Hangout of Manson Clan ‘Ruined by Publicity’
Friday, March 19th, 1971
CHATSWORTH, Calif., Mar. 19 — The horses stir aimlessly in the corral and the wind whips unmercifully down the canyons on the old movie ranch made famous in its graying years by onetime guest Charles Manson.
The ranch faced hard times when the nearby Hollywood film makers stopped coming to rent the horses for such movies as “High Noon,” and the Manson family’s notoriety dried up most of the dude riders who’d come around on weekends.
Last fall’s devastating Southern California brush fires destroyed the ranch’s buildings, but now under a state emergency program a two-room, blue-and-white house trailer has been provided.
Owner George C. Spahn chatted in the trailer yesterday in an interview about the Manson family and the 11 children of his own that he raised on another ranch closer to the city, before the Los Angeles population explosion pushed him into the countryside.
Spahn, who is 81 and blind, nodded as a friend and employe of 20-years, Ruby Pearl, spoke of hopes they have to sell the ranch and move on again.
“He was a victim of circumstances,” says Mrs. Pearl, who like Spahn wears a range-style cowboy hat and speaks of the ranch’s remaining 25 horses with affection and first-name familiarity.
“The publicity ruined his ranch but when you’ve got everything tied up in a business, you can’t just walk off and leave it.”
Only three or four of the former so-called “family” of Charles Manson remain at the ranch, located, about 40 miles northwest of the downtown courtroom where Manson is on trial in the slayings of Sharon Tate and six others.
Manson and a number of followers camped at the ranch. As the remnants of the family sit around the trailer where they all stay, Spahn sidesteps questions about Manson.
“The first trouble I ever had here was with this Manson deal,” he says. “I try to be a decent kind of guy.” He said that when the Manson family stayed on the ranch “the girls came up and helped out,” but that Manson hadn’t because he “didn’t know anything about horses.”
The few remaining members say the Manson “family” will never get together again.
“The system doesn’t want any of us together,” says a slightly bearded frail youth named Pat. “If we’d get together we’d all be in jail. Everytime we get together we get busted and put in jail. A lot of them are in different countries, different states.”
They shrug when asked where they find their provisions, and one says: “the garbage pails.” They say their job is to look after the horses, paint and mend old wooden stages once used in “B” cowboy movies, and “keep care of George.”
By LYLE W. PRICE