Gary A.C. Young
Interviewed by Lorrie Rands
16 September 2013
Oral History Program
Weber State University
Gary A.C. Young
16 September 2013
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Young, Gary A.C., an oral history by Lorrie
Rands, 16 September 2013 , WSU Stewart
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Gary A.C. Young
September 16, 2013
Abstract: The following is an oral history interview with Gary Young. The interview
was conducted on September 16, 2013, by Lorrie Rands, at the Stewart Library.
Gary discusses his experiences with 25th Street.
LR: It is Monday, September 16, 2013 and we are here in Special Collections at
Weber State University Stewart Library conducting an oral history interview with
Gary Cosmo Young. I am Lorrie Rands doing the interview and Rebecca White
Sides is on the camera. I know I said thank you already, but I’ll say it again for
the record, I appreciate your time and willingness to come up and do this. Let’s
start with something simple, when and where were you born?
GY: I was born here in Ogden and the old McKay Dee Hospital. It is a park now.
LR: When was that?
GY: April 25, 1937.
LR: Where did you live at that time?
GY: We lived on Washington Boulevard about 26th Street in some apartments there. I
don’t recall anything up until I was probably five or six years old because it was a
confusing childhood. Next thing that really I remember was that I was a foster
child in the Utah System. My mother had both my brother and me taken away
from her by the state of Utah because my father had died of a heart attack and
she was working two jobs to support herself as a waitress, my aunt intervened
and said, “You’re an unfit mother,” and got the LDS church involved and we got
taken away from her. The next thing I know we were in foster care and I lived
with two sets of foster parents. One was out in Clinton and the other was out on
highway 89 in a house that’s no longer there. I do remember them. Their names
were Archie and Cora Hill. Next thing I knew we ended up in California, in
Orland, California. It’s way up north by Chico and we lived on a farm up there. My
mom took care of the calves and the cows and my brother, Richard, and I did the
same for the chickens. Of course, my mother got us back after three years in
foster care and remarried and my stepdad who worked for the SP Railroad as a
conductor. That’s why we were up there and we moved from there down to
Sparks, Nevada for one year and then we came to Ogden to 2535 Lincoln and
that’s where things started happening.
LR: How old were you when you moved to the house on Lincoln?
GY: It was probably 1946.
LR: So not quite ten.
LR: So, once you were there, what were some of the fun things you would do
growing up on 25th Street?
GY: We did about anything to stir things up as kids. Mom worked full-time—at one
time she had a job at Nicholas Grocery on 25th Street just above Lincoln and she
worked as a cashier there—but most of her life she worked as a waitress in the
different cafes around. We were sort of free, you didn’t need babysitters back
then, you didn’t even lock your door. We used to play football in the field with a
bunch of the kids. We just did different things to raise hell. We got firecrackers,
which were illegal and set them off and scared the bums that were in the different
areas of the city. I had a friend that lived across the street, in fact, we called each
other cousins, and he was a couple of years younger than me. His mom had a
bear skin rug inside her house and it was a good sized one. One day we took
that and I put it over me and put my hands inside where the claws were and we
went on 25th Street in and out of the bars begging for money. We only stopped
because when I went in the Kokomo Club, I went over to one of the booths and I
sort of stood up and growled and the woman screamed and whatever drink she
was drinking it was a mixed drink and it had milk in it or something and she threw
it all over me and the bear skin rug, so that stopped that day.
LR: Would you do a lot of that going to the bars and trying to bum money from the
GY: Oh yeah, and the drunks in there. We would come on with a poor little orphan kid
or some story like that. I sold newspapers on 25th Street. The Standard
Examiner, I also delivered the Salt Lake Telegram to quite a few homes and that
was an evening paper out of Salt Lake. It was the evening paper of the salt lake
Tribune at the time.
LR: Any fun stories doing that, selling the paper?
GY: I remember one snow storm and my boss whose name was Mr. Peterson, I said,
“I’m not going out in that snow.” I had to bike from my house all the way up to
Harrison Boulevard. There were very few customers they had, but they were
scattered, I probably covered a five mile radius every night. I told him I wasn’t
going out in that snow storm and he said, “Yes you are.” I said, ‘Nope, you can
have it.” And that’s when I quit. I supplemented my income by shining shoes on
25th Street. There was a barbershop by the Depot Drug about two doors up from
Wall Avenue on the North side and I shined shoes in there and also in the Union
depot. At that time, it was very busy with a lot of military personnel coming and
going. They had, what I remember, there were 22 tracks and there were trains on
every one of them. It’s unbelievable to what you see now. I don’t have any
pictures of that, I wish I had, but we didn’t have money in those days.
LR: What other kind of jobs did you have to supplement your income?
GY: I mowed lawns. It was the manual push mower. I did those things and I picked
cherries for Floyd Woodfield who was up in north Ogden. I was such a good
worker that he moved me right into the apricot and then we went into peaches.
By the time we got into peaches there would only be about three or four people,
so I felt really good about that, and I did that for a couple of years, but that wasn’t
much. I got like three cents a pound for picking cherries.
LR: Last time we talked you mentioned mice.
GY: Oh yes. I was trying to get the pictures of that, I think I’ve still got them at home. I
had white mice that I raised and sold them for 50 cents each. What the people
did with them, I don’t know, but I enjoyed them. I had the parents of all the
offspring, naturally, but we named them Daisy Mae and Little Abner. I don’t know
LR: You mentioned your two cousins, your friends…
GY: Yes. Bill and John Leatherwood, I hung around with Bill, and John was four years
younger. Bill was a real Casanova, so to speak, even in his younger years. I’d
take him up to Ogden High, when I started going to Ogden High and let him play
like he was my cousin from California. All he wanted to do was just meet the girls
up there, which he did a good job doing. His mother was the sister of Rose
Davies of the Rose Rooms. I got to go up there, in fact, I delivered papers up
there at the same time, but one of the girls up there offered to teach us how to
dance, so Bill and I were all for it because he wanted to be in with the girls so
naturally he was all for it and he told me to come on up and I was really a shy
guy in those days. We went up there and she taught us a couple of different
dances up there right in the Rose Rooms.
LR: During the day, right?
GY: Yes. The only thing scary up there is you’d go up and she had an Ocelot, it’s like
a small black panther, and you could see it down the hall because it was a long
hallway down to where her room was down on the other end. That was a little
scary, but after that first time it wasn’t because it wouldn’t attack you, it would just
come up to you and sniff you and lick you and you just stood there.
LR: Still scary though.
GY: That was interesting.
LR: Did you ever have a chance to meet Rose?
GY: Yes. I met her. She was a real nice lady. She was really beautiful. She was a
beautiful lady and all she did was run the establishment with her husband. She
was married and he was into a few things I think that were illegal, and it’s been
brought up probably in some of the books on 25th Street, but one of the things
that was brought up and I’ve got to find the author on it and find out who in the
heck told him that, but he said they ran five houses and they didn’t, the only had
the one. He ran some different private clubs, we called them at that time, where
you had to belong and it was a buzzer and you went in and you’d get the
alcoholic drinks because it was illegal to get. You could get beer in any of the
bars, but you couldn’t get alcohol, the strong stuff.
LR: I was talking with another lady who was really good friends with Bertie and she
mentioned that they might have had another place in Farmington.
GY: It could have been down there, but not here. That’s possible.
LR: You said she was a really beautiful woman. Was there anything else about her
that just struck you?
GY: Her long, black hair. She was always dressed to kill and fashionable, not as a
come one, she was fashionable. I always remembered that.
LR: When you were being taught your dance lessons, would the girl wear a certain
type of clothes?
GY: She was fully dressed just like a street person.
LR: So she wouldn’t wear her uniform.
GY: No. I did not know what her uniform was.
LR: Okay. I was curious about that.
GY: No, she was fully dressed in a long dress.
LR: Well, that’s cool that she did that for you. How long did you take those lessons?
GY: We took them for a couple of months. We’d just go up there sporadically here
and there whenever she had free time.
LR: As you were growing up here on Lincoln, you went to Central Junior High?
GY: Right. I went to Grant Elementary and that was over between 21st and 22nd on
Grant in the middle of the block on the west wide. It’s long gone now. Then I went
to the Central and then Ogden High.
LR: When you got into high school and actually had transportation, what fun things
would you do on 25th Street?
GY: There were seven of us guys that hung around together, but I was always with
one or two of them. We would get some girls and get them in the car, this was
after I was sixteen, and take them down on 25th Street because they hadn’t been
there. They thought it was scary, but we didn’t. I had a, what they called a
Bermuda bell in the floor of my 1954 Oldsmobile and you’d just step on it and it’d
sound like a big gong like in a fighting ring. It was really loud and it was illegal.
So, we’d take the girls down there and we’d wait for this one certain guy to come
by, his name was Cisco, that was his nickname and that’s all I knew him by, and
he used to be a prize fighter, so we’d hit that gong and he’d start shadow boxing
right on the street. He’d just start going at it right on the street with nobody. We’d
hit the gong again and he’d stop and take off. It was funny.
LR: Did your dates think that was pretty cool too?
GY: Well, they weren’t dates, just fun.
LR: Just for fun?
LR: Would you take them to any of the cafes on the street?
GY: No, but they wouldn’t want to go. They wouldn’t get out of the car. We’d try to get
them out of the car, but they wouldn’t get out of the car.
LR: Do you think there was a difference, maybe a cultural difference between
someone who was raised close to 25th Street and someone who was raised
away from it?
GY: Oh definitely. These girls lived above Harrison and we were the lower class.
Anybody below Washington Boulevard was lower class. It was really class
distinction then. This was before segregation and everything else. That’s the
thing, I grew up with Chinese, Japanese, Blacks, and Hispanics.
LR: Did you notice the segregation on the street?
GY: Oh yeah. You could see it especially down at the train depot in very public
LR: I know that from Wall to Lincoln it was specifically blacks on the south, whites on
the north, did it extend past Lincoln?
GY: no, it was mainly just from Wall to Lincoln on the south side. We always went to
the Porters and Waiters Club, even after I was married. The Porters and Waiters
club existed and you’d go in and go downstairs and it was a mixture of everything
and they had the best food.
LR: So, they didn’t discriminate who could be in their establishment?
LR: That’s a little ironic, don’t you think?
GY: Yeah. It was only those people that more or less knew about it from years before
that. Somebody they didn’t know, they would tell them, “Sorry, you’re not
welcome here.” There were a few that they knew were rowdy that just wanted to
come in and cause trouble and all we wanted to do was go in and eat, so they
LR: That’s cool. I didn’t know that. You mentioned the tunnels. I’ve heard rumors of
tunnels, so I’d like to hear your take on that.
GY: We first discovered them when I worked for The Standard and at that time they
were located where the Kiesel building is on 24th and Kiesel and from there they
had a tunnel and they had a backup ramp there that the different trucks had
come in or people and pick up their papers to distribute them through the city. It
was a big thing back then, you know, there was a lot of newspapers sold in those
days. Those tunnels, we went in them one time and there’s no lighting. If there
was, they kept them off, so we went one time with a flashlight and we got in and
we went in pretty deep and I don’t know where we were, but we were in there
quite a ways and finally we got scared and we got out of there. We were just
kids, you know. Delivering on 25th street, when I later got a route with 7-Up when
I worked for them, I was able to visit some of those tunnels because the product
sometimes was put in the basement. There would be a door down there and I’d
investigate to see where it went, but there were tunnels.
LR: When you started to investigate when you were working for 7-Up, were they still
as extensive? Were they still just as big as how you saw them when you were
GY: Yes, they were big. It reminded me of the tunnels you went under when you go to
the train depot to go from track to track, they were big wide tunnels. There were
doors as you went along for different businesses, just wooden doors.
LR: Did they have signs saying what the business was?
GY: No, no signs that I remember.
LR: It just sounds scary.
GY: Yes, it was dark and damp.
LR: All I’ve heard is rumors. I’ve never known anyone who was actually down in
there, so this is cool. You mentioned working for 7-Up, how did that begin?
GY: Since I lived almost right across the street, they were at 215 25th Street and from
my house I could see the back of the building. We used to go back there and beg
for drinks from the guys that were loading the trucks. When I turned 15 I lied
about my age and I was hired. You’re supposed to be 16; in fact, I think I was
about 14. I got a job there loading and unloading trucks at night. That was my
first job. It was 75 cents an hour. We loaded the trucks and sorted the bottles and
then in our spare time, the production manager let us help make the syrup. We
had an elevator there in that building. It was a rope operated elevator and you
had to pull a rope. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one of those or not. They’re
something else. It had a brake on it, but if the brake failed when you were going
up, and it was three floors—a basement, main floor and top floor—if the brake
failed and you were between floors, you jumped off on the main floor because
you didn’t want to ride the bottom. There were a couple of times we had to do
that. That’s how we moved the sugar up. They were one hundred pound bags
and we could put five of them on it and lots of times we stretched it and put
seven on and that’s when the brake would fail. If the elevator wasn’t working, we
had to carry those sacks on our shoulders. One hundred pounds and remember
this is a 15 year old kid carrying those sacks up the stairs and dumping them in
LR: The owner of that was—
GY: It was Albert Scowcroft. He died and then his wife, Dorothy, took over and she
was a great lady and a great boss. She managed it and they eventually moved
out of there and built a building on 1330 Gibson, which is still there, I think it’s a
packing place down there now. We did our own bottling right there in the building
and that’s all it was, bottles at that time. We had a seven ounce bottle, a 28
ounce with a paper label, and then we did quarts of orange, root beer, grape, and
strawberry at that place.
The other scary part about working there was you had to make the CO2
and at that time they used dry ice and dropped it in cylinders that were a foot in
diameter and we had to stand on a ladder to put the dry ice in. We’d chip it up
and put it in and then when you got the right amount in there, they had a lid that
was heavy metal that was probably that thick with rubber seals around it and it
had a cross bar on top of it so you could spin it and you’d drop it in there and
start spinning it real fast because the pressure would build up just like that; if you
didn’t get it on right the first time, you just got off the ladder and moved away
because it would blow it off. This is hazardous stuff that we were doing as kids.
We worked the accumulating table, we worked the washer, we helped out
LR: You ended up making 7-Up your career, didn’t you?
GY: Yes, well, 7-Up, Pepsi. I left 7-Up in 1979 because the boyfriend of Mrs.
Scowcroft was managing the place and him and I didn’t see eye to eye. He hired
people that didn’t know anything and I had to train them and they would last one
week and they were gone. It was ruining my marriage at that time because I was
working 24 hours a day trying to take care of problems. I left there and I went
down to Salt Lake City and started working for Admiral Beverage and at that time
they had RC and 7-Up down there and Dad’s Root Beer and Crush and things
like that. I was down there three years and they sold that out because they
wanted out of the RC. They bought Idaho Falls and Pocatello and I moved there
with them there three years and came back and worked in Ogden doing a special
juice we had that we distributed in seven states and I became the head salesmen
LR: That’s cool that you started out at that little bottling plant and then made that into
your career. I think that’s pretty cool. Looking at where you grew up, almost on
25th Street and the way it was as you were growing up, do you think now that it’s
changed for the better, or would you rather see it the way it was?
GY: it was mostly bars and restaurants and that was it. There were no retail
businesses really, so to speak. There were apartment houses, there were a few
of those and most of those were up above some of the bars even. It took me over
a half a day to service that street from Washington to Wall. That’s how many
businesses there were to go in and out of. And that was with bottles and no cans,
LR: Do you think that what they’re doing now is an improvement?
GY: Oh yes. I mean, because of the religious factor for one thing, they didn’t want
them and the times changed.
LR: Do you think the death of the railroad had a big play in the change of 25th
GY: Oh yes, that killed it. That was definitely one of the major factors that killed it.
GY: The other jobs I had just before I got married and after I was married. I worked
full-time at gas stations. I worked in a bowling alley setting pins at night that was
my regular job. I managed Ye Old Pizza House for two years and that was one
32nd and Washington where the Cal Spas is now. It used to be a pizza house
and pub in the back that had wooden benches and tables and Gene Debbie was
the icon of Ogden City. He was a blind piano player, so he played piano and
these songs would flash on the wall and people would sing along, drink beer and
LR: Out of all of your memories growing up there on 25th street, what is maybe one
of your favorite memories? Or do you have one?
GY: Not a favorite, but an experience I had, I was in the Acapulco Club when I was
under age and it was because a couple of the guys I run around with, their
parents owned it. It was Johnny, Sal, and Frank Hernandez. They had the best
Mexican food. It was underneath where that barbershop is on 25th and Lincoln. I
don’t know if you’ve been there or if you’ve seen that or not, but there’s a
basement underneath the Marion Hotel. I’m sure the basement is still there and
they probably just use it for storage, but there was a bar underneath there. I
would stay in the background, I wouldn’t get out. We’d eat at a table that they’d
reserve for their kids. I was in there one time and this guy came up to me and
started swearing at me and saying, ‘What are you doing in here? You gringo,”
and everything else and going on. Next thing I know, he pulled a knife and came
at me. Of course, he was drunk and Sal stepped in, one of the older brothers that
was tending bar. He saw what was happening and he floored him, but not before
he cut me right through here. I’ve still got the scar. It was just the skin, thank
goodness, but that was a little scary. I didn’t even go to the hospital. He could
have hurt me, but it’s just how things were then. People would get crazy.
LR: That wasn’t common though, was it?
GY: No. I mean, I was the only white kid in there. There were Hispanics and some
blacks, but I was the only white one in there. Leave it to me.
LR: I’ve pretty much asked all my questions, but what I’d like to do is ask if there is
anything else you’d like to share or remember about 25th Street or just growing
up in Ogden?
GY: There are probably things I could remember later, but not at the present time.
LR: I wish I could think of a million things because this is so fun to sit and listen to
you. I can only imagine what it was like growing up around 25th Street. Do you
remember, I don’t know when the broom Hotel was torn down, but do you
remember that hotel?
GY: There was a Walgreens underneath, are you talking about 25th and
LR: Which one was on 25th and Wall, the hotel that was there?
GY: Yes, I remember it. I can’t remember when it was torn down either, but my mom
worked in that drug store that was two doors up from it. I shined shoes in the
barbershop that was right next to the drug store.
LR: You never shined shoes in the hotels that were on the street?
GY: Never. I don’t remember ever going in there. The only thing I remember was, I
think it was called Pacific Fruit and they had a track that went up behind the
Marion Hotel, right where the parking lot is for the DMV and there were tracks
there and it was called Pacific Produce and the employees would unload the box
cars full of watermelon. The kids in the area would go over and we’d want to help
so we could get a watermelon. They actually threw them and they wouldn’t let us
because they said we were too young, but every once I a while they would miss
and say, “There’s a busted one,” and that’s when we’d get our watermelon.
LR: I almost forgot about the Bamberger Railroad and those torpedoes. Would you
tell that story?
GY: We found one. A torpedo was a package of gun powder about four inches square
and it had a wire strap that came out both sides. It attached to the rail and they
were used nationwide to warn an engineer of the train to slow down or whatever.
They had two for a certain signal, three for a certain signal because when the
train would run over the tracks they would make a real loud bang and I mean
loud. We found one and we put it on the Bamberger tracks. I don’t remember
where we found it because Bamberger’s didn’t use them, they were from the
railroad. It might have been somebody that just threw one off or something, so
we put it on the track and we were sitting in our yards waiting for the Bamberger
to come. When it went off we ran away. We didn’t even go in our houses. We
didn’t come home for two hours.
LR: Do you remember where on the Bamberger tracks you put it?
GY: Yes, it was right in front of our house at 2535 Lincoln.
LR: So right there on Lincoln?
GY: Yes. That’s why we got out of there.
LR: That makes sense. Speaking of the Bamberger, was it strange having that trolley
there? Was it busy?
GY: No, it wasn’t. They went slow. They were noisy though, but you got used to it. We
lived right there and we just got used to it.
LR: Did you ever hop on it and ride it?
GY: Yes, you would get on over between 23rd and 24th on Grant where the terminal
was. I rode out to Lagoon a lot of times. They actually should have left those
tracks. That would have been so neat.
LR: They might do it anyway just because they’re bringing all of this back.
GY: Yeah. I don’t know if they buried those tracks or dug them up.
LR: I didn’t realize that it actually went right in front at your house; I thought it was on
Grant that the tracks were.
GY: No, they were on Lincoln.
LR: Right in front of your house.
GY: There was another place we never went in and that was El Borracho. In fact,
there was a recent article in the paper or in one of the books, but it was El
Borracho that was right on the corner of 25th and Lincoln on the southeast
corner. The Rose Rooms were above it.
LR: Okay, so this was the El Borracho?
GY: I think it was before that, but El Borracho was there for a long time.
LR: So what was it about Pancho’s?
GY: You didn’t go in it, just like the El Borracho, you didn’t go in it. I didn’t even go in
there to sell newspapers. I wouldn’t step inside that place. It was dangerous.
LR: Okay. Was it dangerous just because you’re white?
GY: White and unknown. If they didn’t know you, they didn’t want you in there.
LR: That’s kind of scary. It sounds like growing up on 25th Street, you always had
something to do. Always something fun to do and if there wasn’t something fun to
do you’d just create something.
GY: We had fun. Sure, we got in trouble. I got hauled to the police station a couple of
times and detention, you know, as far as, ‘You can’t do that anymore,” but I didn’t
get a record. They’d just slap your hand and le t you go. I was selling fireworks
and they caught me doing that and they said, “That’s a no, no.” I said, “I’ve got to
make money some way.”
LR: Wouldn’t you and your friends toss those at some of the drunks?
GY: Yes, we wouldn’t do it to injure them we would just do it to scare them because
they were sleeping against a wall or something in one of the alleys or what have
you and just to watch them. If I had a movie camera back then I would have had
LR: Were you ever worried that they might come and attack you?
GY: No. They were too drunk. MD 90/90 or 40/40 and all those wines, yes, it was
really cheap stuff. Back then it was probably a dollar a bottle.
LR: They’re just lying on the sidewalk sleeping?
GY: Well, not sidewalk, they’d be in an alley somewhere.
LR: Off the main street?
GY: Yes, off the main drag. Every once in a while they’d be on the main street, but
the cops would come along and have them move on. They didn’t want to take
them in because they smelled too bad. I tell you who else could tell you a lot
about 25th, Andy Bolds, he owned Andy’s Lounge, if you could ever run into him,
because he had the Grill Tavern and then he went out there and took over the
old Art’s Club and removed it. He knows a lot of people there. Then, of course,
Ed Simone too, he grew up there. He owns the Kokomo. His folks owned it. I
grew up with him.
LR: I was going to ask you if you ever had the chance to meet Bonnie Brown Coates.
GY: If it’s the one I’m thinking of, she lived on Lincoln.
LR: Yes, she said she was really good friends with Bertie and still is. We had a
chance to talk with her and I was just wondering if you ever had a chance to
GY: I met her, but I was a kid and she was a lot older. They lived, I think, in the
second house from the end on Lincoln off of 26th Street. One brother got sent to
prison, I don’t know what it was on, but he was pretty rowdy. He was a nice guy,
but he got into prison. The youngest one, he was always in trouble. Bill and I and
John we’d always be teasing him or something, which we shouldn’t have done,
but kids. I’ve got a picture where it shows in the background where Bertie lived.
There were houses all along there.
LR: It’s not that way now.
GY: No, it’s Wonder Bread and parking and the only original building that’s still there
is the Rose Rooms.
LR: Have you been on 25th Street recently?
GY: About every day.
LR: Okay, so you know. It’s kind of cool what they’ve done with that.
GY: Upstairs, you mean? That was what I would have done. People are curious about
25th Street and watching people, you can still sit in Karen’s Café and watch
some of the beggars go by, the ones that are normal. There are still some around
and some of the druggies and some of the ones that go to Health Services.
There was one that used to go on and he’d just talk to himself something fierce.
You feel sorry for them, you know, Schizophrenic, but nothing you can do. There
are still a lot of them down there.
LR: Well, I appreciate your time and your willingness to come up here and appreciate
the stories. It’s been fantastic, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I really appreciate
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