|| LYNETTE "SQUEAKY" FROMME
From Rolling Stone, October 23, 1975:
My Trip With Squeaky:
Just One of Charlie's Girls
By Paul Krassner
Had Gerald Ford's official jokesmith, Robert Orben, been available, the president might at least have mumbled to California governor Jerry Brown, "A funny thing happened to me on the way to your office." Instead, with suspicious stoicism, he didn't even mention that Little Red Riding Hood had just gone through the motions of trying to assassinate him.
Does the name Squeaky ring a bell?
Although Richard Nixon stated that Charles Manson was obviously guilty while his trial was still in progress, Ford has restrained himself from announcing that Manson family member Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme is similarly guilty.
In the film Woodstock, there is a background glimpse of a newsstand andas if an omen of anticountercultural propaganda to comethe headlines are about the Sharon Tate murders that took place in August 1969. Ed Sanders, a Fug'n pacifist who doesn't eat chicken-lemon soup because a chicken had to be killed for it, nevertheless managed to write a book, The Family, about that incredibly gory case. He implied that the Manson family was a hit group for somebody else.
Christmas 1971 was when I began my own three-week investigation. I'm still not finished.
Manson was on death row at the time and I was unable to meet him. Reporters had to settle for an interview with any prisoner awaiting the gas chamber, and it wasn't very likely that Charlie would be selected for me at random. So we corresponded. In one letter he suggested that I contact Squeaky. I did and we arranged to meet in Los Angeles. This was early '72.
On an impulse and a shuttle flight, I brought with me a supply of original Owsley White LightningLSD I had purchased from Richard Alpert¹ to finance his trip to India where he became Baba Ram Dass, stopped taking acid and opted for choiceless awareness.
Squeaky could have easily passed for, say, a typical redheaded freckle-faced coed American waitress who sneaks a few tokes in the Howard Johnson's lavatory somewhere between the fried clams and employee gossip, except perhaps for the unusually challenging nature of her personality and the scar of an X she had once gouged into her forehead as a visual symbol of her commitment to Manson.
That same reminder likewise covered the third eye of her roommates, Brenda McCann and Sandra Good. A few years previously, Sandy had heard me speak at the Committee in San Francisco. Now she told me that when she first met Charlie and people asked her what he was like, she had compared him to Lenny Bruce and me. It was the weirdest compliment I'd ever received.
We all sat talking for six solid hours. Squeaky told me lots of Charlie stories and I began to understand his peculiar charisma. Using an eclectic combination of theater games, Scientology, psychedelic drugs, sex, music and good old-fashioned conmanship, he had deprogrammed his family from the sadomasochistic values of mainstream civilization.
However, he reprogrammed them with his own philosophy, a kind of cosmic version of the racism deliberately perpetuated by the prison system which had served as his mother and father for so many unjust years. Sandy, who had been a civil rights activist, was now asking me to tell John Lennon that he should get rid of Yoko Ono and stay with "his own kind."
(Recently, she reined her position to me: "If Yoko really loved the Japanese people, she would not want to mix their blood.")
Eventually, after he four of us ingested those little white 300-microgram tablets, we took a walk to the office of Laurence Merrick, who had been associated with schlock biker-exploitation movies as a prerequisite to directing the sensationalist documentary, Manson. Squeaky's basic vulnerability emerged as she kept pacing around and telling Merrick that she was afraid of him.
He didn't know that we were tripping but he must have sensed the vibes. I engaged him in conversationwe discussed the fascistic implications of such films as The French Connectionand he remarked, "You're pretty articulate..."
He seemed surprised and I continued his sentence: "For..."
"For a bum," he concluded, and we laughed. I think he may have had a touch of contact high.
Next we went to the home of some friends of the family, smoked a few joints of soothing grass and listened to records. I was basking in the afterglow of the Moody Blues' "Om" song when Sandy began to speak of the "grey people" she had been observing while sitting on the sidewalk near the Hall of Justice with her sisters, like faithful nuns bearing witness to Charlie's martyrdom.
"I wanted to kill them," she said, "because that was the only way they would be able to experience the total now." She later claimed to be speaking from another dimension.
We returned to their apartment and Sandy asked if I wanted to take a hot bath. Visions of the infamous shower scene in Psycho flashed through my head but I said, "Sure." This was not courage. It was trust. Despite the shrillness of self-righteousness that infects the true believer syndrome, they had charmed me with their honesty, humor and distorted sense of compassion.
Suddenly Squeaky confronted me: "You're afraid of me, aren't you?"
"Not really. Should I be?"
Sandy reassured me. "She's beautiful, Paul. Just look into her eyes. Isn't she beautiful?"
Squeaky and I stared silently at each other for maybe ten minutes. I recalled something Jerry Garcia had once said to me"There are no evil people; there are only victims!"and I began to weep. There were tears in Squeaky's eyes too.
She let me try on Charlie's vest, thick with embroidery.
When we finally crashed that night, Brenda stayed up writing letters to prisoners with the sweet dedication of a polygamous war wife.
I had hoped to get confirmation of the heaviest lead in my research. I'd been tracking down the path of Charles Winans, an individual in Navy intelligence who had posed as a hippie artist, orchestrating the scenario of violence and witchcraft in meetings with Tex Watson, who then fulfilled the prophecy of this agent provocateur with all that shooting and stabbing. Manson had merely instructed his ladies to go and do whatever Tex told them.
But Squeaky, Sandy and Brenda had never heard of Winans.
A year later, the suggestion of a graduate student in the history-of-consciousness department at the University of Santa Cruz became a reality and arrangements were made for outside educators to visit the California Institute for Women, a prison referred to as a campus. I was invited to conduct a workshop in creative journalism. My visit was extended to include the special security unit, where a trio of convicted killersSusan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houtenhad been busy embroidering a tremendously colorful dragon on what looked like a bedsheet.
They had named it Mao. "In case the Chinese take over, we want to be ready."
When I asked about Charles Winans, Susan Atkins replied, "Oh, yeah, Tex took me to sleep with him. And he gave us dope."
Keeping my adrenalin rush anchored inside, I explained who he was and the others teased Susan: "Ha, ha, you fucked a CIA guy."
Susan asked me who was really running the country. I had in my pocket a pyramid-shaped seashell which I'd picked up on the beach and was carrying around with me then. Using that as a model, I outlined the power structure of secret societies, culminating with a coalition at the top of organized crime, military intelligence and corporate greed.
They passed around the seashell, caressing it with their fingertips as if trying to capture the sensuality for future reference.
Squeaky came to see me several times in San Francisco. I gave her the seashell. She alternately enclosed it in her palm and rubbed it against her cheek, saying, "Wow, I can actually feel their energy!"
On one occasion, my then roommate Stewart Brand², was interviewing ecologist Gregory Bateson in his room while I was interviewing Squeaky in mine. They both wish to save the environment but they have slightly different methods.
Of course, ecology begins with your own body, a notion I mentioned to Squeaky on the way to lunch one day, when she lit a cigarette. I went through a whole rap about the advertising program by which women were originally conditioned into smoking. Squeaky smiled, said "Okay," dropped the cigarette on the sidewalk and crushed it out with her shoe.
Another time, though, when I attempted to point out a certain fallacy in her logic, she responded, "Well, what do you expect from me? I'm crazy." And we laughed it off.
Crazy or not, Squeaky was precise in her perception of cause and effect. I could not believe that she was unaware that the gun she aimed at President Ford would not kill him. Squeaky does her homework. She would never be involved in such a project unless she knew intimately the workings of her weapon.
I was told by the family's resident gun freak: "I can't understand why she didn't come to me."
Instead, she supposedly went to Harold Eugene Boro, old enough at 66 to be her sugar granddaddy.
According to U.S. Attorney Dwayne Keyes, Boro said he did not give the .45 semiautomatic pistol to Squeaky but that she grabbed it from him and ran off with it. Yet, according to the FBI, Boro did give the gun to her because she needed it for protection.
C'mon, fellas, let's get our cover stories straight, huh?
The last time I heard from Squeaky was a year ago. She sent me her drawing in red ink of a woman's face with a pair of hands coming out of the mouth. Written in script was the song lyric, "Makes me wanna holler, throw up both my hands..." On the bottom of the page was this note: "Hiwhere's your letter? I've been saving this picture specially for you!"
A couple of weeks before the so-called assassination attempt in Sacramento, I wrote to Squeaky and Sandy, just to find out what they were thinking and doing these days. There was no answer.
After the incident, I spoke with Sandy. She asserted that my conspiracy theories are "all bullshit" and suggested that I try to see things through the eyes of a child.
When my 11-year-old daughter, Holly, first heard the news of Squeaky's act, her immediate reaction was, "I'll bet Rockefeller hired her." And then she added, "Or else Ford did it himself for the publicity."
All right, let's take those one at a time.
The Rocky Hit Theory: A week before the Squeaky caper, two menGary DeSur, 31, an escapee from Montana State Hospital, and Preston Mayo, 24flew in from Burbank, only to be arrested in Santa Barbara for stealing a TV set. While in custody for the burglary, they confessed that they were on their way to kill Ford in Sacramento. Presumably they planned to watch the news of their escapade on the Walter Cronkite show. Police told the Secret Service, who found evidence in their car outlining the plot. Could they have been the backup men who would have turned Squeaky into the first female political patsy, joining the ranks of Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray, Sirhan Sirhan and Arthur Bremer?
The Ford Publicity Theory: The White House maintains literally a hundred public relations personnel to push the image of Gerald Ford. The Fashion Industry Council names him the best dressed statesman of the year³ and he holds up this year's poster child on television. You don't have to manipulate the news media if you can manipulate the events on which the news media report. It is not appropriate to consider the possibility that Squeaky was the scapegoat for a staged event, contrived by power junkies carrying out some perverted version of Emerson's Law of Compensation in the hope that a fake assassination attempt would recapture the 20 million votes which the president estimated he lost as a result of the question that was burning in the minds of all patriotic Americans"Does Susan Ford put out?"
The real battle, after all, is between productivity and permissiveness.
Thus, Sandy Good swore to me that Vincent Bugliosi (prosecutor of the Manson case and coauthor of the mythical Helter Skelter) once snarled at her as she kept vigil outside the courthouse: "We're gonna get you because you sucked Charles Manson's dick!"
He would deny that, but there's reason to doubt his credibility. He had accused Squeaky of threatening him during the trial, although reporters who witnessed a confrontation between them on that same street corner heard him threaten to send her to the gas chamber.
Squeaky just sat there on the sidewalk and laughed, for she knows full well that oral-genital relations are not a capitol offense, except in cases of national security.
Paul Krassner is editor of 'The Realist.' He is woking on a book to be called 'The Parts Left out of the Manson Case.'
¹ A former associate of Timothy Leary.
² Of Whole Earth Catalog fame.
³ With those awful neckties?