He could have been just another grifter.
When Charles Manson rolled into California from Appalachia in 1955 in a stolen Mercury, his big ambition was to be a pimp.
In prison at Terminal Island for trying to cash a forged $43 check, he talked tradecraft with the veteran pimps inside, dabbled in Scientology and read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” waiting to get out and try what he learned on vulnerable women.
Sprung in 1967, he visited a parolee he knew who happened to be living in Berkeley. If the convict had resided in Fresno or Barstow, Manson might have seen his modest criminal ambitions come to be, and the world at large would never have heard his name.
But Manson landed dead center in the country’s countercultural carnival, just a couple months before the Summer of Love. The moment he saw the sidewalk gurus in Haight-Ashbury luring young flocks of believers, he found a new calling, the perfect gig for a conniver desperate for attention.