Charles Manson is paroled from prison in California. Now, if he’s in Nebraska, let’s say, and he gets out of prison and goes to live in Omaha; if he tried to pull this shtick with the daughters of the farmers of Nebraska, they would’ve stuck him on a pitchfork and left him out in the field as a scarecrow.
But [San Francisco’s] Haight-Ashbury is the place where as many as 300 teenage waifs a day are drifting in. And Haight-Ashbury is overflowing with children who don’t know where they’re going, what they’re going to do … but they’ve come in search of some guru to be able to tell them what to do and make their lives better. And that’s who Manson preys on. Any other time, any other place, it could not have worked. But unfortunately for the world he was in the perfect spot to exploit his very terrible gifts.
Photo of Haight and Ashbury,San Francisco, 1969 via Ralph Ackerman