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A Madman Gets His Fifteen Minutes of Fame, Part I

We Boomers learned at an early age to be cynical. After all, the first coherent memory many of us have was the gunning down of a charismatic, much-loved President. But if there was an innocence to the optimistic birth of the 60's, it was most certainly lost for good when a madman directed his possessed followers to commit the Tate-LaBianco murders.

Indeed, I hesitate to even pen this piece, as I was badly surprised to see that Charles Manson, who should have been executed many years ago save for a dippy California court ruling which automatically abolished every death sentence issued prior to 1972, has a large support base of fans.

I think I'm going to take a shower and try to wash that thought away when I'm finished writing.

Charles Manson was born to a sixteen-year-old unwed mother in the Great Depression year of 1934. His life wasn't easy, to be sure. His mother was imprisoned for robbery in 1939, and he was sent to live with an aunt and uncle. In 1942, his mother was released, and he was sent back to her. Five years later, she put him in a home for boys. He later escaped, and tried to return to her, but she rejected him.

Somehow, in this troubled childhood, the seeds of unspeakable evil were sown and germinated.

Manson survived by petty theft. He spent time in homes for wayward kids. He finally went to prison for the first time in 1952. Believe me, you don't want to know the crime that sent him there.

He spent the next fifteen years in and out of prison until 1967, when he was released from Terminal Island Penitentiary. Allegedly, he asked to stay, because he couldn't cope with the "maniacs on the outside." His request was denied.

A lot of criminals are socially obnoxious. Manson, on the other hand, exuded a charisma that many found irresistible, especially women.

During the 1967 Summer of Love at Haight-Ashbury, Manson presented himself as a guru, and attracted a considerable female following. These, and a few males, would one day be known as the Manson Family. And, the Manson Family would commit one of the most gruesome crimes in history a couple of years later.

Manson realized that his LSD-addled followers would follow him into the bowels of Hell. So he did what any madman would do. He led them there. The journey began with a hippie-decorated bus, which traversed the western United States. He eventually crashed (figuratively) in the LA area, moving around in the bus as necessary.

One day, Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys picked up two hitchhiking girls. They were Manson Family members. Thus began a bizarre partnership of an ultra-clean pop group and a man who many characterize as Satan personified.

Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story.

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