Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Emmett Harder

When Charlie and the others were arrested for the Tate LaBianca murders Emmett Harder was one of the few people who went on record at length to say that he had a hard time believing that Charlie was involved.  By the time Harder wrote These Canyons Are Full Of Ghosts, with three chapters devoted to the Family, he had backed away from the views expressed in this article.

Here are Harder's first impressions upon learning of the charges against Charles Manson and his Family.

San Bernardino County Sun Sunday December 7, 1969

Friend Finds It Hard To Accept 'Killer' Tag

Different View Of Manson, 'Family'

by David L. Otis
Sun Telegraph Staff Writer

Charles Miller Manson, 35, called "God" and "Jesus" by his followers, incarcerated, accused......

Is he a bearded leader of a hippie "black magic cult" which savagely killed Sharon Tate and six others?  Or is Charles Manson the patriarch of a lost tribe of young people looking for their own society away from it all?

Emmett Harder, 37, s geologist and prospector since he was 9, knows Charles Manson.  He hired Manson and his "family" to work around his Death Valley mine near Barker Ranch, home of the "family" for several months.  He invited Charlie to dinner at his Devore home.

"I find it hard to accept the fact that Manson had anything to do with those brutal slayings," Harder said yesterday.  "I found Charlie to be an intelligent, hard-working person dedicated to taking care of the young people camping with him.  I never once heard Manson called anything but Charlie.  No one called him Jesus or God.  And he was clean shaven with medium length hair, too."

Harder said he remembered only first names (with the exception of Manson) of those in the group.  But he said he recognized the faces of the four already in custody for the Tate murders.

"There were a couple of Chuck's (Charles Watson) and a T.J. and a girl who appeared to be a bit retarded or at least abnormally naïve (Susan Atkins)."

Harder admits it has been a year since he last saw the man now accused of using "hypnotic power" to order the ritualistic slayings of seven persons in Los Angeles last summer.

But his description of Manson and his followers is in direct and striking contrast to reports circulated by news media about the hippie band.

Harder said he first met Manson in June 1968 at his tungsten mine seven miles from the Barker Ranch.  He said Manson and five or six young men walked into the camp to ask for jobs. 

"They were very interested in prospecting for profit.  They asked me if they could help.  I gave them a burro and a week.  When I visited the Barker Ranch at that time, I found they had collected over 1,000 pounds of ore for me."

Harder said he developed a respect for the young band "because I know what physical effort is and those young people were not afraid of physical effort."

Harder said Manson asked him to speak to the group on prospecting.  He said he took the young men on several field trips to acquaint them with rocks and formations.

The prospector voiced concerns over newspaper stories and pictures which gave the impression the group lived in squalor.  "The Barker Ranch was never neater than when Charlie was there.  He was a father-figure, organizing, directing, assigning duties.  I think a lot of the mess shown in the photographs was a result of the raid- or- perhaps it was made by another group.  The ranch was always open to anyone who wanted to use it."

Harder described the "family" as young people who appeared lost and hurt, as if society had slapped them in the face and turned them out alone.

"They didn't feel that they were lost.  They said they were trying to hide from society, trying to run away from its problems...."

Harder told of one of the many times he visited them.  He said they were sitting around a fire, drinking coffee and remembered being impressed that they were familiar with passages from the bible.

"We were talking about how lucky we all were.... sitting in the desert darkness alone but together.  Out there we felt closer to God and country, Charlie said "That shows you how true the bible is."

Manson and his followers ran into a unique prejudice at Barker's Ranch which apparently followed them from their beginning in the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco.  "It was the word 'hippie'," Harder explained.  "The prospectors most assumed hippies were bad people.  The local people were a bit afraid of Charlie and his group.  Charlie said he didn't like the stigma and moved out of the Haight-Ashbury because of it."

The last time Harder saw Manson a chilly night in November 1968 after the Harder's had spent a peaceful dinner with the suspected killer.

Manson and three of his followers had ridden to Harder's house in Devore for dinner before catching a ride into Los Angeles.  "He talked about his music a lot.  He said he has written some for the Beach Boys, a popular rock group, and an album was due for release."

Said Mrs. Ruth Harder: "I remember he played the guitar and sang.  The girl who was with them walked in the garden with me, discussing rocks and flowers.  She was pretty and clean.  They reminded me of the kids who used to visit the house when my daughter was going to school."

Commenting on the picture of Manson circulated by the press last week, Mrs. Harder said Manson looked "frightened, puzzled by it all.  He had a trapped look...."

Gerald Harder,15, held up a mounted gold record he said he received through Manson.  The album was awarded the Beach Boys by Capitol Records indicating a million-seller.  The record was "All Summer Long."

"I got it from a man who once loaned Charlie a four-wheeled drive vehicle."  Gerald said.  "Charlie gave the gold record as sort of a payment for the help he received."

Harder said he and his son have thought about going up to Independence where Manson is being held to talk to him.  "I'd like to find out what it's all about," Harder explained.  But we don't want to go up there with all the newsman.  We'd like to see him alone.  Maybe when he is moved to more permanent confinement, we'll see him and he can tell us what all this is about." 

The article goes on to describe the victims and speculates about the suspects and the charges.

A press photo of the gold record that Gerald Harder speaks of, which accompanied this article, was a post of its own HERE a while back.


George Stimson said...

We ran into Emmett several times when we were in the desert backcountry. He was a good guy, but was naive when it came to dealing with the news media. For years I wrote articles for the desert newsletter that he and Ruth published. He wrote a very nice review of my book.

Mr. Humphrat said...

where was Harder in 1969 when they came back there after the murders?

Robert Hendrickson said...

I like to mention LBJ in the same breath as Charles Manson because the similarities are striking - especially the dufus / genious syndrome. Then you have the Jewish persecution issue - over the ages - with similarities to not only the Manson Family situation, but the same elements are present in most all persecution cases. BTW folks the JEWS were singled-out way before the Nazis and way after WWII. In some cultures, the "living" Jews are even considered "fathoms" because of ALL the millions who were murderderd. Unfortunately, we still live in a very primative God/Devil infested world where half-way intelligent people still bathe in the water they drink.

Through-out history, when an "establishment" needs to blame a people, it most always turns to some sort of evil magic thing and ordinary good folks are somehow "bewitched" into doing unpopular bad stuff.

With the Jews, the money thing, has been used forever to blame them every time something financial goes wrong. Just look at the more recent GREAT American Depression. What's the NAME you remember ? Bernie Maddoff - the JEW, but he had almost nothing to do with the banking collapse. An Italian mob guy who ran CountryWide Home Loans did more to trigger the housing collapse than any other single person.

Of course, that's not to say ALL "evil" people are miss-diagnosed, BUT sometimes even a time honored "establishment" organization can fool YOU into thinking CRAZY !

The prosecutor KNEW exactly which buttons to push for 12 moon-rocks (as Marsha Clark calls them) AND that was HIS claim to glory, as is the case for any successful PROSECUTOR.

George Stimson said...

I don't know, Humph.

Unknown said...

Interesting article... and speaking of Charles Manson, you may also be interested in reading a fascinating new book... Manson, Sinatra and Me: A Hollywood Party Girl's Memoir and How She Helped Vincent Bugliosi with the Helter Skelter Case... the truth behind Susan Atkins confession and the informant who put Charles Manson and the rest of the Manson Family in jail...

Anonymous said...

CCB Publishing. Is that truth part of the significant portions of text that first appeared in "The Joy of Hooking"? I mean, it's obvious that this new book exists because of reasons having to do with publishing rights and not due to sudden onset of truth.

Anonymous said...

Has Harder made any comments regarding why he shifted in his opinions on Manson? Assuming i'm right in reading a shift in what comes through in the few interviews he has done. said...

The truth. Ha, good one

candy and nuts said...

condolences to Julian Lennon for the loss of his mother and all the baby seals who have been murdered and who will be fu canada!##!#

Matt said...

CCB Publishing, I ordered and read your book. It is such a piece of garbage that I won't even do a book report on it. Good luck.

Mr. Humphrat said...

Oh how sad about Cynthia Lennon. Wanted Mr Stimson to know I'm impressed by his chapter on the Real Motive which I'm currently on. You make a good argument.

Mr. Humphrat said...

"There were a couple of Chuck's (Charles Watson) and a T.J. and a girl who appeared to be a bit retarded or at least abnormally naïve (Susan Atkins)."
Who wrote Susan Atkins in parentheses? Is it known that that's who he meant?

Guida Diehl said...

"Naive" is exactly the impression I was getting from the article, Mr. Stimson. I can just imagine those pretty young girls seeming so genuinely nice & helpful to a naive, slightly-sheltered family.

Hell, they probably WERE genuinely nice & helpful to the Harders- but they certainly weren't to the Tates & La Biancas. People are complex animals, Mansonists -and Jews ;) - not excluded.

Guida Diehl said...

'Black Magic Cult' as phrase sounds super cool and groovy, by the way. If I ever start a band or a religion (or both in one! rock concerts are already full of semi-religious imagery & pageantry) that's the name I'll pick for it.

DebS said...

Humph, regarding the parentheses. That is the way it was published in the article. Perhaps the interviewer had pictures of Family members or there was a then recent article with pictures of those that had been arrested for the murders at hand so Emmett was able to put a name to the face. At any rate, it was not me who added Susan's name, though I did chuckle when I read it!

Mr. Humphrat said...

thanks Deb!

Robert Hendrickson said...

Vermouth: GOD, Devil, Messiah and "Black Magic" are the most important $$$ words in the English language. "MANSON" (the movie) has an Academy Award Nomination and various other awards. BUT, for ME, the official "condemnation" certificate from the VATICAN is my most prized possession. I figure the POPE himself helped make "MANSON" the most successful documentary motion picture of 1975-1976.

orwhut said...

Was there any particular part of your movie that offended the Vatican?

Robert Hendrickson said...

What an intelligent question Orwhut. I just assumed the Italian mob got nervous every time "cults" were mentioned. The "condemnation" is on the internet somewhere.

orwhut said...

If it had been the nudity, I would have wondered how they felt about the statues all around Rome.

Guida Diehl said...

Was not aware your film was officially denounced by the Vatican, Robert; that's the kind of thing you should put on your resume in the 'Awards & Commendations' section.

The Vatican did eventually learn that throwing out highly vocal denunciations of films only helped make them more wildly successful, but not before it helped bless the world with wider recognition for The Life of Brian, The Passion of Saint Tibulus - and MANSON too, it turns out. Heil Jesus!