Interviewed by Melissa Johnson
26 July 2013
Oral History Program
Weber State University
26 July 2013
Copyright © 2014 by Weber State University, Stewart Library
The Oral History Program of the Stewart Library was created to preserve the institutional history of Weber
State University and the Davis, Ogden and Weber County communities. By conducting carefully
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Business at the Crossroads - Ogden City is a project to collect oral histories related to changes in the
Ogden business district since World War II. From the 1870s to World War II, Ogden was a major railroad
town, with nine rail systems. With both east-west and north-south rail lines, business and commercial
houses flourished as Ogden became a shipping and commerce hub.
After World War II, the railroad business declined. Some government agencies and businesses related to
the defense industry continued to gravitate to Ogden after the war—including the Internal Revenue
Regional Center, the Marquardt Corporation, Boeing Corporation, Volvo-White Truck Corporation,
Morton-Thiokol, and several other smaller operations. However, the economy became more service
oriented, with small businesses developing that appealed to changing demographics, including the
growing Hispanic population.
Oral history is a method of collecting historical information through recorded interviews between a
narrator with firsthand knowledge of historically significant events and a well-informed interviewer, with
the goal of preserving substantive additions to the historical record. Because it is primary material, oral
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Nash, Michael, an oral history by Melissa
Johnson, 26 July 2013 , WSU Stewart
Library Oral History Program, Special
Collections, Stewart Library, Weber State
University, Ogden, UT.
Michael E. Nash
July 26, 2013
Michael E. Nash at
271 25th Street
Michael E. Nash
at the Ogden Bus Depot
Abstract: The following is an oral history interview with Michael Nash. The interview
was conducted on July 26, 2013, by Melissa Johnson, in Kaysville, Utah. Michael
discusses his memories of 25th Street.
MJ: This is Melissa Johnson and it is July 26, 2013. I’m here in the home of Michael
Nash in Kaysville, Utah and he is going to talk with us a little bit about his
memories of 25th Street as part of our Business at the Crossroads project.
Recording the interview today is Jordan Chavez. So, just to start off a little bit, tell
us about where and when you were born.
MN: It’s nice to have you guys here, thank you. My full name in Michael Earl Serpa
Nash and I was born on the 7th of May of 1947 in Ogden at the St. Benedict’s
Hospital at the top of 30th Street. The address that I grew up was 451 15th Street
in Ogden. It was not too far from the Lorin Farr Park and the Ogden Stadium.
MJ: Tell us a little bit about your family as well.
MN: My biological father’s name was Lembert (Lindy) Joseph Serpa. He and my mom
divorced when I was fairly young. His family lived in Oakland, California. I’d see
him once a summer until I got a little older through junior high and high school.
One unique thing about my biological father, in his younger days played for the
Ogden Reds baseball team. As a matter of fact, at Iggy’s Sports Grill at the
junction in Ogden, they have a picture of the 1939 Ogden Reds and his picture is
in that group of the baseball team. He also played some Western Canadian
baseball and served in the Navy. He. was aboard the U.S.S. Alabama during
World War II. My stepfather, William Leslie Nash Jr. and my mom married in
1957 and is from Aurora, Missouri. He was in the Air Force at Hill Air Force Base
when they met, and got discharged from there. His line of work after the Air
Force was in construction. He started at Waterfall Construction in Ogden, then
worked for Gibbons & Reed Construction Company, which is now Granite
Construction. My mom, Barbara May Lamb Serpa Nash, is from Ogden and was
an LPN, a licensed practical nurse at St. Benedict’s Hospital for a while, but the
majority of the time she was a stay at home mom with me and my brother,
Roger. My half-brother Roger Scott Nash, was eleven years younger than
myself, but we still had a lot in common even though we were a bit separated in
years. He was also born in Ogden. My grandmother, Hattie May Gail Lamb was a
stay at home mom. She came from a fairly large family and they settled in
Riverdale, Utah. My grandfather, Earl Ogden Lamb, was from Iowa. During
Vaudeville, he was stage manager when they had the Vaudeville shows at the
Orpheum Theater. When they converted to the talking pictures, he was a
projectionist at the Orpheum Theater. It was the Glassman family that owned the
Orpheum and the Paramount theaters. When my grandfather died, they gave my
grandmother a pass for her and one other person to the Orpheum and the
Paramount movies and only had to pay the tax.
MJ: Just really quick, do you know what position your dad played on the Reds?
MJ: You mentioned your mom being an LPN, was she trained here in Ogden?
MN: Yes, she trained at the St. Benedict’s Hospital at the top of 30th Street.
MJ: You mentioned to us before that your uncle had owned the Lyceum building and
at that time had been converted into the liquor store in the bottom and
MN: Right. My uncle, Harold F. Gail was my grandmother’s brother and he worked for
The Standard Examiner for a while and then he had his own business, Gail
Printing Company. When my grandmother sold our house on 15th Street, she
moved to 271 25th Street in 1957. My mom, stepdad, brother and myself
ultimately ended up moving to the apartments in approximately 1959. The
Lyceum faces north and south, so Grandma actually lived in apartment number
seven which was in the southeast corner of the building on the second floor. My
brother and I, my mom and stepdad lived in apartment number one, which was
the north end of the building that overlooked 25th Street. There was
approximately seven apartments on the second floor. The first floor was the Utah
State Liquor Store. A partial third level had just two apartments.
MJ: Do you know how or when our uncle purchased the building?
MN: I’m not sure.
MJ: Okay. You said your grandmother moved there in 1957 and you guys moved
MN: We ultimately moved there in 1959 and we lived there from 1959 to 1968.
MJ: Okay. Before we talk a little bit more about 25th Street, what were some of the
things that you did for fun when you were growing up?
MN: You know, it was probably just the normal things as a kid, I guess. Of course,
having moved quite a bit when I was younger, I met a lot of people and had a lot
of friends around the Ogden area, but never got to stay in one place for a long
time other than on 15th Street. I stayed there from 1947 to 1957 then we moved
to 25th Street. I went to a lot of movies, of course, at the Orpheum and the
Paramount. There was also the Egyptian Theater on Washington Boulevard and
the Ogden Theater. I didn’t go to the Ogden very much because it mainly had
adult movies. When I would walk to Madison or Central up to 25th Street,
sometimes they’d have some pretty risqué pictures of the movies that were
playing but a curious kid as myself you had to check them out. I had some good
riends who were employed at the greyhound bus station and the coffee shop
next door to the east. I remember a lady and her two daughters that managed
the Helina Hotel for a while. I did just normal stuff, if you want to call it normal on
25th Street. Let me just say that even though we lived on 25th Street, we weren’t
necessarily of the street. There were a lot of different types of people that would
come down there—people from the Ogden business district and people that hung
out on the street all the time.
MJ: All kinds of people.
MN: Right. Exactly.
MJ: What was 25th Street like when you guys lived there?
MN: Wow, well there was a lot going on with the various establishments and I
remember the Broom Hotel on the corner of 25th and Washington. Before even
the federal building, there were a lot of different businesses and bars in that area.
Of course, there was just a wide variety of establishments from hotels to bars
and cafes. It was just interesting.
MJ: Did you see a lot of trouble?
MN: A lot of different things. When you live in an area like that, you do. You see a lot
of different people like husbands being abusive to their wives, especially
sometimes when their cars were parked in front of the liquor store. I don’t know if
they were even partially intoxicated when they were there, or had an altercation
of some type, but when your apartment, like ours was, facing 25th Street, you do
see a lot. With everything going on you’re bound to see all kinds of stuff.
On a positive note, one thing that stands out in my mind are the buses—
the greyhound buses that were coming and going. There was also the Lake
Shore Motor Coach Lines, which was a local commuter bus from Ogden to Salt
Lake and all points in between. I vividly remember one of the Greyhound routes
that would be announced as follows: “All aboard the north bound car. Loading in
lane number two for Brigham City, Snowville, Stravel, Burley, Twin Falls, Boise,
Baker, Pendleton, Walla Walla, Lewiston, Spokane, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle,
Just to the west of the Lyceum, was the labor temple. This is where a lot
of the labor unions had their offices and where the members would meet. I can’t
remember the exact time when the labor temple caught on fire, nor the
circumstances why, but it was late one night or early one morning and it was a
fairly cooler time of the year. The fire department came and woke us all up,
everybody in the building, to evacuate. So, we had to leave the building, but the
greyhound bus station closed at approximately 11:30 p.m., and it was after that
that the fire happened, so we went over to the Trailways terminal which was just
north across the street on the corner from the Greyhound bus station. We were
all in our robes and pajamas and night gowns, and had to stay until they got the
fire put out and until they deemed it safe to go back in. I remember for a long
time afterwards you could smell the smoke from the fire at the labor temple.
Another thing that stands out in my mind was, especially on Fridays and
Saturday nights, there would be, just to the south of the back of the apartments
was the Elk’s Lodge. The Elk’s faced east and west, but they would always have
a live band usually there on Friday and Saturday nights and a lot of people and a
lot of parties going on. West of our building was the Acapulco Club and they had
a live band too so it was kind of a battle of the bands on Friday nights and
Saturday nights. They’d have music during the week, but nothing like the live
bands that would be there on the weekends. It was loud and pretty noisy, but it
was fun. There were things going on at the park sometimes, different things at
the park, which was just to the east of Grant Avenue.
MJ: I think it’s really interesting, a lot of times when people think about Ogden, they
think about the railroad and that end of 25th Street, the hustle and bustle over
there, so it’s interesting to hear the hustle and bustle at the other end of the
street with the buses.
MN: Yes, that’s exactly true. The old silver sides and scenic cruiser buses. Fred
Holden, who was the ticker agent, had two of his sons that worked there, Terry
and Tom Holden, and then there was a gentleman by the name of Gerald
Perkins. Oliver Albertson sold pillows on the buses when they’d come in, and
there was an African American gentleman whose last name was Coleman, but
they called him Coley and he would shine shoes in the men’s restroom of the bus
station. Good people. Really good people.
MJ: They had a lot going on down there. You said that you worked at the coffee shop
there in the bus depot, how did you get job?
MN: Exactly. Well, living there and working close, or being there a lot, I knew Fred
Holden and his boys and he basically ran the whole operation. Don Mueller was
the first operator of the coffee shop. Then there was Welling Zundel who ran it for
a while after Don Mueller left. June Barker was one of the waitresses at the
coffee shop. Her husband, Tom Barker, was a Lakeshore bus driver. When
Welling Zundel took over, he had a couple of his granddaughters, Mary and Jane
Holmes that worked there. So I got to be really good friends with all them.
MJ: Where in the depot was the coffee shop?
MN: It was on the northwest corner of the building.
MJ: What did the rest of the interior of the depot look like?
MN: Restrooms, of course, but I remember they had similar waiting benches that the
train depot had. There was the ticket counter, an area where people would put
their bags to be checked because they had to be loaded on the buses or off-loaded
when the buses came in or left. Basically, the exterior now pretty much
looks like it did back then.
MJ: We talked a little bit about the theaters before and your grandfather working
there. Any other memories of those downtown theaters?
MN: The reason we went to so many movies is because of the passes my
grandmother got, and the theaters were so close. I remember when they had,
“20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” playing and the big marquee out front.
Adjacent and pretty much connected to the Orpheum Theater was the Dokos
Candy Company, and the proprietor there was a gentleman by the name of
Johnny Dokos. We would go in and get a few little refreshments and some
candy. A lot of times Johnny would take me down to where they were making the
candy in the basement. The Paramount was on Kiesel Avenue between 24th and
25th on the west side. I remember the old movie tone news that would broadcast
before the movies.
MJ: You had mentioned to us before the Mr. Softie truck. Did you work in the Mr.
MN: Fred Holden got this franchise for Mr. Softie and it was actually a fairly large ice
cream truck because it had an ice cream making machine. It reminded me of
some of the larger post office trucks. We would park it over at the gas station on
27th Street and Grant Avenue and would plug it in at night to keep the batteries
charged. During the day in the summertime, I would bring it over to the
Greyhound bus terminal and park it on the furthest west end to get it out of the
way of the buses. In the storage room on the southwest corner of the building is
where they’d keep a lot of the supplies, so we’d load it up from there and then
would go to North Ogden, the central part of Ogden and then to South Ogden.
MJ: You mentioned before too, the woman and her daughter that ran the Helina
MN: There was a lady and her two daughters that managed the Helina Hotel. They
would come up to the coffee shop and would visit. I wish I could remember their
names because they were really good people.
MJ: We’ve got the Polk directories at the library, I wonder if we can look up the hotel
at that time and find out their names.
MN: The Helina Hotel still has the Helina Hotel name on the front of it. The Lyceum,
that name was not, on the front of the building other than recently whenever they
started redoing that whole area.
MJ: That’s good to know because I figured that it was original to it.
MN: No, and from what I can recall, it was not. Even though it was the Lyceum
Theater, that “Lyceum,” was not painted on the building. On the north side there
was just a small entrance to the apartments that you could go upstairs and we
could lock it at nights or anytime. We’d usually leave it open during the day so
the mailman could deliver the mail because there were boxes right at the
approach. Then you’d go up the stairs into the hallway. A couple of the inner
apartments didn’t have windows and were used for storage, but the ones like my
grandmothers and ours that had windows and some of the others along the east
side were occupied.
MJ: You had mentioned too, the Great Wall Café and Grill Tavern.
MN: You could look out our front window and just to the north was the Grill Tavern
and just a little bit northeast was the Great Wall Café. In that same area was the
Depot Drug. Also there was the Kokomo Club, which is still operating. There was
Poncho’s at 25th Street and Lincoln Avenue and the Marion Hotel on the one
hundred block. We were in the two hundred block. There was Star Noodle and
next door there was a little Judo or Karate place, they would teach Judo or
Karate and you could go down in a basement area and actually sit and watch
them do their practicing. Also, on Lincoln, between 25th and 26th, I believe it was
on the east side of the street, they had the Sundowners Motorcycle Club hangout
and then, of course, I remember Wonder Bread. That had been there for a long
time, plus the thrift store and that was on Grand Avenue, a little bit south of the
Elk’s Lodge. I also remember the library. When I was going to Central and Ogden
High School, if I needed to, I’d just go over to the library on the corner of 26th
MJ: The Carnegie Library, right?
MN: The Carnegie Library, exactly. That was there for a long time, but I would go in
and study and do whatever. It was a short walk home so it was pretty convenient.
MJ: You talked about the park there and you said that you would sometimes walk
over for Christmas Village.
MN: Right. During Christmas time, they’d have it all set up like they still do to a certain
extent. Since my brother was a lot younger than myself, when my grandmother
and my mother would set out Christmas, Roger, myself, and my stepdad would
take him over to the park and would just walk around and look at things and
spend about as long as we could, about a half an hour or 45 minutes until we
figured the presents were all there under the tree. The apartments weren’t very
big, so we didn’t have a huge tree, but we would go back and it was kind of
special to Roger because Santa Claus had come. The park did a very good job in
the Christmas village with the decorations and music. There were a lot of people
there every night during the Christmas season.
MJ: It’s interesting doing this project because some people remember 25th Street as
just rough and tumble and crime this problem area, other people remember it as
being this very vibrant and alive kind of place. Where do you think your memories
MN: A lot of it kind of intermingles with everything you said because living there on a
full-time basis, you see some good things and you see some bad things, but
overall, it was just the area at the time. You could go not too far north, south,
east, or west and be in the business district of Ogden. You could be over where
they were doing all of the bread making at Wonder Bread. The post office was
not too far. Before they built the federal building and when the Broom Hotel was
there, you had more of the same kind of situation there so it was more extended
before they tore that 300 block down where the federal building is now. So, there
was still part of the, “red light alley.” I got a book that I was reading on it called,
“The Historic Two-Bit Street,” and that brought a lot of memories back about the
red light district. I remember that area. I don’t remember exactly, but I think
probably they had a lot of that cleaned up fairly well during the time that we were
there. Maybe not totally, but I don’t remember so much the negative things. It
was just the spirit of the time more or less. There was just a lot of stuff going on
and just a lot of things happening. There was never a dull moment basically
there. You had to be careful, of course. We would lock our door to the building at
night and hopefully people in the apartments would remember to do that, but
every so often you’d have different people come up for whatever reason if
somebody forgot to lock it and they were drunk, or whatever by mistake or
maybe they were just coming up to visit one of the tenants there. One thing I can
remember in the building is on the partial third level, you’d go up right before you
got to the two apartments, apartment 8 and apartment 9, you’d make a 180
degree turn and there was a little entrance that you’d have to bend down to go
into a locked door, but you’d open the door with out key and go in. I remember
there were closets, or dressing rooms that they had used at the time when it was
a theater to store things. My mother’s uncle would let the tenants store things
there. That partial area where the storage closets were, was fairly large, but then
actually you could look further north up in the attic area and could see all of the
open beams. It was very dark. You had a light in part of the area where the
storage closets were. They weren’t a small closet. They almost looked like things
where you could store wardrobe type stuff. I remember going up and just looking
around seeing a lot of different things. When I went to Ogden High School I’d
catch the Ogden City bus at the corner of 25th and Grant Avenue. I’d ride it all
the way to Ogden High School and then catch the same bus back and it would
drop me off on Washington and 25th. It was kind of different to ride the city bus
line to school every day. The brief time I went to Madison and Central, I walked
there and back home in good and bad weather usually. It was a workout, but I
made it okay. I remember the Topper Bakery which is still on Monroe between
25th and 26th.
MJ: How come your family ultimately moved from there?
MN: I’m not really sure because when they moved from 25th they moved to Gramercy
between 25th and 26th. I joined the Air Force during the Vietnam timeframe and I
went in 1966 and went to my basic training and tech. school and was stationed
back at Hill for two and a half years, so when I was in the Air Force for part of
that four year time, I actually just lived at home and drove to Hill. Then I got
orders to go to Thailand from 1968 to 1969 and that was when my grandmother,
my mom, dad and Roger moved from 25th Street to Gramercy. When I got back
from Thailand, they had already moved. Why? I don’t know if maybe they just
needed a little bit more room. The apartments were fairly small and you had to
put stuff in storage, so I think they just wanted to get a home and just press on
from there. Grandma lived with us until her passing in May of 1969.
MJ: I just have a few more questions for you to wind down. How do you think Ogden
and 25th Street have changed since you lived there?
MN: All that they’ve done to make 25th Street historic. Times change and you just go
with the times. Especially where the Junction is now, there used to be a lot of
small stores and stuff. Wow, because I grew up in Ogden a lot of big changes
have taken place, most have been for the better. The inner city has taken a bit of
a downturn. There are still a lot of old beautiful homes in the inner city. The
buildings and the structure all seem to be, a lot of them are really still there. A lot
of them have been put on registers for the historical society and whatever. I know
the Egyptian survived. I was kind of disappointed for the Orpheum, but I think
when they were doing some construction there on that part of Ogden, somehow
something fell on the roof there and it caved in and they had to demolish it. For
the most part, the old city and county building is there from when I remembered
Of course, I remember the jail being at the top there. I call it the city and
county building referring to it as that because that has pretty much stayed in
place. Overall, just with progress and different things, but I’m glad that a lot of the
building on 25th Street, the bus station is still intact structurally and the Lyceum
Theater. I think, I believe, that the apartments…well, let me back track a little bit,
when I went down there and they were doing a little bit of the remodeling to the
Lyceum building, when they were putting the Wiseguys and what’s there now, I
was talking with my Uncle Herold’s son, Brent, who I believe is still living. Gary
Gail, his other boy, died a few years back. He was an attorney in Ogden. Brent
still lives up on Weelocken, but I was talking with him and I asked him if it was
okay, and even the construction workers, if I went and just went through the
building a little bit. Actually, I got a brick that I still have of the remodel of the
building. Upstairs where the apartments were, initially I think they were going to
turn that into office space because when I went up there, of course, they hadn’t
done it yet, but there were still a lot of mattresses and furniture in the different
apartments. It was neat to walk through them, it brought back a lot of memories.
It was neat to go back through the Lyceum buildings when they were remodeling
it for the Wiseguys play house downstairs.
Probably back in the 1970’s, Herold Gale had his printing company in
there for a while where the liquior store was. I remember working for my mother’s
Uncle Herold when he left The Standard Examiner and had his printing business.
It was initially in the old Ogden Utah Knitting Mill building just north of the old post
office on Grant Avenue on the second floor. Then he moved from there to Ogden
Avenue between 25th and 26th Street on the west side of the street. There were
some buildings there and he occupied a small warehouse where he had his
printing facility. Facing the entrance was a parking lot behind Glen Bros. Music
MN: We’ve covered a lot, haven’t we? There are just a lot of things. I appreciate the
opportunity to share some of these experiences because for the nine years or so
that I lived on 25th, even though it was fine for me, you get labeled, “Oh, you live
on 25th Street? Oh my gosh, you’re living in a pretty rough part of town,” which it
was, but you dealt with it. I knew so many people that I wasn’t really picked on as
a kid. I mean, you go through different things, but I knew so many people from
different parts of town that they pretty much left me alone. So, I was immune to a
lot of the bullying that maybe went on. Thank you for this opportunity, it’s been
MJ: Thank you. Was there anything else you wanted to share? Did we get it all?
MN: I think we pretty much covered most of it.
MJ: Good. Thank you very much for letting us come here today. We really appreciate
MN: That’s great. Thanks again.
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