The Day I Met Susan Atkins

This is a guest post by Fayez Abedaziz

“Whatcha doin’?”

Walking out of the food market that sun bright day, in July, 1969, with cigarettes and a bottle of cold soda pop, I started down the parking lot toward the street when a movement caught my eye to a fence by a strip of grass at the side area leading to the back of the store.There, in a sort of a flashy movement was a girl, with one hand against a tree, waving at someone with her other hand.

My first thought was that there was a teen girl, 15, 16 or so, just having fun.Then I saw some people talking and laughing, further down, at the back of the store, right at what was obviously a loading dock, a platform leading to the back door.
Two girls stood there giggling and a store worker, wearing an apron, stood there smiling, kind of a goofy grin, you know, like a young guy would react to the attention from or just having a laugh with a couple of cute young girls.

As they went on talking and laughing, the girl by the tree turned and looked right at me as I walked and wondered what she was doing.
I saw that she was not that young, I guessed maybe 19 or 20, my age.
She was waving her arm as I stopped, and looking at her, I thought what a cute, long shiny haired brunette she was.
She stopped moving her arm around and looked at me with a smile.
I remember thinking, what a straight out in your face smile.
Then she said, “whatcha doin’?
I returned her smile and said, “hi, how ya doin…I was gonna ask you that.”

She was slim with a nice figure and I saw that she was a pretty girl. She wore pants and a shirt, loose fitting and tennis shoes, as we used to call flat sports shoes.
“So, like, what are you doing, you live around here?” she asked.
“No, I’m actually from Colorado…just visiting here for awhile.”

She walked closer to me, then she gestured to the ground.
Then she walked a few feet down to the grass and sat down.
“Hey, sit here, let’s talk.
I walked over and sat. I took a cigarette out of my pack and she said she would like one.
Then, moving her head back and forth from the direction of her two friends at the back of the store to where we sat, she waved her hand and the two girls waved back.

“How about a pop, I’m thirsty.”
I said sure, I’ll go over and get you one, but she just reached out and slipped the bottle out of my hand.
I was a little surprised, but then I thought, well, this is a hip down to earth girl, you know, no airs, no games, share and be cool.
Dig it, it’s the late 60’s, you know?

“So how long are you gonna be here?”
I told her around a week, though I was going back to Colorado in a couple of days.
I was thinking that if she thought I was going to be here that long, we would have a better chance of spending time together, because you never know when you meet a girl.

I asked her, “so what are you doing, I mean your friends there, what are you guys up to?”
She said that they had already shopped in the store but that they knew that worker from before.
She said something about how they try to get food and other things for free when store throw some away.

“Where do you live,” I asked her.
“Not far from here.” She gestured with her hand and said it was, “like a commune.”
Well, I thought, there you have it, she really was a hippie girl, how about that.
We smoked and she said, “what’s your name anyway?” I told her and then asked what her name was.
She laughed and said something about having a cool name, and, lifting her arms up, she said, in a louder voice,

We talked for a while, it was around noon, when I said, well, just where is this commune and I mentioned that I had been in a couple of houses in the Colorado mountains, including in the Boulder area that served as a common living area for a bunch of ‘hip’ people.
She said it was in a ranch not far from here, that it was in some hills and that people came for horse rides. That western movies used to be filmed there. Then she said there was a separate area where they slept and ‘did their own thing,’
Had she been more specific, I would have connected things sooner than I did those years later.
She said, “our group” and how they all get along and do a lot together.

We must have talked for around half an hour when we looked over and saw her two friends laughing and walking this way.
The two girls were holding a box and a big brown bag.
Then Sadie said wait a minute and she got up and walked toward the girls.
I saw them look me over and laughing and Sadie walked back over, sat in front of me and said that she told her friends that she would catch up with them later and said we could spend some time together.
The girls said hi, waved at me and walked away.

I asked about her commune, as to how are you girls going to get back.
She said that they had borrowed a car. It turned out that the two girls were going to go shopping further away for other things and they would meet later on to go back home again.

She asked me if I smoked pot. I said, yeah, and that I also tried hash and that got me stoned and I would never do that again.
She laughed at that, then she mentioned acid.
Well, yeah, I said, I’ve done some trips.
She said that she and her friends tripped at their commune and she talked about some of what she’d seen there. Some of the scenes were funny, as she described them, and that it was weird how some people reacted.

It was sunny and warm as I expected in California, and it felt so peaceful to just walk around and to sit and relax.
I remember how easily we spent that time, as two kids, the same age and free to just wander around with no cares or problems.
One of the images that stays and plays in my mind, is glancing at her every few moments as we walked and talked.
Seeing her sideways, she looked so young, and most of all, she sounded so sincere.
She would talk about serious subjects and would still tell a joke or a little story about some of her personal experiences.
I thought that she wanted to impress me and I felt good about that.

She seemed to know, or played it by ear, the layout of the area. We would stop at a store and get some pop and snacks as we walked and sat here and there.
When we walked, which was quite a bit of, she told me about her time in San Francisco. I was curious and asked her to tell me more.
She said that she was in the Haight – Ashbury area.
Wow, really, I said, we all heard about that place.

Sadie said that there were hassles from the cops just going into apartments looking to bust people for pot.
It was really cool before, but it got bad with a lot of people moving in the area that just wanted to use you, it wasn’t good anymore.
Then she said there was a time where she and some friends were by the park and some ‘straights’, meaning un-hip people called them dirty hippies and so on, and she kicked one of them when he shoved one her friends. She said that she then ran into the park.
I laughed at that, and she said, you like that? I said, well, I can picture you running like hell after you kicked one of the troublemakers
in that park.
When she mentioned that the Beatle George Harrison had visited the Haight and walked around Golden Gate Park, I didn’t believe her.
That’s why I didn’t ask her if she saw him there.
Later, I found out that George had actually been there and a large number of people saw and walked with him there.

The walking and stopping here and there, from a fast food place where we sat and ate on a bench, to a park, was cool with me because, well, me being me, here was a cute girl that wanted to be with me.
When I asked her about her friends and the commune she lived at she said that they were the only people she liked and trusted and how cool they were.
She didn’t mention a Charlie.
I didn’t mention the trauma I went through after I had lived with a group of hippies, for a week, which included one of the girls and I in one of the tents, and how I ended up with a broken heart and I collapsed, alone in the mountains, after the week was over.
That was in the summer of 1968, a year before now, here, with Sadie.
That hippie girl and Sadie would later be the main reasons why I would never be the same again.
That was also why I wrote my just completed book about the 60’s, and me, all true, and telling it the way it really was.
That part about the hippie girl, Julie, has a Part of the five parts in my book. It includes LSD trips I took and my commentary, as in all sections of my book about what was ‘happening’ in American culture.
Since Julie left me, I had been continually looking for girls to make love with love with, and that went on for years. I had the fortune of girls being attracted to me.

Later, it was late afternoon, Sadie led us onto a path that seemed to be like the foothills by a town in Colorado or New Mexico.
We walked along the dirt path, going up a ways, and soon we sat some yards away among some bushes.
Sitting there, I did what I usually do, when I’m with a girl. I put my hand into hers. She looked at me and smiled. I leaned over and kissed her. We made out for some minutes and I was, well, that’s me, excited. Then she stood and I didn’t know what she was doing.
She reached with her hand down and I took it and stood.
She walked us further away and we were surrounded by big rocks, bushes and trees.

Sadie stopped in front of a tree, then she did a little dance, wiggled her hips, and sat in front of that tree, and with an open palm, hit the ground in front of her, looking up at me with that same wide smile.

We were there for around an hour. For a while, before we left, after we made love, we were on our sides talking and I will never forget her face and her eyes as I looked at her. Later, I would think, ‘I know when someone is telling the truth.’ That same truth I would see in an interview with her, years later, the first one she did for a television interviewer.

We walked and went to another grocery store for something to snack on and she asked me for the third or fourth time to come with her. Come on, you’ll like, you’ll see, and son, she would say.
I have to meet some friends , I said.
She said wait a minute and walked back into the store and I saw her take a pen from a cashier and she leaned on the counter and wrote something. She walked back to me and said, here’s a number, just call that and ask for Sadie.
I said, okay. I wasn’t planning on it at the time.

The day’s brightness was ending and we ended up right where we started. Sure enough, her two friends were there, sitting next to a car. We sat with them and we talked and joked around for half an hour or so.
They were friendly and open.

When they got up, ready to go, they hesitated and kept looking at me and Sadie, back and forth.
“He’s not coming with us, he can’t now.”
They said bye and piled into the car.
Sadie sat in the back, and, as the car pulled away, she waved at me with her fingers and she had a sad look on her face. The first one I’d seen on her.

The next day, I was waiting in a restaurant for the friend I was visiting to come over so that he could take me sightseeing in the L.A. area.
As I was having lunch, I decided that I wanted to see Sadie again. Because I wanted us to be together again.
I walked to the phone booth in the restaurant and called the number she gave me.
It was at least eight or ten rings before it was answered. A girl asked who it was. I said I was calling for Sadie. There was noise in the background and she asked me again what did I want. I didn’t think she was taking my call seriously. Then she said, wait a minute.
I waited and it was at least two minutes when I heard another girl’s voice. Who is it, she asked. I said I’m calling to talk to Sadie.
Then she said, “are you like, the law or something.” I got a little angry and almost yelled back, but I said, look, I’m not the law, I’m just a friend of Sadie’s and I wanna talk to her.
I don’t know where she is and I can’t go looking for her now, she said back to me.
Okay, thanks. Bye.

There are those experiences that happen and well, you just say, it is what it is.
I liked her than and I like her now.
She said her name was Sadie.
She is Susan Atkins.
I was a young boy and she was a young girls, and so, that is the whole context of that time we were together, not what was to be in a month or in a year later. She was, to my eyes and mind a pretty girl.
I thought that was a good day, as Sadie and her friends drove away, and that I was a lucky guy. I was lucky, as a passionate young boy.
Thinking of her, as I would think of other girls I had spent time with, was always a really nice time to think of.
And, when I had a mind crash, and fell on the grass, on the University of Colorado campus, in June, 2016, it was Sadie’s image that was up there in the sky, along with beautiful hippie Julie, my acid trips, and anti-war demonstrations and on and on, of my experiences in the late 60’s.
When I was helped up, by a couple, students, that were walking by, the girl of the two first leaned down and wiped the tears around my eyes.