Alice V. Martin
Interviewed by Deborah M. George
10 January 2014
Oral History Program
Weber State University
Alice V. Martin
Deborah M. George
10 January 2014
Copyright © 2014 by Weber State University, Stewart Library
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Martin, Alice, an oral history by Deborah M.
George, 10 January 2014, WSU Stewart
Library Oral History Program, Special
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University, Ogden, UT.
Abstract: The following is an oral history interview with Alice Martin conducted on
January 10, 2014 by Deborah George.
DG: My name is Debbie George and I’m here to interview Alice Martin in her home.
So tell me your full name.
AM: I’m Alice Virginia Flowers Martin and if you want to know my age I can tell you
DG: Tell us by your birth date.
AM: September 24, 1933. I was Born in Meridian, Mississippi and raised in Columbia,
DG: How are we related?
AM: You’re my daughter, number one child.
DG: So what are you doing now in your life?
AM: Anything that I wish to do because I don’t have any particular things that I want to
do. I don’t like a lot of travel so each day is a new adventure. I wrote Children
stories as a hobby but I have not thought about publishing them.
DG: So what are some of the most important lessons you have learned in life?
AM: How to adjust to change and not cause any stress to anyone else. I find that’s
important to maintain friendship.
DG: Okay. What are you proudest of in your life?
AM: My three children. Deborah ,number one, Carla, number two, and Shari.
DG: How long have you lived in Ogden?
AM: Since 1955.
DG: What brought you to Ogden?
AM: I married a person from Utah.
DG: How has Ogden changed over the years?
AM: When I arrived, being a southern person, I found that some prejudice was already
here because there were places that didn’t particularly care for ethnic minorities.
It has changed somewhat.
DG: So what are the changes that you’ve seen over the years?
AM: I think job opportunities changed over the years. Housing, wages and that sort of
thing. I don’t want to belittle anything that has changed, but those are the three
things that impacted my life.
DG: What was it like when you first moved here?
AM: What was it like when I first moved here? When you think of Utah you don’t think
of it being the same as the south, but when I first arrived here, it was very
prejudice. It has changed quite a bit, but there are some undertones still here.
DG: Is there anything you miss about the way it used to be?
AM: Oh no, oh no I think change is one of the better things that we can encounter. If
it’s a good change. Now there are those that don’t particularly care about that,
but I do. I want to always look forward. You can look back and see some of the
things but don’t constantly look backwards, look forward for a better tomorrow.
DG: Are there any people that had meaning to you when you came here? Like for
example, somebody that really impacted your life, maybe your work life.
AM: I started out at a very small grade when I say small I’m talking cs-3 (government
series). If you know what I’m talking about, and from that I found that if you
perform well you can do most anything you want to do. You first have to do
whatever the assignment is above everyone else. That’s what I found to be
intriguing because to go from grade three and then it’s a whole thing, look they’ve
got five’s over there. Pays you a little more money. So you go three, five, six,
seven, nine, 10, all of a sudden oh there’s a position in labor relations I should try
for that. You get an 11, oh that’s nice. Oh they have another job, a branch chief,
shall I try for that? Yes I should, I did try and it was wonderful because I had
three sections and 400 plus employees. I thought that was marvelous. To be able
to help some of those people along their goal, that’s good. I retired as a cs-13
Assistant Division Chief, the first African-American female at the Ogden IRS
LR: So I hope you don’t mind because I’m kind of lost a little bit. Did you work at Hill
AM: No, Internal Revenue Service.
LR: Okay because that’s government. I know GS is government.
AM: Sure is, there it is.
LR: So Internal Revenue Services is where you worked?
AM: Yes, I started in 1962 before you were born.
LR: Yes, about 12 years before I was born.
DG: I love it. Okay.
LR: Sorry. I already have questions I want to ask, but I don’t want to interrupt you.
DG: Okay go right ahead. Jump in at any time.
LR: I can wait until you’re done.
DG: Do you remember any stories about Ogden? What were your thoughts when you
found yourself coming to Ogden?
AM: Oh I married someone from here so I didn’t have any thoughts prior to that you
see. So I didn’t know anything about Utah. I was a southern person by way of
California, Illinois, and here. Oh I forgot Louisiana.
LR: Where at in Louisiana?
AM: New Orleans.
DG: Love that place. Okay, did you have a nickname?
DG: Who were your best friends growing up?
AM: My best friend, I had one best girlfriend. Her name was Lizzy Ruth McClinden
and one best boyfriend, his name was Odree, O-D-R-E-E . Lewis, L-E-W-I-S. We
used to laugh because I figured it out his last name. Cleo, hateful. When you find
something out about your friend you keep it to yourself. You don’t spread it
around. You just I know what that C stands for.
DG: What were they like?
AM: What were those people like?
DG: What was Lizzy like?
AM: Oh Lizzy and I had classes together. We had church together. Odree went in the
military very early, at 16.
DG: As a soldier?
AM: Yes. So therefore when he would come on furlough we would get to mingle and
talk about different things and the places that he’d been. He was in the Korean
war. He had a bullet whiz right by his head, lucky, it could have been worse. He
still has the scar.
LR: It grazed his head.
AM: Yeah, creased his forehead. Isn’t that amazing? I said God must have been
looking out for you.
DG: Definitely. So what did you do for fun growing up?
AM: Oh I had plenty of friends and I wasn’t a sports person to go out and play
basketball or softball and that sort of thing. I did like to dance and those were
some of the fun times I had. My class voted for me to become their, whatever
you want to call that.
AM: Football, no, football queen.
AM: Homecoming football queen, yeah. You wouldn’t think a person of 80 had that
opportunity. That was fun. Yeah you had an opportunity to decide who you
wished to date and who you didn’t want to.
DG: So what are your best memories of grade or elementary school?
AM: Grade school?
DG: Elementary, junior high, what was your best memory from that?
AM: Oh dancing I think. That was my best memories because we loved to do the
swing and someone came to the school to teach us how to square dance. That
was a little bit different than what I was accustomed too, but it was fun because
you had to do-si-do.
DG: What about high school? What was your best memory in high school?
AM: I went to football games and cheerleading and coming back to dress and walk out
on the field as their football queen, I think that was one of the best ones that I
DG: So how did you meet your husband?
DG: Was there a base there?
AM: No, it’s unusual but you know it’s like a story book. His folks lived next door to my
DG: Oh, the boy next door.
AM: Liked the girl next door.
DG: How has being a parent changed you, if any?
AM: I don’t know if it changed me, but it probably honed some of my thinking. You
have more to deal with, you have to decide this is my Debbie, and there’s my
Carla. So they’re different so you’ve got to be able to handle that because they’re
two different entities. You can’t just say I told her to do this so you have to do it.
No, not really. So it changed my thought pattern.
DG: So what did you do for a living? You kind of talked a little about it.
AM: What did I do for a living?
AM: It all started when I thought, “Well I better get something that’s substantial.” So I
went and I cleaned some homes to get enough money so I could go to Stevens
Henager College. I went there and I said well if they offer an associate or
something so I did. Then I applied to go to IRS with that background because
they were hiring. In those days they called it keypunch operators, but now it’s
data something or other, maybe conversion. I believe that’s what it is. You
convert this material.
DG: Well what did you want to do when you grew up?
AM: When I was growing up I wanted to be a school teacher, I had a full 4-year
scholarship to Jackson state university. All I needed was money for books. My
parents could not afford it and would not sign the scholarship paper, so I didn’t
go, but as time went on I’m glad I’m not a school teacher. Simply because they
don’t make enough money and I don’t think I could live with that dollop. It’s, they
should be paid far more. Oh they’re the backbone of our children really, truly.
They should be paid twice what the government people get because we don’t
have to deal with children.
DG: Were you involved with the military in any way? as a military wife.
AM: No. I wasn’t, unfortunately. Or should I say fortunately?
AM: Yes, I think so.
DG: Alright, what lessons did you learn from your life, experience you had with your
work, raising a family here in Ogden?
AM: Patience would probably be at the top because you have to have that when
you’re raising children. You can’t think that they’re adults because they’re not.
They’re down here thinking of playing and going outside and eating hot dogs or
whatever. So I had to learn that to be patient was one of the major things in
raising children. Courage, oh and the other one is communication. You’ve got to
be able to communicate on their level, not trying to speak where they don’t
understand. If they don’t, you need to stop and go again.
DG: What about your work? What lessons did you learn in your work experiences?
AM: Would you believe it’s somewhat the same.
DG: Is it?
AM: Well sure because an example would be if you’re a first line manager which I’m
not right at this time, but you need to have the patience because the people are
learning the job and they’re going to make mistakes. You’ve got to learn that
you’re not going to go over there and say look what you did blah blah blah. No,
no, no let’s try it again.
DG: What did you do as far as mentoring? How did you choose the people that you
wanted to mentor or did they come to you for help?
AM: I was a counselor at one time and I did have people come to me when I worked
in the Labor Relations area. The one young man that I can remember is now,
he’s I guess he’s into management. I don’t know if he’s a section chief or not? Is
he? He’s a deacon at the church. He’s a lead someplace.
DG: Lead Specialist.
AM: The other people they made it into section and some made it into branch. I don’t
know if we had one that made it to the division level or not because it was time
for me to adios and get out. You have to know when it’s time. Some stay too
long. They do.
DG: Alright, is there anything else you want to talk about that we didn’t cover?
AM: No, unless you want to ask me something else because I can’t think of anything.
LR: I have a question.
DG: Go right ahead.
LR: You mentioned where you were from.
LR: You kind of mentioned how you met your husband, but how did you meet you
husband? You didn’t really go into the story.
AM: Next door.
LR: I know, but when…
AM: Well when he was in the military he would come home on leave.
AM: So if he come over and ask you out to go to the movies.
LR: You go?
AM: Yeah, you go. Then when he went back. Then if they proposed you said yes if
you’re not dating someone else.
LR: He was from Utah or he just lived here?
AM: He lived here with his uncle.
LR: But he wasn’t from Utah?
AM: No, no.
LR: So when you first moved here where did you live?
AM: Chicago, Los Angeles .
LR: I mean here in Ogden, when you first moved to Ogden?
AM: When I first moved to Ogden where did I come from?
LR: No where did you live? Where did you guys reside?
AM: Washington Terrace.
LR: Oh so here?
AM: Yes, in the lower part of Washington Terrace is where we lived.
LR: Fantastic, so were they at that time, were they the government housing still?
AM: Yes. You could buy them if you wanted too. Yes.
LR: I remember learning that.
AM: Someone else talking about it.
LR: Let me rephrase.
LR: Something you said in the beginning that struck me and I’m curious as to what
you mean by it.
LR: You said, “When one of those things you learned was to adjust to change.” What
did you mean by that?
AM: There are times when you look at an ethnic minority person that couldn’t go in
various places to eat so you have to adjust to that and make the most you can.
When things get better then you move along. You don’t have to look back
always. You have to look forwards and hope that you can have some input for
change for someone else. That’s what I think I had when I worked for the Internal
LR: So you felt like you were helping others adjust to change or creating change
AM: Helping them with their careers and adjusting to change because you had to
conscience with them and tell them that it’s going to be okay if you do this, this,
LR: Did you spend a lot of time in downtown Ogden when you first came here?
DG: You know like shopping and visiting any of the stores?
AM: Well sure I went to the stores.
LR: It’s kind of a two part question. How much has that changed over the years?
AM: I don’t like to shop. I hate it with a passion.
LR: I totally understand where you’re coming from, I hate shopping.
AM: Oh no, if I was wealthy I would have someone else go do it.
LR: That’s fantastic.
AM: My kind of woman, I just don’t like it. I didn’t see a lot of short comings or
animosity or whatever you want to call it when I would go shopping. I knew what I
wanted when I went into the store so I didn’t go around picking up stuff and
looking it over and putting it back. So no one can walk over and say, “You man
handled this or woman handled it or whatever you want to call it.” If you know
you’re looking for a sweater why are you over in the dress department? I don’t do
that. To this day I think that’s foolish. Know what you’re going for, get it and get
DG: So when you lived in Washington Terrace that’s where you first moved and then
after that did you buy a home after living in Washington Terrace or did you
AM: We rented a duplex in West Ogden for a while. Then we moved into an
apartment and then we bought a home on 31st street.
LR: When you say West Ogden do you mean west of Washington?
AM: Going west to the 24th street viaduct.
LR: I didn’t grow up in Ogden. So I’m not sure
AM: I can understand that, I wouldn’t either.
LR: Truly West Ogden.
AM: Yes it is. If you go over viaduct and then there’s West Ogden over there.
LR: I was thinking West Ogden being from Washington to the train station, that’s West
Ogden. You’ve got to go a little further.
AM: Past the tracks.
LR: I could ask you a hundred questions, but they aren’t coming to me right now.
AM: Ask me anything you want. I can understand that.
DG: Now when you bought your home, was there only a certain area that you were
shown or could you move anywhere you wanted?
AM: In those days you could move. You might have some encounters though. You
could buy it if you had the money.
LR: So the realtors would sell to you no matter what home you wanted?
AM: Well I only dealt with two so I don’t know about all the other realtors you see.
They seemed to convey that you could buy anywhere, but I knew better. There
were certain in Ogden that you would have problems with the neighbors. So and
I don’t know those areas, but they’re here. They were here in Ogden.
DG: Well that’s all the questions I have. Do you have some nuggets of wisdom for
AM: It’s all in what you make of it. See you can be born in Tahiti, you can be born in
Brazil. You can be born anyplace in the world, but it’s left up to you to carve a
place. You can’t expect your neighbor or Mom and Dad to do it for you. You have
to do it for yourself. You’ve got to be proud each time you go down this avenue or
this street. You’ve got to leave, leave all those nuggets. Leave something there
so they can remember what you said or did. It might help someone later on in
life. I don’t have any more wonderful things I wish I did.
LR: I’m sure you do, you just need the right question. I don’t have one. I don’t have
the right question.
AM: All of the people that I knew are gone. They’re no longer among us because my
very best friend passed away a few years back. My girlfriend’s no longer here,
they were in the south. He was from Lawton, Oklahoma so he’s no longer down
there. He did come out and visit us a couple of times which was nice. He couldn’t
understand Utah being a good southern person. Being in the military you know
they are exposed to so much. So that makes a difference. I wish I could come up
with something that you haven’t heard before.
LR: Oh you’ve imparted a lot of that I haven’t heard before.
AM: Oh not really. You know if you were born here in this state and knew nothing
about anywhere else you’re leading a sheltered life. Once you get out of shell
shock (what!?) You see all these various people and they’re in positions that you
didn’t think that they could manage. It’s different. I think I wish I could do a flip
and let many of the folks go and see what it’s like in Philadelphia and Detroit. I’m
talking about the hardcore areas now. Cincinnati, you need to see some of it.
You can go right here to Los Angeles and see some different things. Some of the
folks that live here they have never, ever, ever, been out of the state. It’s bad for
LR: I agree.
AM: You need to see some of the world and that God has said look it’s nice out there.
Get over there!
LR: See that’s a wonderful piece of wisdom right there.
AM: Get out there huh?
LR: Get out there.
AM: Get out there. Plow that row. Make it straight.
LR: I needed to hear that 20 years ago.
AM: You should get out there.
LR: I have now.
AM: Now, but when you were younger that’s when you need to get out there. Don’t
want until you’re 30, please don’t. Get out there! Maybe though your folks
wouldn’t allow it though. See that makes a difference because you weren’t
making any money. See that makes a different when mom and dad take care of
you. You can’t do these things, especially in the high school. What we think
about in high school is clothes and clothes and girls and clothes. I could just keep
saying it, that’s what we thought of.
LR: It hasn’t changed much.
AM: Clothes, and now they think of a car thrown in their someplace.
LR: Like they’re entitled to it.
AM: But we should change just a tad. Look down the hard, lonesome road and you
realize you need the education first. You need to mingle with a variety of people,
don’t just settle and say oh all of us are tan. No you’re not. Some are pink, some
white, some tan, some brown, some black. See you’ve got to get out there. See
what the world is like. It makes you a better person.
LR: I agree, absolutely.
AM: Sure will. Well listen I’m just pleased that you guys popped by.
LR: I’m thoroughly pleased.
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