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“’Success’ or contentment . . . in any of your pursuits from the most inane, wild dream to down, ground, around-the-corner realities.”--Inscription from Lyn Fromme in a High School Yearbook.

Lynette “SqueakyFromme was born Oct. 22, 1948 to Gertrude Helen and William Millar Fromme in Santa Monica Hospital. They moved a few years later, to where Lyn spent more than a decade of her childhood, a suburb of L.A. named Westchester. Like a lot of people in the area, Lyn’s father, William, worked in the aerospace industry, helping to build planes. He was described as extraordinarily strict, even during the 50’s. And Lynette’s childhood was filled with memories of her father, if not physically, then mentally, abusing Lyn, her mother, and her two siblings, one brother and sister, both younger than Lyn.

Lyn loved to dance, and until she turned 13, she would go on road trips with her dance trio; their group was known as The Lariats. She was the star of the group; her freckled face and red hair and giant smile could be found on all their promotional posters. The older kids even called her “red.” But, while her mother occasionally sewed dresses for shows, her parents were not very encouraging of Lyn. J. Tillman Hall, Lyn’s dance instructor, had many contacts. Gene Kelly would come to watch the Lariats and come backstage to say “Hi,” to the dancers. Meredith Wilson, author of The Music Man, staged one of their performances. Walt Disney presented them with a trophy. They would take six week long bus trips where the Lariats would visit Universities, Fairs, Military bases, working only for room and board. They preformed at Fort Richardson, in Alaska. Out of gratitude, the soldiers gave the dancers some antlers for a freshly killed moose. She went to the White House, and was supposed to meet then Vice-President Richard Nixon. He never showed up. She did these bus trips until she was thirteen years old.

She went to Orville Wright Jr. High School. The comedian Phil Hartman attended with her. He said she was, “Very sweet—and very shy.”

As Lynette grew up, her father became more abusive. Just how abusive remains unknown, but she once told a friend that, “Everything I know about sex I learned from my father.”

Then she went to Westchester High in 1963 with about three thousand other kids, where she got grades in the A- to B+ range. Then her family moved to Redondo Beach Eventually, she gave up on the Lariats, because her father wouldn’t drive her the six miles back to Westchester, nor let his wife drive at all (even though they had two cars). At Redondo, she started to date someone named Bill Siddons, who later managed The Doors. They broke it off after his mother called her “disturbed.” She had always been more “spiritual” minded.

She eventually got into poetry. Dylan Thomas was her favorite poet. They put her poem at the beginning of the High School’s Annual Poetry Journal. She became a beacon of “sophistication.”

Some days she would miss school. She had become adept at hiding the bruises her father gave her. After these fights, Lynne would once overdose on barbiturates, and at another time slit her wrists.

At the time, Lyn worked at a canvas factory up to twenty hours a week, stretching the canvas and stapling it to the frames. She would get more depressed throughout her senior year, occasionally burning herself with lit cigarettes, not flinching. Another time, she shot staples into her left forearm at precise three-inch intervals.

Jumping from house to house, gathering respect and getting depressed, until she eventually landed at Venice Beach, where she met “The Gardener.” He had known that her father had kicked her out of the house. They talked about the things she hated.

He said, “The way out of a room is not through the door. Just don’t want out, and you’re free.”

He was heading up North, and invited her with. She went, and never left him after that.

The Gardner’s real name was Charles Manson.

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The history of The Family, as Manson’s Troupe came to be known, has been well documented. Most widely known through the murders Sharon Tate, wife of Roman Polanski, and several others. Lyn tried to make one of the witnesses overdose on LSD. It didn’t work, and she was charged with interfering with a witness. She was the red part of Manson’s self-proclaimed spectrum.

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But Lynette Fromme pointed a gun at Gerald Ford on September 5, 1975 in Sacremento, California. It didn’t even have a round in the chamber. It was an old .45 automatic, an antique given to her by Harold “Manny” Boro, a sixty-four year old lover of the twenty-six year old Squeaky.

The president hadn’t been in office a year. Lyn had been trying to see Manson for a long time and continually denied. Her concerns about the environment grew. She said to a clerk at a store, “I hate Ford.”

So, why did she do it? In her own words:

{Manson} said the Earth and its animals can survive without people. People cannot survive without it. Such a simple thing. You may say that everyone knows it, but humans behave now as if they can eat money and drink gasoline and oil. I had that and other pollutions on my mind when Ford flew into Sacremento for a big business and industry breakfast, the following morning.
Ford came out of the Senator Hotel to get into the limo for a three minute drive to a breakfast. About 50 protesters held signs, “Hands off Angola,” “Ford is a Puppet of ITT.” Ford never even saw them, he went out the back way. He gave an address, making jokes about how many trees were cut down to write all the laws passed in the past year. Later in the day, while Ford was shaking hands and walking somewhere, Lynette Fromme, dressed in a red robe with her red hair, raised her gun. A bystander named Jerry Fox grabbed her almost immediately, and Ford went on to his meeting with the Governor.

Witness testimony of the incident varies. Lyn was very calm, “Easy boys, I’m still.” One witness said Lyn had said, “It wasn’t loaded anyway.” That testimony was withheld from the trial.

For the trial of “attempted assassination of a president,” Lyn’s attorney was named John Virga. In a weird move, Lyn had subpoenaed Gerald Ford himself as a defense witness. The Judge, Thomas J. MacBride, rather than force Ford to come to the court, moved the court to Washington. MacBride developed a relationship with Lyn, which he treated her “Like a child who has misbehaved, and she treats him like a father who doesn’t understand her.”

She was convicted and sent to a federal prison in Alderson, West Virginia for life. And on December 23, 1987, she escaped, only to be recaught two days later. During the trial for her escape, she attempted to plead “No Contest,” but the prosecution blocked that, and so she defended herself in the trial. The jury took 10 minutes to convict her.

In an interview with a magazine called “Outer Shell,” she explained her reasons for the escape:

I headed West to take a female bull off Manson's back; a staff member who had set herself up as a roadblock between us. Our communications were diverted and she wouldn't permit him to call me. I've talked to him twice in 17 years. The calls are monitored. I've seen women in prison call, however, many husbands, boyfriends, or lesbian lovers they have in other prisons. One guy (in the last prison Manson was in) got out, had a sex change operation, married his in-prison lover and got conjugal visits. That was while we weren't allowed to talk. I didn't object to these peoples' relations AND AFTER TWENTY YEARS NO ONE SHOULD OBJECT TO MINE. SO when I got word from three different sets of people who all said Manson had cancer, I knew I couldn't get straight info from his staff and had no choice but to go over the fence for it.
Due to her escape attempt, she was moved to a tougher prison in Lexington, Kentucky, and then to Marianna, Florida.

She fell into fascination with the OJ Simpson case. “I found myself getting interested in this and I thought, ‘Is my life that vacant?’ And partly it is.”


Works Cited:

Bravin, Jess. Squeaky. New York: Buzz Books, 1997

Harper, Roy. The Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme Interview. Unknown Date. Outer Shell Magazine. 4/26/01 http://members.aol.com/outershel/squeaky.html

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