Following her divorce, S moved to Haight-Ashbury. Working as a nurse at the local Veterans hospital, she was drawn to the burgeoning art/hippie scene that was blossoming there. This was late in 1966, just before the explosion of free love and the mass migration from every corner of America. Teenage kids nationwide tuned, in, turned on and dropped out en masse, filling the Bay area with undereducated, unskilled mostly under twenty year olds whose heads were filled with idyllic communities of gentle, like minded “people with flowers in their hair” as the song goes.
She’d married right out of college, as was typical at the time, and everything about the pairing was wrong. S cut her losses, and rented an apartment on Fredrick Street, across from Kezar Stadium. “On Sundays we’d go up on the roof, and this was before the 49er’s had moved to Candlestick Park. We could watch the teams play from up on the rooftop.”
At twenty-three she was older than most of the people suddenly moving into each and every corner of San Francisco. Her apartment quickly became a crash pad for several new friends. “I was living two lives. I was a professional; a nurse during the day; but I was pretty much a hippie, hanging out with other hippie’s in the evenings and on the weekends.”
A few months after having moved in, Charles ‘Charlie’ Manson, not yet notorious nor famous, moved in half-a block away. He’d set up a table outside the steps leading to his front door. There would be fruit on the table and a sign made from a piece of cardboard with “Free Food,” written on it. When people would come up ad help themselves, Charlie would try to engage that person in a conversation. “He soon had people coming and going from his apartment. This wasn’t unusual at all.Lot’s of people had crash pads.”
“A couple of weeks later, some of the girls I knew from the neighborhood, mentioned Charlie was having people over. We’d go from home to home, partying before going out to the clubs. So we went and burned one at Charlie’s, He said ‘Hello’ to me and that was about all. He focused his attention on the younger girls. I heard some of the babble he was spewing about how he was the truth and the light, and I just said to my friend, ‘Let’s go.’ The other thing you need to remember is that there were lot’s and lot’s of people in the city who were self proclaimed guru’s. Everybody had an answer for anyone with a question.”
“On Sunday’s there would be bands playing for free in the park, and we’d all go down there together. One Sunday, we ran into Charlie at the park and I don’t remember exactly, but I think we burned one with him. After a while I heard him start with his brand of bullshit with some of the younger girls who looked like they’d just rolled into town. Charlie never tried talking to me one on one. I had my shit together. I wasn’t some starry-eyed teen looking for someone to save me.”
“I used to see him from time to time, walking past on the street or hanging out in the park; but at some point, he moved.San Francisco was really transient at the time, so you didn’t really pay attention to people’s coming and goings.”
“It wasn’t until years later, long after the trial, when I was reading the book ‘Helter Skelter,’ I realized it was the same Charlie who’d lived down the street from me. I‘d never known his last name then. He was just another hippie. There was nothing about him to make him stand out. You’d never pay attention to him in a crowd. That’s probably why it never occurred to me that he was the same person during the trial.”