William Thomas Juden (Judy Gooch): A St. Louis Character
By Jean Brunton
I met Judy in 1966 when I first moved to St. Louis. Judy lived down the street in the Eugene Field Apartments near Gaslight and Newstead, across from the Rex Cafe. At that time many gays, especially younger ones, lived in that area. You could open the door to your apartment and yell, “Anybody going to The Gate or Shelly’s?” And somebody would be ready. You could take the bus or the trolley to the bars. Also Bob Martin’s was at 12th and Olive in those days (Bob was still alive then). Judy and Bobby Gousettis met in 1952 when he came back from Korea. Their relationship was like all ups and downs, but they remained together until Judy died in late July 1968 of Hodgkin’s disease.
Judy was from Dexter, Mo. in the Boot Heel and had always wanted to be a Show Boy. He left home right after the war and danced in New York but returned to Missouri and landed in St. Louis after living in Detroit for a while. I heard many stories from Judy and they are mostly very short, but some are funny.
One Halloween, Judy talked Bobby into going in drag. Bobby was about 5' 6" tall and a blond Greek muscle boy with a great body. Bobby also smoked cigars. Everybody piled into Bobby’s' car and left to go out. Bobby stopped for gas. The filling station attendant came out to help these lovely ladies he saw drive up, but when Bobby rolled down the window and took the cigar out of his mouth and said, “Filler up Mac,” the attendant saw a blond with very broad shoulders, a very Greek nose and the hands of a steelworker looking back at him. He is still probably trying to figure those girls out today. That would have been in the late 1950-early 1960s.
Judy was a member of some of the early gay organizations. Others were afraid to join for fear of getting their names on a list. Judy’s response was, “Ugh-gh dizzy bitches. They will order nude pictures from Sweden—but ‘Oh! Get my name on a list! Heavens no!’ Ugh-gh dizzy bitches!”
Another Halloween Judy arrived at The Gate and on that night the place was packed. The Gate was a long narrow building and the track was basically front to back, back to front. Judy was wearing a beautiful gold and white gown, and carrying a black and white bullwhip. I remember asking why and to my best recollection, the answer was something along the lines of, “To keep these dizzy bitches in line.”
In the early 1960s Judy decided to wear a hat. This hat was covered in feathers, which hung down over her face. As you walked up and said hello, Judy would blow on the feathers, they would go straight up in the air, and Judy would say, “Oh, hi! How are you?? (As the feathers floated down over her face again.)
As soon as Halloween was over Judy gave everything away and started over. I asked why and the response was, “Well if someone says ‘oh, I liked this or that’ - I can say, ‘oh I gave that away yesterday.’ And nobody would be angry or jealous.
Most of Judy’s friends are now long gone. Michael in 1970, Jim in the 1990s, and Bobby I lost track of, but he would be in his 80s now. After Judy died Bobby did date for awhile but to my knowledge, never had a long term relationship again.
After contacting a long time friend, he added some other bits of information. Judy’s father left him well off (over a million dollars) in 1968. Since there were no close relatives and since Missouri does not recognize our relationships, some distant relatives inherited it all.
Judy knew all the girls at the cosmetic counter at Famous-Barr and bought fur coats for several of them.
He spent a lot of money on clothes and jewelry and one time they went to California on a shopping trip. They stayed at an old Art Deco Hotel on Venice Beach that Judy had stayed at while touring. That was like going back in time.
The last few years that they were together, Saturday night was spent having dinner, and reading the Sunday paper that came out Saturday night. Later, when Judy became ill, Bobby spent his evenings and weekends at Judy’s side.
On July 29, 1968 I came home from work about 5 p.m. At about 5:30 p.m. Bobby came to my door and banged on the door violently. When I opened the door he came in crying and a complete madman. The funeral was on the 6th in Dexter, Mo. Judy’s nearest and dearest friends were all that were there. Bobby, still inconsolable; Eddie Laxton, Jim Greene, Michael Palmer, Marvin and myself were pallbearers. Two ladies from town came and had known him growing up. They said, “He always wanted to be a Show Boy.” And little else that I remember—a drag queen named Branka and his partner George were there also.
I unfortunately did not know him for that long myself, however, 44-years after his passing, I still think back fondly. Hopefully, I will remember some other stories that Judy told me from back in the day.