Haircuts, Guns and Knives in the late 60's Message Board: General Zodiac Discussion: Haircuts, Guns and Knives in the late 60's

By Glen Claston ( - on Saturday, August 26, 2000 - 09:09 pm:

Just a few general notes on some of the threads going on. I was in the 60's and 70's, so I'm just trying to demonstrate the differences of awareness between then and now.

Haircuts- The United States was at war and our culture was split into two camps - Establishment and anti-establishment. "Sign says long haired freaky people need not apply." Not just words to a song, but a fact of life. Short military type haircuts were not as popular to the younger generation, but to most men 25 or older, it was necessary as a means of demonstrating patriotism and acceptance of societal dictates. 68 to 70 was the height of this cultural split, and many children were forced to keep their hair short by their parents as an effort to keep them from turning out to be hippies or other "social degenerates". (This methodology backfired of course.) Hair was a big issue, and short hair only meant Z was probably older than 25 and tended to try to fit in with mainstream society. He probably demonstrated no outwardly rebel tendencies.

Guns and knives were not considered by most to be weapons of destruction, rather weapons of defense and useful hunting and survival tools. Hunting existed as one of the mainstream initiations for male children up until about the mid 80's when guns became a really big issue. Avid hunters carried maps and compasses, and yes, even knew about magnetic versus true north. I went hunting with my father 8-10 times a year, and very few "vacations" didn't involve hunting or at the very least target practice somewhere along the way.

Ammunition was readily available at K-marts and every sporting goods store. Even 7-11 sold .22 rounds and shotgun shells during local hunting season. Weapons purchased for hunting or personal protection were quite prevalent in suburban America, and owning more than one weapon was not considered unusual at all. Until the late 60's no signature was required to purchase ammunition. Even after the "ban" Z talks about went into effect, one only had to sign for center-fire cartridges. .22 rounds and shotgun shells were sold without signatures, and all you had to do was prove you were 18. I was buying my own rounds at 15, which gives you some idea how well this law was enforced.

Local laws at the time defined concealed weapons in wierd ways, so rifle racks and pistols on dashboards were pretty prevalent among gun enthusists. Putting a loaded pistol in the glove compartment could violate some local concealed weapons law, while it was perfectly legal to carry one in plain sight. Carrying a weapon did not imply intent to use the weapon as it does today.

This is only meant to give you some idea how our social consciousness has changed in 30 years. 30 years ago, if the police raided my apartment and found marijuana on the coffee table and a gun and Playboy on the top shelf of my closet under a blanket, the papers would simply say that I went to jail for a drug offense. Today the papers would say that according to the police report, "weapons and pornography were also recovered."

Our reality has certainly changed in 30 years.

By Anonymous ( - on Sunday, August 27, 2000 - 10:39 am:

I always wondered about Zodiac's reference to "blue meanies". I wasn't born until 1973, so I have no idea how thoroughly the Beatles had penetrated pop culture back then--I mean, I know they were huge, but was knowledge of their lyrics common enough that this disturbed, middle-aged guy with a naval background would have been familiar with them?
Might Zodiac have had some sort of connection to the San Francisco "counterculture"? Just wondering.

By sandy ( - on Monday, August 28, 2000 - 12:04 am:

I could be off base, but when I read the " blue meanies" I thought of city cops, they wore blue. The sheriffs wore the color of tan. I thought CHP had both. The CHP in cars had tan, the motor cops wore blue.Is that correct? If not I would like to know. It seemed Z liked to kill in areas where there would be sheriffs,except in the Stine case. Even in the Santa Rosa murders the bodys were out of the city limits. The jacket I saw the suspect had on in 68, was like a CHP, green with a dark fur colar.The only thing missing was the patch. Did the city police have those also?

By Douglas Oswell ( - on Monday, August 28, 2000 - 04:08 am:

Someone once informed me that in Berkeley during the 60's the "Blue Meannies" was a slang term for Alameda County Sheriff's Deputies. Supposedly when they were on riot control duty they wore a distinctive light blue jump suit.

The Unabomber-Zodiac Connection

By geometer ( on Wednesday, August 30, 2000 - 10:07 am:

i don't think "blue meanies" was in any of the beatles lyrics. i think the only link to them was from the movie. z has been known to watch a movie now and then.....

By sandy ( - on Sunday, September 03, 2000 - 08:42 am:

My R.H. suspect is and was in Alameda co.Thanks for the information!Geometer, what was the date of release on that movie?

By dave mcnarie ( - on Sunday, September 03, 2000 - 12:23 pm:

Yellow Submarine: 1968, color, 87 min. animated feature.

In the third Beatles-related feature film Yellow Submarine, the rock & roll group is portrayed as animated characters who have to battle the Blue Meanies to save the fictional Pepperland from destruction. The film's colorful, pop-art-inspired animation has dated since its original release, yet the movie effortlessly evokes the psychedelic spirit of the late '60s and features plenty of wonderful music, fine jokes and is generally entertaining. However, be warned: None of the Beatles provided overdubbed voices for this production, and the actors who "play" the Beatles all sound identical to each other. The Beatles themselves do briefly appear at the end of the film, even though they look rather confused. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine

(taken from

By Howard ( - on Friday, September 15, 2000 - 10:44 pm:

Good post Glen- it outlines the era and sheds light on Zodiacs life/times-not a problem to get weapons/ammo as some seem to assume.You stated the hair styles were a reflection of two 'atitudes': this was true! Z was seen with a crew cut at least once. Mixed VPD reports have the gunman with wavy hair and another one indicates a crew cut,this supposedly according to Mageau-was Z reflecting both halves of the whole culture?

By Howard ( - on Sunday, September 24, 2000 - 01:47 am:

Manson/ Davis believed "Pepperland" consisted of the the ones that were of like mind with them-and the anti establishment forces.The "Blue Meannies" were the police and like in the Yellow Submarine movie(Manson named a yellow house the Family was living in the Yellow Submarine) there is a war (Helter Skelter)between the Meannies and the those of Pepperland-Manson is Sgt. Pepper!The Beatles songs and their contents were "inspired' or so believed M and D;these songs gave them "instructions "on how to do their crimes(hints-Run for Your Life Little Girl, Jensen?;One After 909 or 99, Johns on the 99 ;see if any Beatles fans see anything in Day Tripper- LB only day crime of Zs,etc. FYI.Manson had a "special hatred for the SFPD" according to former(late)member Paul Watkins . M (and D) believed that it was the 'SFPD that ended the summer of love trip in the Haight'.Even Toschi wondered 'why Z had it in for the SFPD'. This is where Manson went after his parole in March of 1967 and where for the "first time in his life he was accepted and shown love-he was amazed"!In the Beatle movie YS there is a song called "The March of the Meannies". The Family went to see this movie.I think Z used this term in his 4/20/70 missive and in 3/13/70, both times referring to the PD;once to the PD in general and once to the SFPD.

By Bruce Smith ( - on Monday, September 25, 2000 - 02:50 pm:

The "Blue Meannies" was not necessarily from Yellow Submarine. Here's a quote from the movie Vanishing Point (typed out as song lyrics from a much-later Guns N' Roses tune):

"There goes the challenger being chased
by the blue blue meanies on wheels
The vicious traffic squad cars are after
our lone driver
The last American hero
The-The electric sintar
The Demi-god,
The super driver of the golden west!
Two nasty Nazi cars are close behind
The beautiful lone driver
The police cars are getting closer-closer..."

Cleavon Little - from the film Vanishing Point

Here's a snippet from the description of this movie: "Kowalski overdoses on amphetamines and then drives like a maniac from Denver to San Francisco, pursued by cops the whole way."

Vanishing Point was released in 1971. The Blue Meannies letter was received in March 1971. Whaddya think?

By Hurley (Hurley) ( - on Monday, October 23, 2000 - 03:45 pm:

Has anyone ever heard of Taurus handguns? I came across a website about them. It says they came to the US in 1968 from South America.

Zodiac's cypher contains Taurus astrology symbols. Is this his Taurus?

By Kevinrm (Kevinrm) ( - on Monday, October 23, 2000 - 09:32 pm:

Yes, I've heard of them. They are made in Brazil, and you couldn't pay me to have one. When I was qualifying for concealed weapon permit, one guy in my class was using one and he never could hit the target. Turned out the barrel was not straight.

By Hurley (Hurley) ( - on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 07:44 am:

Good grief! Now I know where the term "straight shooter" comes from.

In case I find myself needing to shoot around a corner, I'll know which gun to use.

By Twagner129 (Twagner129) ( - on Tuesday, November 28, 2000 - 08:34 am:

With regards to the Haircuts, Guns, and Knives of the '60's: Does anyone other than me notice how ALMOST ALL white male pictures from the Sixties look like the Zodiac composite picture, (at least ONE of the composites, as we can see it looks like there are TWO different people depicted on various composites)? Geee, was EVERYONE Thin, Crewcut, and wearing Horned Rimmed glasses??? Well pull out your old 60's yearbook and in 90% of the cases the answer was probably, "Yep",(and darn, weren't we thin back then!) You line up all the suspects and composites of Zodiac and you seem to have THIN ZODIAC and CHUBBY ZODIAC, other than these two obvious contradictory pictures they could all pass for the Zodiac. If you don't believe it, just look at a picture of the male victim of Lake Berryessa, .....hmmmmm I've seen that style somewhere before!

By Realtor (Realtor) ( on Thursday, November 30, 2000 - 10:42 am:

You must be just a baby!! Ever hear of a hippie?

The '60's seem like only yesterday to me. Take it from one who lived it: most males did not have short hair and horn rimmed glasses. Most had LONG hair and wire rimmed glasses. Of course, you had your Greeks (frat boys with short hair wearing sweaters, looking like Paul Anka) but the Beatles brought us long hair and the Maharishi (spelling questionable). Take a look at Woodstock. Find a clip of Haight-Ashbury. We were anti-war and proud of it. Ah, San Francisco and the summer of love!!(That was the VietNam war, not the Revolution, BTW).

I agree with you that the Z composites vary from thin to chubby. But what they all agree on was that Z was not a long-haired free spirit from the Summer of Love. He was not in VietNam in '69 so he had either already done his time, was 4-F for some reason (WE COULD GUESS!!!), or was in college and therefore protected from the draft or was too old to be drafted. He was, let us note, therefore NOT Charlie Manson or any of his side kicks, as I suppose Chuck and the gang looked more like freaks than Greeks....unless they dressed up in "regular" clothes and wore short hair wigs....HUMMMMM..Just wondering about something...Z said that when he did his thing he looked like the composites but day to day, he looked entirely different. Maybe he was a freak by day and a Greek killer by disguise.

Tom, why wasn't ALA in VietNam in '69? Too old?


By Ed N. (Edn) ( - on Thursday, November 30, 2000 - 06:23 pm:

Realtor: Z seems to have had some sort of military background, and so I would think that he already did his time. So yes, he was probably too old (which might fit in with his estimated age of 35-45).

By Twagner129 (Twagner129) ( - on Sunday, December 03, 2000 - 11:15 pm:

Hmmmmmmm....There is an old saying Realtor, "If you remember the sixties, your weren' there". Enough said.

By Realtor (Realtor) ( on Wednesday, December 06, 2000 - 11:39 am:


If he had done his time, he may have been so weirded out by the experience that it had an impact on his becoming a killer. Do you see anything in particular that hints at having just come home from a combat situation? I can't put my finger on anything, except the flashlight on the barrel of the weapon. Maybe the ciphers...

Some of Z's actions hint to me of NOT having actually served in the military. His taunting of authority figures doesn't line up easily with a military person's training to accept authority. And he calls his weapon a "gun"...most military people call it a weapon, not a gun. Also, it seems that the language of the war would have shown up somewhere in his writings..."back in the world," "hootches", "HMFIC," "blown away," "he's gone," "drive on"...I can't think of any Z used right now. Can you?

Just wondering what you think.


By Ed N. (Edn) ( - on Wednesday, December 06, 2000 - 10:32 pm:

Having been in the military myself, I have a distinct dislike for authority, especially those who have complete, total 100% authority over others (especially me). For me, that extends to abuse of that power, and I do not like it in those who do not abuse it either. However, I don't go around taunting people.

For someone like Z, his possible dislike might have extended itself to the police, for some real or imagined wrong. Taunting them would certainly have been a way to get his rocks off, as it were.

I also don't really see him as having just come home from combat or anything, just that he may have had military experience, and it may have been some years earlier. Considering the age range given for Z (from about 25 to 45), he could very easily have enlisted up to 27 years previous to the Z murders (ca. 1941-42). He may not have even gone to war, of which there were only three he could possibly have participated in, given his estimated age range: WWII, Korea and Vietnam (my recent history is not the best, correct me if I'm wrong).

I also, btw, refer to a gun as a gun, not a weapon. That never rubbed off on me, apparently, but then I was Air Force, not Army.

As far as use of military terminology, the things Graysmith (gasp!) mentioned seem to fit: "come out of cover" and his military fashion of numbering pages (1/7, 2/7, etc).

Just my thoughts, anyway, based on my experience.

By Bryan (Bryan) ( on Friday, January 19, 2001 - 01:37 pm:

I would like to say after 20 years 76-96 I totally agree with your last post. from authority to the word "Gun" this is my weopon, this is my gun, this is for fighting, this is for fun.