Interviewed by Avery Pince
22 October 2013
Oral History Program
Weber State University
22 October 2013
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Aoki, David, an oral history by Avery Pince,
22 October 2013, WSU Stewart Library Oral
History Program, Special Collections,
Stewart Library, Weber State University,
October 22, 2013
Abstract: The following is an oral history interview with Dave Aoki conducted on
October 22, 2013, by Avery Pince. Dave discusses his experiences with 25th
AP: So today is October 22, 2013. We’re in the home of Dave Aoki. We are here to
discuss some of your experiences on 25th Street. My name is Avery Pince and
Lorrie Rands is helping and also asking questions as they come up. Lorrie’s
pretty experienced with 25th Street, so I’m sure she’ll have some questions for
you. Last time we talked we talked about the store that you owned, your barber
shop that you owned. What was it called?
DA: Dave’s Barber Shop
AP: Just Dave’s Barber Shop, pretty simple. Your store was on the North side of the
DA: Yes, North side.
AP: Do you have an address?
DA: 248, it was at 248, 25th Street and then later I went to 208, 25th.
AP: Oh that’s right you moved up a block.
DA: Down the block, towards the Union Station.
AP: And how long were you there?
DA: Well I was there from 1949-1989.
AP: Wow. I guess we could start with some of the exciting parts. Did you have any
infamous clients or any clientele that you could remember?
DA: All clients from the murdered down to the--
AP: To the murdered? Is that what you said?
DA: Yeah even people that had committed murder.
DA: It used to be quite a wild street in those days, back in the 1940’s.
AP: Were you busy?
DA: Oh yeah. The drug of the street in those days was THC. We didn’t have any
drugs, they had everybody using THC, terprahydronincodine, it was cough
medicine. That was the drug of the street.
AP: On 25th?
DA: Yeah, just most everybody used to go to the drug store and buy the cough
medicine that had the codeine in it. They called it THC, terpahydronincodine.
That was the drug of the street in those days plus they had marijuana but they
didn’t have any hard stuff other than that. Oh they would drink, the Indians would
drink in paregoric cough medicine.
AP: Why did you pick 25th street to put your barber shop on there?
DA: Oh that’s where the traffic was. I was on Grant Avenue prior to that, from 1945-
1949, I was on Grant Avenue and there wasn’t as much traffic as on 25th street
so I moved to 25th street.
AP: Even just a couple of blocks made the difference?
DA: Oh it was just that block, half a block.
AP: Did you see a difference in the 40’s after the war with the business versus--
DA: Bout the same
AP: Was it a different clientele or anything like that?
DA: The clientele ran from the top to the bottom, from college professors down to
district judges and to the criminal element.
AP: Everybody came in your door?
DA: Yeah I got along good with ‘em cause I supported a lot, I loaned them money
when they needed money I loaned a lot of money out to criminals, but I never got
stuck. They always paid it back. It was an unwritten law on 25th street that if you
borrowed a dollar you would pay back a dollar and a half at the end of the month.
So that was pretty good interest.
AP: And most people kept to that?
DA: Oh yeah. They were real honest about it. It was just an unwritten law. I didn’t
know it was there, but it was an unwritten law, so if they borrowed ten dollars
they would give you fifteen dollars at the end of the month.
AP: That’s pretty good.
DA: It’s pretty good.
AP: Did that sort of help you become more friendly with everybody?
DA: Oh yeah.
AP: Cause you did those things? Like loaning out money?
DA: That’s the reason I never was robbed. They all felt that they’d protect me so I
was never robbed.
AP: That’s pretty great. Do you remember any particular events that happened on
25th street while you were working down there?
DA: Oh all kinds of events.
AP: Like what?
DA: Well, the fire on--the hotel fire.
AP: You remember the hotel fire?
DA: In 1979, in November of 79. It was the big fire when Colorado and the hotel
burned down above the Nicholas Grocery Store. There were 17 people that
perished in it; I think there were 17 people that died in that fire. But we had a lot
of stabbings and shootings but I can’t remember the date of when it happened
and stuff like that.
AP: Last time you mentioned that you were one of the first business owners.
DA: To get a license.
AP: To get a license?
DA: Yeah. First Japanese during the war, I was the first one to obtain a business
license. The local people had what they called a grandfather clause, that licensed
people who were in business before the war they had a grandfather clause. But
during the war they didn’t issue any license to Japanese and I received the first
license in March of 45. Then following that I think American Eagle Café got their
license there, but the people that were in business would work under some
Caucasian people that had the business and they would sublease it to them so
they were in business. Like George’s Café had several owners so George’s Café
would lease it out to the Japanese people, but they didn’t issue any license until
AP: You mentioned before we started recording that you knew Rose and Bertie.
DA: Oh yeah I knew Rose, Bertie.
AP: Did they frequent your shop?
DA: Oh no I just knew Bertie real well. She lived on 36th and oh it was about the 700
block, next to the Leavitt’s Mortuary. The first house west of the Leavitt’s
Mortuary, that’s where she lived. She was a really nice person, but I used to see
her mother about every day.
AP: Rose and Bertie’s mother?
DA: She was a very attractive woman, tall woman.
AP: So they were from Ogden?
DA: I think she was a native of Ogden. I’m not sure.
AP: Do you remember the name of the café that was just up from you? You had
mentioned a couple of the other cafes that were on the street.
DA: Well Little American Eagle Café and Nighthawk, east of the Nighthawk, and they
let her change it to a Chinese café. There was a Nighthawk and an American
Eagle and it was a Sunrise Café, and George’s Café and a Lincoln Café.
AP: All in the same building?
DA: No down the street on the same block. It was one of their small restaurants on
the north side and on the south side there was Star Noodle.
AP: Did you spend a lot of time on 25th street outside of working there or did you just?
DA: Oh yeah I spent a lot of time there.
AP: You were saying something last time about your son. Did he not spend a lot of
time on 25th street?
DA: Well he spent a lot of time down at the shop there with me. He would come after
school; he’d come down to the shop and stay with me. He’d ride home with me.
He didn’t want to go to Quincy school. We lived up in the district where he
should’ve went to Quincy school, but he didn’t want to go there. He wanted to go
to Grant school so I let him go to Grant school. See we lived on Patterson, 842
Patterson, so he was supposed to go to Quincy school but he didn’t want to go
there he wanted to go to Grant School. So he’d come down with me in the
morning and go to school there. Although my parents objected to him going to
Grant school there.
AP: Why is that?
DA: Well it was all minority and kids of a different ethnic group and there were pretty
tough kids there.
AP: It made your parents nervous or it just made your parents uncomfortable?
DA: Yeah my dad especially. He didn’t like 25th street. He would come in and after
every weekend as soon as school was out my father would come in and pick him
up and take him out to Honeyville.
AP: Your parents didn’t live in Ogden?
DA: No, they lived in Honeyville. They settled in Honeyville in 1907.
AP: Wow. So from Honeyville you moved to Ogden and then you got married? I can’t
DA: I was married in Denver Colorado. Oh I lived all over.
AP: So you went to school in Colorado and then came back?
DA: Yeah I lived in California, went to school in Las Angeles for a while till the war
started and I came back and went to school here. Later went to Colorado and
went to school there. I lived a good life in Ogden and Denver though. I lived in
the hotel, took three meals in a restaurant, lived a good life. Sent all my clothes
to the dry cleaners. I had a good life. I would date the girl I married she was
working at a drug store there and we went out every day. I would pick her up
after work, go out to eat and then so I saw her six days a week.
AP: That’s pretty convenient. She went to school too?
DA: Oh she went to a successful business college and was working for a lady writer.
She just couldn’t stand her because this lady would get up at 2:00 in the morning,
a thought would come in her mind. She’d wake her up and want to dictate to her.
She went to a successful business college, taking shorthand, so she’d have to
take shorthand for this lady writer. She’d get up at 2:00 in the morning and have
an idea in her head and she’d want to stay up till 5:00 dictating. My wife just
couldn’t stand that so she went to work for a drug store.
AP: Then you opened your shop after Denver on 25th street?
DA: Well I opened before I got married and then we got married.
AP: Were there certain times that you were a little busier? Did you notice a change in
your business with the railroad leaving or anything like that?
DA: No, not that I know of.
AP: You mentioned before that you knew some of the sheriffs that were trying to
clean up the city. That you cut their hair as well?
DA: Yeah, see when I first came to Ogden Sheriff Mac Wade was the sheriff. His
chief deputy was Burt Cook and after that Leroy Hadley became sheriff. Then
after Hadley retired Wilson Allen from Huntsville became sheriff for one term and
Wally Feller was his deputy sheriff. After that then little ol’ Ed Ryan became
sheriff. He was a little fellow from San Francisco and Wayne King was his deputy
sheriff. Then before I left Ogden George Fisher became the deputy sheriff, he
was sheriff and Sam Vanderheide was his chief assistant so that’s when I left
Ogden, George Fisher was the sheriff.
AP: You knew all of them pretty well?
DA: Well I knew George Fisher, Ed Ryan, and Leroy Hadley a little bit. I didn’t know
Mac Wade, I knew who he was. He lived in Pleasant View. It’s when I first started
Mac Wade was the sheriff.
AP: You had said that you sat on the board of the police?
DA: The Police Advisory Council
AP: Police Advisory Council, right. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
DA: Well I don’t know. I was vice-chairman and Max Booth was the chairman. That’s
at the time that Leroy Jacobson was the chief of police and Joe Richie was the
PR man. Now he’s the mayor of Roy. He was only a sergeant, but he was the PR
man for the Ogden police department. So after the meeting he would always go
AP: Where would you go?
DA: Private clubs. I was real naïve. I didn’t know there were that many private clubs
in Ogden. I didn’t drink so I was the designated driver.
AP: What was the purpose of the council?
DA: Well I don’t know, to promote better understanding between the police
department. We had a real problem with people like Joe Breese from the
Standard-Examiner. We had people from the Catholic Church, fathers and the
principal of Ogden High School and downtown businesses of Ogden, the job core
people involved. So we had quite a number of people involved in bringing up
different ideas to the city and police department.
AP: So the goal was to help the city be a little bit better?
DA: And understand the police department, yeah.
AP: Were you on the committee because you were so a part of Ogden?
DA: I think it was just the idea, the chief picked us.
AP: You kind of had your finger on Ogden though, knowing everybody.
DA: I thought it was sort of a clique anyway.
AP: Ogden or the council?
DA: Well the council in a sense because the Ogden department one time was
controlled by the Masons one year, a few years. When the chief of police-depending
on who the chief of police was, the Masons were in command. When
Ernie Shaw was the chief of police all the Masons were all in high command, but
after Ernie Shaw left they got rid of the Masons and the LDS people took over
and became more prominent over the police department. At one point the
Masons were very strong in Ogden here and the police department. Ernie Shaw
was a Mason and Captain Bob Warren was a Mason, Captain Gibbs, Harold
Gibbs, a Mason and Busick, Lt Busick was a Mason. Several high ranking
officers all belonging to the Masonic Lodge. They used to say the Masons
controlled the Ogden Police department.
AP: That’s really interesting. Do you remember what it was like to have a business on
the north side of the street?
DA: Traffic was on the north side. People walked the north side, people very seldom
walked the south side.
AP: Why is that?
DA: I don’t know. All the taverns were on the north side. There was one tavern on the
south side, one or two taverns, but most everything was on the north side.
Everything like the houses of ill repute and all that were on the north side, so all
the business traffic. People walked up-I would say about 80% of people walked
the north side and about 20% walked the south side of the street. Very few
people walked the south side of the street.
AP: So do you think the south side did less business?
DA: That was a true case.
AP: Is that why you picked the north side or it was just an open--
DA: No I think that was one of the reasoning’s, a huge sale on the north side for the
AP: On the south side, Annabelle Weekly had her club. You mentioned that you knew
AP: The Porter’s and Waiter’s Club?
DA: That was on the lower block. Annabelle and Billie Weekly was between Lincoln
and Wall Avenue, they were on the south side.
AP: And you knew them?
DA: Oh, yeah. I knew Annabelle real well.
AP: Can you tell us a little bit about her or any sort of--
DA: She was a real nice lady I’d say. I had nothing against Annabelle. Well I didn’t
know her husband Billie, he was an older man. I didn’t really get to know him, but
those days they didn’t come up onto Grant Avenue. They stayed below
everything. Colored folks stayed between Wall and Lincoln on the South side, the
Porter’s and Waiter’s there, because they wouldn’t even allow them into Cafes
during the war. They couldn’t even go across the street to the cafes. They were
discriminated from going to the cafes. But a lot of the white people would go to
the Porter’s and Waiter’s. There were a lot of people.
AP: Did you ever go there?
DA: Oh I’d been there for business to pick up some stuff they owed me. I loaned
them one of those nail guns and I wanted it back so I went down. That’s the only
time I went there, to retrieve my stapler. I loaned it to them.
AP: So other than just money changing hands, people worked together on 25th street
within the businesses?
AP: Nice. Did you get to know people better because you cut their hair or because
you were their neighbor?
DA: Well I probably knew just about everybody on the north side.
AP: Was it because you cut their hair?
DA: No, it was because in those days you had-what was it-the committee chest, the
Red Feather, whatever it was. I used to go for donations and they asked me to
canvass 25th street so I walked from the bank from Washington Boulevard down
the streets so I pretty well knew everybody. I would solicit donations, what was
it? The Red Feather, they used to call that. It was an organization where they
used to raise funds.
AP: That’s pretty cool. So you just went from building to building?
DA: Yeah. They’d give me a number of businesses the one who asked for donations
though. I would call on the businessmen for a donations and I asked a couple of
fellows to assist me there from the Aim Fix it Shop and a fellow from the Paul
Revere Life Insurance Company used to walk with me, go with me.
AP: How did you get involved with that? They just came to you because you worked
on 25th street?
DA: They just wanted someone to do their dirty work.
AP: They don’t want to have to.
LR: I had a couple of questions.
AP: Go for it.
LR: So I was curious when and where were you born?
DA: In Honeyville
LR: In Huntingville?
LR: What year was that?
LR: Okay. So your parents live in Honeyville and eventually you came to Ogden. Why
did you want to become a barber?
DA: Well I got hurt in 1941, 1940 I guess. Let’s see, was that 40 or 41? 19, I think it
was in the fall of 1940. I was in an industrial accident involving, I got pinned
between a truck and packing shed and I hurt my back. It crushed my 5th lower
bone and I was in a body cast and I couldn’t sit up and go to school. I wanted to
go back to school at county or something, but I couldn’t sit there long enough so
they finally enrolled me in beauty school.
AP: Your parents did?
DA: No, the people I was living with in California. I was living with the relatives and
they had a large farm in central California and they had gone back to Detroit to
pick up a new Packard in 1939 so they came through on the train and that’s the
first time I met some of my relatives. They wanted me to come down and assist
them with the farm work down there. It was large; they had 110 acres of
cantaloupes under cover and they had 90 or 100 acres of cotton. Every quarter
they would have 100 acres of spring lettuce and fall lettuce. It was a big
operation and they made me in charge of the tractor and truck driving and that’s
when I got hurt in an accident.
Yeah the family I lived with, she was a little bit on the snob side there. She
did everything and in those depression days the wages were 15/20 cents an
hour, but she wore nothing but designer clothes. Elizabeth Arden was her
favorite and I had to drive her to Los Angeles, to Robinson department store, to
pick up her designer clothes. Everything was Elizabeth Arden in those days.
AP: So they helped you get into beauty school?
DA: Yeah, she’s the one. I didn’t know anything about beauty school and she talked
me into going to it. Yeah, they lived a pretty fast life down there when I was there.
We would go to the football games to see Southern California play Notre Dame,
when Knute Rockney, Pat O’Brian made the movies. They had a football game,
we’d go down to that. University of California, Berkeley California, and even on
the weekends they would say “let’s go for Chinese food.” We’d drive all the way
to Los Angeles; 160 miles just to eat Chinese food.
LR: So when did you decide to go back to Ogden, after your--
DA: Well after evacuation I had to leave Los Angeles on the 28th of February. See the
curfew was during the war that the Japanese couldn’t travel more than 3 miles
and you couldn’t be out after dark, after 8:00. The curfew was going in on the 21st
of March so I left school on the 28th of February. I left Los Angeles by way of
Western Airline, the school was able to get me a flight out of Los Angeles,
Burbank California, and I came into Salt Lake City. I then enrolled in school at
Ogden here, Mrs. Heaps Beauty School, and then we changed the name to
Marinello. That’s when they changed the school to Marinello Beauty School. It
was Heap’s Beauty School; Mrs. Heaps was on 24th and Washington where that
federal building is. She had a school there. Delbert Heap and Laura Heap had
Heap Beauty College.
AP: Then you went to Denver after that?
DA: Yeah in 1944 I decided to further go to school and take up barbering. So that’s
when I went to Denver because they didn’t have a school in Utah. My parents
were good enough to let me stay in a hotel, eat three meals in a restaurant.
LR: So when you opened your shop on 25th street was there a lot of competition?
Were there a lot of other barber shops?
DA: Oh yeah there were a lot of barber shops in Ogden at that time. There was
probably in Ogden alone, there must have been 30 barber shops. See on 25th
street they had a barber shop at the Union Station. They had one at the club
barber shop, a Joe’s Barber Shop, western barber shop, there was oh probably
seven or eight barber shops on 25th street.
LR: I was curious as to whether or not you remember some of the barbers that were
on 25th street?
DA: Yeah there was the Depot Barber shop and Joe’s. Utah Barber Shop was Clyde
Herrick, Ray Fishburn then they had the Cowboy up there. White City. Then on
24th street there was the Red Barber Shop and the Kiesle Barber Shop, Roland,
Royal Barber Shop, and Mini Barber Shop and the boys are up on Harrison now
they were over there on 24th. On 23rd there was a Rasmussen’s, heavens there
were quite a few. Then on Ben Lomond there was the Ben Lomond Hotel, La
Verle Barber Shop, Red Wilson and further down Walker had one on 30th and
Grant. Oh heavens I don’t know.
LR: Did you ever feel competition from any of them or did you guys work together?
DA: We formed a union and it got a long pretty good, but some of them didn’t
appreciate it. It was at least, oh at least 30 barber shops in Ogden at that time.
LR: Do you remember Willie Moore?
DA: Yeah I know Willie real well.
LR: Were you friends?
DA: Yeah I used to go to Willie’s all the time to deal with him. He first started at the
depot and then he worked out in Roy with Lefty’s, Lefty’s barber shop. Then he
started a shop on Patterson Avenue, on Patterson and 30th down there. Then he
moved over to 26th by the Bank of Utah, later he moved back to the place on 25th
LR: Where he’s at now?
DA: Yeah. I’ve known Willie for a good many years. I got some good stories.
LR: Any you care to share? Love to hear them.
DA: A colored fellow had passed away and Elmer Myers had the-remember the
mortuary used to be on 26th and Adams, Myers Mortuary. So Elmer Myers
thought it would be nice to have Willie come up and cut his hair. They paid a little
more money, cutting a deceased person’s hair, Willie was nervous anyway. They
had this gentleman on the gurney and Willie was shaking all over. He dropped
his comb on the floor, went to pick it up, and the gentlemen’s arm fell off the
gurney and hit Willie in the head. Willie turned pure white and he run out,
knocked the door down at Myers Mortuary. He never came back for his
equipment. Spooked him so bad. That’s the best story on Willie Moore.
LR: That’s a great story, wow. Going a little more, I’ll say gross. Were really close to
the Reed Hotel when it burned down?
DA: Yeah, I was underneath. I had the shop in the bottom.
LR: So were you there when it was on fire?
DA: No it burned during the night. Course the night-but I went down the next day and
my electricity was on so I went to business. They were throwing mattresses out
and I knew several people that burned to death in there. But I went up in the
hotel with the fire department people to look at it afterwards.
LR: Was that strange?
DA: Well when you live on 25th street pretty soon you get used to all that.
LR: That’s a good point. Do you remember the Kokomo? It was right there next to
you. Was there a lot of hard traffic from that?
DA: Before the Kokomo it was a rodeo café a rodeo bar and Simone's took over and
renamed it Kokomo. Eddy Simone’s father used to have a bar next to me, The
National at about 244/246, 25th street. He later sold it to Pete Tulatas. He had it
there and his father moved down to 28th or 27th and Washington Boulevard next
to China Nite. I can’t remember the bar they had there, he and his sister. Eddy’s
sister had a bar there then Eddy bought the bar, Kokomo.
LR: Did you ever cut any of the homeless bums hair? Were they a part of your
clientele? Or did they just kind of stay out?
DA: Oh there was a few that’d come in when they had money.
LR: Did you know one in particular by the name of Airplane?
DA: Sure, he’s the one that died in the hotel. Little old Spanish fellow.
LR: I don’t know much about him other than his name.
DA: Oh yeah Airplane he lived in the hotel. He got burned to death in that fire. He
always wanted to act like he was crazy, but he wasn’t that crazy. That’s why they
called him Airplane because he was always looking at the sky running around.
But he wasn’t that crazy. Yeah I knew him quite well.
AP: How did you know him?
DA: Oh on the street. I knew all the bums on the street.
LR: How do I ask this question? Were you familiar with the, I’ve heard the term
coined Japanese Town. Were you familiar with that? I was speaking with a
gentleman who was very I’m not even quite sure what my question is. I was just
curious if you were aware of it and if you were a part of that, of that community?
DA: Well everybody knew each other on the street. I don’t know who you talked too.
Which one? Steve Koga?
LR: I think his name is Ichita. I can’t spell or pronounce his name. It starts with an I.
DA: What does she do or he do?
LR: He just grew up right there on Lincoln between, right close to Rose’s place. He
grew up, oh geez.
DA: What did he do?
LR: His family, he didn’t really do anything. His family lived there. Now my mind has
just kind of stopped.
DA: See in 19 about 49 or 50 we formed a Japanese commercial club in Ogden with
the business men and people behind the apartments. We made a directory, I was
involved in making a directory so we canvased the city and got all the names. I
have a copy of one of the directories at-
LR: What was it called?
DA: Japanese American Commercial Club, Dr. Iriki at the time was a physician. So
we formed the Weber County Japanese Directory of 1953. I don’t think there’s
many copies of that left. Everybody’s wanted one so I gave one to Ray Lenono
and a few others.
LR: I was just curious, because I had never-the first time I had ever heard, as he put
it, the Japanese Town-I was curious if it was well known or it was just something-
I’ve talked to other people and they’ve never heard of Japanese Town.
DA: Well it was, during the war everyone came in see, from California, and they
settled in the area of 25th street. Prior to that there was only two or three
businesses in Ogden at that time, there was Kay Mukais Bamboo and Utah
Noodle. The doctor Yoshtaka was a dentist and Star Noodle was a little widow
headed on the south side of 25th next to labor temple. There were very few
businesses-Ochi’s, Tom Ochi had a little novelty store but as far as the business
is concerned the three main businesses at that time were the Star Noodle, I
mean Utah Bamboo and Kay Mukai’s and the fish market on 24th. They had a
few other dry good imports or like a Takahashi on Lincoln Avenue bout middle of
the block. They had a few other Japanese imports, but prior to the war they used
to be a boarding house on down where the Ketchum used to be on Wall Avenue
where the mall went, I mean where they built the building down there. There
were a few of the businesses there but there weren’t that many business in
Ogden in those days.
LR: I was just curious about that and wondered how-
DA: Well during the war there’s quite a few Japanese relocated on the 25th street and
they lived out of those Capital apartment there, Capital Avenue, and there was
an apartment house where the Japanese lived there. A lot of them lived on
electric alley in the different apartment houses there.
AP: Did you cut any hair of the soldiers or the-
DA: Yeah, when they dropped in, yeah.
AP: The military personnel who were at the DDO or anything like that?
DA: No, I don’t remember names.
LR: So is there anything else you’d like to add about 25th street or some of the
memories you have about the street or anything like that.
DA: I don’t want to talk about it.
AP: You mentioned you had a basement in your shop, but that the walls were-
DA: It was solid wall, there wasn’t no tunnel all the way from the Union Station to the
Ben Lomond because each business had a solid wall in there. The only thing I
saw down in the basement that I was renting from was an old still attic like they
had back in the-made liquor there. There were those gallons with the cooper
tubing pipes in there so it must have been a still down in there, I don’t know.
AP: That was there when you moved in?
DA: Yeah it was there when I moved in and I just never bothered with it. It was
spooky. All those basements are all real spooky because they used to unload
freight. They used to have trap doors out on the sidewalk, metal trap doors
before they refixed the 25th street sidewalk. All the freight was unloaded on the
street, they had trap doors and then they had coal furnaces so they used to
unload coal for the furnaces there for their coal stoves. So they used to put coal
down in the basement there.
LR: After the fire, did they rebuild that building or-
DA: Just remodeled it.
LR: I thought they started fresh and just tore it down.
DA: Oh, no, no. It’s still there. The Colorado read rooms. Yeah I remember the fellow
who started the fire. He was going to warm up, he started a fire by the sink there
and it got out of hand. It burned down-he was sort of a weird gentleman anyway
to begin with that started the fire.
LR: So your business was never really affected then?
LR: You just kept going?
DA: Kept going. Yeah I could smell the smoke though.
AP: Probably for a long time afterward.
DA: Yeah it was excitement down there. A lot of killings going on.
AP: On the street?
DA: One day I was sitting, talking to Max Booth out there on a day off, and this fellow
came by the street, had a 22 with him. He walked next door and shot one of his
friends there and walked out. We saw him go by, but didn’t think anything of it.
Right next door he’d committed a murder. They used to be a lot of murders at El
Boracho. I’d come down in the mornings and the guy would be down there out
washing the blood off the sidewalks.
LR: That’s interesting, Ed Simone said the exact same thing. I just find that
fascinated, he mentioned that he’d wake up, come to work in the morning and
they’d be spraying off the cement cause there had been a-
DA: A stabbing
LR: A stabbing or something like that the night before. Then they’d wipe it off.
DA: One of my customers, Gale Dunn, he made remarks about something about
Black and somebody cut his throat from ear to ear. They thought he-they come
down and told me he be DOA, dead on arrival but he survived and a week later
he was out of the hospital down there. He wanted me to trim up his hair there.
AP: At the hospital?
DA: No he actually came out of the hospital. Fellows came down and said Gale Dunn
is going to be DOA. They had to lay him down so his head wouldn’t fall off he
was cut so bad, and yet he survived it.
LR: It’s amazing that he survived it.
LR: When did you think, or did the street ever change in that regard? Did it become
less of a violent place?
DA: When they started remodeling. Back in the, when was that? When did they start
remodeling? About 1979, 1980. The street started to change they clamped down,
but as far as the prostitution was concerned I think they closed that down about
1954 or 1955 at the end of Mac Wade’s tenure. Rosy got picked up and served
jail time. Instead of doing jail time she was being a maid out at sheriff Mac
Wade’s home. I think that’s when the prostitution pretty much came to the end.
But they closed them all up about, I think about 1954 or so. At that time there
was what, six or seven houses of ill repute on the street?
LR: Do you like the changes that have happened to 25th street?
DA: Oh I think it’s a lot different now. I go down there and I don’t know anybody
LR: Well you closed down your shop about when the new shops were coming in.
DA: Yeah the new shops came in in 1989. But it was a good street though even
though they had a lot of violence. I have no regrets.
AP: It seemed like there was a really good community down there. Everybody knew
each other, everybody helped each other.
DA: Yep. I have no regrets.
LR: You mentioned the Red Caps before we were starting, you just were talking
DA: See there used to be two trains that went to Denver. One would leave Salt Lake
City about 6:00 in the morning and come to Ogden, then pick up the Red Caps
and they’d go to Denver. They’d arrive in Denver about 6:30 in the evening. Then
there’d be another train leaving Denver about the same time coming back to
Ogden cause when I was in Rock Springs I used to buy the Salt Lake Tribune
and it would come about 10:30 into Rock Springs. In those days it was a nickel
for the Salt Lake Tribune and I wanted the Utah news so I’d go down and buy,
purchase a tribune every day when I was in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Rock
Springs was just like Ogden. It was a tough street too, tough town. Just like
Ogden, they had house of ill repute up and down the street wide open.
AP: I think you’ve answered most of our questions unless you have any other stories
you’d like to share with us today.
LR: I’ve enjoyed your stories a lot.
AP: Yeah they’re fun.
DA: There was one of my clients that got stabbed by a colored fellow and he finally
died. We ended up in the jury there as a hostile witness. Tom Purdue and I were
called in as hostile witnesses because we didn’t answer the defense attorney’s
questions-he pictured it a little bit different and we disagreed with him and I hung
up on him. The next thing I knew I was served a subpoena to be a hostile
AP: Oh my
DA: Some colored fellow had stuck a fellow in the eye and severed the optic nerve
there and I was out elk hunting when it happened, on a Sunday afternoon. I was
nowhere around when it happened in the Kokomo there. He got stabbed at the
LR: So he was the one who was stabbed with the ice pick?
DA: A little pen knife I guess, I don’t know. Old Virg Cooper was the fellow’s name
there that got killed. Because I knew him real well they thought I was hiding
something and they called us in and we didn’t. He was a gentleman as far as I
was concerned. I liked the fellow and all that. I used to have a coke with him all
the time at the drug store. So the drug store got called in to as a hostile witness.
The attorney at that time, defending the colored fellow was an attorney by the
name of Spooner and he put on quite a show. Dramatically he put on a real
AP: Nothing ever big happened inside your shop though? People kept their business
on the street?
DA: Oh there used to be a few fights, but that was nothing new.
LR: You had to have a police presence in your shop then?
DA: Oh all the time.
LR: That probably helped.
DA: I had FBI agents hanging around all the time. There used to be several agents,
three or four FBI agents always hanging down there, sitting around. They used to
make the remark, “we sit here long enough the criminal we’re looking for will
LR: That’s funny. It’s probably true.
DA: Yeah this FBI agent, he passed away earlier, but he used to tell some real
stories when he was in the Deep South. In the south that’s during the time they
were integrating the people into the white folks, into the black, so the FBI was
down there. They didn’t call them FBI, they called the Federal Bureau of
Integrators, but he used to tell some awful stories, boy real funny stories.
AP: I believe it. We appreciate your time. We appreciate you letting us come over to
your house and asking questions.
LR: Absolutely, just fantastic.
AP: We hope we’ve done okay not making you tell stories you didn’t want to talk
about. So thank you for letting us come in.
DA: All the pimps were real arrogant people in Ogden. They had to be arrogant to be
a pimp. We had the only gentleman out of the bunch was the fellow by the name
of Morris. Morry Waldman he was really a gentleman as far as all the guys I
knew. His father was a Rabbi in Denver and he ran a house of ill repute.
AP: Oh my, from one end to the other huh?
DA: Yeah and there was Eddy Doherty, was really arrogant too, he was really
arrogant. He had the Wyoming Rooms and then Pete Toconi had the Golden
Rooms and he was an arrogant individual. But Bill Davies wasn’t such a bad sort
of the fellow. He was half and half wasn’t he? His skin was real pale white, but
his hair was a little on the kinky side so I figured that his father must have been
white and his mother must have been black because my next door neighbor here
she’s a white woman and she was married to a black and her kids look
predominantly black so it has to be the male that takes the predominance in the
offspring. Isn’t that the case?
AP: I’m not sure.
LR: I’m not sure.
AP: Well thank you very much Mr. Aoki. Appreciate it.
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