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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Three Degrees from Helter Skelter

I'm sure you know the idea of "Six Degrees of Separation." It's the idea that we are all only six "handshakes" away from everybody else. (I wrote something about the background of the idea here.)

Well, we always like to think we're just a few handshakes away from our favorite celebrities, say, or from powerful politicians.

But the theory says we're connected to everybody.

Exhibit A: The man in the foreground needs no introduction. That's the infamous Charles Manson, during his trial.

The man behind him on our right is then-Deputy Digby Rowe. "Dick" was one of my first and best mentors, when I was part of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Explorer Program.

I wrote about him back in October, and another of my former fellow-explorers found my reference and contacted me through Facebook. She sent me the picture of Dick you see here, from the L.A. Times.

Dick was a bailiff on the Manson case. At one point, Dick sustained an injury while restraining Charlie during an attempted attack on the judge. (This is mentioned in the Wikipedia article cited above: "...Manson leaped over the defense table and attempted to attack the judge. Wrestled to the ground by bailiffs, he was removed from the courtroom...") So when I met Deputy Rowe, he was on restricted duty with the Community Crime Prevention Bureau. He later took a medical retirement and (I believe) became a criminal justice teacher.

(Another deputy I worked with was a jailer supervising Manson's cohort Tex Watson. "We're on a first-name basis," he used to mock-brag. "I call him 'Tex,' and he calls me 'Deputy.'")

Anyway, if my honored mentor knows Charlie, and I know the mentor, and you know me, then you're just three degrees from Helter Skelter.

(In fact, I had another "degree" with all of the so-called "Manson Family": in my 30s, I worked on a TV show with a woman named Rose Lundeen, nee Spahn. Her father owned the Spahn Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, where the "Family" lived. Rose said "Family members" used to babysit her kids! Now that's scary...)

For those of you who want to know what I looked like back then, here you go:

Now which picture is more horrifying?