Sunday, October 14, 2018

Reflexion by Lynette Fromme; Part Five: pp. 366 - End

The final 111 pages...

On Manson controlling the group:
When we were out of money, bikers offered us stolen credit cards, but we didn't want them. Paul suggested that we could sell something. "Well, we don't sell anything..." Charlie maintained seriously. His eyebrows rose, and he popped a grin. "...but we could trade it for money." It was a joke. We really didn't have a thing worth selling. Bill knew a club where girls who were so inclined might dance topless, but I don't know if anybody did. Despite what was later said to the contrary, we were a democracy, jokingly called an "Orwecouldjust." ("We could..." "Or we could..." "Or we could just..."). It was a consensus style government, everyone adding to the pool of thought. Charlie was both credited and blamed for having the most input, but anyone with ideas was welcome to toss them into the circle. 
On Charlene Cafritz who - to refresh your memory -  was Carter Cafritz's (the son of Morris Cafritz who was a real estate developer, one of Washington’s leading commercial and residential builders from the early 1920's to the mid-60's) wealthy ex-wife who was reported to apparently be a heroin addict and died of an overdose in 1970:
When it came to getting money Charlie went for what he knew. Her name was Charlene, a boot and whip-style girl with a curvy body. I read later that she was some kind of heiress, but he never mentioned it. He had met her at a party in Beverly Hills and invited her to The Ranch. She didn't come. She had invited him to her ranch in Nevada, and instead of going alone, he asked Sandy, Brenda, Paul, and me to go with him.  
Charlene's Nevada ranch had an old-time hotel with a cowboy cafe at the front. Tired and hungry from the overnight drive, we went in for breakfast. Charlie sent one of the workers to let Charlene know that he had arrived. I almost missed seeing her. She was coming toward Charlie, but, after seeing the rest of us, she wheeled on her high heeled boots and let the screen door slam behind her. He went out to talk to her, and pretty soon an employee showed the rest of us to a bare rustic room with two beds, no telephone, and no TV. I don't know what gave me the impression that this ranch was more about women than horses, but I knew about Nevada's Mustang Ranch and I was beginning to think that Charlene might be running such an establishment. In any case, it was not an entertaining trip for us - we slept most of the time - and the next day Charlie returned to say we were leaving. As we drove away, he said that he had offered Charlene a place with us, but she didn't want it. I found out later that she had offered him a Cadillac, but he refused it. Apparently, this wasn't about stuff or money.
A letter from Sandy says that Gary Hinman was homosexual and had a thing for Bobby. Either I never heard this or I just forgot it. Either way it adds a new sland to that part of the story.

One night during the time they operated a "nightclub" in the saloon, Charlie got into a tangle with a biker over the biker's treatment of one of the girls. Once the fight started "Charlie ducked under his arm and behind him, reached between his legs, took a grip, and escorted that guy out the door by the collar of his shirt and his balls".

On corn chips:
Brenda read aloud to herself the list of ingredients in a small bag of corn chips, including the then commonly added chemical preservatives BHA and BHT. In typical understatement with just a touch of amazement, she said, "Wow, now they embalm you before you die."
This made me laugh because as teens my friends and I used to joke that there should be a warning label that said something like, "If you eat this and then you die, you won't rot!"

So far in this section she reminisces about different Family members. I won't ruin it. Buy the book. This bit about Clem I found interesting. It brought back to mind one of the first questions I asked Robert Hendrickson about him.:
Clem was actually classic as a country brother. He once gifted Sandy and me with a beautiful china teapot. Inside it was a beautiful live tarantula. The surprise was not left to chance. He stood by to supervise the discovery. Another time, he woke Ouisch and me, telling us tp "be still and just watch" the snake he was putting into bed with us. His mischief and adept handling of creatures were parts of his charm, but Clem was no hick. Like Bobby, he came from a smart suburban family, and in some ways was a typical teenager, rejecting the past to form a world of his own.
And this about Clem from a letter from Sandy.
Like Sadie and Brenda, Clem would turn a question back at the questioner, or give pat answers as a way of "reprogramming" himself. In reply to "How are you?" Clem would say "perfect." If asked when his birthday was, he'd say "today." I understood his meanings and reasons, but his refusal to give a straight answer could be exasperating. I sensed his rebelling at the conventionalities that hung on in my speech, but he was never sarcastic or mean-spirited.
Charlie had been urging Gregg Jakobson to arrange the meeting with Terry Melcher, not because he wanted a recording contract - he had walked away from contracts - because when we went to the desert, we wanted to leave behind a message.
The iconic crow photo:

"There exists a fuzzy photo of Charlie by the boardwalk with the raven on his forearm. I believe Pearl took it. He's wearing his embroidered vest, and his oddly cocked brown felt hat, and his upper lip is swollen, cut by a shard of wood that splintered off some project he was working on. The raven was a wonder to him and he spent a lot of time with it." 
From a letter from Manson: 
"That bird got into my head as if I was part of it. I didn't want it to be raised dependent on humans so I would take it far away and let it go. I'd drive miles back to the ranch and that bird would be sitting there. Part of me wanted to keep it but I wanted it to be free from humans because I wanted it to be free from them also. You got to be careful for the wildlife. If you make friends with them, they run to other humans who are not friends. The raven flew to land on a guy's shoulder and he thought Alfred Hitchcock's bird movie was after him. He almost knocked the bird's head off before I got between them."
On Bug's assertion that they were attempting to steal Spahn Ranch:
For a long time George had been trying to swallow a heart burning expression someone - he thought a city assessor - had used to describe The Ranch. They'd called it "an eyesore." Since he couldn't trust his own eyes or depend upon the hands, he felt helpless and enraged. He told me he felt "cornered" because if they were to leave him for even a day, the horses would go hungry, and the business would be lost. The humiliation of needing people he often despised was enough to make him wish to be done with it, to have the satisfaction of wielding the final stroke rather than succumbing to impotence. He could sell. I thought it would take years to get a buyer, and meanwhile something would work out.

In my mind, The Ranch would always be ours. In revolutionary times, it would be a safe place to rest and refuel before moving on. The Fountain of the World would be another. A prosecutor would allege that we were leveraging George for the deed, but who needs a deed in the midst of lawlessness.
Sandy, on parental neglect (Sandy is spot on here regarding abuse & illness, IMO):
My mother didn't have a maternal bone in her body. On my first day of kindergarten she dropped me off at the school and drove away. If she'd stayed long enough to see that I found the right classroom, she would have seen that the school wasn't even open. She had brought me on the wrong day. A policeman found me wandering around, totally disoriented and crying hysterically.

I think that I began to feel the tensions of my parents' relationship even before I was born, and later to show the extreme physical effects of a child who had formed no attachment with the mother. Mostly it played out in respiratory issues. In infancy I had two tracheotomies and in childhood countless painful exploratory procedures. Doctors back then did not know much about the correlation between parental neglect and abuse and childhood and adult illness. I was in and out of the hospital and oxygen tents. When I was ten a surgeon removed most of my right lung. I still wonder if that was really necessary.
The Bikers:
Outlaw bikers demonstrated both traditional patriotism and insolent rebellion. Some members of the Oakland chapter of the Hell's Angels once barged into a crowd of anti-war marchers to stomp heads, their president, a military veteran, offering the U.S. president their service as guerrilla fighters in Vietnam. Some of the same guys wore German helmets, swastikas, Iron Crosses, and death's heads because they were imbued with a warrior spirit, because they looked "cool," and because they obviously made conventional U.S. citizens feel uncomfortable. Charlie was not the only one to think these rebels could be a force in protection of life. The Merry Pranksters, Grateful Dead, and Rolling Stones, among others, strategized them as allies; the U.S. government did not. 
Charlie took bikers on some wild dune buggy rides. He composed a song with them in mind, and interact-ed as if he lived in them, but despite their outlaw leanings many of them were traditional in their thinking. Our ideas were new and strange to them, and if they saw a revolution coming, they didn't envision hiding in the desert. They seemed to be more about illicit ways to make money.
This sure did pique my interest:
Two weeks after the ranch raid, Frank Retz called police to arrest Charlie for trespassing. They found him asleep in the farmhouse, a marijuana roach and one of the girls nearby. I think it was Gypsy because she went to the station and claimed the roach. She was not charged, and Charlie was released. Frank said he thought the police raid had taken care of the job he wanted done, but now he would have to do it himself. He openly announced that he would hire and arm a man to watch over the property. Pearl suggested Shorty Shea, and he made no secret of his intention to take the job.
Cappy describes the burning of the Michigan Loader:
Headed for refreshment from a hot desert day - a day spent close to the ground motionless as lizards, motionless as the air that let the Sun's heat turn the earth's crumbled rock to blazing dust, the same dust we had all become - two dune buggies of nude night bodies flew over the hills along the ridges and down the banks into the beds of forgotten rivers. This night had no moon but freedom was a-rise. The dune buggy engines hummed into the vast darkness. We neared the opening to a canyon that gave birth to a hot spring. Our heavenly hot springs popped into view - but SOMETHING of huge and grotesque proportions loomed out of the darkness beside it. A ruthless monster had invaded our unblemished desert home, a thing that had leveled a nearby hill and had stopped just short of shoving it into the pool of steaming water. A U.S. Government monster. Ouish's loud exclamations rebounded off the mountain walls. Then sparks lit within our eyes. We all laughed and charged to the dune buggies, lugging out gasoline and all the match-es we had stashed. What a beautiful picture it would make exploding in huge tongues of flame to return to the earth it was trying to destroy! We doused the tires and the seat with gasoline. Lit matches found their places. POOF! POOF! POOF! THE FLAMES WERE TITANIC. THE WHOLE MACHINE WAS ON FIRE... until the gas evaporated. Just how much of a Michi-gan loader burns? More gasoline - everything saturated once more - more matches - ah! And finally the seat caught a-blaze.

We slid into our pool beside the fire. And after a long bath, dawn came creeping. Goosepimply and wet we stood in the chill air, viewing the remains of the monster. There it stood unscathed - only a few patches of blistered paint and a gorged seat on melted rubber feet. We left our mark and sped off laughing into the morning. 
Sandy on Sadie and Katie telling her in September about the murders:
... I asked them if others knew about this. They told me they didn't know. Their move was for Bobby and there was really no need to say anything to anyone. After the girls left the trailer, I thought about what they told me, I could not judge them.
Paul Watkins was only called Little Paul after the Family made the final move to Golar Wash. It was to distinguish him from Paul Crockett.


The book ends with the Barker Ranch Raid. Very little is mentioned about the murders or the motives. What Fromme has presented us with is her experiences with Manson and the group. In my opinion she did an excellent job of helping me see things through her eyes.

We all have our reasons why this little piece of history reels us in. My fascination with the whole story has always had less to do with the crimes and more to do with the communal/tribal aspects of The Family. I've been waiting decades for a core member to write a book like this one. I devoured it. I'll likely devour it again and again.

Some of her descriptions of leaving home and learning to commune with nature reminded me of the North Pond Hermit, Christopher Thomas Knight, who lived almost without human contact for 27 years in the woods in the North Pond area of Maine. I'll never forget something he later said:
"Solitude bestows an increase in something valuable, perception. But...when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. There was no audience, no one to perform for...To put it romantically, I was completely free."
My reasons for reviewing in the fashion I did were (again) to bring to the fore things that either I did not know previous to reading this work, things that I found either uber-fascinating or just plain amusing. If she had gone through a major publishing house the book would have been much different. I'm appreciative of her choice.

If you haven's ordered Reflexion yet, you are missing out. It is a must read.