The Nation: Scenes from the Hidden Years

Herewith excerpts from James Phelan's book.

Mell Stewart, then a suburban Los Angeles barber, was mysteriously summoned to the Beverly Hills Hotel in spring, 1961.

In due course a man edged up to Stewart in the hotel lobby, gave him the password, and said "Follow me." He led him out of the hotel lobby and through the lushly landscaped gardens to a bungalow. At the door he gave a coded knock —one rap, followed by four quicker raps, a pause, and then two more raps. It was a knock Stewart would use hundreds of times in years to...

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