Interviewed by Avery Pince
7 August 2013
Oral History Program
Weber State University
7 August 2013
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Ogan, Flora, an oral history by Avery Pince,
7 August 2013 , WSU Stewart Library Oral
History Program, Special Collections,
Stewart Library, Weber State University,
August 7, 2013
Abstract: The following is an oral history interview with Flora Ogan. The interview
was conducted on August 7, 2013, by Avery Pince. Flora discusses her
experiences with 25th Street.
AP: We are here today with Flora Ogan in her home. I’m Avery Pince and here with
me is Woody Johnson. Flora, we are going to just ask you a few questions. We
talked to you before about your experiences on 25th Street and I was hoping that
you could elaborate on some of your stories. You worked at The Standard in the
main building for 30 years, is that right?
FO: I had a total of 40 years in and 36 years full-time and the other four years I was a
freelance writer for them.
AP: Are there any particular stories that stand out to you from when you worked at
The Standard, particularly pertaining to 25th Street?
FO: The only 25th Street story I recall writing was when they bid out the buildings for
the new federal building. The police had one last tour of the opium dens and they
called over to The Standard and invited a reporter to go along and I was brand
new on the staff and nobody else wanted to go, so I went. We went into what
was a barbershop on Kiesel just north of 25th Street that had a gold rail on it. We
went down these stairs and into a barber shop and all of a sudden we opened
the doors and we started going down through walls that were not cement, but
packed dirt. We probably walked to the middle part between Grant and Lincoln.
They would open the doors and say, “This is such and such a place,” and you
would look and there were little offices where they used to keep track of whatever
they were doing. The one place I remember was the Senate Café, but that was
the only story I ever did about 25th Street.
I was very familiar with 25th Street and we had a lot of things happen
down there. When I was city editor, I remember the big fire in the Reed Hotel and
we lost lives on that. There was the Windsor Hotel that was always a problem
and it’s still a problem for them. I don’t think it’s filled with anything it’s just sitting
down there. At the Marion Hotel there was a lot of drug action and that’s where
when I used to drive to work I would see the young women prostitutes that would
stand on the corner and they had a way of putting one leg up over the bumper of
the car and you knew that’s who they were. I remember the stories coming in
about the Kier Company taking over the Marion Hotel and rehabilitated it and
they made rooms for these people that were homeless on the street. That sort of
started the clean-up process.
AP: You had mentioned that somebody didn’t like that you kept talking about the
FO: Yes. That was about ten years ago. Jim Stravakatis arranged for channel seven
to come up and interview a lot of us and talk about Ogden in the 1950’s. One of
the questions came up about 25th Street and the opium dens and I said, “Yes, I
was very familiar with them. A police officer named Lee Howe took me personally
down through them.” Afterward, I received word that Spencer Eccles from the
prominent Eccles family thought it wasn’t good to have Ogden advertised as
having an opium den down on 25th Street, so they tried to dispute it. Every time
Charlie Trentelman would write a story saying there really wasn’t any opium dens
down there I would call him and say, “Charlie, there was. I was in them.” If you go
down to the Athenian, right by the front door there’s a trap door you can go down
AP: If they were so embarrassed by the opium dens, why would they invite a
Standard reporter down into them?
FO: The police weren’t embarrassed, it was Spencer Eccles was. He didn’t want the
opinion of Ogden to be nothing more than the notorious 25th Street. It really did
have a reputation across the country. During the war, the soldiers would all get
off at the trains there and go up 25th Street to the bars. It had a bad reputation
and the leaders of the community, like Spencer, who doesn’t even live here now,
didn’t want Ogden to be downgraded with the notorious 25th Street and having
an opium den just wasn’t what he thought the city ought to have out in front. Jim
Budge, who ran the Ben Lomond Hotel for several years, was in town last week
for Stravakatis’ funeral and I said to him, “You once told me there was a door in
the Ben Lomond basement that went into the dens on 25th Street.” He said,
“Yeah, it’s still there.”
AP: That’s incredible. Do you remember spending a lot of time on 25th Street as a
kid? You grew up in Ogden, right?
FO: I grew up in Ogden and 25th Street was off limits to me by my parents. When I
was a little girl, if I was good we would get in the car on Saturday night and go
watch the drunks on 25th Street and I remember it was just packed with people.
Then, I’d get an ice cream cone.
AP: So you were allowed to go to 25th Street as long as you were with your parents?
FO: Yes, but in a car. I had a girlfriend whose dad had a barbershop just west of
Washington and when we were junior high kids, we’d go downtown and she
would go to her dad’s to get money and I had to wait up on the corner because
my folks told me never to go down 25th.
AP: Just the one street, huh? You were okay on 24th?
FO: Yes. It just had a reputation and this is what Spencer Eccles didn’t like was the
reputation that had built up over the years about 25th Street. If you’ll notice, in
the stories run now it’s, “the once notorious 25th Street,” it’s just there.
AP: It’s part of the history.
FO: Yes. When the war was over, the Italian prisoners of war were turned loose and
they hung out on 25th Street. They would pack right in front of the corner of 25th
and Washington and whistle at girls.
AP: Did you ever interact with them?
FO: No, I was young. That’s when I was a teenager. I remember seeing them though.
AP: A lot of them stayed here.
FO: A lot of them did. Riggo had a restaurant on 28th and Washington and he
married an Ogden girl and Miconi Tile, he married an Ogden girl and stayed
here. I think they had to go home and then come back, but they did. They’d
watch the Germans very closely so they weren’t downtown at all.
AP: They stayed away from 25th Street I guess, if they stayed at all.
FO: They were always hooked up to cuffs on their legs and handcuffs and stuff. They
just turned the Italian prisoners loose.
AP: When they were still prisoners?
FO: Italy surrendered much earlier and that’s when they turned them loose. A lot of
them went to work out at the Arsenal out of Hill Air Force Base to finish up the
AP: That’s good. Do you remember The Standard ever having a hard time with 25th
Street as far as getting stories or interacting with people about it?
FO: I don’t. I’m sure that there were a lot of stories written about it. By the time I
became active in the Standard, it had pretty much died down, you know, the
notoriety. I parked my car just off of 25th Street in a parking lot and I remember if
I had to work after dark I was scared and run really fast or have somebody walk
me to my car.
AP: Where was The Standard located?
FO: It was at 24th and Kiesel in the Kiesel building which is still there. They moved
shortly after I started working there to the old armory on 23rd and Adams. It’s
gone now but it was nice new offices when they moved up there, because they
rehabbed the whole thing and that’s where I worked the whole time.
AP: You said that your family worked in Ogden or your family owned a business
FO: My father worked on 24th And Kiesel in Read Brothers where the horse was on
the building. Then, in 1950 he opened his own store in Roy and that’s when the
family all moved out here. I grew up on 30th and Jefferson. I went to Washington
Elementary School and Junior High and Ogden High School.
AP: You mentioned the fire in the Reed Hotel.
FO: I just remember going up 25th Street and going to work that morning and the fire
trucks were everywhere. I think there were a couple of fatalities in it. It was where
some of the people that patronized the state lived. It was never really a high
class hotel down 25th Street. At one time, there was the Healy Hotel right on the
corner across from union station and I remember it, it had a beautiful staircase
and I think it was a pretty popular hotel, but the others on 25th were just flop
AP: So the Healy was the higher class one and the others were just for people
coming and going.
FO: It would be your homeless people that would go in for a night and flop. I don’t
know where they found them. The most active place down there for people to
stay was the Porters and Waiters Club. They had a reputation of being for the
African Americans, but everybody went there.
AP: Did you ever go there?
FO: No. the only time I went down there was when we had an editor who would go on
a drunk for several days and when he wanted to sober up he’d go over there and
Annabelle Weekly would take care of him. One time he was ready to come back
and I drove down and got him and that’s the only time I was in there.
AP: What was your perception when you were in there?
FO: Fine. I got to be pretty good friends with Annabelle because she would come
down and give us stories. There were a lot of features done on Annabelle and
AP: So she would come to you, you wouldn’t go to her?
FO: We would converse on the phone. Another notorious couple on 25th Street that
we did a lot of stories on was the Rose Room. I can’t remember their names now
but she was famous for driving around in a purple convertible.
WJ: Rosie and Bill Davies.
FO: Yes. I just remember seeing her in her purple Cadillac. That was very famous.
That was during the era of Mayor Peery when he opened up 25th Street. That
was before I was writing so I really wasn’t involved in the stories, but they were
still in operation when I worked at The Standard.
AP: The Davies were?
FO: Yes. The purple Cadillac was still around for a long time.
AP: So you weren’t such a big fan of the politics?
FO: Oh I love politics.
AP: Mayor Peery’s shaping up of 25th Street?
FO: I don’t think that there was all that much political activity about 25th Street. Harm
Peery took over and he sort of opened up the city to a lot of vices. He did a lot of
good, but he wasn’t one to make the law this or that. He wanted action and he
AP: What kind of action?
FO: Like Pioneer Days and he used to have a carnival down by the old Municipal
Building and he was riding around town on a horse. It was his family that built the
Egyptian Theater and the Ogden Theater, so they were very good humanitarians
and philanthropists too. He really had a lot of action when he was mayor. That’s
when I was just sort of in between college and going to work. I was raising
AP: But you were still sort of aware of what was going on?
FO: Oh sure, I’ve always been aware.
AP: Did you ever go to any of the shops on 25th Street?
FO: I haven’t. There’s one little shop down there I’d like to see now. I go down there
now all the time to Karen’s and we go to the Athenian and I go to Rooster’s and
it’s just amazing what’s happened down there.
AP: You didn’t go there beforehand?
AP: Was it because you were never down there or because of the reputation?
FO: Well, I was never down there and I was always told to stay away from there, so I
AP: Even as an adult?
FO: Even when I was an adult. When I became an adult it was when it was in
shambles. It came up from where it was during the war and it had this period of
just falling apart. All of a sudden, the city decided to do something with it and I
think I told you about Scott Parkinson, who was the planner for the city. They
started it and there was a fellow that had a little shop of kitchen goods. I can’t
think of his name now, he was from Riverdale. He worked with Scott and they
started building it up down there. The first time I went down there to eat was
when the building where the Athenian is was a little coffee shop that was run by
Dr. Reis’ wife. I remember going there and I was so excited to think that there
was a nice place like that on 25th Street to go to. Then Rooster’s came in, and
there have been several people that had shops down there. I can’t think of her
name now, but there was a woman who had her gift shop down there and was in
charge of the Christmas Village. She was very instrumental in getting 25th Street
going. She was married to Scott Buehler, but used her maiden name down there.
I do take pride in 25th Street and I think it’s wonderful that we’ve got it, to
watch the transition was something. About a year ago the Salt Lake Tribune did a
feature story on Ogden and what it has to offer. The reporter was somebody that
I knew from the system and he just barely covered what was going on in Ogden.
I sat down and wrote him a letter and I told him all about 25th Street and that he
could get on the Front Runner and get off and walk up there. I told him about
Dinosaur Park and the Aerospace Museum and, bless his heart, he came and
brought his wife and stayed overnight and went everywhere and then wrote a
beautiful story about the renaissance of 25th Street and all that Ogden had to
offer. 25th Street is a real attractive place for tourists now and I think we’re
marketing it, I know we’re trying, but people still see it as this notorious street
where all the drunks hung out and that isn’t it anymore, it’s a beautiful place.
AP: You told me last time that you wrote the lead story on Marshall White.
FO: I wrote the original story on his shooting. It was about three years after I started
full-time at the Standard. The paper was out, but not on press yet and all the
other editors had gone to lunch and told me to listen for the phones. On the
police phone they were saying, “Michael Jones has escaped, he’s going over on
Fowler Avenue.” I was sitting there listening to all this and finally they said, “Doc
White has got him cornered in a house on the 100 block of Fowler.” Pretty soon it
said, “Doc White’s been shot, get an ambulance.” I’m thinking, “I’m alone. What
do I do? We’ve got a policeman shot and a deadline.” I listen to it and they said,
“We’ve got him out of the house, we’ve captured the kid and we’re going to St.
Benedicts.” I wrote a note to the city editor and said, “I’ve gone to St. Benedicts
Hospital, Marshall White has been shot, I will call you.” I went up there and I got
there just as they pulled in and watched what was going on with him. I knew he
was a goner, so I called in the story about him getting shot. I used what I heard
on the police radio and had a page one story.
AP: He spent a lot of time on 25th Street and did a lot of Civil Rights demonstrations
FO: I don’t remember a lot of demonstrations. I don’t think anybody really cared all
that much. Did you talk to Velma Saunders? She had a home down there and
she used to campaign all the time about how they were being treated down
there. She got a stop light on 26th and Wall so that people could get across
there. There was a rendering plant just west of the Union Depot and the odor
was just atrocious. It would waif over the town and she kept going to the city
council complaining about that rendering plant and they ended up closing it. That
was part of the start of the renaissance of 25th Street.
AP: Cleaning up the area around it?
FO: Yes. There was a tunnel that went down to the trains from the west side of the
depot and I remember they filled that in because the homeless people were
sleeping down in that tunnel.
AP: Did you ever go down into that tunnel before they closed it?
FO: I remember being down in it once and I think I went on a train somewhere when I
was a little kid and I remember going down there.
AP: Did you go to the train depot often as a kid even though you didn’t spend a lot of
time on 25th Street?
FO: Had I been to the train depot a lot?
AP: Were you down there as a kid?
FO: When I was in high school they had a beanery which is a restaurant. They called
them beaneries in train stations. After dates we used to go down there and eat at
the beanery. I remember there was a little gift shop and I would look in there, but
I didn’t hang out down there. I didn’t’ see trains at all hardly. There was a laundry.
The laundry building is still standing down there on the southwest corner. The
beanery was torn down and it used to be on the south end of the depot about
where those trains are on display. It was a very nice restaurant to eat in.
AP: You went to Weber State, right?
FO: Yes. I went to Weber State when it was downtown.
AP: What was that like?
FO: I can’t compare it to anything. I had a good education there for a couple of years.
I had always wanted to be a writer and I was on the school paper at Ogden High
School and I had a little scholarship and I went over to Weber State when it was
in the Moench Building. I’m not sure I remember the name of the teacher, I can
see him, he had a lot of gray hair, but not long. Some of the people I went to
school with were Dean Hurst and Lawrence Burton, they were all up there. I
remember seeing them at dances over in the old Weber gym building.
I was working for the telephone company part-time and going to school
and they needed an operator out on the Wendover Air Force Base and they
asked me to go out there for the summer. I met my husband out there and got
married, so I didn’t go back to Weber State until after my third child was born and
then I started going back. I went in the buildings by the Stewart Tower which are
kind of like a barracks and I took some classes up there. Right after that I went
full-time at the paper.
AP: Even being so close to the notorious two-bit street going to Weber and working at
the main building, you still somehow managed to avoid 25th Street?
FO: 25th Street was never an issue with me actually. I just knew it existed and that I
was supposed to stay away. When I went to the paper I drove it and I would see
what was going on down there, but I didn’t hang out there.
AP: That’s interesting. Did any of your family go down there? Did your dad spend any
time down there?
FO: No. My dad was very religious.
AP: So the street made him nervous.
FO: Well, he was at church. He did take me down there on Saturday night to watch
the drunks. The interesting thing I said to Bob Hunter, who runs the United Way
and has been a commissioner, I said, “Have you been contacted?” I told him you
were doing 25th Street and he said, “Well, I was just a kid then. The only thing I
remember about it is my dad used to take me down there to watch the drunks.” I
thought, “I guess that was every family’s entertainment on Saturday night.” You’d
have to line up to get a parking place.
FO: Oh yes.
AP: I’ve heard that from a few people.
FO: They’d say, “If you’re a good girl today we’ll go down and watch the drunks.”
AP: It sort of sets your idea of how 25th Street is pretty early.
FO: Yes, exactly.
AP: Where would you go get ice cream?
FO: At the barrel on 27th and Washington. It’s gone. They took the barrel and made it
into the trock and then the trock moved down on Kiesel, but there was a big
barrel and it served ice cream.
WJ: You were talking about the hotels on 25th Street and only the Healy was the
classier one. What kind of stories do you remember from the others?
FO: Probably the fact that maybe they were taking it down was the only story I
remember coming out about it. The only time we would do stories down there is if
we had a murder or something like that. We didn’t really patronize it as a source
for news all that much. The Rosie thing was pretty much in the news a lot with
the Helena Hotel, I think that was her place. If it wasn’t its right next door. As far
as a lot of coverage down there, I don’t have any recollection of doing coverage
down there other than the normal crime stories. The crime stories and the whole
story about that were just these poor people wandering around down there with
no place to go and annoying other people and that was the story. It wasn’t that
there was a lot of crime going on. There was a murder down there. Linda Odas’
father got murdered down there. There were a lot of businesses down there like
the Cutrubus business was a place with candy distributors and cigarette
distributors and they had a lot of people worked out of that store. Homer says he
remembers being a little tiny kid working down there. Doug Black’s father had a
store down there and Linda Odas’ father had a store down there. There were a
lot of good little stores down there.
AP: Linda was your friend from college, right?
FO: Yes. I thought she might still be teaching up there, but she could be retired. She’s
about my age.
AP: Did you know her when her father was killed?
FO: I did not know her other than her affiliation with Weber State and talking to her a
little bit. When she was up at Weber she was quite prominent up there. I can’t
remember what she taught, but she was a very active teacher.
AP: So, Rose Davies was in the news fairly regularly?
FO: Quite often. They knew how to cultivate a news story if they needed it.
AP: Milk it a little bit.
FO: Yes. A lot of people do that.
AP: Do you think that most of what was printed about her is true?
FO: I’m sure some of it had to be true. She had a big fur and she’d ride around in that
Cadillac. She was colorful.
AP: Quite the character.
FO: I think she was a friend of Harm Peery too, the mayor. I hope you got a lot on him
because he had a lot to do with 25th Street.
AP: We’ve heard quite a bit about him. Do you think they were friends with each
FO: I don’t know how much they were friends, but I’m sure they associated in some
AP: You never met her?
FO: No, I don’t think I did. I’ve tried to think if I ever did, but all I did was see her. She
was very prominent driving around in that Cadillac.
AP: You were the editor by that point, right?
FO: I was the city editor in 1969 and then I was editorial editor in 1981, so I was only
a reporter for ten years.
AP: Do you remember any sort of big or notorious events? You said there were a
couple of murders down there, but was there anything else?
FO: I remember that one specifically, but those homeless people would kill one
another once in a while.
AP: Would you run a story on that?
FO: Oh sure. We had a police reporter that followed whatever was going on.
WJ: You were around when 25th Street was frequented by the trains and you were
around when the trains no longer came and 25th crumbled and you’ve been
around on the rebuilding of 25th Street. Do you find that it is an effective rebuild?
Do you think that documenting the history to preserve it, but having the modern
25th Street incorporate some of that history is effective?
FO: My feeling is that they have done an exceptional job of restoring 25th Street
because everybody that’s down there seems to want to claim part of the history,
but they want to show that we’re now a new modern city. I’m amazed. My son
moved away and when I brought him home for a visit he couldn’t believe this had
happened to Ogden. It was such a wonderful transition to see from when he was
a little boy to adulthood. I think they’ve done a marvelous job and I think that the
Browning people are still helping down at the Union Station and they’re
committed to make that place a tourist attraction, yet comfortable for the locals. I
think they’ve accomplished it. It’s beyond any expectation I ever had.
AP: They’re still pulling a little bit from the history. If you drive around you can see
some of the signs that remind.
FO: Oh sure. They’ve done a wonderful job of promoting. They always end up with all
these little programs like car shows and we used to have a street festival uptown
and now it’s down 25th. They’ve done a marvelous job.
AP: Do you think that people on 25th Street are proud of the history?
FO: They’ve got to be proud because they’ve done a wonderful job.
AP: Well, do you think they’re proud of the history?
FO: The earlier history? I don’t know how much. Karen worked for my dad’s store at
one time and that’s where I met her. She had this dream that she wanted a
restaurant so she started on the north side facing the south up somewhere
around the Athenian; it was so popular that she moved down to this new building.
People that are down there, a lot of them probably remember some of the historic
AP: Do you have any other special stories you want to tell us before we conclude the
FO: We talked about it at coffee about some of the characters that used to walk the
streets. There was a little old, I don’t know if he was a Catholic Priest, but his
name was Dominguez or something like that and he had a little shop up 25th
Street. He used to walk around town with this tree limb as a cane and when the
girls would walk by he’d flip their skirts up. The police were after him all the time.
We talked about him at coffee. There was also an older woman that wore a black
hat like a witch and a black outfit and she had a baby carriage and pushed a doll
around town all the time. We were talking about how we don’t have those
WJ: Do you remember a drunk that went by “Airplane?” I’ve heard a lot of stories
about Airplane and it would have been during the 1970’s. He was a man that was
always on 25th Street and drunk and pretending to be an airplane.
FO: I haven’t heard about that one.
WJ: With your stories of the characters and also seeing the drunks when you were a
kid, what type of characters do you remember that were drunk when you went
down with your family and watched them?
FO: I just remember a lot of people staggering around down there. A lot of them were
soldiers during the war. They’d get off the train and come up the street. When I
was just viewing 25th Street, there was no one in particular that I remember. Of
course, I knew about Rosie and the Porters and Waiters and there was the
Pappas family down there. I went to school with Tom Pappas and I remember
him telling me that he could go down to his dad’s store, but he couldn’t go out on
the street. That was in high school. That was The Club, down on the lower end.
AP: Do you still talk to the Pappas’?
FO: They’re all gone.
AP: There is a couple left.
FO: The last one I remember was Leah and she used to come in my office all the
time and visit with me, but Tom died early. I think there’s a George that’s still
around, but I don’t know George. Tom was very popular in high school and his
father ran the club.
AP: You didn’t go to the club downtown, you just knew about it?
FO: I’ve never been to the club. The only ones I’ve been in are the Athenian,
Roosters, and Karen’s. I remember eating in the Senate before it was torn down.
I don’t remember a lot, but it was run by a Chinaman.
AP: The Senate?
FO: Yes. There was a place called Ross and Jacks and it was very popular down
there and I remember walking over to Ross and Jacks when I worked at The
Standard, but right after that it go torn down. When they tore down the Broom
Hotel, they tore down Ross and Jacks.
AP: Did they share a wall or were they close together?
FO: They just tore out that whole face of 25th Street and built the new bank. Right on
the corner of Kiesel and 25th on the northeast, there was a Greek man that had a
pool hall. I remember that got torn out with it too.
AP: Thank you, Flora, for your time. We really appreciate it. Your stories are very
FO: I can hardly wait to hear the final results.
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