My friend, Howard Kohn, the host of a Second Look, is the author of three highly acclaimed books: His memoir, The Last Farmer (he was writing this book when last we saw each other), runner-up for a Pulitzer; Who Killed Karen Silkwood?, which led to the Meryl Streep movie; and We Had a Dream, a non-fiction story that examines the afterlife of the civil rights movement in Prince George’s County (MD). Howard was a staff writer at Rolling Stone Magazine, and is still an occasional contributor. His work has also been published in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Esquire, Mother Jones and other periodicals. He served five years as bureau chief of the Center for Investigative Reporting.
Meryl Streep & Cher – Silkwood
The October 23, 1975 issue of Rolling Stone featured an explosive cover: “The Inside Story,” an account by Howard Kohn and David Weir of Patty Hearst’s life as a fugitive with the Symbionese Liberation Army.
Part One follows, describing Hearst’s whereabouts following a May 1974 shootout in Los Angeles. Though most of the people in the group that had kidnapped Hearst died that day, Hearst and two of her captors, Bill and Emily Harris, went into hiding for over a year, crisscrossing the country, as this account details.
Patty Hearst and Emily Harris waited on a grimy Los Angeles street, fighting their emotions as they listened to a radio rebroadcasting the sounds of their friends dying. On a nearby corner Bill Harris dickered over the price of a battered old car.
Only blocks away, rifle cartridges were exploding in the dying flames of a charred bungalow. The ashes were still too hot to retrieve the bodies of the six S.L.A. members who had died hours before on the afternoon of May 17th, 1974.
Bill Harris shifted impatiently as the car’s owner patted a dented fender. “I want five bills for this mother.”
The S.L.A. survivors had only $400. Reluctantly Harris offered $350. The man quickly pocketed the money.
Minutes later Bill picked up Patty and Emily and steered onto a freeway north to San Francisco. They drove all night — the Harrises in the front seat of the noisy car and Patty in back, hidden under a blanket. They were too tense to sleep, each grappling with the aftershock of the fiery deaths.
They exited twice at brightly lit service station clusters that flank Interstate 5, checking out each before picking what looked like the safest attendant. They made no other stops and reached San Francisco in the predawn darkness.
The three fugitives drove to a black ghetto with rows of ramshackle Victorians — and sought out a friend. Bill and Emily’s knocks brought the man sleepy-eyed to the door.
“You’re alive!” Then he panicked. “You can’t stay here. The whole state is gonna be crawling with pigs looking for you.” He gave them five dollars and shut the door. “Don’t come back.”
The Harrises returned to the car and twisted the ignition key. Patty poked her head out from under the blanket. “What’s the matter? Why won’t it start?”
The fugitives had no choice — to continue fiddling with the dead battery might attract attention — so they abandoned the car. Walking the streets, however, was a worse alternative.
“C’mon Tania,” said Emily. “You better bring the blanket.” Bill and Emily both carried duffel bags. Inside were weapons, disguises and tattered books.
A few blocks away, under a faded Victorian, they spotted a crawl space, a gloomy cave for rats and runaway dogs. As Patty and the Harrises huddled in the dirt under the old house, the noise of a late-night party began in the living room above. Patty gripped her homemade machine gun. “The pigs must have found the car!”
“Shhh.” Came a whispered response. “Shut up, [expletive]. Please shut up!”
They survived that night and spent the next two weeks in San Francisco, hiding in flophouses. Bill posed as a wino, Patty and Emily as dirty-faced old women. On June 2nd they boarded a bus, dropped 55 cents into the coinbox and headed across the Bay Bridge toward Berkeley. They were on their way to scout out a rally called to commemorate the death of S.L.A. member Angela Atwood. It was there that they got their first break.
The fugitives had only a few crumpled dollars left. The rally seemed their best chance to find a benefactor. So Emily, wearing a tie-dyed shirt, cutoff jeans and a wig, melted into the crowd at Ho Chi Minh Park in Berkeley, the town that helped launch the Movement in the early Sixties.
Emily recognized several faces from the California prison reform groups that had served as the crucible for her and most of the original S.L.A. members. But one of the speakers, Kathy Soliah, attracted her attention. Soliah, who had become friends with Atwood when both quit waitress jobs because they felt the uniforms were demeaning, told the crowd she now considered herself part of the S.L.A.
Afterward Emily approached her and a few hours later the three fugitives were stashed in a small Berkeley flat, sipping tea and contemplating their next move.
“You can only stay here a few days. But maybe I can find someplace else you can go.”
That hope soon faded. Other former S.L.A. sympathizers wanted no part in the new underground life. A few contributed money– but not enough to buy another car. The fugitives were pale and weak from months of being away from sunshine and eating a diet of carryout hamburgers.
Patty paced about the flat, putting her arms around her, dark eyes staring out the windows, measuring each passer-by as a potential enemy. They felt it was only a matter of time before they would be discovered — in a few days they might be facing a police siege like their friends in Los Angeles. They kept their gun loaded, always within quick reach.
Then after a week at the Berkeley flat, a friend stop by with an announcement: “I think I found someone who might help you. His name is Jack Scott and he wants to write a book about the S.L.A.”
On February 4th, 1974, while Patty Hearst was being kidnapped, Jack Scott was confronting his own private crisis. A few months earlier he had considered himself a Movement radical working successfully within the system. As Oberlin College’s athletic director he had hired the school’s first black coaches, opened its athletic facilities to poor people from the community and shocked the alumni by declaring his unconcern for football scores. He also had authored three controversial sports books and founded the Institute for the Study of Sports and Society (I.S.S.S.). The sports world regarded Scott as a daring and influential pioneer.
When Oberlin’s administration changed hands in early 1974, however, he had been forced out of his job, He had dedicated nearly ten years to his work in sports. Now at age 32, he began to wonder if all that time had been wasted.
Jack and his wife, Micki, moved to an apartment in New York where they continued to run the I.S.S.S. and Jack signed a contract to write his autobiography for William Morrow Publishers.
But Jack remained despondent. He stayed indoors, watched television and slept 12 hours a day. Twice a day he went out to corner newsstands and bought copies of the Times, the Post and the Daily News. Judging by the headlines, the only thing happening was the advent of an off-the-wall political militia calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army.
“S.L.A. Kidnaps Newspaper Heiress”
“S.L.A. Demands $200 Million in Food for Poor”
The S.L.A.’s rhetoric and tactics seemed to parody what the Movement had become. But Jack’s initial scorn turned to curiosity as the headlines piled up.
“Patty Hearst Joins S.L.A.”
“Patty Helps Rob Bank”
The media also was unable to make up its mind. Were they crazies? Or young idealists fed up with working through the system? Did their tactics signal an emerging guerrilla violence in the United States? Was Patty Hearst in fact an S.L.A. soldier now?
Jack’s own doubts about the viability of peaceful reform began to crystalize in the continuing media debate over Patty Hearst and the S.L.A. At dinnertime he flicked the television knob from one network news show to another so he could monitor each bizarre twist in the case. By early May he was a walking encyclopedia on the subject.
He began spending his days in the offices of New York’s book publishers. Jack was persuaded that the S.L.A. symbolized the pent-up frustration of the Movement. He wanted to write a book that placed the S.L.A. in a historical perspective.
But the publishers weren’t interested in Jack’s theories. A Doubleday editor told him he’d have to talk to people who knew how the S.L.A. was formed before he could get a book contract.
Then Jack’s book negotiations and his television watching were interrupted by live camera footage of the six flaming deaths in Los Angeles. He felt the S.L.A. had been executed without a trial.
Flushed by anger, Jack boarded an airplane two weeks later and headed for Berkeley. He had spent six years there studying for his doctorate in educational psychology. He’d been a Goldwater supporter when he first arrived but, like thousands of others, had been radicalized.
Now he sought out old Movement friends who had ties to the underground. They introduced him to a friend of the Harrises. He explained his book idea and asked about the couple. He was told Emily’s disappointments as a teacher in Indiana, Bill’s disgust after a military tour in Vietnam, their migration to California, their attempts to hold classes at prisons, the harsh reaction of prison officials to their suggested changes, their disillusionment that grew into cynicism and violence.
Then the friend cautiously introduced a possibility that had seemed a million-to-one shot.
“How’d you like to meet some people who could tell you even more about Bill and Emily — and about Patty?”
Jack understood the question’s implications. He was intrigued. If a meeting with the three surviving members of the S.L.A. actually could be arranged, he was willing to go along.
At 2:00 the next afternoon he was at the corner of Telegraph and Dwight Way. For nearly an hour he stood uncomfortably in the sun. He was easily recognized — thinning hair, professional beard and wire-rimmed glasses. But no one approached him. Then, as he began to walk away, he was stopped by a short dark man dressed in a white tennis outfit carrying a tennis racket. The man gave Jack an address and told him to come by that evening.
Jack wasn’t sure the man was Bill Harris. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know. Apprehension began welling up. He circled the block several times before finally knocking on the door. A face looked out from behind a curtain. The door opened and Jack walked into a room prepared for a police invasion. Mattresses were piled against the doors and next to the windows. Rifles that had been converted to automatic machine guns were lined up next to a pair of duffel bags. Grenades were stacked in strategic corners. One gun was cradled by a short unsmiling woman.
She was Tania, Patricia Campbell Hearst, the granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst. Emily Harris was the only other one in the room. She came forward and smiled tentatively, “I’m Yolanda.” Then the man in the tennis outfit emerged from another room and gripped Jack’s hand, “I’m Teko.”
The fugitives said nothing further for a few moments, absorbed in watching their impact on the visitor. They noted Jack’s apprehensive glance toward the guns leaning against the walls. He seemed suitably impressed with their military accouterments.
“You said you were interested in the S.L.A.,” Bill said. “That’s why we invited you here. The most important thing at this time, you must understand, is to help us.”
Jack sat down and went through a long nervous explanation of how and why he had agreed to this meeting. He was collecting information for a book. He wanted to present an accurate portrayal of the S.L.A. that probed beneath the screaming headlines. They could help by telling the full story of their involvement.
“Okay,” Bill answered. “We know you want to do a book. But right now we don’t know if we’re gonna be around long enough to read it. Aren’t our lives more important than you’re book?”
Jack nodded. He had over $40,000 that he’d been paid by Oberlin College after he’d threatened to sue for breach of contract. The fugitives were welcome to some of that money.
For Patty and the Harrises this was an incredible offer. “That’s just what we need,” said Emily. “We can take the money and rent some place out in the country and lay back while things cool out.”
But Jack was already having second thoughts. He felt equivocal about the S.L.A.’s previous tactics. And he didn’t want to be involved if they were planning more violence.
“There is one condition.” Jack’s quiet voice was firm. The fugitives turned quickly in his direction, their faces stiff and challenging. Jack ignored the sudden change and plunged ahead.
“I can’t help you unless you get rid of those guns.”
“Who the [expletive] are you!” Patty stepped forward, her mouth tight with contempt.
Jack was red in the face but he did not retreat. “I won’t help you unless you give up your weapons.”
The mood in the house was electric with tension. The fugitives had gambled on Jack by inviting him to their hideout. They were pretending that their act was more together than it was. Realistically, they could not leave Berkeley without the kind of money Jack had.
Bill spoke. His tone was taut and blunt. “Listen, we can’t stay in this house much longer. Like Yolanda says, we need a place in the country where we can get our [expletive] together. I’ll be honest. We need your help. We’ll work with you on the book. But our weapons are our only protection. We all feel the same way. When we joined the S.L.A. we understood we’d have to be armed at all times.”
The discussion continued. The fugitives were weary. But they clung to the S.L.A. tenet of armed struggle. Jack could not make up his mind. Seven years before, during a “Stop the Draft Week” in Oakland, he and his wife, Micki, had converted their van into a make-shift medical center to treat students who had been clubbed and bloodied by the police. That had been their introduction to the Movement and had set a pattern for their style of radicalism: Their house was open to draft resisters, evicted tenants and others needing a sanctuary.
It was past midnight. Maybe the morning would bring a clearer decision. Jack rose to go.
“You can’t leave.” Emily’s command was precise. “You might attract attention.”
Now Jack was scared. In his fantasies the police had the house surrounded and were moving in for another climactic fusillade.
But the fugitives gave him no choice. He was told to sleep sandwiched between Emily and Patty. Positioned at the head of their bed was an arsenal of guns and grenades. Bill turned out the lights and Jack lay back, staring at the ceiling. He couldn’t sleep. Thirty minutes passed. It seemed like decades. Then a loud crash jarred everyone upright. Patty rolled over and grabbed a gun in a single motion that she had practiced many times in the dark. “It’s the pigs,” she whispered.
Someone had knocked over a garbage can in the alley. Nobody said a word as the three fugitives trained their guns on the entrances. Slowly Bill pulled back a curtain and peered out. He turned to the rest and grinned. “It’s only a cat.”
Jack forced himself to laugh. The others joined in, a trace of hysteria showing in their smiles.
Beneath the bravado in the gun-filled room, Jack realized, there was a sense of deepening desperation. His mind was made up. If the S.L.A. survivors surrendered their guns, he’d help them find a haven, spend some time with them, get to know them — and write his book.
He settled into a fitful sleep, his nightmares filled with roaring flames and exploding cartridges. His face still felt hot from the dream flames when Bill shook him awake. The fugitives had gotten up early and had reached their own decision.
“We’ve talked it over. If you’ll help us get out of here, we’ll leave our guns behind.”
Waiting at a pay phone for Jack to call was a new and unnerving experience for Micki. He had sounded very mysterious when he’d called their New York apartment earlier in the day. Without an explanation he’d asked Micki to locate an unoccupied pay phone, call him with the pay phone and then wait for his return call.
Jack and Micki liked to work closely. Through 12 years of living together their careers often had intertwined in both sports and politics. She frequently ran the I.S.S.S. and recently she’d begun writing a master’s thesis in sports sociology and started work on a profile of women in sports that was to be her first book. Friends considered her more radical than Jack.
Micki stood fidgeting in the phone booth. It felt like a sweat box.
The phone rang. Jack’s voice was shaking. “We’re going to have three guests living with us — some people who need total privacy.” Micki didn’t want to ask any questions over the phone but she guessed who the guests were. She hadn’t shared Jack’s initial fascination for the S.L.A. But now she was excited at the chance she’d be meeting people who might be revolutionaries.
Jack and Micki had planned to find a rural retreat away from muggy New York for the summer to complete their books. That plan had been delayed while Jack flew to Berkeley but now he asked her to start looking for a farmhouse.
Micki began clipping out classified ads from the Times and the Village Voice. For five consecutive days she searched the New York and Pennsylvania countryside. She inspected ten houses. None were appropriate. The 11th was a wooden two-story house that stood unpretentiously by a dirt road three hours west of New York and a half-hour northeast of Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Jack had been a high-school athlete 15 years before. The house was owned by a New York City fireman who wanted $2000 for a summer’s rent. Micki wrote a check and phoned Jack.
Jack’s schedule also had been hectic. The fugitives had been outfitted in new clothes to help them blend into Middle America. Their hair had been neatly trimmed and combed. The new disguises passed their first test with encouraging ease when Bill happened to walk past the captain of the Oakland police “Red Squad,” a unit set up to monitor Bay Area radicals. “I almost fell over when I saw him,” Bill told the others back at the hideout. “But he just glanced at me and kept right on walking.”
The next major problem was transportation. Too many wanted posters had been circulated to risk planes or trains. They would have to split up and travel by car. Bill and Emily would get rides from two friends. But Jack would have to chauffer Patty. None of their other friends was willing to drive 3000 miles with the most famous fugitive in the country.
Jack’s curiosity outweighed his fears. He wanted answers to the questions that had been nagging him. Why had Patty converted to the S.L.A.? Had she been tortured? Or brainwashed? Or was she still a hostage? She had been the most hostile to Scott’s demand that the fugitive disarm and she had yet to speak a friendly word to him. But maybe that was a ploy to fool the Harrises. Once free of them, she might want to return to her parents and boyfriend.
Emily and her escort left on Friday night. The fugitives felt there was some chance the FBI had the group under surveillance and was waiting to pick them up separately on the highway. So they set up a signal. The others wouldn’t leave until Emily called from Nevada.
They expected her call by Saturday afternoon but the phone was silent all Saturday. Jack listened to the radio. There was no news of Emily’s apprehension. But that did not calm him. If the feds were laying an ambush, there would be a news blackout.
By Sunday noon Emily still had not phoned. There had been a prearranged deadline. If she didn’t call by five o’clock Sunday afternoon, they’d be sure she’d been caught. At five minutes to five the phone rang.
“Hi,” said Emily cheerily, “we’re in Iowa.”
Emily and her companion had misunderstood the signal. They thought the plan was for her to call at five on Sunday. Bill started to rebuke Emily for breach of orders. But he was too relieved to hear she was safe. “Stay strong. We’ll see you in about a week.”
An hour later Jack and Patty were on the freeway outside Berkeley. They were dressed in sports clothes and carried tennis rackets on the back ledge of their car. Tennis rackets somehow seemed a perfect complement to any well-mannered disguise. They were still only across the bay from the Hillsborough mansion where she grew up. As far as Jack knew this was the first time since her kidnapping that Patty had been away from the S.L.A. He stopped the car and awkwardly began a conversation he’d been rehearsing in his mind.
“Please don’t take this the wrong way. But I want you to know that I’m willing to drive you anywhere you want to go. You don’t have to go to Pennsylvania. I’ll take you anywhere..”
Patty looked incredulous. She shifted into a corner of the car farthest from Jack.
He wasn’t sure how to interpret her fear. “You can go anywhere you want,” he repeated.
“I want to go where my friends are going.”
Patty eyed Jack suspiciously. She was ready to bolt if he turned the car toward Hillsborough. Jack’s embarrassment rushed across his face. He rammed the gear shift into first and silently resumed their journey east. Patty stayed in her corner of the car and held herself rigidly, as if waiting for Jack to apologize. He offered small talk, unwilling to concede her opinion that he had blundered inexcusably.
The tension building between them kept them both awake. They were in Reno before Jack suggested stopping for sleep. Patty nodded assent. She stayed in the car while Jack registered for a motel room.
The room was furnished with only one bed. Patty gave a wary glance to it and then to Jack.
“I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about me,” he tried to reassure her. “I got a room with one bed because we’re registered as a married couple. But I don’t want you to think you have to have sex with me. In fact, I don’t think we should have sex. I don’t want you to feel later that you were coerced in any way. All I’d like is to have a warm body next to me.” The hardness around Patty’s mouth softened and she smiled for the first time since he’d met her. “Don’t worry about it. I’m not into sex with anybody right now. I loved Cujo too much…” Cujo — Willie Wolfe — had been killed in Los Angeles. They went to bed exhausted and fell into an uneasy sleep.
The next day Patty ate her meals in the car. Even standing in line at a McDonalds was a risk. Millions had seen her picture on the evening news and the cover of Newsweek or heard her soft, distinctive voice on radio broadcasts of the S.L.A. communiqués.
For most of the previous four months she had been cooped up inside. Her excursions outside twice had ended in gunfire. Now she was driving across country through an FBI dragnet that already had employed more agents than any other civilian case.
The strain of the past months was showing. To Patty the passing world was populated by an army of undercover agents. Once, as Jack showed up to ease past a construction site, she ducked and whispered in a half shriek: “did you see that guy? I know he’s a pig.”
“C’mon, he’s a highway flagman. Don’t be so uptight.”
When Jack pulled in for gas she frequently demanded he speed away as an attendant approached. “I don’t like the way he looks,” she’d explain. “He looks like a pig.”
Patty’s repeated reviling of “pigs” soon lead to a discussion about the political criterion for such a classification. Patty took the position that a pig was anyone who did not give wholehearted support to the S.L.A. Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden, for instance, were pigs because they’d criticized the S.L.A. tactics. Patty sounded like what she was — a new convert to radical thinking,
Jack pointed out Fonda and Hayden’s untiring work to end the Vietnam war. “It’s one thing to disagree with them but it’s another thing to call them pigs. We have to recognize who our friends are and who our enemies are.”
Patty sneered and changed the subject. What sort of an author was Jack Scott? She had never read any of his books.
He had written about sports, he explained. He believed that athletes had a right not to be treated like cows at an auction. His books challenged those attitudes.
“I don’t see how sports is relevant to anything at all,” Patty said. “Certainly not to the revolution.”
Jack did not reply.
For the rest of the trip they reached an uneasy accord. Their conversations were confined to those logistics necessary to reach the Scott apartment in New York.
Emily had arrived there four days earlier, She and her escort had had a bad scare just as they crossed the city limits. A fleet of police cars, sirens blaring, had raced up from behind and pulled over the car ahead of them.
But once at the apartment Emily was warm and relaxed. Micki happily greeted her. The two women shared a sense of humor, an emerging feeling of feminism and the anxiety of waiting for the others.
The next day was spent in search of a medical clinic that didn’t require ID cards and Social Security numbers. For a couple of weeks Emily has been convinced she was pregnant. She had to find out for sure because a baby could dramatically affect her underground lifestyle.
Emily was prepared for a positive test. Throughout history other revolutionary women had delivered babies while waging guerrilla war. But when the results proved negative Emily was relieved. The fugitives still faced so many other hassles.
Jack and Patty had made it to New York without mishap. But Bill had called with disheartening news. His ride had fallen through. The driver’s girlfriend had found out and pressured the driver to call it off. Bill was stranded in Berkeley.
A meeting was convened in the Scott living room to deal with the crisis. “Since Teko isn’t here I’m in command,” Emily began. “I’ll decide what to do.”
Emily’s tone had changed. She was speaking in the same strident terms as Patty.
Jack stopped her with an impatient wave. “Wait a minute. What’s this [expletive] about you being in command?”
Patty stood up and confronted jack as if addressing a backward schoolboy. “In our unit Teko is first in command, Yolanda is second and I’m third. You were under my command on the trip out here and you’re under Yolanda’s command now.”
His face reddening, Scott exploded. “What the [expletive] are you talking about? I’m not part of the S.L.A.! I’m not taking orders from anyone. I’m the one who got you here. If you’re going to think of me as a soldier, I’ll take you back to Berkeley and leave you where I found you. If any decisions are to be made around here, we’re going to make them collectively — or not at all.”
Emily waited until Jack finished, then nodded quietly. “Okay. I guess you didn’t understand how the S.L.A. functions. Teko should have made it clear to you. I think it’d be a great idea if we called Teko and talked directly to him.”
Jack and Emily marched to a nearby pay phone and dialed Berkeley. Bill was diplomatic. He assumed blame for not briefing Jack about the S.L.A.’s hierarchical structure. All of that could be discussed more rationally when he reached the East Coast.
“The crucial thing is that I get out of here.” Bill paused. Jack’s anger had cooled. “It would be a great help if you could come back and ride with me.” Jack’s nerves were still on edge from four days of sitting next to Patty. But if Bill were caught, they’d all be in trouble.
“I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Jack flew to Berkeley and borrowed a car.
Bill and Jack opted for a southern route below the Rockies and across the Great Plains. They posed as a gay couple. On the back ledge were the same tennis rackets that Jack and Patty had carried a week before — he had brought them west again in his suitcase.
Jack found himself enjoying the second trip much more then the first. The two men had common interests, had played sports and could talk without rhetorical interference. Bill was not as preoccupied by the chance he’d be recognized. They ate together in restaurants and at one point changed a flat tire for an old couple stopped by the side of the highway.
Their only tense moment came in Indiana near Bill’s hometown. They were standing in line at the cash register of a roadside cafe when a phalanx of state highway patrolmen got up from a nearby table and appeared to converge on them.
Bill hurriedly walked out, leaving behind his coffee-to-go and an extremely nervous companion. Jack quickly paid the bill and raced after Bill. But the unblinking state cops took no notice of the pair.
The Pennsylvania farmhouse which Micki had rented stood on a bluff overlooking miles of rolling farmland. But the 87-acre spread had seldom seen a plow. The previous owner had spent 30 years trying a smallmouth bass in three small ponds that lay 100 yards behind the house in thick stands of alfalfa and timothy grass. An aging windmill had been used to circulate air through the ponds was the only surviving testament to the experiment. The bass all had been fished out; the fugitives found only bullheads and a few undersized pickerel.
But that served to make the farm more isolated. Fishermen never bothered with the weedy ponds. The few motorists who bumped past the house were introspective farmers who lived down the road out sight and earshot.
The house was also ideal. From the outside it loomed tall and weathered. Dirty white paint peeled onto waist-high weeds that nearly hid an old and temperamental water tank. On the second floor was a balcony with a wrought-iron railing. Below was a screened in porch with hanging lamp where evenings could be spent listening to the litany of frogs and crickets. Inside were four bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, dining room, dining room and attic — an expansive layout for three people who’d been sleeping on floors in cramped apartments.
Mornings brought rich sunrises flooding over the Pocono Mountains, driving the black flies and mosquitoes into the shade of a clump of trees that bordered the rear of the farm. By midmorning the fugitives were out lying in the sun like three white-bellied bass tossed on the banks of the ponds. Patty spent long hours on a grassy hummock. The Harrises adapted to the sun more slowly. Within days, however, all three were a crimson brown. The Pennsylvania summer seemed to relax and rejuvenate the fugitives. They read Marx and Debray during the morning cool, then went sunning and swimming, chasing each other into the water. They picked wild blackberries from bushes growing across the road and dropped hook and line in search of the scavenger fish they grew to like cooked with butter and onions.
Bill carefully instructed Patty how to avoid a bullhead’s spiny fins or a pickerel’s fearsome teeth when tearing them off a hook. But Patty gleefully ignored the advice and grabbed them barehanded, shrugging off the resulting cuts and bites. When on bullhead fell off her hook, she lurched headlong into the pond after it.
Patty’s feistiness amazed the others. She was the first to try skinny-dipping in the muddy ponds. The others had joined in until Bill emerged from the water one day clutching his penis. “Something bit me,” he yelped. “And Christ does it hurt.” One of the watersnakes in the pond had nipped him.
“I think you’re going to live,” smiled Emily. “But your [expletive] days may be numbered.”
“I’d like to see you go in there now,” came back his taunt.
Suddenly their bantering was interrupted: Patty laughed, slipped off her clothes and jumped into the pond. During childhood summers at her family’s estates Patty had learned to like snakes. Now whenever she’d find one curled up behind the farmhouse she’d pick it up to show the others. But no one else would touch them.
In their political study sessions Emily and Micki were Patty’s mentors. “Tania is a sister,” Emily told Micki. “But she’s still learning.” The two older women became close. Sometimes they’d have long conversations about feminism while sitting on the kitchen floor drinking coffee. Micki confided that she’d felt a little jealous when Jack was traveling across the country with a woman she had not then met. Emily replied that she and Bill tried not to be so possessive of each other. They were working it out intellectually, she said, but deep down some jealousies were not yet erased. Emily’s candor was a welcome surprise. The two women hugged and laughed.
By the end of June the Scotts were at ease with Patty, Bill and Emily. The only squabble was the amount of time the Scotts were spending at the farm. Jack and Micki had decided to resume working a few days each week at I.S.S.S. so they could see their New York friends without inviting them to the farm. Because it was a six-hour round trip, they quickly tired of a daily commute and the fugitives sometimes were left by themselves for days at a time.
But while in New York the Scotts sought out Wendy Yoshimura, another fugitive whose friends had helped Jack find the S.L.A. survivors in Berkeley. Wendy had gone underground in 1972 after being accused in the bombing of a Navy ROTC building in Berkeley. She had been born in a U.S. concentration camp — like many Japanese families, hers had been interned for much of World War II — had attended the California College of Arts and Crafts and had worked as a waitress.
Through mutual friends the Scotts arranged a meeting. Wendy explained that she was working as a waitress again and was hoping to save $500 by the end of the summer so she could return to the West Coast. Jack asked her to move into the farmhouse and offered to pay her the $500. She agreed and soon became a senior adviser and companion to the S.L.A. fugitives.
The Scotts tried to provide everything the fugitives wanted. Micki had stocked the house with food, books and other supplies. When more was needed she sometimes accompanied Emily on shopping trips to Scranton. The fugitives also had new disguises. Patty’s hair had been cut to affect a boyish look. Both Bill and Emily had lightened their dark hair with red tints. But the fugitives still worried about unexpected visitors. So Jack tried to recruit another person whom Patty and the Harrises could contact in emergencies. In early July he brought out Jay Weiner, a sportswriter friend and summer intern from the Long Island newspaper Newsday. Jack had only hinted about his farmhouse guests and Weiner was not prepared to meet members of the FBI’s Most Wanted List. Weiner smiled when he was introduced to “Judy,” “Susan,” “Alan” and “Joan” and pretended not to know who they were. After supper Jack took Weiner for a walk toward the ponds and began to explain the situation. “I don’t want to know what’s going on,” Weiner replied. “I don’t want to get involved.”
Weiner agreed to keep his visit a secret but the episode left everyone disappointed.
A few days later a local fix-it man, hired by the landlord, stopped in to mow the weeds and grass around the house. Micki was there to greet him while the others — who were not listed as tenants — scampered out of view. Micki chatted amiably and helped the man yank out weeds, taking the opportunity to rescue an indigenous three foot marijuana stalk that the fugitives had found and were planning to harvest.
The cannabis supplied them with an adequate number of joints since they seldom toked or drank, a security precaution based on the S.L.A.’s longstanding distrust of drugs. In conversations with the Scotts the fugitives explained that heavy drug users, in the judgment of the S.L.A., usually became paranoid egotists.
Jack and Micki had avoided discussing the issue of how far they would go to protect the S.L.A. survivors. But one evening while Jack was driving to the farm a radio news flash suddenly confronted him with the dilemma. “We have a report that the S.L.A. has been located. Police have surrounded their hideout and Patty Hearst’s parents are being flown to the scene to plead with their daughter for her surrender. Keep tuned for further details.”
The fugitives were alone at the house. Jack swallowed hard. His hands jitterbugged on the wheel. Should he somehow try to divert the police? Try to negotiate a peaceful surrender? Or should he turn around and flee back to New York?
His foot stayed jammed against the accelerator. He had to see for himself what was happening. From a mile away the farm seemed dark. He couldn’t see any police floodlights or red flashers. As he turned onto the dirt road the radio announced a follow-up report. “From Los Angeles, word has been received that the S.L.A. sighting was a mistake. Police say that a secretary who lived alone was mistakenly identified as Patty Hearst. This has been another false lead in the hunt for the missing heiress.” Jack’s heart stopped hammering. But his face was still ashen as he entered the farmhouse. “Good God,” Bill greeted him quizzically. “You look like you just got out of prison.”
Jack slumped to a chair and told his story of the two radio announcements. Everybody smiled and patted Jack on the back.
The camaraderie carried over to the following days. Jack was asked to teach a basic set of exercises. He fashioned weights from concrete blocks for muscle building and led the fugitives through wind sprints to restore their strength and stamina.
Races were held between a rickety barn and a finish line marked by a child’s rusting yellow swing set. Patty was surprisingly swift. Jack, once an outstanding sprinter himself, was hard pressed to outrun her. He had begun to like Patty. She enjoyed joking around and displayed an exuberance that had been impossible to imagine two weeks before. Her snappishness had dissipated.
She still chided Jack about the political irrelevancy of sports and his work at the I.S.S.S. But she exercised daily under his rigorous tutelage. During one hard run she stepped in a gopher hole and crashed forward on a twisted ankle. She limped back to the house hanging onto Jack’s shoulder. There he massaged and taped the ligaments. A similar injury had ended Jack’s athletic career and ruined his shot at the Olympics when he was Patty’s age.
Patty spent the afternoon resting on the porch. Jack stayed with her and they began to talk about Patty’s conversion to the S.L.A.
Patty Hearst and Steven Weed were home in their Berkeley apartment watching The Magician on TV at nine o’clock on the foggy night of February 4th, 1974. The young couple lived together in something that used to be called sin and smoked and occasional joint. But in Berkeley they were considered straight.
Outside, a stolen 1964 Chevrolet Impala convertible pulled up in front and dimmed its lights. Donald DeFreeze, Willie Wolfe and Nancy Ling Perry emerged and moved silently to apartment number four. Perry rang the doorbell while DeFreeze and Wolfe waited in the shadows. Perry hunched over held a hand to her face. “I just had a car accident out front. Could you..?”
Weed cracked open the door and DeFreeze and Wolfe burst in, brandishing guns, knocking him to the floor and kicking him in the face with heavy boots. They grabbed Patty and carried her kicking and screaming to the waiting car. There they shoved her into the trunk with a brusque order: “Get in and keep quiet.”
Patty was scared and half-naked but she stared hard-eyed at her kidnappers. “Don’t give me any [expletive].”
Even in those first terrible moments Patricia Campbell Hearst managed to summon up the daring arrogance that had been her style through 19 years of life as an heiress to the Hearst fortune.
Her parents had provided every indulgence, tolerated her dope smoking, her sneaking out to rock concerts at San Francisco’s Fillmore auditorium and her faded blue jeans. When she couldn’t accept the Catholic school discipline that required her to scrub toilets for breaking petty rules, her parents transferred her to a more flexible nonsectarian school.
It was there she met Weed, a math teacher and the school’s most eligible bachelor. Two years later, when she was 18, she moved in with him. Her parents initially disapproved and Patty briefly worked at paying her own bills, holding a $2.25 per hour job in a department store for four months. But when she gave that up to return to school, her father paid for her books, tuition and the out-of-wedlock apartment as well. Over the next year her father supplied enough money to buy expensive prints from her grandfather’s collection, Persian rugs, a tenth-century Persian manuscript and dozens of plants.
Patty was not used to discomfort. Her life had been insulated from real-life drama and pain. She assumed her father would quickly ransom her. She was kept blindfolded in a stuffy, closet-sized room with a bare light bulb and a portable cot. There were no windows and it was hot. She lost track of time and didn’t feel like eating. She was told her parents loved money more than her.
She was not raped or starved or otherwise brutalized. But Donald DeFreeze, the S.L.A. leader known as Cinque, kept up a constant intimidation. He berated her and her family for being part of a ruling class that was sucking blood from the common people.
“Your mommy and daddy are insects,” he yelled. “They should be made to crawl on their hands and knees like insects if they want you back.”
Patty tried to defend her parents. They had not hurt anyone. They were good people. Cinque was wrong. He had never met them.
But Patty feared Cinque. He told her she’d be killed if her parents did not meet the S.L.A.’s demands, and she believed him.
So Patty grew impatient as the ransom negotiations bogged down. “I felt my parents were debating how much I was worth,” she later told Jack. “Like they figured I was worth $2 million but I wasn’t worth $10 million. It was a terrible feeling that my parents could think of me in terms of dollars and cents. I felt sick all over.”
It angered her when her father visited San Quentin and reported that the living conditions there were fine.
The S.L.A. had informed him that her living quarters were identical to those in San Quentin. Her father seemed to be saying that tiny cells, stale air and gloomy walls were an acceptable environment for his daughter. And she became alarmed when heavily armed FBI agents raided a house where they thought she was being held. She felt her parents were recklessly allowing the FBI to risk her life.
After a while it seemed that her parents had given her up for dead. “It’s really depressing to hear people talk about me like I was dead,” she said in her taped statement. “I can’t explain what it’s like.” Her mother had taken to wearing black and speaking of Patty in the past tense. Worse, her mother had ignored an S.L.A. demand by accepting another appointment from then governor Ronald Reagan as a regent of the University of California.
“I felt like I could kill her when she did that,” Patty said. “My own mother didn’t care whether the S.L.A. shot me or not.”
By degrees her disillusionment with her parents turned into sympathy for the S.L.A. Cinque was the first to perceive the change. He rewarded her by allowing her to roam about the San Francisco apartment that served as the S.L.A. headquarters. For a month she had been kept in a small “isolation chamber” approximating a San Quentin “hole.” She’d become weak and could barely stand up. To be able to walk freely from one room to another seemed the world’s greatest pleasure.
Cinque tempered his frequent beratings of her. Patty was urged to attend the S.L.A.’s daily political study sessions. She was invited to listen to the S.L.A. national anthem, an eerie jazz composition of wind and string that Cinque had selected. And she was furnished with statistical evidence and quotations from George Jackson and Ruchell Magee that promoted her political development. Less than ten percent of the U.S. population controls 90% of its wealth. Some people eat catered meals while others starve. Some can afford fancy lawyers while others rot in jail. Some live off their inheritances while others squalor in despair.
Patty was shown a long list of the Hearst family holdings — nine newspapers, 13 magazines, four TV and radio stations, a silver mine, a paper mill and prime real estate. Her parents clearly were part of the ruling elite. That’s why they had quibbled over the ransom money. That’s why they had handed out turkey giblets instead of steaks during the food giveaway that the S.L.A. had demanded. Money meant everything to the economic class of her parents. And the only power that could fight that money was the power that came out of the barrel of a gun. It was a political philosophy that had bored her when Weed and his doctoral student friends had discussed it in their Berkeley apartment. But Cinque’s rough eloquence was more persuasive than the abstract talk of graduate students. The S.L.A.’s motives made sense. They wanted to redistribute the Hearst wealth to more needy people. It was her parents — and the economic class they represented — who were to blame for her misery and the misery of countless others.
The S.L.A. members encouraged her radicalization. They hugged her, called her sister and ended her loneliness. Patty’s conversion was as much emotional as political.
Seven weeks after she was kidnapped, Patty asked to join the S.L.A. Despite their new respect for her, most of the S.L.A. soldiers were opposed. Patty would deprive them of mobility because her face was so easily recognized. She could not be counted on in emergencies. She did not have the guerrilla training the others had.
But Cinque wanted her to become a comrade in arms. Cinque was the undisputed leader of the S.L.A. His experiences were of broken families, hungry children, prison bars. He was an escaped convict, a black among eight whites, a man of violence and wild boasts. None of the others even had police records. They looked on him as a guru. Patty’s conversion was proof of his power and strength.
Cinque — and Patty — prevailed. On April 3rd she announced in a communiqué that hereafter she was an S.L.A. soldier. “I have chosen to stay and fight,” she said. Her parents only pretended to save her. They were liars. “The things which are precious to [them] are their money and power. It should be obvious that people who don’t even care about their own children couldn’t possibly care about anyone else.”
But Patty’s statement contained a final plea to Steven Weed. “I wish you could be a comrade,” she said. For three years she believed herself in love with Weed. She knew him to be weak-willed and unromantic. But she secretly hoped he’d do something daring and loving. He styled himself a radical. Perhaps he’d find a way to join her.
Instead he spoke to her from Dick Cavett’s panel show with words of condescension. Patty was brainwashed, Weed said. She would come to her senses if he had a chance to be alone with her.
“Frankly, Steven is the one who sounds brainwashed,” Patty shot back in her next communiqué. “I can’t believe those weird words he uttered were from his heart.”
Weed was Patty’s last tie to her former life. She had loved him, been faithful to him, pleaded for a show of understanding. He’d betrayed her. He was, as Cinque had labeled him much earlier, an “ageist, sexist pig.” Patty began sleeping with 23-year-old Willie Wolf whom she called Cujo. Of the three men in the S.L.A., Wolfe was the closest to Patty in age and background. The son of a Pennsylvania doctor, he’d attended private schools, been a varsity swimmer, sports editor of the school paper and gotten roughed up in antiwar demonstrations. He’d spent a summer working with kids in Harlem, then spurned the Yale family tradition and enrolled at Berkeley, where he’d roomed with S.L.A. member Russell Little and met Cinque.
He subsequently joined the S.L.A. combat unit that assassinated the Oakland superintendent of schools and wounded his assistant. (Patty told Jack that Wolfe also helped Cinque kidnap her. She said Weed was mistaken when he identified both of his assailants as black men.) Violence once had turned Patty off. Now she found it appealing. She learned to use converted rifles, practiced “keeping my ass down” while crawling through Cinque’s homemade obstacle course and took part in a bank robbery to prove herself to the S.L.A.
After the robbery the S.L.A. switched its headquarters from a racially mixed neighborhood to an all-black one in San Francisco. The eight white S.L.A. members moved their clothes, guns and bullets in daylight — they were wearing Afro wigs and a black-face disguise that was smeared on so professionally that several observers mistook them for blacks. They left behind papers and other paraphernalia in a bathtub filled with acid and excrement beneath a spray-painted sign that read: “Here it is, pigs. Have fun getting it.”
In early May they moved again, driving south to Cinque’s home turf in Los Angeles. On May 16th Patty and the Harrises took the S.L.A. van to shop at Mel’s Sporting Goods store in the suburb of Inglewood. Bill walked through the aisles with frequent glance over his shoulder, a nervous tip-off that a security guard misinterpreted. Bill was grabbed and handcuffed as a suspected shoplifter. He escaped when Patty, keeping a vigil outside Mel’s, sprayed the store with machine-gun fire. But the shootout separated the three from the rest of the group and left the S.L.A. van in the hands of Los Angeles police.
The next day police located the S.L.A. hideout through an address written on unpaid parking tickets found in the van. Cinque, Wolfe, Perry, Angela Atwood, Camilla Hall and Mizmoon Soltysik had fled. But they were cornered and killed in a bungalow only blocks away.
“Neither Cujo nor I had ever loved an individual the way we loved each other,” she said in her taped communiqué following the shootout. Afterwards she clung to the Harrises and shared their love. But her pain over Wolfe’s death was a long time in healing.
Jack’s conversation with Patty on the farmhouse porch renewed his interest in writing an S.L.A. book. The fugitives okayed the idea and work began. But soon the two sides were locked in deep political acrimony.
Jack was irritated by the military drills that had become a part of the fugitives’ daily routine. They spent 30 minutes taking target practice with a BB gun they’d found in the barn. And they practiced on the make shift obstacle course they’d set up in the farmhouse. They crept under chairs and leaped across the dining-room table while ducking imaginary bullets. Patty also had the habit of scanning The New York Times with a felt-tip pen, x-ing out pictures of potential political enemies. Since the fugitives had no weapons they made no plans to carry out political executions. But they did not rule out the chance they’d return to such tactics in the future.
“Whenever people feel psychologically ready to pick up the gun, they should do it,” Emily argued.
Micki said she understood but couldn’t agree. “In order for a revolution to succeed, it needs mass support. And right now the masses of people do not support armed struggle.”
Bill tried to minimize such political differences in an effort to recruit the Scotts as fellow underground soldiers. “We’d like you to join us as permanent members of the S.L.A.” Bill’s tone was personal, not political. “We can work out our differences.” But the Scotts refused. Jack was adamant. He wanted no part of the S.L.A. if they were going to rearm themselves.
The argument continued for days. Bill and Emily defended the assassination of Oakland school superintendent Marcus Foster. They considered him a pig because he’d brought in cops to patrol Oakland’s schools. He deserved to die, they said.
The Scotts contended that the Foster murder was counter revolutionary because it had outraged a vast majority of poor people in Oakland. The Harrises conceded that it had been a public relations boomerang. But they continued to defend the killing as a revolutionary action — and they accused the Scotts of being bourgeois.
On the Fourth of July the Scotts had served up $20 in prime beef and good wine in an outdoor barbeque at the farm. Everyone had savored the meal. Now, several days later, Bill directed a stinging criticism. “The fact that you didn’t spend five dollars on hamburger shows where you’re at. You’re part of the bourgeoisie.”
Jack’s retort was angry. “You’re the ones with [expletive] up values. We’ve never heard a single thank you for the things we’ve done for you. And yet you have the gall to try and guilt-trip us.” He stormed out of the farmhouse and drove back to New York. He was still so upset when he arrived that he dropped by a friend’s house and muttered grimly, “There are some people I’d like to kill.” It took several more hours for him to quiet down.
But the bickering had soured interest in the book and reopened a rift between the Scotts and the fugitives. Both sides agreed that the fugitives should leave the farmhouse by September 1st, the day the lease expired. Jack began searching for a new project. In early August Portland basketball star Bill Walton called him in New York with an invitation to visit Oregon. Walton, the controversial redhead who signed a million-dollar contract as a rookie and is expected by some to become the finest center in pro basketball, had read Scott’s books and shared his philosophy about sports. The two had corresponded for two years but had never met. Since meeting the fugitives Jack had heard nothing but criticism of his past work in sports. Now he felt psyched up again; Walton was living proof that radicalism and sports were not mutually exclusive. He accepted Walton’s invitation and flew to Portland.
The two hit it off immediately. They hiked around the Oregon back country, talking about the upcoming season, vegetarian diets and the role of radical athletes. Walton, however, knew nothing of the Pennsylvania farmhouse and Jack decided to leave it that way. After a week Walton invited Jack and Micki to share his A-frame house near the Willamette River.
Back in New York, Jack conferred with Micki. She agreed. They would move the I.S.S.S. to Portland and live and work with Walton.
But first they had to untangle themselves from the underground.
Even though several people with underground connections knew the Scotts were harboring the S.L.A. fugitives, no one had offered to help. The Weather Underground, an organization that had hidden fugitives for five years without a single capture, had not contacted them. For two months the S.L.A. fugitives had depended solely on the Scotts and Wendy Yoshimura.
Still the fugitives were not in the desperate situation of early June. The police spotlight on the case had dimmed. Their friends back in Berkeley might be willing to risk helping them now.
So the Harrises drove to phone booths in a nearby town where they called friends on the West Coast. A series of calls followed — all from pay phones and to pay phones. The West Coast friends, whom Bill named the “new team,” were willing to help. Everything would be arranged — transportation, money, even a ploy to distract police attention. The Harrises brought back the news. “These people are heavy revolutionaries,” Bill pointedly told the Scotts. “They’ve really got it together. They want to be part of our unit.”
The new team included Kathy Soliah, the friend of Angela Atwood’s who had helped the fugitives in Berkeley, and Soliah’s brother, Steve. Like many S.L.A. sympathizers, the Soliahs had been outraged by the L.A. shootout. During the summer they had talked to other Berkeley area radicals who believed that the S.L.A.’s guerrilla tactics should be resumed — perhaps by bombing carefully selected targets.
The Harrises were anxious to rejoin people who shared their belief in political violence. They felt contempt for the Scotts’ skittishness — and no longer bothered to conceal it. And although the Scotts had been logistic experts, the new team had some ideas of its own.
What especially pleased Bill was the decoy operation. Patty was to send an identifiable item of hers to the new team. They would plant it in a Los Angeles apartment and tip off the police in an anonymous call. While the government marshaled its forces in Southern California, the new team would pick up the fugitives and ferry them to a new hideout. The Scotts and the fugitives prepared for their departure, wiping away fingerprints from the farmhouse and tidying up other details. Buoyed by the new plans, the Harrises decided to risk sending a letter to Bill’s mother, who had continued to defend her son despite his involvement with the S.L.A.
A procedure had to be followed in sending a letter. A carbon copy had to be typed and then photographed to fuzz the typing and prevent the letter from being traced to a typewriter, The photocopy would be mailed to a friend who would forward it in a separate envelope to change the postmark.
Emily drove to Scranton for the nearest self-service photocopier. She inserted three dimes and hurried back to the car. There she made a quick check to see that each page was readable. The photocopies were fine. She double checked the originals — the final page of the original was missing! She’d left it in the photocopier. And it was signed Teko and Yolanda. A gold-plated clue to whoever discovered it. “What am I going to do? I’ve [expletive] it — totally [expletive] it!”
Her head swimming, Emily started to drive away. No. She’d try to retrieve the page. Slowly she walked back. She changed her mind again. Being on foot was too risky. The police might have already been alerted. She returned to her car and circled the block, peering through the store window each time around. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She had to go back inside. It was the only way to know for sure. Furtively she moved to the Xerox machine and lifted the cover. Nothing. She glanced at the clerk. He was busy with a customer. She rummaged through the wastebasket. Still nothing.
Summoning her remaining strength she approached the clerk and asked if he’d found the missing page.
“Sorry,” he smiled.
Emily fought back the panic surging through her. She couldn’t warn the others because there was no phone at the farmhouse. She returned to the car and raced back to the familiar dirt road.
She started crying again as she arrived and explained what had happened. Bill was furious, kicking a chair and shouting.
“How could you do this?” Bill screamed. “What a [expletive] stupid mistake!”
“I think we should all get out of here said Micki. “We can get a motel somewhere.”
“I’m sorry.” Emily kept her head down. “Yelling won’t help now. I feel bad enough about it.”
Patty intervened. “Don’t blame Yolanda. She’s the one who’s been going to town all summer. She’s the one who’s taken all the risks.” It was a new role for Patty: coolness under pressure. But nobody noticed. There was an hour of hysteria before the others calmed down. They decided their best strategy was to stay put. There was more danger on a road swarming with cops.
The Scotts and the fugitives spent the night in sullen, nervous silence. By morning there was still no mention of Bill’s letter on the radio. If the missing letter had been discovered, it must have been discarded as a joke. In the end, the police apparently never learned of Emily’s absent-minded mistake.
The six farmhouse residents were now anxious to leave Pennsylvania behind. The Scotts packed the van they’d just bought, closed down their New York apartment and waited for the new team to arrive for the fugitives.
September 1st came and went. The radio reported no word that Patty Hearst paraphernalia had been found in Los Angeles. The S.L.A. member began to worry. Bill drove to a pay phone and called the West Coast. “There’s been a hangup,” he was told. “Give us a few more days.” The delay meant that the Scotts had to extend the farmhouse rent for another month. In all, the Scotts calculated, the S.L.A. them almost half of the $40,000 they’d received in settlement from Oberlin.
Jack’s patience was at an end. He said his goodbyes and flew to Portland. Micki planned to follow up in the van. Pro basketball camp opened in a month and Jack wanted to spend September with Walton and he wanted to begin work on his autobiography. It was time to resume his own career. A week passed. The fugitives were still at the farm. The Harrises and Patty were beginning to quarrel, their worry spilling out into petty disputes. The only word from the new team was more procrastination. The decoy operation inexplicably had been called off.
“Do you think they’ll ever show up?” Micki asked the Harrises.
Emily shrugged. Bill started to say “of course” but then paused and didn’t answer.
Patty was more patient than the others. She had matured noticeably over the summer. She’d dropped “pig” from her daily vocabulary. She had spent long hours reading history books, especially on the early days of the labor movement in the U.S. She was quiet; she stopped x-ing The New York Times; she seemed to be preparing for a long-term life in the underground.
Each day Patty practiced walking with a pillow stuffed under her dress. She was disguised as a pregnant teenager with freckles. Throughout the summer the fugitives had studied the art of disguise, reading books on techniques for dyeing and styling hair, affecting lisps and limps, attaching artificial moles, scars and tattoos. Within minutes they could switch from the hippie mode into the young professional, from seedy bum to roughneck hillbilly.
But the preparation seemed beside the point — their West Coast friends were having second thoughts. Finally, Bill insisted that the new team level with him about its problems. Reluctantly they explained the hitch: Patty Hearst.
Bill was unable to convince them that Patty’s disguise would be beyond suspicion. Wendy and the Harrises were okay. But the new team did not want the Newsweek cover girl to be in the car when they entered the territories of highway patrolmen, toll attendants, motel managers, gas station operators and restaurant cashiers who regulate a cross country automobile trip. If Patty could get to the West Coast by herself, they told Bill, they would provide her a hiding place, but she was on her own until then.
Jack was also getting irritated. He wanted Micki to meet Walton before the basketball season opened. But she couldn’t leave until the fugitives were gone.
Then came a phone call from Pennsylvania to Oregon.
“We need your help again.” Bill’s voice sounded urgent. “There’s no other way we can do it. We need you to drive a friend across country. No one else will do it.” If Patty were to leave the farm, it seemed, Jack would have to drive the getaway car. He hesitated.
The risks were incalculable. And his first trip with Patty was a bad memory.
But Patty had changed over the summer. She seldom complained — and never about physical discomforts. And she had the half-joking enthusiasm of a daredevil that Jack admired.
He called back. “Okay, I’ll drive your friend.”
Three days later Jack, Patty, Micki and their German shepherd Sigmund headed west in the van with boxes of books and clothes stacked in back and a mattress tied on top. They had to alternate sitting on a pillow between the van’s two bucket seats. Patty was posing as Jack’s pregnant wife, Micki as his sister. After a day on the road, though, they adopted a more conservative tack. A couple traveling alone would arouse less suspicion. So Jack and Patty dropped Micki at the Cleveland airport and continued alone.
This was Patty’s first venture out in public since her cross-country trip with Jack in June. On their second day Patty accidentally locked herself in a service station restroom. Afraid to call for help because she still feared her voice might be recognized, she began to unhinge the door, banging away with her shoe. She managed to get one hinge off before Jack slid the door open. Jack had been sitting in the van, waiting and worrying in the boiling sun.
They spoke little. When they did the tension and irritation of three months ago crept back into their conversation. Jack tuned in the radio to a football game. Patty groaned and turned her face to the side window.
In Iowa their worst fears came true. A state patrolman turned on his flasher and motioned their speeding car to the highway shoulder. Jack didn’t give the trooper a chance to walk to the van. He swung open the van door and sprinted back to the patrol car.
“Sorry, officer, I guess I got a little excited about Iowa winning today. That was some game..”
“You’re an Iowa fan?” The trooper seemed doubtful. “Those are out of state tags you got there.”
“Hey, I’m just a football fan. No matter where I go I love to listen to football.” Jack blabbered on. “You wouldn’t give a speeding ticket to a football fan, would you? That would be kind of anti-American.”
The trooper grinned. He was feeling good. Iowa had been a 21-point underdog in its win over UCLA. “I’ll let you off easy this time but be careful when you cross the border into Nebraska. They got upset by Wisconsin, you know.” He put his ticket away without inspecting the van.
That night Patty and Jack celebrated. They rented an expensive motel room and ordered a room-service dinner. The tension was broken. Patty laughed, “Now I understand what sports means to the revolution. From now on, any time you want to listen to a football game it’s okay with me.”
Three days later they reached Las Vegas. Jack dropped Patty at a prearranged motel and went to visit his parents who live in Las Vegas and manage an apartment complex. The next day he stopped by the motel. The new team still had not arrived. Nor had they by the next morning. Both Patty and Jack grew worried again. Had she been deserted? But then the new team called. They’d be arriving that night.
Jack returned to his parents’ home and settled in to watch Bonnie and Clyde on television. Suddenly the local station interrupted with a bulletin. Jack tensed. Had Patty been caught?
But the bulletin was from Reno. A bank had been robbed of $1 million. Jack remained nervous. He decided to stop by the motel. Patty was still there. Both watched television for a few minutes. Then he got up. The new team would be arriving shortly and he wanted to be gone by then.
Patty was returning to the San Francisco Bay Area where she had grown up, been kidnapped and converted to armed fugitive. There she would reunite with Wendy, Bill and Emily to continue living underground. She was still undecided about how she fit into a revolution she had discovered only seven months before. But she was dedicated to her new beliefs and she still called herself Tania.
Jack embraced Patty, hugging her hard, and said goodbye.
The date was September 27th, 1974. Twelve months later he would see her again in a San Francisco courtroom.
Kohn, Howard, and David Weir. “The Inside Story.” Rolling Stone, October 23, 1975. Reprinted with the permission of Wenner Media.