Evart T. Bradley
Interviewed by Lorrie Rands
29 July 2013
Oral History Program
Weber State University
Evart T. Bradley
29 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
researched, recorded, and transcribed interviews, the Oral History Program creates archival oral histories
intended for the widest possible use.
Interviews are conducted with the goal of eliciting from each participant a full and accurate account of
events. The interviews are transcribed, edited for accuracy and clarity, and reviewed by the interviewees
(as available), who are encouraged to augment or correct their spoken words. The reviewed and
corrected transcripts are indexed, printed, and bound with photographs and illustrative materials as
available. Archival copies are placed in Special Collections. The Stewart Library also houses the original
recording so researchers can gain a sense of the interviewee's voice and intonations.
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
history is not intended to present the final, verified, or complete narrative of events. It is a spoken
account. It reflects personal opinion offered by the interviewee in response to questioning, and as such it
is partisan, deeply involved, and irreplaceable.
All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to
the Stewart Library of Weber State University. No part of the manuscript may be
published without the written permission of the University Librarian. Requests for
permission to publish should be addressed to the Administration Office, Stewart
Library, Weber State University, Ogden, Utah, 84408. The request should include
identification of the specific item and identification of the user.
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Bradley, Evart, an oral history by Lorrie
Rands, 29 July 2013, WSU Stewart Library
Oral History Program, Special Collections,
Stewart Library, Weber State University,
Evart T. Bradley
29 July 2013
Abstract: The following is an oral history interview with Evart Bradley. The interview
was conducted on July 29, 2013, by Lorrie Rands. Evart discusses his
experiences with 25th street.
LR: It is July 29, 2013 at 2:00 in the afternoon and we are here at Wiseguys in Ogden
with Mr. Buddy Bear Bradley doing an oral history interview about 25th Street
and the canteen and his experiences. Thank you, Mr. Bradley, for being here and
allowing us to interview you. Let’s start with the basic where and when you were
EB: I was born in Salt Lake on June 23, 1927.
LR: Talk a little bit about your family.
EB: My grandmother came from England when she was two years old to Ogden and
she was raised here in Ogden on 23rd street just off Wall Avenue. She went to
school here through the eighth grade. There were no public high schools at that
time, so she went through the eighth grade here and then she met my
grandfather at the old Union Pacific Depot, the one that burned down in 1904.
They were married and when they first got married he was on the D&RG railroad
and he got a position up in Montecello, Nevada. That was a station where they
fueled the old wood burner trains with the funnel. My grandfather’s job there was
to fill the water tanks on the train and fill the wood burner and my grandmother
ran the train over there and she ran the boarding house. The trains would meet
there and one train would go on to Elko, Nevada and the other would go up to
Grace, Idaho and they’d meet there and then the engineers would trade positions
and he’d fuel the trains up and put water on them. They had the old water spout
from the big water tank and if there were any passengers, my grandmother fed
them and they were there for about four years and then they came back to
Ogden and lived here until 1911 and then they moved to Salt Lake.
My mother was born here in Ogden and lived here through the sixth grade
and then they moved to Salt Lake. My mother was born June 6, 1906.
LR: How did your grandparents meet?
EB: They met at the old depot. My grandmother lived on 23rd right off Wall Street and
she was over at the lunch counter and he was an engineer on the D&RG railroad
and they met there at the lunch counter. They started dating and they got married
here in Ogden.
LR: So you were born in Salt Lake.
EB: I was born in Salt Lake.
LR: Where did you go from Salt Lake?
EB: Well, my mother died in 1933 when I was just six year old and I lived with my
grandparents and grandma was Thomas Lever’s daughter. I lived with them and
with housekeepers until I was eleven years old. My father remarried a woman
with four children and she didn’t want anything to do with his kids, so until I got in
a little bit of trouble when I was eleven years old—they wouldn’t take any of us.
My grandmother said, “You either take him or I’ll put him in reform school.” They
took me up to Idaho to live with them. I ran away from there when I was 14 years
old and went to California and lied about my age and got into the Navy yard as a
shipfitter apprentice. When I turned 16, my record at the Navy yard said I was 18,
and I used my records from the Navy yard to register for the draft when I was 16.
I used my draft card to join the Navy without anybody’s permission.
I had a hernia at the time so the Navy fixed the hernia and sent me back
to the Navy yard, so I didn’t go through boot camp until 1945. When I first went
overseas, we weren’t there very long and the carrier Randolph, I was on a repair
ship. The carrier Randolph rolled over on us and we had to go back to the
shipyards for repairs. They got bombed and they rolled over on us. I didn’t get to
see much action in World War II. I got back just in time for the Armistice and then
I went to China for about three years. We came through here in 1945 on a troop
train going to boot camp.
At that time they were transporting a lot more equipment and machinery
all over the country and they had priority over the military personnel. We would
sit at the siding until it went by so we were here in Ogden for three days and I’d
go to the canteen there at the depot and I can remember some of it. The Red
Cross used to bring us sandwiches and coffee and donuts to the train when we
were on the train and they’d sell them to us. They had coffee for a nickel and
donuts for a nickel and a sandwich for a dime. The Navy fed the Navy personnel
sandwiches for our meal. We ate mostly sandwiches and war rations.
I had a couple occasions to walk up 25th Street and one of the things I
remember is that we decided to stay over one night because we knew our train
wasn’t leaving and we went into an old hotel on the north side of the street, I
don’t remember the name of it, but the street was full of people and there were all
kinds of things going on here. You wouldn’t believe the activity that was going on.
We went up there and the only room that was available somebody had knocked
the door off the room. We paid 25 cents apiece, my buddy and I, for a room with
one of those old fashioned iron beds and we stayed there until about 1:00. There
were a lot of things going on in the hotel so we decided we’d be better off on the
train, so we left and went back to the train.
LR: So your experience at the canteen, what do you remember?
EB: I met some really nice people and we’d dance with the girls and for those that
drank coffee, they had coffee, they had milk and soft drinks. I remember those
and it was just a real nice experience. People treated you like you were a prince
or a king. They just treated you beautifully.
LR: And you were 16 or 17 at the time?
EB: I was 17 when I went through here. The street was no place for a naïve 17 year-old
I’ll tell you that.
LR: I was going to ask, what were some of the things you saw?
EB: There were girls there that would proposition you and gay guys would proposition
you. The uniform just attracted all kinds of people.
LR: So you were on your way to boot camp, but you were in uniform?
EB: Yes we were. We were in uniform because the company I was in was being
transferred from Idaho to boot camp in San Diego.
LR: That’s right.
EB: I was in the Navy while working in the Terminal Island Naval Shipyard waiting
until my hernia healed so I could go through boot camp.
LR: You mentioned Thomas Lever. Would you talk about him for a minute?
EB: As that copy I gave you will show, he was my great grandfather and a policeman
here on 25th Street for years and he became the jailer. He was in charge of the
police records. This is really an interesting story because I got it out of the old
Ogden Standard. There were two newspapers there at that time, the Ogden
Examiner and the Ogden Standard and they were rivals and they would get on
each other. I just found this out recently doing some research on my grandfather,
some of the things they went through, the two different papers. They were
accusing each other of conspiracy and different things. Now they’re merged
LR: What is the story from the newspaper?
EB: This came out of the Standard that a reporter from the Examiner was trying to
conspire to discredit the mayor. I can’t remember the name of the mayor, but
they were trying to discredit him, so they tried to get Thomas Lever, my
grandfather, to say that he had burned some of the records, which he hadn’t
done. They had conned him into leaving and tried to make it look like he knew
that they were burned. It’s quite a story. I just got into that last week.
LR: Was it Glassman who was the mayor? That is fascinating. Didn’t Thomas Lever
also have an experience on 25th Street?
EB: Yes. Three fellows robbed a butcher store and locked the butcher in the freezer
and went up and were trying to rob the bar and somebody ran up and Thomas
Lever was the jailer at that time and he went down there on the bicycle and tried
to arrest him and then got into a shooting war. They weren’t 10 feet apart and
neither one of them could hit each other. There’s a big story about that too. I
think that was in the Examiner. He had several occasions here on this street with
different things he got involved in as a policeman. One of the other things that
was kind of funny was when he became the jailer, he went into jail to quiet a
disturbance in the jail and one of the inmates pulled off his wooden leg and hit
him over the head with it. The other jailers came in and rescued him.
LR: I’m sure at the time it wasn’t humorous, but it is now.
EB: It wasn’t humorous, but it’s humor. Comedy comes from history.
LR: I agree. That leads into my next question. Why did you decide to become a
EB: Why? Well, my nephew took me to a comedy show one night and I’ve always
had a lot of fun with writing jokes and limericks, I’ve written quite a few of them
and I got to thinking, “Well, that would be fun to do.” I went to an open mic and
did it and got a lot of laughs and I got addicted to those laughs and I kept going
back and I enjoyed it. I even started writing more jokes and I started
remembering some of the funny things that happened in my life and I’d make
jokes out of them.
Like, my grandfather and grandmother took my sister and I up to
Yellowstone Park—and this is one of the first jokes I told, I didn’t mean to tell a
joke, but I did. We were staying in a row of cabins there and my sister and I went
out and there was a she bear and two cubs eating out of the garbage can there.
We walked over to watch it and the mother bear started to run toward us and I
ran into the first cabin I came to and there was a naked woman in there. I came
out as fast as I went in. I didn’t know which I was more scared of, the female bear
or the bare female.
For years I was in sales training people and a national sales manager for
different companies and I’ve trained over 2,000 salespeople. I did a lot of it with
humor. Humor is a very good teaching tool and it’s a good way to keep
somebody’s attention. I had talked to audiences with as many as 2,000 people,
so I wasn’t afraid of getting up on stage and performing. I enjoy it. It’s keeping me
LR: You mentioned that the last time we talked that it was one of the things that
helped you cope with the experiences you’ve had, especially during the war. Do
you find that to be true?
EB: It does. It helps you cope with life and I’d been wanting to and I’ve been working
with some kids, but I’ve wanted to put together a program for kids to teach them
how to use humor to enrich their work experiences and educational experiences.
That’s a good way to remember things too. I wrote limericks to remember for
years. That’s how I’d remember people’s names. I’d take their name and make a
limerick and I could remember it. Humor is a wonderful educational tool.
LR: When did you start performing here at Wiseguys?
EB: I started on the open mic three years ago. It’ll be three years in November. I
started when I was 83.
MJ: How often do you perform?
EB: I get on about two times a week and then I do senior citizen living centers. I also
do it for the VA and the veteran’s hospital and the senior living centers. I’m here
about two or three times a month and Trolley Square about twice a month. I just
have fun with it. I don’t make a lot of money, but I enjoy it.
LR: That’s what matters. Going to the VA hospital, does that also help you?
EB: Oh yes. There was an arts festival and they had dancers and singers and
musicians and poets and all kinds of different arts. I won the comedy drama
portion of it.
LR: That’s great. Part of me wants you to talk about some of your experiences. I
know you weren’t in the Korean War very long, but at the same time if you’re not
comfortable going there then you don’t have to go there.
EB: There are some things that I remember that I am comfortable with talking about,
but there are some things that I’m not comfortable with.
LR: I know that’s part of the reason that you do comedy.
EB: When I went to Korea, I was stationed in Green Cove Springs, Florida and we
had five docks full of destroyer escorts in moth balls and we were keeping them
for another war. I was there for three years in Green Cove Springs Florida. When
I left there I went to a receiving station in Charleston South Carolina. I was
assigned to a destroyer, the U.S.S. Hobson. Well, there were two of us of the
same rank and it only called for one so they asked which of us had the most
experience and it was the other fellow so he got the choice. They were going on
a world tour. On that tour, the wasp carrier rammed the Hobson and sunk it with
276 men lost. The guy that replaced me was one of them that was lost.
Then I went aboard the USS Smally DD 565 and we went on a shake-down
cruise down to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. On the way down there we hit a
hurricane and we lost the steering from the bridge to the rudder in the storm.
They’ve got a great big wheel above the rudder with six positions on it with
spokes coming out. They had to send a command down from the bridge to say
which way to turn and it took six men to turn that rudder. We had to stay on that
and took shifts because it was a man’s jobs just to turn your part of the rudder.
We kept the ship afloat and went down and got through our shakedown and went
to Korea. I was only in Korea for four days when the ship got a direct hit and I got
hurt. I was career Navy, I finished in the Navy but I got a medical retirement from
LR: Do you use some of those experiences with your comedy?
EB: Oh yeah, I tell some of the funny things that happened in the Navy and some of
them are a little risqué, and some of them not. I was in Shanghai, China for three
years and in Shanghai on the Jason, the ship was the same, almost identical
measurements of Noah’s Ark. We had 706 complement and most of them were
Texans and Protestants and there were six Mormons on there and I was one of
the six. Our executive officer was a reserve officer and he was a Protestant
minister in civilian life, so he got more people to his service and the Mormons
went to our own service. He had more people in his service than the chaplain on
the ship. The chaplain would do anything trying to get the guys to like him and
that. He’d drink with them and tell dirty jokes with them and was just trying to be
one of the guys. One night, we were coming back to the ship and he missed the
officer’s boat and we were just pulling away from the dock and he came and
made a dive for the ship and landed on my lap. He turned around and looked at
me and said, “Bradley, you’d better be at my service in the morning or I’m going
to put you on report for assaulting an officer.” A lot of funny things happened.
Another night, we had a cook on board that was an alcoholic, but a real
nice guy. He was about ready to retire, but he was drinking too much and he was
still just a first class petty officer and had been in the Navy almost 30 years. He
came back one night and he had a shoebox in his hand. I was the officer of the
deck’s messenger. We called him “cookie” and when cookie came back up, the
officer of the deck said, “What have you got in that shoebox?” He said, “Oh, I just
bought a new pair of shoes, it’s nothing.” I said, “I want to see what you’ve got in
that shoe box.” He said, “no, it’s just a new pair of shoes, it’s nothing.” The OD
said, “I’ve got to see them. Cookie, you’re about to get out of the service, I’ll tell
you what, I’m going to turn my back and I want to hear two splashes and I want
you to go to bed.” He turned his back and we heard the two splashes and I
turned around just to see him go around the end of the bulk head barefooted. I
got several jokes out of Cookie.
MJ: After you got out of the military, you said you were in sales and so forth, but what
brought you back to Ogden?
EB: Well, I didn’t come back to Ogden right after I got out. I came here in 1962, my
company transferred me here and we had an office here on 25th and
Washington. In fact, we were right across the street from the Hi-Fi shop. I was
here for a year and lived out in Ron Clair. In fact, for a short time I was the home
teacher for the Osmonds before they moved to California. I was here for a year,
and a year ago I was living in Idaho and I wanted to come down and be with my
kids so I moved to Salt Lake. Well, on my pension I couldn’t afford to live in Salt
Lake so I moved back to Ogden where it was cheaper and the Wiseguys club is
here. I’ve been here a year next month. Ogden has always been part of my
family history and I’ve liked Ogden all my life.
MJ: What company did you work for that transferred you here?
EB: I retired from the National Federation of Independent Business. Before that I
worked for Satellite America as a sales manager and before that I was a sales
trainer for Niagara Therapy Manufacturing Corporation. I was in Sales after I got
out of the service and moved all over the country. I’ve lived in 13 different states
and raised my kids in 13 different states. I was married twice and my first wife
had twin boys and I adopted them. She had some issues so I ended up with the
twin boys and we had a little girl. I married a Mormon convert from Denmark and
she had a little girl and I adopted her and we had five kids. Nine kids with one
wife, it’s like polygamy without the benefits.
LR: You just can’t help it—
EB: You see why I have fun with comedy?
MJ: Do you remember any other businesses on 25th Street or the downtown area?
EB: Well, the company I was with here was the Niagara Therapy Manufacturing
Corporation. I was the sales manager for that business here. Right next door to
us was a furniture company and now there’s a jewelry store with the same name.
We were raised in a family at that time that stayed off 25th Street.
LR: But your business was on 25th and Washington?
EB: Yes, it was right on the corner there.
MJ: I heard that there were a lot of stores on Washington that people did a lot of
shopping in. Do you remember any of the department stores?
EB: Washington was pretty much the downtown area at that time. That’s where you
went to shop. They didn’t have all these malls they’ve got around here now.
When I lived out in Ron Clair, there was a wind storm that blew the roof off the
house I was in. I made up a joke about that. I said, “There was a wind storm that
came through Ogden and improved the downtown by five million dollars. My wife
and I lived in Idaho for quite a while, but we had family in Salt Lake. Whenever
we’d go from Idaho to Salt Lake, we’d stop at Farr’s Ice Cream and have ice
cream cones with the kids coming and going.
LR: Why not?
EB: We’d stop at over here on—I think it’s on 22nd or 23rd—we’d stop there and get
the kids and ice cream cone. They were only a nickel then and they were big ice
cream cones. Now they’re $2.15 for a little ice cream cone. I’ll tell you a funny
story about Ogden High School. The kids used to go and there used to be a
cross walk there and the kids would get in line and the kids would go one at a
time across and hold up traffic. They’d do it for meanness. A friend of mine was
pretty handy mechanically and he put a water pressure tank in the front of his car
with a fire hose on the front of it. The kids were doing that and he gave them a
good squirt and they put him in jail.
MJ: I think he was justified in hosing them down.
EB: I though he was too and so did a lot of other people. I think you could find a story
about that in the examiner if you went through the records. I kind of enjoy going
through those records. You find out a lot of things about the city and the places
and people and get a lot of jokes out of there too.
LR: Going back to the canteen and Red Cross. You mentioned that the Red Cross
would bring you food on the train and they’d charge you for it. That didn’t come
from the canteen though, right?
EB: No. That was the Red Cross. The canteen didn’t charge us anything. That was
donated by the citizens of Ogden. To be fair, if a guy didn’t have any money and
he couldn’t borrow any from his buddies, they would give him a cup of coffee.
MJ: I have just a couple more questions. You said that you got here in 1962 when
your company transferred you. How long did you stay in Ogden after that?
EB: I was here just a little over a year. Then I got transferred to another office. I was
with Niagara for 12 years and they transferred me all over the country. I was their
national sales trainer and then became their national sales manager. I lived in
Meadville, Pennsylvania, Denver, Los Angeles, Salt Lake, Ogden, and Twin
Falls. I lived in Idaho Falls, started in Twin Falls and went to Idaho Falls.
MJ: The only other question that I have is why did you decide to go into the Navy
when you were so young?
EB: I had two uncles that joined the Navy. When I lived with my grandmother and
grandfather my two uncles were like older brothers to me. They were still home
and they wanted to join the Navy. One joined the Navy in 1935 and the other
joined in 1927. One uncle, Verlan, was killed in the Battle of Coral Sea. The other
one—now this was interesting, when I was in China on the Jason, the Jason was
coming back to the United States and I was career Navy so they were taking all
the reserves back, they weren’t taking career people with certain ranks were kept
there because they didn’t have the ranks to fill it in. The ship that relieved us, I
went back to relieve the guy that had the same job that I did, and it was with my
uncle Roy. Uncle Roy had the same job on that ship that I had so we pulled
some liberties together there and then when I came back and reenlisted, he was
at the same receiving station in Long Beach taking his retirement and we met
Roy and I had a lot of experiences together and he was born here in
Ogden. He never did marry. I don’t know why because he had a good sense of
humor. I’ll tell you a funny story. Whenever Uncle Roy would drink, after he got
discharged from the Navy, he lived with my grandmother and I was over visiting
one time and he would get ornerier than heck when he was sober and when he
was drinking he was the nicest guy in the world. It was just the opposite of what
you’d expect. He was in the kitchen arguing with my grandmother and she said,
“Roy, here’s two dollars, go get drunk so I can stand you.”
There was nineteen of us living in my grandmother’s house and it was a
little two bedroom house on 1054 W. 3rd South and I always thought it was a
mansion, but it was a gingerbread house and it had these alcoves and there was
just a bed in each alcove and that was, the older kids rooms. The bed just fit in
there and they had to crawl over the bed to get in there. There was an orange
box for their dresser in the rooms. The boys all slept in the big red barn. We were
just two blocks from downtown Salt Lake and every house had an outhouse and
some had electricity and some didn’t. It was kind of a ghetto where most of the
railroad workers and most Spanish and black lived in that area. That’s where I
grew up. I was a mean little son of a gun. Losing my mother and with
housekeepers and one aunt that just loved to beat on me with a razor strap. She
was 16 and I was 8 and so I turned out to be a little stinker. I had one German
teacher that didn’t help a bit. When she said, “Evart” it would come out like
MJ: That wouldn’t help too much, would it?
EB: It didn’t help a bit. Kids started saying “Hefart, Hefart,” and I’d start chasing them
and beating them. I do a whole routine on boxing because they took me over to
Boys Club in Salt Lake and enrolled me in the boxing program and wrestling
program over there. I boxed until I was 31 years old. I boxed in the Navy and in
the University of Idaho and got boxed everywhere.
LR: I heard about boxing in the Navy, it was something else.
EB: I do a whole routine on boxing.
LR: We appreciate you sharing with us.
EB: Last week when I got off the stage here I told a couple of sex jokes and I was
sitting back here and the MC says, “He’s a World War II veteran and he likes
hugs.” One of the jokes I told here one night was, “I’m a World War II veteran and
I think you young ladies owe it to yourselves to hug the old veterans for their
service. I’m willing to take those hugs on their behalf.” That was the routine. She
came up afterwards last week and she gave me a hug and kissed me on both
cheeks and she said, “Are you a sex pervert?” I said, “Why? Are you looking for
one?” That’s what you get for interviewing a comedian.
LR: That’s okay. That’s fantastic. Thank you very much.
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.