Two From Desert Commune Call Companions Peaceful
Wednesday, December 3rd, 1969
INDEPENDENCE, Calif., Dec. 3 — “The main way we all got together so much was to sing. It was a spontaneous feeling. That’s what made everybody so happy, I guess.”
Lynn Fromm sat cross-legged on a motel bed as she described life at two communal camps in California, one on an abandoned movie ranch near Los Angeles and the other near here, in Death Valley.
The 21-year-old wanderer with close-cropped red hair described her commune companions as “peaceful, beautiful” people.
Police say some of them were murderers, connected with the slaying of actress Sharon Tate and six other persons in the Los Angeles area.
With Miss Fromm was Sandra Good Pugh, bottle-feeding a 2 1/2-month-old baby. They scoffed at reports the communes were dens of drugs, the occult and free love.
“There was no dope at either commune,” Mrs. Pugh said. She added that she had once been admonished for drinking beer.
Sunbathing in the nude was a common practice for both men and women, Mrs. Pugh said, but she contended sex played virtually no role in life in the commune.
Both women said life at the communes was so good “that nobody will print it the way it was.”
And they insisted they were not hippies.
Some arrivals at the communes, they said, used hippie talk, “to gain acceptance,” but were met with “disinterested stares.”
They said 15 to 20 people shared both the movie ranch commune and the nearly inaccessible Death Valley commune.
Most members, they said, were women. some with children. Mrs. Pugh said she saw only about five men at each commune.
Mrs. Pugh with dark blonde hair streaming to her shoulders, said the population of each commune fluctuated as people wandered in and out, some spending weekends at the commune away from urban jobs.
The good life as they described it soured last Oct. 10 when police moved into the Death Valley camp and arrested 26 members of the commune.
All but 10 were later released. The 10 were charged in connection with an alleged auto theft ring.
Police said many of the women arrested were nude or wearing only bikini bottoms.
Mrs. Pugh, was charged with possession of a stolen pistol. Now, she and her baby, Ivan, are on welfare living at the motel with Miss Fromm until her trial later this month.
She said her husband was in Africa, but she declined to say why.
She has no answer to the question: “What next?”
Miss Fromm does: “I love the desert. I don’t want to go back to the city.”
By KEN HOSKINS