In the late ‘60s I lived in Topeka, Kansas, married, raising two young daughters and finishing college. The hottest book at that time was In Cold Blood, written by one of my favorite writers, Truman Capote. It was about the murder of the Clutter family by Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith, in the rural area close to Garden City, Kansas.
The murder and trial had garnered big headlines, and I knew much about the situation since it happened in Kansas, and I had read the book.
My wife’s grandmother was well acquainted with Judge Tate who presided over the trial and held a large party in Topeka in his honor. She was fairly wealthy, having lost three financially well-to-do husbands, and had invited most of the big-wigs of Topeka, and many of the principals involved with the case were also in attendance, including author Capote.
During the party, Capote was in high form and of course was very popular with the attendees, so I didn’t get much of a chance to visit with him then. However, as the party was ending, some knew that Capote had reservations that evening at a Kansas City hotel, and suggested that it would be great to head there for an after party at the hotel. There were about three or four car loads, and I was ecstatic to be in the same car as Truman.
So, during the hour or so ride from Topeka to KC, I got to visit with Truman, who I found knew my brother, Ron, a budding poet. As we were driving into the city, Truman said that, rather than going to the after-party, he wanted to go to the Apollo, which I knew to be a well-known gay bar. So, disappointed that he wouldn’t be joining us, and admittedly somewhat leery about joining him there, we dropped him off at the Apollo.
Without him, the after-party was a dud. But, I bet he had a great time! — Ken Johnson