Stumbled across a fascinating website, Eviliz's Manson Family Blog. The most interesting thing about it is the pictures on the right hand side, which are of former Manson family members as they look today. Bear in mind, only a few of the family members were actually convicted of those murders back in 1969. Those are the names we are most familiar with: Charles "Tex" Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Leslie Van Houten.
There were other family members who were not present at the Tate-LaBianca murders, and thus were not prosecuted. Remember those girls who sat on the courthouse steps during Manson's trial and carved X's into their foreheads?
Among their number was Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, who would later gain fame for trying to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975 (she was released on parole in 2009, and now lives in Marcy, New York). Other members of that group included Sandra Good, Mary Brunner, Kitty Lutesinger, Nancy Pitman, and Ella Jo Bailey.
Their updated pictures are all on the right hand side of the website. (Click on them to see larger versions.) The most interesting thing about the pictures is how normal most of them now look. Some still have a vaguely hippie-ish look to them, some don't. But for the most part they're not people you'd give a second look to if you saw them on the street.
One wonders, have they had a hard time living down their pasts? Do they try to hide them, or do they dine out on them? Has their notoriety, at a certain level, made them more attractive as sexual partners to a certain kind of person? Do they try to justify their association with the family, or rather hold themselves up as examples of misspent youths? Are they nostalgic, or regretful?
These other family members certainly aren't all sociopaths: most were probably just very mixed up -- and drugged up -- kids at the time they were under Manson's influence. (Sociopaths generally don't get along well with other sociopaths, and Charlie definitely preferred passive types who would just bend to his will.) But even if they weren't sociopaths, they were part of that cult, and were quite willing at the time to do Charlie's bidding.
The pictures do make you question your automatic assumption about older women: that they are just nice little old ladies. We generally don't wonder about what old poeples' youths were like, and about how wild they might once have been. When we see wrinkles, we tend to assume, "old and harmless," end of story.
I live in Fairfield County, CT. I see a lot of staid, well dressed, well coiffed ladies in my hometown. For the most part they act the part of concerned mothers, involved PTA parents, vivacious hostesses, fundraisers, or whatever role they're supposed to be playing.
But I occasionally wonder which of them were really wild in their youths. I've never suspected any of being former Manson family members. But I'm willing to bet that more than a few have been crazy in ways they wouldn't want their fellow Garden Club members to know about.
A genteel present does not necessarily imply a genteel past.
Or, as Will himself said (in reference to the roles we play at different points in our life), "All the world's a stage."