I met Charlie Manson
by Duane Ausherman
As a member of the BMW Club of Northern California, I met some unusual people. Dick (Richard) Van Dusen was among them. He invited me to visit his home to meet his family. He did so with this invitation, “We don’t have much, but we will share what we have.”
We visited back and forth many times over the next couple of years. His middle daughter was quite skilled at sewing. I once bought her a hank of fabric and in just over an hour, she was wearing the pants made from it. The younger daughter, Julie, really liked me and was about 9 at the time.
One Sunday I was visiting the family and a school bus drove into the yard. Out came a bunch of hippy types. Two guys and 8-10 young women. One guy, Charlie, was clearly the head of the group. It was obvious that they all worshipped him. He was so weird and the relationships so sick that I made an excuse and left early, after a couple of hours. He had visited the family several times over the years. I didn’t recall names, as I just pushed aside this bunch of crazies. The hippie era was full of way-out groups, so this wasn’t so unusual.
A few months later, Dick reminded me of that group. He told me that they were in the news for having killed Sharon Tate. He was quite appalled and shaken. Charlie had given a diamond ring to Julie, which I suppose she still has today. My full history with this family is long and strange. I have lost contact with them.
I recently watched a special program on TV about Charlie and was taken by his ability to find young women who were “bent, but not broken” and this could well describe the family that I knew.
This photo is a thumbnail and cuts the top of Julie’s head off. Click on the photo to see the full photo.