicycle; one had been delivered on Wednesday evening and I was to exchange it for another model.
Q: Whose bicycle was this?
A: I believe it was purchased by Abigail Folger that Wednesday. 

At the Watson trial Dennis Hearst clarified that the name of the shop was Hans Ohrt Lightweight Bicycles. It was located in Beverly Hills. 

On Friday evening, August 8, 1969 Dennis Hearst arrived at 10050 Cielo Drive at about 7:00 P.M. to exchange the bike purchased on Wednesday for a different model. He placed the new bike in the garage and loaded the original in his van. He knocked on the door and rang the bell. Jay Sebring eventually answered the door and Hearst explained what he had done. He then left.

[Aside: It has been said said that Dennis Hearst confirmed that Sebring was holding a wine bottle when he answered the door. Hearst actually does not identify the bottle held by Sebring as a wine bottle in his testimony. He testifies, in response to Daye Shinn’s question, that he could not tell if it was a wine bottle saying only that “It was the color green like a 7-up bottle, that color green.”]

Hans Ohrt Lightweight Bicycles

“This famous retail bicycle store was founded by Hans Ohrt with his wife Ida Ohrt in Beverly Hills, CA. The location was at the south-east corner of Camden and Little Santa Monica Blvd. 

In the early 1960s Len & Connie Hearst were managing the store (Connie was the niece of Hans).” 

During the 1960's Hollywood celebrities like Jane Russell, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra could be found from time to time in the shop. Although he sold several brands, Ohrt seems to have had a preference for Raleigh and Schwinn lightweight bicycles. Like I said, several sources state that the bicycle Abigail purchased that afternoon was, yellow. However, if she purchased a Schwinn it wasn’t yellow. According to the 1968 and 1969 Schwinn catalogues "ladies lightweight bicycles", regardless of model, came in the colors “campus green, sierra brown and sky blue”. If it was yellow it also was not a Raleigh bike. Raleigh "ladies bicycles" came in the colors “sky blue, bronze green, black and Burgundy”. Could it have been another manufacturer? Sure, but I couldn't find a yellow "ladies bicycle" from 1968-9.

What happened to the bicycle. I don't have a clue. The bicycle does not appear inn Abigail’s estate inventory and there was no claim filed against her estate by the shop. It may simply have been left at Cielo Drive. 

Abigail purchased one bike, not two, so she likely was not planning to ride with Frykowski. Then again, there is some evidence that Frykowski wasn’t going to be in Abigail’s life much longer by the end of July, 1969. 

The idea of taking up cycling might have originated with Dr. Flicker, her psychiatrist. He may have suggested that Gibbie get a little exercise to improve her overall outlook on life. 

While Gibbie was a fairly accomplished equestrian, there is little other evidence that she was the athletic sort. While I’m speculating, my guess would be that Sharon Tate had something to do with the purchase of the bicycle. I found very little advertising by Hans Ohrt Lightweight Bicycles during 1968-9. That suggests to me that she found the shop through word of mouth and the likely source was Sharon Tate. And while Sharon would not have been currently in a condition that would allow her to ride, we know she did. I like to think that was the plan because the image of Sharon Tate riding through the gate at Cielo is one of the 'happiest' pictures of Sharon, in my opinion. Then again, that would have been something else Manson, Atkins, Watson and Krenwinkel took away that night. 

Pax vobiscum


Thursday, November 1, 2018