Manson Family Still Makes Garbage Run
Sunday, August 2nd, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 2 – The remnants of the Charles Manson family continue to live amid the bouldered slopes and sylvan caves and waterfalls of the Spahn movie ranch, about 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles.
“We’re still singing, we still make garbage runs, we haven’t changed,” said perky, pretty little Sandra Good, one of a dozen original family members still at the dilapidated ranch.
But bearded Ronald Hughes, a defense lawyer at the trial of Manson and three other girl disciples in the Sharon Tate murders of last August, said the absence of the shaggy-haired leader has affected the life-style of the family.
Outside legal forces — “the straight world” — have intruded. Hughes said the family is active in behalf of the defense, running errands and the like, and hovering sympathetically outside the eight-floor trial courtroom of the Los Angeles Hall of Justice.
On trial with Manson, 35, are Susan Atkins, 21, Patricia Krenwinkel, 22, and Leslie Van Houten, 20. They are accused collectively or individually of the Aug. 9, 1969, slayings of Miss Tate, pregnant blonde movie star, and four visitors at her Benedict Canyon mansion, as well as the killings 24 hours later of wealthy food market owner Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary. The trial resumes Monday.
The life-style of the Manson commune at the Spahn ranch was described in detail last week by Linda Kasabian, 21, and pig-tailed. Her defection from family ranks to accept immunity and testify for the state has drawn glowering glances from the four defendants.
Mrs. Kasabian testified that members of the commune departed the main ranch area at intervals for nearby camping sites, taking with them dune buggies and parts, tools, sleeping bags, tents, cooking utensils and scavenged food.
The buggies were being armed and equipped, Mrs. Kasabian said, for an eventual exodus into the desert in advance of a black-white armageddon which Manson envisioned.
The girls were instructed to make “little witchy things” of beads or wire or twigs to hang on tree branches to blaze the trails they followed. Mrs. Kasabian said Manson referred to his girls as witches—and she accordingly adopted the nickname “Yana the witch.” Other Manson girls were known more prosaically as Squeaky, little Patty, Snake and Sadie Glutz.
There were bisexual communal orgies, Mrs.Kasabian testified, and the girls were directed by Manson to use their bodies to recruit male visitors into the family. When new girls were needed, the witness said, Manson left the ranch in quest of them.
Manson and his friends came to the ranch in the San Francisco Valley in April 1968. “Charlie and his friends came to spend the night and never seemed to leave,” said the owner, blind cowboy George Spahn, 80.
The ranch was used for many years as a background for Western films. There’s a saloon and a Western street and several old structures.
Marijuana was smoked and Mrs. Kasabian said she renewed a long-standing acquaintance with LSD at the ranch.
The garbage runs that blonde Sandy Good referred to were scavenging trips to the rear of Los Angeles supermarkets and restaurants, in search of edible castoffs. Meat was not a favored item, even if obtainable. Brown rice, salad, cooked vegetables, candy and ice cream were.
Cash as needed was obtained by sending the girls out to panhandle. There also were what Mrs. Kasabian called “creepy, crawly missions” — burglaries of private homes “to take things that actually belong to you because everything belongs to everybody.”
Not the least of the loot, according to authorities, were credit cards.
“One night at supper time,” Mrs. Kasabian recalled, Manson told one of the girls to go out with credit cards and buy “all kinds of clothes for all of us and the children, and all kinds of tilings for the dune buggies. He wanted each of us girls to have two sets of clothing — one straight dress to wear at the ranch on weekends when the riders came home.”
Otherwise, Mrs. Kasabian said, Manson wanted his girls to wear dark nondescript clothing, such as denims and T-shirts.
The family was wont to fall into sleeping bags whenever they happened to fancy slumber, no matter where they happened to be.
“Dinner time was really the fun time,” Mrs. Kasabian smiled. There was guitar strumming, and communal singing. Afterwards, the girls cleaned up whatever had served as the kitchen for the evening.
There were four young children in the commune, including Mrs. Kasabian’s first born, Tanya, an 18-month old daughter. They were known as “elves” and tended by some girl other than their mother to “kill” the maternal ego they had absorbed. The children were regarded as “beautiful creatures,” allowed all but utter freedom, their naturalness observed by following them on their explorations into the woods.
Charles Manson exerted himself but little, Mrs. Kasabian said, and enjoyed obedience from his girl disciples.
“We always wanted to do anything and everything for him . . .” she testified. “It seemed the girls worshipped him, just dying to do anything for him. I was always told never to ask why. The girls always told me never to question Charlie, that what he said was right.”
When Charlie asked her to do something, Mrs. Kasabian said “I was afraid to say no” — her explanation for her self-described role as lookout during the Tate slayings.
To the Manson girls, those outside their culture were straight—as “he was a straight looking guy, he wore glasses.”
All property on the ranch was regarded by the family as belonging to everybody, although the girls asked permission before borrowing cars from the ranch hands. The young women cooked for the hands and the Manson men took mechanical care of the ranch vehicles.