The first two installments of the series.
Read the introduction to John Reed’s “The Family Dolls, Featuring Charlie, Leslie & More” here.

Homecoming Princess

Leslie had one of those big tooth smiles that makes you want to find a van and coax her in and drive her to the end of the earth and stay there with her.

She was attracted to smart bad-boy types, maybe because her father had some bad boy (alcoholic, divorced mom and remarried), maybe because living in the suburbs was like breathing in a plastic bag, maybe because being middle class in 1965 meant having to deal with the Vietnam War, how wrong it was, and how she and every other middle-class kid was culpable. She had an older brother who’d already served time in the brig; he wouldn’t fight.

Leslie’s mom said that when she was little she had a good sense of humor and was “feisty.” Besides her older brother, she had two younger siblings, adopted Korean War orphans. The family went to church, went camping and hiking (they lived right near Eaton Canyon Park), and sometimes drove to the beach. Dad was an auctioneer and mom taught at the church school, even though she preferred just being a mom. Leslie put up with high school—Monrovia High, ten miles from where she was born—a smart kid who did just enough schoolwork to keep a low profile. She was more into doing than studying: Camp Fire girls, Future Teachers, church choir, band (tuba), Job’s Daughters, student government, and homecoming queen, twice.

Leslie: “I liked winning, and I always won.”

She was fourteen when her parents divorced; she survived but missed her dad and got a boyfriend, Bobby Mackey, who’d been expelled from high school. Beatlemania was getting old, and drugs were around, LSD and pot, so she got into that—and school got even lamer. She lost interest in books and needlework; got pregnant and had an abortion, which was not an uplifting experience; and moved in with her father after graduation. She started thinking maybe she should be a nun—a Catholic one. Then she and Bobby got involved in the Self-Realization Fellowship, which taught enlightenment through mediation, yoga, and celibacy. The SRF needed a secretary, so she went to secretary school and learned to take 160 words a minute shorthand and type sixty words a minute.

Bobby: “A beautiful human being, great self-image, socially active. She was aggressive. She knew what she wanted, and she got it.”

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1968, June

03 Andy Warhol is shot in his studio in NYC. He survives. 04 Four hundred graduating students walk out on Commencement Day ceremonies at Columbia University. Over a thousand police officers are present; many are disguised in graduation robes. Seven million students will protest on US campuses in 1968. 05 The titular track from Johnny Cash’s May LP release, Live at Folsom Prison, is pulled from radio play with the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, due to the line “I shot a man in Reno / Just to watch him die.” 08 James Earl Ray, the suspected gunman in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is arrested. 12 Theatrical release of Rosemary’s Baby, directed by Roman Polanski. 14 In relation to draft protests, Dr. Benjamin Spock and four others are convicted on conspiracy charges. 16 Parisian police reclaim the Sorbonne University. In May, a student strike led to a general strike of ten million. 19 On Juneteenth—the celebratory date for the end of slavery in the United States, the Libre Community of artists is founded on 360 acres in Colorado; in Washington, under the direction of Martin Luther King and other organizers, fifty thousand people march on the National Mall. 21 In Booneville, California, Susan “Sadie” Atkins is one of five arrested in a narcotics raid. Ten days later, she’s released, re-arrested, and re-jailed. 24 Authorities dismantle “Resurrection City,” a shantytown constructed as part of the Poor People’s March on Washington. 24 Montreal’s St. Jean Baptiste parade erupts in violence. 29 “Tip-Toe thru’ the Tulips,” by Tiny Tim, peaks at number seventeen on the US charts.

1968, July

01 Publication of the thirty-two-page statement “Toward a Female Liberation Movement,” by Beverly Jones and Judith Brown. The text begins with a “shattered” layout of text snippets. One example: “Turn on the electricity and see her glow. It’s American Woman, 1968. She’s better than a robot: she’s self-programming.” 01 The Boys Town Choir appears as a part of the “National in the Rockies” convention. An album of a Tokyo performance is in the works, and the album Christmas with the Everly Brothers and the Boys Town Choir is scheduled for rerelease. The Boys Town of this period will be plagued by accusations of abuse and pedophilia. Manson describes routine rapes in state care; in 1952 he was charged with having sodomized another boy. 07 The Realist publishes the essay “The Yippies are Going to Chicago,” by Abbie Hoffman. 11 LP release of Waiting for the Sun, by The Doors. 15 For three consecutive nights, club-swinging police march through the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco. Since the Summer of Love, 1967, the neighborhood has festered. 17 A coup d’état topples the government of Iraq, which will lead to Saddam Hussein’s appointment as vice chairman of Iraq’s Revolutionary Council. 17 In Chicago, Operation Breadbasket boycotts A&P stores. 18 LP release of Anthem of the Sun, by the Grateful Dead. 23 Five-day race riot in Cleveland, Ohio. 24 At the Newport Folk Festival, Arlo Guthrie first records “Alice’s Restaurant,” which he performed for the first time at the festival the previous year. 25 The birth-control pill is condemned by the pope. 27 Three-day race riot begins in Gary, Indiana. 28 In response to police brutality, the American Indian Movement (AIM) is born. 30 Virginia Slims market tests the advertising campaign “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.”

Leslie Meets Bobby

Leslie aced secretary school. She registered at an employment agency. The SRF thing had been a fantasy she had with Bobby (and maybe her father), but she and Bobby didn’t last.

Leslie: “When you’re young and very in love, the breakup can be very difficult—so I was trying to make it on my own.”

She moved in with friends in Victorville, California, a nowhere-to-be desert town, where she met Bobby Beausoleil, musician, artist, and knife thrower. He had a small group of women already in train, but Leslie was into him, so the two of them stole one of her friends’ cars and drove off.

Leslie: “He was an angel, and I told him I would love him forever.” Leslie called her mother to say she wouldn’t be in touch for a while—she was going to do what she wanted, when she wanted, where she wanted. She was “dropping out.” Bobby had a house tent on the bus, an old munitions truck. He called himself “Sir Hokus,” (aka “Cupid,” aka “the Frenchman”) and described himself as a minstrel; he wore a confederate war costume and carried a cane and a top hat. They drifted north, stealing food along the way.

The Haight was getting seedy, but San Francisco was Bobby’s scene. He’d been in a few bands—one of them, Love, was a big deal. Bobby said he’d been too young, seventeen, to sign the record contract.

Bobby was also an actor. Bobby had also been in a few movies.  For a couple of years he’d worked with Kenneth Anger on a film.  Bobby did the music and starred as Satan.  But he and Anger had a blowout (they may have been lovers), and Anger had placed a curse on him. In LA, Bobby had done a soft-core porno film, Ramrodder, at an old western set—the Spahn Ranch. That’s where Bobby had met one of his women, Catherine “Gypsy” Share, who’d also had a part in the film. She was a little older, wiser, and more radical than the average hippy. Gypsy wanted a messiah, and there was one man she kept talking about, “The Wizard,” who had his own bevy of women. In late August, Leslie got to meet him.

Leslie: “He just walked up and smiled real nice, you know, and I just smiled back. And he wasn’t any different than all the others. But I could feel much strength in meeting him.”

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1968, August

01 LP release of Wheels of Fire, by Cream. 02 In The Berkeley Barb, Ed Sanders publishes his satirical essay “Predictions for Yippie Activities.” Highlights: ass washing, worship of filth, protestors armed with fish eyes. 03 In his musings on The Beatles, he echoes a popular assessment of the day: “The Beatles are a new family group. They are organized around the way they create. They are communal art. They…form a family unit that is horizontal rather than vertical.” 04 At the Newport Folk Festival, Steppenwolf performs “Born to be Wild.” It’s the dawn of heavy metal. 05 In Los Angeles, Black Panthers Tommy Lewis, Steve Bartholomew, and Arthur Morris are shot dead by police. 07 James Brown records “Say it Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud,” which will become an anthem of Black Power. 08 At the Republican National Convention in Florida, Richard Milhous Nixon wins the party’s presidential nomination. 08 Race riots in Miami, ten miles from the Republican Convention. Three die by police bullets. 09 In Van Nuys, California, Beach Boys associate Gregg Jakobson records several songs with musical prospect Charles Manson. 09 End of a 267-day strike by Detroit newspapers. 12 In New York, Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company Band release the studio/live album Cheap Thrills. 12 The Beach Boys perform live in London. 13 Alexandros Panagoulis, Greek politician and poet, mounts an attempted assassination of right-wing military leader Colonel George Papadopoulos. 15 Radio Free London commences transmission of pirate FM radio. 18 The Peace and Freedom party selects Eldridge Cleaver as its presidential candidate. 19 Publication of Tom Wolf’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which chronicles the adventures of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. 19 LP release of Best of The Beach Boys Vol 3 and The Beach Boys compilation Stack-O-Tracks. 20 Soviet tanks, backed by 200,000 troops, invade Prague. 23 In Chicago, the Yippies nominate Pigasus the Immortal, a pig, for President. The pig and six others are arrested. 24 With the detonation of a hydrogen bomb in the South Pacific, France becomes the fifth thermonuclear power. 25 Five days of demonstrations and riots commence at the Democratic Convention: 10,000 demonstrators versus 11,000 Chicago Police, 6,000 National Guardsmen, seven thousand five hundred army troops, and one thousand FBI and military intelligence agents. After the convention, the Chicago police reported 589 arrests, 119 police injuries, and 100 demonstrator injuries.  Activists estimate 300 demonstrator injuries. The clash is dubbed “Czechago,” alluding to Russia’s lockdown of Prague. 26 The singles “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” are the first releases of Apple Records, founded by the Beatles. 27 Tom Hayden, arrested during demonstrations at the Democratic Convention, is beaten and held in the Cook County Jail.

Illustrated by Sungyoon Choi

John Reed

John Reed is the author of Snowball's Chance, All The World's a Grave, and other works; Free Boat: Collected Lies and Love Poems is recently released from C&R Press (2016).

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