“I’ll blow you for some beer.” Were the first words spoken by this ragtag, little waif standing in the supermarket parking lot on an exceptionally warm November afternoon in 1967.
“Thanks for the offer but I think I’ll pass for now; maybe after we get to know each other a little better. What do you want the beer for?”
“I’m like with … like with a group … er, a family … on a … a camping trip and they sent me to get some beer. You’re old enough, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, I’m 25. How much and what kind?”
“Two cases of Lone Star in long neck bottles. Tex was real specific.”
“Where’s your car? You can’t carry two cases.”
“I hitched here. I was hoping that you’d give me a ride back to our camp. My blow job offer still stands.”
“I’ll get you your beer and give you a ride just to get you off of the streets. If you’d made that offer to a lotta guys in this town you’d be in big trouble. Wonder over to that red Ford over there and I’ll be back in a minute or two with your beer.”
I pushed my cart with the two cases of Lone Star through the parking lot wondering if I was a Good Samaritan or if I was just contributing to the delinquency of a minor. It was hard to see how I could further contribute to the delinquency of this little flower child. Giving blow jobs to strangers in parking lots for a few bottles of beer seemed about as delinquent as you could get. I rounded a truck and saw that she was sitting in the passenger seat busily rifling through my glove box. “Find anything interesting?” I said startling her.
“Oh, I was a … was just looking for a Kleenex to wipe my nose.”
I loaded the beer into the back seat and started the car. “Where to? We’ve not been introduced I’m Bob, Bob Rockwell.” I said as we pulled out of the parking lot.
“I don’t know the names of the streets but follow this road that way, until we come to a stop light then turn right,” she said pointing west on Pine Street. “And I’m Squeaky … nice to meet ya. Could I have one of the beers now? I’m awful thirsty.”
“Squeaky’s an interesting name. Grab one for me too. Where are you guys … er … family from and what are you doing in Deming on this magnificent fall day?”
“Like, we’re from California … the bay area. We spent this last summer, the summer of love at The Haight and now we live on this really cool bus,” she said excitedly waving her arms and spilling her beer. “We’ve been spreading our message of love and peace to up-tight, pig assholes all over the west. Peace and love brother … I’ll fuck you if you don’t want that blow job.”
We rounded the corner at Pine Street and headed north on the Silver City highway. “What brings you to this part of the world?”
“We were in Taos and Taos is really groovy, the drug scene there is not as cool as California but it’s coming along. Well, we were doing this peyote with these Indian dudes when Charlie, he’s our leader and our own personal Jesus, says we should head South. He had this vision that there would be heavy karma down here near the border. So we packed up and here we are. Charlie has these vibes for places like this. Oh, we turn left when we see a big wind thingy with a rusty water tank.”
I chuckled to myself at her misuse of the word karma. We turned left where Squeaky indicated and headed down a wash-board gravel road for a couple of miles when Squeaky shouted, “There, over there,” and pointed to an old abandoned ranch house. We drove down an overgrown driveway and circled a ramshackle house and parked behind an old school bus or what must have originally been a school bus. It was painted black with colorful curtains hanging from most of the windows. We parked; I grabbed the beer while Squeaky ran off to join her family, a motley gang of hippies lounging around a cooking fire. I walked over to the group of eight or nine when Squeaky yelled, “This is Bob and he bought us this beer. Say hello to my new friend, Bob.”
“Hey Bob, peace be with you,” was recited like a rehearsed chant from the group. Then this hippie dude comes up and takes the beer from me. “Grab a beer for yourself and sit down, I’m Tex by the way,” he says over his shoulder as he heads for the open bus door.
I sat down in the dirt with my now luke-warm beer and took stock of this so called family. They were definitely hippies or what we’ve been led to believe hippies look like. They all wore outlandish clothes and had little use for personal hygiene. Both of the guys had long hair and beards while the women wore their hair straight adorned with scarves, flowers and all sorts of colorful things. They were all dressed in mismatched, ill fitting, thrift-store clothes in outrageous colors and patterns as if they were trying too hard to make some sort of anti-fashion statement.
A young woman in a rather plain granny dress was stirring something in an old black kettle. She looked to be a few months pregnant but in her baggy clothing it was hard to tell. Tex came back and passed out beers to the group and knelt on a blanket next to a young attractive but scruffy looking girl. Squeaky was lying next to the only other guy in the circle. He was older, probably in his mid thirties, with a straggly beard and these really intense eyes. Eyes that looked like they were fixed on something no one else could see. Squeaky looked like she was trying to give him that blow job that she had offered me when he jumped to his feet and began what sounded like a sermon you might hear from some mentally unbalanced street preacher.
“Smell this air … taste it. This is the air that God made. That stuff we breathe in California was made by man … man and his greed … and their ‘fuck the air, I’ve got money to make philosophy.’ That’s what society is all about … fucking up our planet to make a buck. We just might come back here when the blacks revolt and start slaughtering the white people. I think the aura of this place is soothing to the soul and I feel close to the earth here.” He said to no one in particular and yet to all. He looked at me as he spoke making me feel somewhat like one of the family.
An attractive young woman clad in her hippy frocks came around the bus carrying two bags of what looked like groceries. She dropped the bags next to the lady at the fire and walked over to me and said, “Hi, I’m Sadie Mae Glutz and you are?”
“Bob Rockwell from just down the road here in Deming.”
“You don’t look like a cowboy or a Mexican. I thought everyone in this town was either one or the other.” She says as she plops down beside me in the dirt.
“Well, there are some of us, whatever we are, here too.”
She giggled and pulled a joint from somewhere in her skirt and pantomimed needing a light. I lit her joint and she took two big hits on it before she handed it to me. I don’t usually use the stuff but I didn’t want to look any squarer than I felt, so I took a hurried little toke and handed it back to her.
She giggled some more before saying, “You’re not a big pot-head I see. I like that in a man. Too much dope and a guy can’t get it up for his lady. See Tex over there, he’s always so stoned that we have to suck him for hours until he falls asleep. He never comes, just falls asleep.”
“Yeah, I’m a beer and booze kind of guy and I’ve never had any trouble getting it up for a pretty lady like you.”
“Groovy, I’ll check that out later, right now I got the munchies. Mother Mary, when’s dinner.” She called to the girl at the fire.
Mary yelled to the group. “Chili’s done; get some bowls out of the bus and come get this delicious chili con peace y love. Grab me a beer while you’re over there … someone.”
No one moved. This was not the dinner bell response I was used to. Sadie and I rose and started for the bus when I noticed a couple of others were headed our way. We joined Mary at the pot and handed her a beer as she scooped a heaping pile of red gunk into each of our bowls. We sat where we were before and tasted our first bites of chili con peace y love. It wasn’t bad, of course I ain’t ever had any bad chili in my life, even that sorry shit they called chili in the Marines wasn’t half bad.
“So mister local guy, what do you do for fun in Deming, Newwww Mexico?”
“The usual stuff, I guess. I work, I read, I drink beer, I go to movies, watch TV, go to Mexico and even have a date once in a while.”
“Sounds exciting. Ever crank up the tunes, smoke some dope, drop some acid, trip out and fuck til the sun comes up?”
“No, I can’t say I ever have. The last part of that sounds pretty interesting though.”
“Have you ever done acid … have you ever tripped the light fantastic?”
“Nope, I’m just a country boy who thinks tequila is a psychedelic drug. Have you ever had a bad trip?”
“Bad trips are a real drag, man. I remember the worst trip I ever had, it was at Mary’s in Berkley and I thought I had bought the big one. Wow, it was like they were filming this horror movie inside my head and I couldn’t do anything but watch, taste the blood, smell the shit, and feel the pain. A big, big drag man, a big drag.”
Mary passed out what looked like sugar cubes and everyone took one except me. I was afraid to take my first LSD trip out here in the boonies with all of these weird strangers … I didn’t know what might happen or how things might end up so I got another beer and sat back down.
Charlie sat up cross-legged and started playing this goofy little flute. He wasn’t very good but everyone listened intently and swayed to the music as if he were a real musician playing something inspirational. Squeaky and this other girl started dancing around the fire in an exaggerated Hora-like dance with a few grinding belly-dance moves tossed in. It was all kind of cool, the snapping fire, the mellow campers, the eerie music and those two little erotic dancers.
“Who’s the girl in the red,” I whisper in Sadie’s ear.
“That’s Katie. She’s been a member of the family, like me, for a long time now. Her soul is beautiful.”
Music, really loud rock music started pouring out of the bus. It was the Doors’ Break On Through. The music was like the on-switch of this previously laid-back group. I take that back, not their on-switch, but their fast forward button. Everyone was on their feet dancing. Each dancer seemed to be dancing only with themselves but as a group they looked like some choreographed, frantic, overly animated theatrical production. Sadie jumped up and joined the group forgetting me altogether.
When the second song Soul Kitchen came on everyone slowed down to some dance-of-the-seven-veils sort of swooping, all with exaggerated arm movements. I noticed that Katie and Mary had stripped down to their scarves and were dancing like harem girls in a very suggestive fashion. The girls were attractive enough if you’re into hairy. The flickering firelight exaggerated their overly hairy heads, hairy legs, hairy bushes, and armpits. Mary was definitely pregnant. As the music changed again a couple of people sat down and cheered the dancers on while Charlie and Squeaky started screwing right next to our make-shift dance floor. Squeaky was on top of Charlie yelling something I couldn’t hear while she gyrated to Light My Fire. So this was what a hippy love-in was all about, loud rock music, LSD, wild dancing, tripped-out hairy, young girls dancing nude around a campfire … all while no one but me seemed to notice a couple openly screwing a few feet away.
After about eight beers and hours of this, the party just broke up as some people wandered around, some climbed into the bus, while others stoked the fire and covered themselves with blankets and rugs. The two guys each had a girl to cuddle with on this cool evening, Charlie with Squeaky and Tex had Katie.
Sadie jumped on me like she was ready to party. She stood, grabbed my hand and led me to the bus. She went to vacant spot on a rug near the rear and piled up some pillows, grabbed a blanket and pulled me down on top of her. She began kissing me and soon we were making love. Making love in a normal, if there is a normal, sort of way and not the wild, orgy-like coupling I had expected from her. If fact this little flower child was actually a caring and wonderfully tender lover.
We both fell asleep in each others arms. Later in the wee hours of the morning I went outside to pee and stood there in the moonlight looking over the campsite and listening to snoring coming from the piles of blankets around the blackened remains of the campfire. What the hell was I doing here? The chili was awful, the beer was warm, the music too loud, I don’t do dope and Sadie has probably given me the clap.
I drove home wondering about this whole hippy movement thing. Sure, I could buy into their make-love-not-war sort of world but what’s up with these older guys having all of these young girls around as personal servants and sex slaves. And, all of those drugs have to be bad, bad news. This drugged-out little family was on a fast train or was it a slow bus to nowhere.
It was a little over two years later when the trial of Charles Manson and his followers became headline news that I realized these were the folks I had spent the night with back in ‘67. Charlie was easy to identify by his piercing eyes and I remembered Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme and Charles “Tex” Watson because they had both introduced themselves to me. Mary “Mother Mary” Brunner was indeed pregnant back at the camp fire and in April 1968 she gave birth to Manson’s son whom they nicknamed Pooh Bear. Katie was Patricia Krenwinkel, the girl that suggestively danced nude around the camp fire with Mary and spent the night rolled up in a blanket with Tex.
I was blown away to learn that my lover that evening with the family, Sadie Mae Glutz, was really Susan Atkins, the brutal, knife wielding mass murderer. My tender lover was convicted for her participation in eight killings, including the notorious, Tate and LaBianca murders and sentenced to death.
It’s important to note that she never gave me the clap.
May you finally find peace, Sadie Mae Glutz.
Author’s note: This story is based upon all of the facts recorded about the Manson family’s bus trip in late 1967. They traveled in the bus I described and reportedly spent a bit of time in Taos, NM. There is no record of them stopping in Deming or is there any real confirmation of who the 8 or 9 people on the bus trip actually were. I found notes that indicate that the characters in my story, Charles Manson, Tex Watson, Mary Brunner, Patricia Krenwinkel, Squeaky Fromme and Susan Atkins were all on the bus trip and they may have spent the night near where my story is set. The author has never taken an LSD trip so Sadie’s description of a bad trip was totally made up as was the author being in Deming in 1967. He was actually in Southern California just a few miles from the murder sites and the Spawn Ranch, the later home of the Manson Family.
©2010 by Bob Rockwell