• ‘Charlie’s Girls’ Stay Faithful in Prison

‘Charlie’s Girls’ Stay Faithful in Prison

ALDERSON, W.Va., Jun. 9 — Sandra Good’s bright blue eyes light up when she recalls the day, nearly 20 years ago, that she met the “family” of Charles Manson, leader of a murderous California cult.

“I was a student at San Francisco State,” recalled the 41-year-old former surfer girl who recently refused to leave prison. “The year was 1967, and I really wasn’t a political person at the time, although I was frustrated and angry about the war in Vietnam.”

She met Manson through an artist friend from San Francisco.

“He was going down to Los Angeles to sell some paintings, and he kept raving about this guy there he had met,” Good said during an interview.

“’You’ve got to meet him,’ he kept telling me, but I didn’t care about that. All I wanted was a free plane ride to Los Angeles so I could go to the beach.”

Instead, she went to the dusty abandoned movie set ranch where Manson and his followers were living.

“I was really impressed,” Good said, “not so much with Manson at first as with the gracious way the people were living there, the way they treated each other. People were cooking and sewing, doing useful things. They were happy, and there were no books. I had been getting everything from books, intent on getting a degree, and I was really taken with the way these people were living.”

Enchanted by the simple communal life style of the “family,” she never returned to San Francisco State. Soon she was one of Manson’s most devoted followers, to the point that she bore him a child and carved a deep X in her forehead to demonstrate her everlasting fidelity.

She also adopted the name “Blue.”

“Blue stands for clean air and water,” said Good, who was clad in blue corduroy pants, a blue sweater and a bandanna of the same color. Seated next to her was “Red,” Lynette (Squeaky) Fromme, another Manson family member serving time at Alderson.

“Blue and I are one,” said Fromme, whose chosen color symbolizes animals and earth tones. “We stand on the same Earth, breathe the same air and must drink the same water.”

The two women consider themselves to be active members of Manson’s family even though they have not seen him since 1971, when he and four other family members were sentenced for the sadistic 1969 slayings of actress Sharon Tate and eight other people.

“We don’t have to talk to Charlie to be in contact with him,” said Fromme, who was sentenced to life in 1975 for the attempted assassination of President Gerald R. Ford.

Fromme will be eligible for parole next year. Good has served nearly 10 years of a 15-year sentence she received in 1976 for conspiring to send death threats through the mails to corporate officials she accused of poisoning the environment.

Now, faced with a mandatory good-time release, she is refusing to leave the Federal Correctional Institution at Alderson because U.S. Parole Commission officials have decreed that she must go to a halfway house in New Jersey and receive treatment in a mental health program. She will not be permitted to associate with Manson family members or visit Manson, who is imprisoned at Vacaville, Calif.

Good said it is the Manson prohibition that bothers her most.

“All I wanted to do when I got out was to get a bicycle, put in a garden and, in an orderly way, visit Manson,” she said after refusing the terms of her release earlier this spring. “It’s my right to go to my home state. It’s my right to be in the same town with the man I’ve waited 16 years to see.”

Henry Grinner, a hearing examiner for the federal parole commission, said California authorities do not want Good returned to the state for fear her presence might be a catalyst for reviving the activities of the Mansion family. He said a hearing would be conducted to determine whether Good should stay in prison to serve the rest of her sentence.

In the last few weeks Good has been interviewed on several California radio stations, via telephone, prompting several Californians to write the prison, requesting that she not be released.

Warden Gwynne Sizer said Good has been a model prisoner at Alderson, a medium-security campus-style prison where the two Manson followers work as gardeners but do not live in the same dormitory. They see each other daily.

“She has never caused any problem here,” the warden said.

Good said she is being barred access to Manson because of the family’s image as being a group of blood-thirsty killers.

“The presumption that I’d break the law or cause waves is false,” she said. “I did not intend to harm anyone. The media has created a monster image of the Manson family.”

As she spoke she fingered a wool scorpion necklace Manson made in prison.

“He picks his socks apart and makes them from the thread,” she explained. “Charlie is very good with his hands.”

Good and Fromme, neither of whom was connected with the family’s 1969 killings, have permission to correspond with Manson. They will not say how frequently they hear from him, but they speak of him in reverent tones.

“Manson is ATWA,” said Good, who refuses to discuss the teenage son she bore by Manson. “Charley is the balance; I know this to be true in the depth of my soul.”

ATWA, she explained, is an acronym for air, trees, water and air.

“It’s the thought of life,” she said, sounding and looking like a fugitive from the 1960s as she sits among the neatly stacked prison manuals. “And its hip meaning is ‘All the way alive,’ like Charlie.”

Fromme said she does not know whether she will apply for parole next year. Good has been eligible since 1980 but has never applied.

“I want to see Charlie,” Good says. “But if I can’t be with him I would rather be in prison; that’s where my family is. By staying inside where my family is, I keep myself outside of thoughts that are dedicated to money, power and approval. I keep myself in the thought of ATWA.”


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