Histories of ages past
Unenlightened shadows cast
Down through all eternity
The crying of humanity
'Tis then when the hurdy gurdy man
Come singing songs of love
Then when the hurdy gurdy man
Come singing songs of love...
Hurdy Gurdy Man by Donovan in 1968
It was never too early for a party in old Sadie’s head….
It was just after 9 a.m., August 17, 1969…a day like any other…
No, not for people with a conscience…
But for some of Charlie’s Family…it was…
The Family members were sleeping in longer than usual on this day, as they were exhausted from their clean and sanitary stay in the L.A. County Sheriff’s Office jail, arrested, booked, showered (Thank God!) but never charged with Grand Theft Auto, the reason for the impromptu raid in the first place.
The LASO raid on Spahn Ranch was just a week after the Tate killings but wholly unrelated to them; and because of the mis-dating of the warrant, all of Charlie’s gang were in jail just long enough to have a decent few meals and a shower, all courtesy of the hard-working tax-payers of California…
We should all be so lucky…
But Sadie wasn’t sleepy anymore. She never tossed, turned nor dreamt nightmares in her sleep. Nothing bothered her, ever. She was well rested and rarin’ to go, as usual.
“Ah, for God’s Sake Sadie, shut the Hell up with your singing to that radio, Man. Go back to sleep or get the f--- out; we don’t need you on our ass!” yelled Clem and others in agreement, as they all threw socks and shoes at her to get out.
Poor, happy, go-lucky Sadie.
She happily flicked off the radio and went out into the sunshine, putting both her hands over her eyes to shade her from the extreme light. Chatsworth desert mornings were always so frightfully clear and sunny.
Today, like all other days, held no plans for The Family, but that’s how Sadie liked it. She lived for the unpredictable from Charlie – even the occasional beating when she got on his nerves – as that is what got her “juiced” for each day…what would come next.
Some of the Family were slowly strolling up to the boardwalk now from the back house and from the caves down by the creek, looking for something to eat or to take that first drag from a shared cigarette. Times were tight, Man, and they shared everything, they had to.
As she propped her butt on top of one of the wooden posts, Sadie saw Squeaky walking towards her, in a rush, not in her usual laid-back way.
Something was up…again, was what went through old Sadie’s mind, and her eyes sparkled in anticipation.
“Did you guys hear what Shorty said to that cop when we were all busted? That to call him anytime! That Mother-f—ker is a goddamned Big Mouth, Sadie!” said Squeaky, her temper making her freckled face glow red more than usual.
“No, I didn’t. I was busy handing Ze Zo Zose off to that dyke of a female cop, like she had any right to take him from me. I hope Charlie thinks of a way for me to get him back. I miss him.” Sadie said.
“Yeah, the fuzz just comes here on trumped-up charges, over-turns everything in the place and takes our kids away, the nerve, Man! And I think I know who’s behind it all now, Shorty, it’s Shorty!” hisses Squeaky to Sadie, careful, as always, of what she said and who heard her say it.
“Is Charlie up yet, do you know?” asked Squeaky.
“Haven’t seen him or Stephanie yet. Geez, he’s really into this chick right now, huh Squeak? He’s calling her his “Intellectual Princess”, shit! What the Hell, she’ll get old too, I bet, just like the rest of us. He doesn’t even make her cook or nothin’ like we have to. Geez.” Sadie said, in a huff.
“Hahahaha!” laughed Squeaky.
“Morning everyone! Anyone seen Bruce up yet? I wanna go to the hardware store for some shit Charlie put me in charge of and he’s got all the dough, ya know.” asked Clem, scratching his messy mop of hair and hooking up his over-alls as he joined the growing group on the wooden walk.
“Nope, he’s still sleepin’ in the bunk-house, I think.” said Lulu, as she rubbed her eyes and brushed her long hair in the sunshine.
“Listen, anyone sees Charlie, tell him to come over to the porch, I need to talk to him, okay?” said Squeaky as she stamped off, just as huffy as when she arrived.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah sure.” the rest of the gang said in unison.
And as the morning drew on, the kids came and went, and the sounds of dune buggies roaring up and down the frontage road could be heard along with the occasional song wafting from that transistor radio;
Don't bogart that joint my friend
Pass it over to me
Don't bogart that joint my friend
Pass it over to me
Roll another one
Just like the other one
You've been holding on to it
And I sure will like a hit
Rollllllllllll… another one
Just like the other one
That one's burned to the end
Come on and be a real friend
Don’t Bogart That Joint, Lyrics: Lawrence Wagner
Music: Elliot Ingber
by Fraternity Of Man in the movie “Easy Rider” in 1969
Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I've stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains,
I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways,…
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard,
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall…
by Bob Dylan in 1963
Leslie and Brenda were hard at work feeding everyone and Linda and Katie were hanging out the wash on a hap-hazard clothes line the boys had strung up down near the creek, the cool water rippling softly in the background.
Yep, it was just another sunny day at Spahn’s….
“Where the Hell is everybody, Lulu? I sleep in one day and everyone takes off on me.” Charlie said in a huff, as he leaned over the kitchen table slurping coffee in a less than civilized way.
I think the guys took the buggies for a trial ride to the back of the ranch, Charlie. Squeaky came lookin’ for ya this morning. She looked really miffed.” said Leslie.
“Ah, shit, that broad is always up in my face about one thing or another. Everything’s a goddamned emergency with her.” barked Charlie, as he slowly rose from his chair, determined to smoke some weed with the guys before he had to face Squeaky.
“Don’t tell her I was around. I wanna go find the guys first. I got no patience for that woman right now.” said Charlie.
“Yeah, sure Charlie.” mumbled Leslie, more intent on finishing the mornings dishes than listening to her leader.
Charlie left the saloon and sauntered over to the last dune buggy parked beside the corral, his buggy, and no one dared touch or drive it…that’s if they wanted to remain in one piece.
…went the engine as It started like a charm and the purring sound brought a smile to the stress-laden leader. At least engines behave themselves, he thought to himself. Not like the damn kids around here.
As he released the brake and hit the throttle, the buggy took off like lightening, up the frontage road and onto the Pass Road, spewing sand and stones in its wake, roaring down the highway, headed for the back entrance to Spahn’s, in search of the guys and in avoidance of Squeaky, all in one fell swoop.
“Hey Charlie! Whereyabeen, Man? Everyone’s been lookin’ for ya, me included.” yelled Clem, slowly standing up and stretching from his prior crouching position as he and Bruce tinkered on the kaput engine of one of the buggies.
“Been lookin’ for you, that’s where. Why didn’t ya come wake me, Man. I woulda gone ridin’ with you guys, ya know that. yelled Charlie over his still revving engine.
“Hey, we know you and that new broad are tight right now. We ain’t gonna mess with your new lady. We knew you’d find us sooner or later.” said Bruce, as he crawled out from under the chassis and walked over to Charlie’s buggy, wiping his greasy hands all over his weather-beaten and torn jeans.
“I was talkin’ to Sandy and Squeaky earlier and they got some news about old Shorty, Charlie. He may have been the dude who called in that raid on us yesterday. Squeaky says that she heard him spouting off to the cops when we was gettin’ on that jail bus, somethin’ about ‘Call me anytime’, or somethin’, like he was tight with them guys. You know, Charlie, it figures, Shorty has always been a thorn in our backsides since we got here. He’d love any reason to see us hauled outta here, in my opinion.” Bruce said, in that oh, so distinctive Louisiana drawl.
“Hey, Man, this is news to me but then again, I took off before Red could find me. I thought she was about to shake me down for more money or something, or with another beef from George about back rent. Damn if that old coot hasn’t always got his hand out where we’re concerned, so I just split, Man, and came lookin’ for you guys instead. You guys agree with Red on this or is she just telling tall tales again?” asked Charlie, as he cut off his engine to avoid any more need to yell.
“Dunno Charlie. But what I do know is Shorty has a hard-on for this place. Red’s been saying how if he don’t make it big in some movie western real soon, he’d like to wrangle a partnership deal outta old Spahn, and there goes our chances of getting George to sign over the deed to Red, for us, ya know.” Clem added, as he lowered his head and scratched his messy mop yet again.
“Ah shit, we can’t have nobody snitchin’ on us right now, after everything that has gone down lately. We just can’t afford that. Whadya suppose we do about old Shorty anyhow?” asked Charlie not of anyone in particular.
There was a pregnant pause from all three and after a couple of minutes of rubbing his chin, Charlie said, “Hey, look, what’s one more, right? Whadya guys think?” asked Charlie, his beady eyes glinting, his Grinch smile returning once again.
“Ah, Hell, Charlie…maybe we don’t have no choice, ya know. But we’d better do it fast and get the Hell outta here right after ‘cause it’s one more notch on that leather belt of ours and we can’t keep bein’ so lucky.” offered Bruce in as monotone and serious a voice as he could muster.
“Whadya think, Clem? God, I wish Cupid was here. He probably could convince the SS to do it for us.” asked Charlie, the Grinch grin now replaced by a very thin-lipped frown.
“Charlie, I don’t think we can wait on Bob or anyone else. I think it’s likely that Shorty’s our snitch and we don’t need no more raids on our ass. We’ve just been really lucky that all they got on us is GTA, and them charges didn’t even stick. Hey, when I was hiking through the hills here, investigatin’ the caves and the land beside them tracks, I found a perfect dump site if we was ever in need of one, ya know. We just wait ‘til the rest of the family are asleep and we hit him in the night and nobody, but nobody would know he was gone ‘til it was too late, and even then, with the place I have in mind, nobody would ever find the guy either!” said Clem, as he gave a kind of meek chuckle, scratching his dirty scalp once more.
“Okay, okay, we do this thing right away…tonight even…heck, what’s wrong with tonight?” Charlie offered, his voice raising an octave and squeaking as it does when he gets excited.
“Ahh…nothin’s wrong, tonight would be ideal ‘cause Flynn’s gone into town for the night and I think tomorrow is Shorty’s day off anyhow, so nobody here would miss him and his Spook of an old lady would think he was on another one of his benders. Yeah, yeah, tonight, Man, tonight!” Bruce said, that southern voice of his quickening in spite of his trade-mark drawl.
As the three men huddled around Charlie’s dune buggy, whispering about what they would need to do, where they would need to do it what weapons they would need to get it done, a mini dirt devil whipped up and blew right around them, lessoning anyone’s ability to hear their plans, if anyone was listening.
And as the minutes passed, their conversation drew to a close and the trio eventually got into their buggies and headed back to the front entrance of Spahn’s ranch, sure that by sunset Charlie would have reason to whisper, “And that makes ten.”.
The guys parked all three buggies in front of the boardwalk and as they cut off the engines, the air was instantly filled with the sound of music coming from that same transistor radio, screaming out to whomever was listening…
…Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
…I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard,
…I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it,
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin',
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin',…
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children…
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison,
Where the executioner's face is always well hidden,
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten,
Where black is the color, where none is the number,…
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard,
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall….
……makes you wonder if Dylan ever met The Family, huh?