Willie F. Moore
Interviewed by Sarah Langsdon and Woodrow Johnson
17 July 2013
12 December 2013
Oral History Program
Weber State University
Willie F. Moore
Sarah Langsdon and Woodrow Johnson
17 July 2013
12 December 2013
Copyright © 2014 by Weber State University, Stewart Library
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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
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oriented, with small businesses developing that appealed to changing demographics, including the
growing Hispanic population.
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Moore, Willie, an oral history by Sarah
Langsdon and Woodrow Johnson, 17 July
2013 and 12 December 2013, WSU Stewart
Library Oral History Program, Special
Collections, Stewart Library, Weber State
University, Ogden, UT.
Willie F. Moore
July 17, 2013
Abstract: The following is an oral history interview with Willie Moore. The interview
was conducted at his barber shop on 25th Street on July 17, 2013, by Woodrow
Johnson. Willie discusses his experiences with 25th street.
WJ: Alright I’m Woodrow Johnson here with Willie Moore. Here with me is also Lorrie
Rands; we will be interviewing Willie Moore at his barber shop here on 25th in
Ogden. Today is July 17, 2013. Alright Willie so the first question I have for you. I
want you to just kind of sum up how you got to be here. So tell us a little bit about
where you are from and the life events that brought you to Utah. Not necessarily
to Ogden, but to Utah.
WM: Oh lordy.
WJ: Loaded question—let’s go with where you are from.
WM: Grablet, that’s a state where the famous Eddy Robinson is a coach. I stayed
there two months and then I got looking for a job. I couldn’t find a job there and I
didn’t like there, I wanted to come back to Utah. I always liked Utah. I came to
Utah with some people who adopted me because my parents separated when I
was young. Then I stayed in and out of the Hotel Utah all the time. Then when I
grew up just a little bit, I started living in the Hotel Utah, not with the people who
brought me here. I started to live with them and then after staying with them a
long time working at the Hotel Utah.
I was a bus boy and then I was a waiter. I decided that wasn’t the thing
because I was making 27 cents an hour and I knew I couldn’t do with that. I
heard a job out in Washington state, the name of the job was Hantred, Utah.
That’s where they put all of the atomic bombs or something out there you know.
That’s in Yacamo and Pasco, that’s where it was. I worked there a long time then
I came back to Utah and I worked a while in Utah until I finished school, barber
school. After I finished barber school this is where the droves started coming
through Utah. Then they need some help that night, I decided I’d help them get
their things together to play basketball. The person who I took place was Dougie
Moore. He was off that night with a girl and I took his place. That’s how I got to
be this with the globetrotters a little while. With this Dougie Moore thing see.
Then after that it started growing kind of bigger, little bigger all the time you know.
Then I decided that that wasn’t the thing to do because I didn’t want to be a
clown all my life. I wanted to do something else.
So Mrs. Bamberger was there and she said well I’ll tell you what I do. I’ll
set you up in business if you promise me you’ll finish and you’ll have your own
business. This was on Regan Street, the barber college was on Regan Street. So
I went there for until I finished. Then I started the barber business and I’ve been
in the barber business ever since. Then we come to Ogden and up in this hotel
here where we are now they killed a guy. A navy person and it frightened me so I
went back to Salt Lake and when I went back to Salt Lake I met Doc White.
That’s the guy the policeman killed, I met him getting off the train. I helped him
take his clothes to a place called, I forget the name of the place. He moved in
there. He says, “Willie I want to be a policeman.”
I said, “You do?”
He said, “Yes.”
So he went to Salt Lake City to get to be a policeman and they told him they
didn’t hire blacks. It wasn’t blacks then it was color. They didn’t have colors so
they said go to Ogden they hire anybody or anything. So he came to Ogden and
when he got to Ogden then he worked a little while. He was a foot doctor and he
worked just a little while for the health department and they start to decide they
wanted to put him on the police department. Then when he got on the police
department wandering the streets here comes the porters and waiters that
people always wondered about.
Porters and Waiters wasn’t about no woman at all. It was about Billie
Weekly and the porters and waiters. After so long a time it turned from the
porters to waiters to a business that Annabelle was supposed to have run. He
gave her a chance to run it. Then when the porters and waiters got to be as said,
the porters and waiters, they was sit there to stay. When the lot of people there
wasn’t a lot of them there-but it was a lot of single men because of Hill Field and
all these other navy bases and all that stuff and then the Rose Room.
Have you heard of Rose Room? That’s right on the corner over there, the
Rose Room. Because the men didn’t bring their wives with them then that was a
good place for them, over there. Then that wasn’t the only place it was. Rose
was a lady and she was so smart she made it a business. The business was that
she would open up at 8:00 and she closed at 5:00. When she closed there was
no women or men doing nothing with nobody. Then she’d open them up the next
morning, that’s the way she ran the business. She had a Cadillac, a pink
Cadillac, I’m sure it was a Cadillac. It was a convertible and she rode all up and
down this street here with dark shades on, a hat on and the women didn’t like her
too much because she wasn’t working. You know making money off those
women you know.
First they kind of wandered about them over there, this porters and
waiters, still the porters and waiters wandered about them. Who are they? Then
they checked them out and find out that they weren’t white. They were French
and Creole from Louisiana. When they come here they named the Rose Room
because that was her name. His name was Davies, Bill Davies. As I said the
porters and waiters didn’t bother all these women that would come down dance
and all that stuff like that. It wasn’t a whore house, no no it wasn’t a whore house.
Most people think that, but it wasn’t a whore. Now I told you how this Billy Weekly
would sit at this door and when people would go into this place then he’d let them
in and out. Finally they got rid of the key because, see Billie Weekly was my
When I owned the barber shop at the LaFrance Hotel you see that was
part of the porters and waiters. A sister in law and brother in law part of the hotel.
They went from there to cooking the best food. Then there was a Spanish fellow
that was friends of Annabelle Weekly, that was her name. He helped them cook
the Mexican food in this place. They would dance in this place and had some
pretty good sized people at the porters and waiters. Course I remember seeing
two guys, they used to have little old TVs and radios and things. I seen them
fighting with each other, throwing those things at each other. They were mad, but
after that sisters and brothers and cousins and all that stuff they was going to
Salt Lake City and they got killed, but Annabelle didn’t get killed. Another lady got
killed and there was a time when they had this street was okay.
They had the lyceum theatre right up the street, they had Keely’s on
Washington. These were the places you got the best food. When I came here in
this place here to eat you could get a T-bone steak, eggs, and potatoes and what
not and a drink for $1.79. That’s what and haircuts were 35 cents then. Person
who was an apprentice was 15 cents. This place, I was so lucky to get this place.
I think prayer helped a little bit and the experience I had with the people over
I decided when I was young I would never drink, smoke, or have coffee
because I thought that was a waste. I don’t know if you should name people but
the head of the church said the best thing you can do is to put good things in
your body and good things will come out. But if you don’t do that you’re going to
have some problems. So I decided to do that and haven’t done nothing yet.
Somehow I used to like the smell of new cigars and I used to have a smell new
drinks but I never did. When some of the guys would come into my barber shop,
I’m skipping. When someone come in the barber shop and they’d stay drunk on
this street a lot when I lay down we used to give them hot shaves then-I would
lay the guy down in the chair and he would open his mouth and breathing all that
nasty stuff. Ohhh that was terrible! I’d tell them sometimes, shut your mouth
because that was a smell you know.
Then I got along pretty good then I met my wife. Then she was born on
27th street and well I went to West High School a little while in Salt Lake, I was in
and out of that school. She went to school here and she is a number one person
with me after 63 years, number one. We always took care of each other all the
time. I never been away from my wife after 10:00 if she didn’t know where I was.
I never did, I always stayed around home all the time because she did. I enjoyed
her so much and we had two kids you know. One of them just passed away 6/7
years ago, but the girl is doing real well out in Maryland. She built a big home
and I don’t think I’ll be going back out there no more because I’m 90 years old
and she built a home out there with 27 steps to the top and I can’t go. She’ll be
here tomorrow morning, my daughter will. She laughed about that all the time,
well come see me then I’ll come see you.
My little granddaughter is a peach. She have a good job, she live in
Manhattan in New York. She has what I mean she have a job. She might make
$500 a day, $1000 a day. She don’t make less that and she’s gone all the time.
She was in Madrid last year, Shanghai in Japan and now she’s in San Francisco.
She’ll be performing again in Salt Lake City. She set up places for all the target
places that she can get too. She come here and she was in target and she was
looking, she watch the shelves, how you place everything and how everything
would be. One lady walked up and said what are you doing? She told her well we
don’t do things like that and she just hand it back to her and just kept walking.
She don’t argue at all. You should see her, she’s really light.
With all of that it came from me starting with the Hotel Utah and those
people, the MTC was right down kind of west, northwest of the hotel. It’s right
where the conference center, in that area, that’s where it is now. Then they took
it to Provo and they used to discuss a lot of things you know about church and
stuff and I would listen to them because I didn’t have—I was adopted so I didn’t
have nothing to go on nothing at all. I just did what I could do myself.
I enjoyed all of my workers, they’re nice. They all can cut hair, wouldn’t
have them if they didn’t. They’re true like my helpers as well as I did with my
family that I had. I want to get back to this porters and waiters thing because I
said this one guy actually got killed in there. He ran on the road like everybody
else so this guy was aiming and his name was Bill Edwin. I can’t name a lot of
names but his name was Bill Edwin. He was working there and then they had
other people there, so a good cook until the people that come from all around to
eat at the porters and waiters. It was always welcome there in the porters and
waiters. They really didn’t have no junk there. The people was turned back that
would come there and feel like they were going to destroy something in there.
They would turn them back so this porters and waiters was so good to people.
So good to people you know. I enjoyed that. That’s some of it, but I got some
most of it. Then you can answer that.
Then I started playing golf, that’s what everybody knows me by, the golf.
Everybody, we had a 24th street like my birthday be on the 24th of this month.
Okay so that was where we was, like I said Allan Holmes, Frank Robinson, and a
lot more other players and one thing I liked about baseball was they had the
Ogden Reds. That was good, Ogden Dodgers. When I went to New Orleans that
was probably, I stayed upstairs in the hotel, New Orleans hotel and early that
morning I woke up and there was guards standing in front of the hotel so it kind
of frightened me. I said what’s this going on I told my wife and I said look why are
you guarding my door? Because you’re Willie Mays that’s why we’re guarding
your door. I said I’m not Willie Mays, I’m not Willie Mays. Yes it is. We see right
here your name is W. M. Willie Mays, it was Willie Moore you see and that’s what
it was. I couldn’t convince them no kind of way. They followed me all downstairs,
was guarding downstairs. Had me signing autographs outside, about 25
autographs because they wouldn’t let me go. Mr. Moore I know you Willie Mays
because my parents know you. That’s where you are and that’s what you going
to be, Willie Mays. My wife come down and broke that up, but I had a lot.
That was some of my experience and all that experience came from being
in the hotel. The hotel really learned me a lot and when they sold the hotel Utah,
they didn’t tear it down, but they changed the Hotel Utah. When they did they
sent a letter to me because I’d work there. All the people that worked there they
sent them letters. We going to change this hotel into other things. It might be a
room up there or two because the upstairs was where the residents lived south
side upstairs. That’s where they lived all the time. We going to change this thing
and when we change it we going to send you another letter. When they name it
the Smith Building, see they named it the Smith Building and they changed it and
My whole life was around the hotel and 25th street and 2nd south was two
of the kind of street. They both had people would come. I remember the time
when guys coming from the porters and waiters had been cut or something in the
snow time and you could trace them with blood all the way to their house. Yeah,
you could see the blood track all the way to the house. This is some of the stuff
that went on. It all came out and everybody and everything was coming out of the
porters and waiters then, that’s why the porters and waiters got so famous. It
wasn’t supposed to be famous like that, but they got it famous. Like I said cause
they had different places, that was the only prostitute house. They had other
prostitute house, they had clothing stores, they had everything on this street.
Porters and waiters got big fame because people didn’t understand it. I gave you
the real understanding, there was no prostitute in the porters and waiters. You
got some more stuff there?
WJ: Absolutely, so after coming to Ogden how long did it take you to establish your
WM: Well it took me about, there was a lady there called Cory Eason, she leased the
place then she turned it to me. About 70 years ago, that’s when I went into
business here. I was oh about 68 years, I’ll say 68 years. I stayed in business
until now and I’ve had all different kinds of barbers. We’ve had as many 97
barbers. What happened was in the United States gave us the shops if we would
open them up all over Utah. Dugway and all that stuff you see. That was us and
all we would do is ride into the place, clean, sterilize it real well (audio cuts out)
WJ: We were talking about how long it took you to get your barber shop established?
WM: Real slow and I tell you I was across the street, there was a white side and a
black side you know that. Well I was over there and a guy called Archuto,
Spanish guy was on this side of the street. He’d decided to quit, but I’d worked
over there a long time in the La France Hotel and all those places. He decided to
quit and go up in the community and he said if you get a Mexican barber Willie
then I’ll let you have this place. You can’t have it unless that because they are
not going to come to you and nobody else unless you have a Mexican barber
here. So I got a Mexican barber and I’ve been working with barbers ever since. It
didn’t take very long at all. I just walked in and started, he had the shop, walked
in and started the shop. (audio cuts out)
SL: Okay this is Sarah Langsdon and I’m here interviewing Willie Moore at his barber
shop on 25th street. Today is December 12, 2013. So Willie this is sort of a
continuation with what they had started with you a while ago. So when you came
to Ogden was it still segregated?
WM: Yes segregated on both sides. One side was blacks and one side was whites.
The south side was black, the north side was white. That’s the way they had that
and then most of the places you couldn’t eat in them because they were
segregated. Had a few Chinese places that you might want that you could eat in.
They’re called Mama’s, Mama’s Café. It was kind of fun, guy would trim his
toenails and then go fix your food.
SL: So what about other places in Ogden or outside of Ogden?
WM: All dance halls were segregated, but if a big band come or something like that,
the white would always go to the other side to hear the music. They all got to
where there was no segregation when the big bands would come. Then there
was segregated again. There’s no time in Utah that I could find, because what
happened was, when I knew they were coming in front, then I would go to the
station and I would get their instrument and take them in. I’d stay with the
instrument until they quit. I was always in the building when they couldn’t do it.
That was one thing I kind of enjoyed because I was there.
SL: So who were some of the big band people that came through that you
WM: You know King Perry, Kyle Basey, I don’t know one too big, but I know some sit
in with the musicians here because they had a contract. When you do have a
contract then you can’t perform unless it’s at that right place, but all your
musicians can. All of the band can’t play ‘cause you have a contract in just that
SL: So did they come and play, a lot of them come and play with Joe McQueen when
he was here?
WM: Yes a lot come with Joe McQueen and he played really well himself, sure did. All
the people like him and on this side of the street Ogden hadn’t been too bad.
They had a lot of places on this side of the street that was like drug stores, they
had places for cleaning; they had clubs I would say all over everything. They had
all of that going when they would come by, but they had all that going.
SL: So your shop has had many locations when you were here in Ogden right?
WM: I had about six locations.
SL: So can you tell me a little bit about why you moved around and why you ended
up staying, coming to 25th street and staying?
WM: I wanted a better place to work. They fixed a better place for me to work and I
enjoyed that because we came here a long time ago. The lady that was really a
partner of mine, but we went to school together and she leased this place. Then I
lease, work right with her, that’s been about 72 years ago. Her name was Cory
Eason and so I’ve had part with that. Haircuts was about 35 cents when we came
here and if you was an apprentice, haircuts were 15 cents, that’s happened then.
SL: So why did you stay here on 25th street?
WM: 25th street is the best location that you can find and the best people around this
place. I had some people that I didn’t know were so nice until I kind of mingled
with them a little bit. They were so nice to me on 25th street and that’s why I’m
here and we’re still like to stay here. I’ll be back here soon, regular, until they
think that I’m still here.
SL: So during the war a lot of troops were coming in through the trains
WM: A lot of people coming, lots of people, not a small amount, I mean lots of people
come here. They had navy bases here, they had this brothel place across the
street. They had about 5 or 6 of them over there and the reason why that was is
because when they would come to the base or coming through then there was
no women here. They didn’t have the wives with them so that made the brothel
place really famous, yeah real famous.
SL: So was that Rose’s place across the street?
WM: Rose Davie, her husband was named Bill. Really what happened with that was a
funny thing went on there. Bill and Rose would open at 8:00 in the morning and
they would stay open until 5:00. When 5:00 come no woman from that place
would be on the street. They would dress and they would come back on the
street just like you wouldn’t even know they were working in those places.
Everybody just hated Rose because she had a pink Cadillac and it was pink and
she wore dark shades and a dark cap on her head. In this Cadillac was
convertible and she’d ride up and down the street all time, making sure those
girls wasn’t on the street after a certain time you know dressed the other way.
They had some place that was pretty fancy, it was a place down below here
called the Show Windows. What would happen, the girls would stay in there and
walk all over the place all the time, that was their job. Then you picked a person
that you want and then they would let her out or stay where she could and they
would unlock it. She would do what she was going to do and then they’d lock her
back up as the day go on. They also had a red hanky over there and it was over
the El Boracho. What would happen there was is when they got to serve as I say,
then they would come to the window and flash this red hanky then you could go
up. I was about 15, a little young somewhere in there. I was going to try my luck
up there and it was the best girl up there I think was about $2.50 and the others
were $2.50. I was going to get me one, I was so young I didn’t really know and I
started up and one of those pimps caught me by the head and told me, “If you
don’t get out of here-I know you-get out of here before I beat you half to death.” I
didn’t try that no more.
SL: So you were talking about the Rose Rooms, but there were a lot of other well-known
hotels and clubs on 25th street. Did you frequent any?
WM: Yeah they had some on the street called Johnson. They had about five of them
on the other side. They had, let me tell you this. Out of all those things they had
everyone seemed like they was welcome and in charge so much. Ogden was a
good place, it just changed about it every ten years. They had a lot of clothing
stores down here as I said before, cleaning, and cafes.
Another thing about the porters and waiters, I’m going to get over there
real quickly like. The person, nobody knew who was furnishing the money for the
porters and waiters. This black group got together and they would come to
Ogden and they would find the place and that was the porters and waiters. When
they found the porters and waiters they lease the place and that’s where those
fellows stayed. Nobody knew that Billy Weekly-nobody knew him much but he
was the person who worked there in Ogden club and they gave him money to
complete this porters and waiters. Everybody think that they were, it was a
brothel place, but it wasn’t, was not, see. Billie Weekly would sit in the door and
to keep the people from going up. They would come to the porters and waiters
from the train and when they come from the train the men didn’t have their wives
so they would fool around places that like. They weren’t for the porters and
waiters at all. It was just where they meet and dance and eat, that’s what it was
porters and waiters, and gamble.
I know one time this is funny. You wouldn’t know about this, but they had a
cord like this cord here that go downstairs and there was gambling downstairs
and upstairs. They had a light on that thing and they put me in shoe shine there, I
didn’t want to shoe shine, but I didn’t know what the was there for really, I really
didn’t. What they had, they had a little plug along the floor and when the police
would come. He’d sit in this chair all time and he’d take his foot and if it was a
policeman coming he’d bash this little plug. Then the policeman found it out and
one time they were going downstairs to do some gambling and he raised his foot
up to touch that thing to let them know the police were coming. The police said
keep your foot up, don’t mash it down cause I know what you’re doing. Stuff like
that, but porters and waiters they would just forget.
Annabelle she had every kind, everybody was her friend. She was their
friend, but Billie Weekly when he was sitting at this door to keep them from going
up there he had the key to go upstairs where he lived. The brothel people weren’t
up there, that’s what people thought. He had the key and Annabelle and a guy
called Lyle Kersaki he started to go around Annabelle all the time. He was going
Annabelle and they borrowed this key from him and told him Annabelle and him
borrowed this key and then he gave it back. So then he died with that kind of
They wanted me to put the barber shop and that was in the La France
Hotel, La France Hotel that’s where I was barbered. Lyle and Annabelle come
over and says we want to put this in the porters and waiters barber shop. Billie
Weekly who owned the place said Willie don’t do that, the place is too hot for
that. I want you to stay just like you are, Moore’s Barber Shop other than being in
the hotel. They always raid the hotels and that was one thing that happened in
the hotel. It was like I said, Ogden was the worst place in the world. It was nice
place to come cause you know you could and most of the rest was Chinese and
Japanese on this street. I would trade Ogden for any place as they changed. I
wouldn’t change anyplace that I love because I guess I got along cause I didn’t
do the just go to the shop and my house.
There’s nobody here in my family but me, all my life. I’ve been here by
myself that’s why I was always afraid to go out. I never drank, never did smoke,
and never did oh so many other things that I didn’t do because I was going these
Mormon kids a lot. They didn’t do all of those things so it kept me clean because
one of them told me, “Willie if you put good things in your body, good things will
come out. If you put bad things in there, that’s going to come out. You bet your
boots you see.” I decided I would follow that rule and not do those things and the
world got real nice.
I’ve had nice barbers, that’s one thing I’ve had. I’ve had barber shops all
over the county because they one time, they didn’t cut black hair, they didn’t cut
white. They didn’t cut no hair so we had the Mex with the blacks, we had that,
that was ours. It was still good and we made a lot of money. I took Hill Field
barber shop over and what we did, me and a pair or person they gave us a
chance to put barber shops in all bases and we had about 97 barbers once. We
would just go over and see, if I was going. I had good connections, never had no
problem in my barber shops at all. I had one guy who was kind of funny like. He
was from Mississippi and he come in and he wanted to dance. He wanted to
dance with this black girl and she was ugly, I thought she was. He said “Willie
boy I like to dance with that girl, but I want to get a haircut.” So I said, “Okay
that’s a deal.” When I put him in the chair and put the towel on his face, a hot
towel that’s what it used to be. A hot towel I see that towel easing down over his
eyes, he wanted to know what was going on. Towel come on down and then he
said, “Martin Luther King is marching in Alabama.” He said, “Barber,” I said,
“What?” “Will you take this damn towel off my face?” I said, “Why?” “You either
take this towel off and sharpen this razor and I’m a friend now.” When I see that
towel coming off and I got to tell him about all this stuff. It changed a lot. Ogden
had changed lots of times, but it had been really bad. 15 years ago, Ogden you
wouldn’t even know it, oh yeah it was just terrible. Then started 25th street
business you know and they started coming up better, much better.
I had Ms. Roosevelt come in my shop. Yeah she came into my barber
shop ‘cause they were having a meeting and they was running for president. She
had these guards with them and when she seen all the people standing around
reading while she come in. All the people in the barber shop sat around and all
she said was vote, vote, vote. That’s what she kept saying to the people, she
wanted them to vote. I enjoy Ogden.
SL: So how did you meet Betty?
WM: I knew her brother. See Ogden, Betty went to Ogden High School when it was
maybe one black. I was going to West High School it was maybe two blacks.
They had more, this is real funny. All the blacks turned white so they didn’t fool
me too much. They had kind of turned, but I didn’t go that road anyway. So Betty
broke arms skiing in Ogden, skating. She was about 8 or 9 years old then and
they had a maple. She had a rink in Salt Lake City so Ogden went to ski. I went
to her dad’s one night, we used to dance. I went to church and after this church
thing about 2 or 3 Sundays I went down to where they danced. She was down
there dancing, oh she could dance. Little dance was too much for her. I mean
little dance wasn’t enough for her. She could really dance and I thought she was
so pretty. She’s all business she turned me around fast, all business she was.
When she died the same thing.
When she died I just feel bad ‘cause I always sleep with my arm like this. I
told her, I said Betty I don’t care how bad things get whoever your mate is
whoever your friend is you kiss them goodnight. Lock your arms and stay with
them. The night before she died she hollered up on me all night. For six weeks,
“Willie, Willie, Willie, Willie I’m so sick,” she said, “My stomach hurts and right
here is so tight.” I don’t know what then she woke up a little while and she said,
“Willie I’m going to die pretty soon.” I started feeling bad, but there’s a part of this,
getting along. I start thinking, “Don’t leave me here by myself. Don’t leave me.”
She hollered one night so loud you could hear her all over the community,
“Willie!” Just like that. The next morning I kissed her and I was coming into the
barber shop. I kissed her on the jaw every time, whether she’s mad, sleep or
what. She looked up and said, “Willie don’t kiss me on the chin this time.”
She turned over and she said, “Kiss me on my lips.” I say, “Okay,” she
went on out. That’s what made me feel so bad. She was a good person, she
played the church piano, she was one of the first person that had a newsletter,
big newsletter in St. Rose Lima, but before she joined the Catholic church she
was part of a Methodist Church. A little girl playing the piano for them. When she
started to go to St. Rose Lima it was a man who did most of this stuff. So she
wrote this newsletter and then later she want to read. The man was reading and
in this community she fought for years, let a woman take this part, let a woman
do this. Finally they decided to let her read and she read for a long time. She
spent a lot of time in that church, along with as I said we’d go out to dance.
We’d go over to La Kai, we were part of the La Kai over there. We knew them
before they killed themselves. All the kids and everything, we’d go there to eat.
They had six people there when we first went. We stayed with them until-for
Mother’s Day you go there now they’ll have 13 or 1400 people. Isn’t that big?
That was so sad, we knew them so well and everything. In the meantime I said
we tried to go to the nicest place and a bad place can be nice if you want to be
nice yourself. You know you have to do that yourself, that’s the way I feel.
Another thing we figured, laying in bed with people was a good thing. Understand
them and another thing I’ll tell them here in the barber shop I don’t care what
going in the barber shop out there when you hit that door smile. I can’t be mad
with everybody. That was some of the things I liked about her. She would smile
when I’d come in and I holler, she’d be upstairs. We stayed at that place 50 some
years, son said, “We were together 65 years see. Sometimes I’d get so mad you
know ohhhh!,” but I said it low so she couldn’t hear me. She was a nice woman.
SL: So did you ever take her dancing at like the Berthana or White City?
MW: Berthana, her mother worked there for 50 years.
SL: At the Berthana?
MW: Yes, if we don’t go before you, they got a big sign that said with the governor
plate with about 5 or 600 little, small names all over it at the Berthana. She
worked there 50 years and we would go there, but we didn’t go to dance then.
Dance was just about gone, it was skating then. Then they had the White City
Ballroom and they had the one out on, coming into Ogden I forget the name of it
right now. Her parents worked all over, that’s what they had to do, work. After
they would go away we could dance a little bit, eat a little bit cause everybody
was gone. I guess you can tell what you want to in this thing, but this had nothing
to do with it. I worked at the Hotel Utah and they used to have the MTC, I did
everything that worked. Everything to get a job. I was trying to work hard to get a
lot of money so we could go out. You don’t know nothing, you’re not raised by
nobody. I was always trying to find something to do and then after I got married I
got smart and that was all by Betty. It was all about her, she was sweet. She was
SL: So I have to ask you this question. There’s been rumors of tunnels on 25th street.
Do you know anything about those?
MW: No I don’t, I do know when I came here there was a short tunnel where the China
men would go in and smoke opium. I never seen it go all the way across, but it
was open there for that. In fact it went along here. I think it was, but nobody
definitely going all the way across. You do know this that underneath you can go
from door to door, underneath some places. Go door to door, but I didn’t know it
was completed. I’ve seen everything else but that.
When you speak of that one sailor lived upstairs cause that’s what they
had in the Army. It wasn’t the Air Force, it was Army then and one morning they
threw him down upstairs here, they killed him and threw him right down there.
Right on the sidewalk and guess what happened, I left here running. If you think
that roadrunner can run you should’ve seen me getting away from here. I left
here quick so that was all part of it.
She was a fine person and always tried to tell me Willie you got to love
people. You got to love them whether they’re good or bad you got to love them
and they’ll love you. But if you don’t love somebody you keeping all that stuff in
your mind it’s going to stay right there. She wanted to love everybody and
education. She wrote poems you don’t have much time now, but we got a place
almost like this full of books. Even Barnes and Nobles doesn’t have as many
books as she has. Even got big bags and I believe she knew about you and you
would never know it. She was a collector. She liked that and she liked, really
liked John’s family. She said a lot of stuff, I got a lot of stuff back there when
Charlie Trentlemen start. I got some of the stuff back then from him, when he
started as a kid. I had to bring some down here, she liked education. She loved
kids and everything that was one of the things I liked about her.
SL: So being on 25th street did you notice sort of the anti-vice push that happened in
the 50s and 60s?
WM: Yes you know it wasn’t quite as many people killed, but a lot of people were hurt,
shot and everything. There’s one guy was coming across the street, they cut him
up and he died right in the middle of the street there, just fell dead. I’ve seen that,
El Boracho, all the places. People in Clearfield didn’t even like the people in
Ogden and they had a lot of it. I know that sometime-when you said one thing
that worried me a little bit, this guy, black guy he was supposed to have been the
smartest person in the world. He knew everything, he was smart so he went in
and bought his groceries and when you hear about it, it was a California Flea
Market, right up here on the street here. Well he went in and bought his groceries
and stole a clock and put the clock in his bosom. Go to get out with it and as
soon as he started walking out with the clock started off. I thought that was one
funniest thing that you ever seen in your life. See nowadays they would put him
in jail, but there was just people there you know, but that was one of the funniest
things. There was a lot of funny things that make you laugh after you think.
I seen one time a guy got killed, not killed but stabbed all over. It was snow like
that out there you could trail him to his house and they did that a lot. Let me tell
you this though, there was a lot of famous people out of this town, 25th street.
Some of them felt like 25th street was way beyond their thoughts, but it was here
too. You know they were here too, a lot of it. I used to open up at 6:00 in the
morning right here in order to clean them up so they could go there, they’d be
having meetings. Doctors, lawyers, all of them, but I don’t know no name or
nothing, but that’s what happened. I’ve seen it all.
SL: So did you ever know Marshall White, Doc White?
WM: I knew him when he first got off to come to Salt Lake City. I’m going to give you
the real dope on him I don’t care what nobody say, I’m going to give you the real
dope. In Salt Lake City he come as an army man. His girlfriend was a Chigley in
Salt Lake City we delivered her to a place called High Marine Hall. Then
everything help him get off. We went and took him to the High Marine Hall, we
stayed up there. He come here a little while and then he wanted to be a
policeman. He tried to be a policeman in Salt Lake City and they said no we don’t
want you to be any police for Salt Lake City. He said you might not like our rules
anyway. He said if I had a policeman, I would let this policeman. If he arrest a
white person he’d have to stand there until the white cop come to take him to jail.
They didn’t let black men to arrest a white man, I’ve seen all that.
Now I’m going to get down to where he is now. He come to Salt Lake City
to work, he was a foot doctor I’d call him. He come to want to be a policeman.
They told him in Salt Lake City just as I’m telling you because we lived next door.
They told him they don’t hire blacks, but go to Ogden they hire anybody over
there, anything. That’s what they said so he came over here. He had to work his
way in, he worked his way in from this foot doctor into health. Then in the health
thing they hired him as a policeman. They didn’t want him to be a policeman they
hired him anyway, policeman. He made a detective, he was quite a smart guy. I
sit on the other side of the street, he was very clean, anybody can tell you. Nice
clothes, when he caught a guy once and the guy he hit him over the head, he
was bleeding. Doc would hold his coat out so he wouldn’t bleed and hit him like
Yeah I’ve seen it all. You know it wasn’t quite what it was like, this is the
worst place in the world though. I know when the war was going on this place so
well known until they sent a letter and they put 25th street Utah. Didn’t have no
address and it came right down to the porters and waiters. This 25th was quite a
thing, quite a place.
SL: So was Doc White the first black cop in Ogden or were there others?
WM: They had others, but Doc was the first one. They had one called Pete, then they
had this other guy, he was going with a girl up in the hotel. They called the police
and this is a cop, beat the woman. They trusted him so well that when the police
would come in he would walk in the door and say I got it all settled out. They
went on their way, woman’s up there laying half naked. It was another policeman
I had a son who was the best in Ogden. When you go up there you look in
the football, you find his name up there, but he was a crook. He was my boy, a
natural crook. He was such a nice to everybody they didn’t see that. He was
quite a fellow.
SL: So having lived in Ogden for numerous years how do you think Ogden has
WM: For the best because when it was like it was before like I said they had all that
drinking and fighting going on. They come this last time with a different view.
They have just a few bars and they have just a few fights. They had everything
here, they had a fellow that sit right where he’s sitting all times for almost a year
and a half, sitting there. When I got ready to go out to buy a car in the evening
time, just as I open my door he jumped out with a pistol. Said “I got to have 25
dollars now.” I said “Why, I don’t have no 25 dollars.” He said, “Yeah you have
25.” I said “How do you know?” He said, “’Cause I was sitting there looking you
cut hair all day so you got that 25 dollars to give me.” Then I talked to a
policeman after then, they said don’t try to do anything just try to identify him.
See they’re prepared to do what they going to do, but you are not so you don’t
know this is going to happen. He knows it, but then they built it up nicely now. I
hope it keeps going, it’s improving so much. They have theatres all up and down
the street here, yeah Lyceum and all that. So Ogden had been the worst place in
the world, it’s been nice, but it hasn’t been the worst place in the world. I love it!
SL: Did you use to go to the Lyceum?
WM: Yes go to the Lyceum. Lyceum was 10/15 cents for a hamburger, the biggest
hamburger they had. Five cents for a drink, that’s what they had. So I went to the
Lyceum theater, well all of them after that. They had a café called Keely’s. So all
the good people ate at Keely’s. You know they had banks up there and
everything. Ogden has improved so much and it’s coming my way. Now hey I’m
leaving. I’ll be back.
SL: Do you have any questions?
LR: I just have one. Did you know the police officer Lou Burch?
WM: Oh! Big Burch talk all the time.
LR: I was just curious because he told a story not too long ago about a time, and I
wanted to hear your version of the story. The story went he was coming up to talk
to a gentleman you were with, big Swedish guy. For some reason you mistook
what was happening and you took Lou and you just threw him.
WM: That’s right, Big Burch that was my partner, he and I and his family and
everything. See during that time when a Spanish guy and a black guy walked into
the drug store and everything they had a number. When you walk into the store
they didn’t know it, but he’d walk in the store, he’s going now and they would
holler when he walk in aisle 99, that’s where a black guy, white guy going in to
steal something. Aisle 99 and that’s where the police would go and arrest him,
that’s where that happens.
Ogden’s been nice and it’s going to be nicer. The whole state is going to
be nicer, yeah the whole state because they got some good people in Utah.
Really good and it’s going to be much nicer because it seem like they have what
they need now to improve this state and this town, they have it. I’ll bet you money
that a lot of people would stay here, they’d come here to visit, they’d be back. I
can show you some stuff we got from Australia, got people come get a haircut
from Australia right here. They wait until they get ready to come ski on their
haircut. We got one kid who’s six years old when he started coming and now he’s
18 come to this place. We got lots of them that come here to visit and all over.
The missionaries they know us way before we knew them. They come up and
down here now. What happened is when they go and stay their two years during
that time in the United States of wherever they are they would go back home and
say stop at Willie Moore’s Barber Shop. So that’s where they come in and stop.
We love the missionaries because they tell us some good stuff. Yeah they tell us
some awful good stuff.
SL: So when did you and Betty get married?
WM: Oh back in 50, we got married twice. We slipped off to get married you see and
we got married in Nevada. Went to Nevada and got married and guess what?
When we got wait there was a big turkey waiting, red big old turkey. Guess what?
The preacher come right after we just sat down and said your wife and you got to
get married again. You either get married in the church or downtown, there’s not
going to be no wedding until this thing, people are here, and good people, the
preacher and everything. You’re not going to get married by anybody so I got two
licenses on her, now I wish I had one. Two licenses on here, yeah. We got
married twice, we went to Idaho and then we come back. As soon as we got
back my mother-in-law was waiting on us with that big turkey. You know with my
diet I was going to say yes, so I enjoyed myself.
They got good people here. Brewski’s they’re nice, Rooster’s they’re nice,
and well I won’t name them all cause it’s not good if you don’t name them all then
you’re doing something wrong. It’s improving, it’s going to keep to continue to
improve, when they do that, Ogden will be the best place to live.
I’ve done a lot here, I’ve done a lot raising my two kids in Ogden High School.
From Ogden High School the granddaughter went to Duke University and she’ll
be paying for that the rest of her life, treat her so good. Half of the time she’s out
of state, Madrid, I don’t know what they told her. The girl if she walked in here
right now you sit right there she sit up in your lap and go to sleep. She’s so small
that when my wife died she did the eulogy or something there. I could be laying
on the bed and she come lay right on top of me. Lay her little head on me and
guess what? She’s in her 40s.
SL: Is this Cara?
WM: Yes, she’s in her 40s. She got married and it kind of torn up things a little bit. She
hasn’t been married since and I worry about my family. I worry about her, she
just didn’t get married again. I think she’s in San Francisco now, then she goes to
Dallas, San Francisco, Houston and other places like that in the United States
where they have these big orders. She had something to do with Targets. She
come in here and she’ll look and find the place for Target, put Target here. She
looks so little. I said lord have mercy but that’s what she does.
SL: I noticed Carol looks a lot like Betty.
WM: Yeah she does and think like her too. Oh I can hardly stay home sometimes tell
her to pick up stuff and change this around and set this way. Oh!
SL: So how did Betty start working out at Hill Field?
WM: Oh, well when Hill Field come there was very few places that you could work in
Utah. Samuel’s and Keely’s all those places, very small. So when Hill Field come
this guy called Jack, I forget his name, he was the head of Hill Field. They went
to school together and she failed. She failed and Big Jack told her said, “Betty
you go to work here. You take it until you’ve completed.” She took it two times
and she completed it and started working at Hill. Worked all those years at Hill
Field, but at the Hill Field time I told her, “Betty someday you might retire.”
We had these two kids, I took a little short job over at the train station over there
in order to help us with our family. She was my friend ever since and she thought
it would be different honest to god. I was a bragger ‘cause I was pretty sharp
myself, had no problems. Cutting hair and saving my money. Dress-I wish you
could go to my place and see I got a lot of suits, a lot of suits all the way over. I
mean a big line of suits and Betty tell me, “Don’t you go out looking like a clown.
You go dressed up every time.”
This is some of the things-she was in front of me, Utah Corrections-she
was in front of me there on that board. I’ve been in Chamber of Commerce twice
that was because she wanted Lamar Butler who she went to school with. See
what happens was, during that time it was very easy for a white person. You
were by yourself, but she didn’t know anyone hardly they’d say, “Uh oh look there
she goes. Did she turn the corner?” “Yeah she turned the corner.” “We’ll keep our
eyes on her.” They didn’t know what they heard. It’s so pitiful that all people that
don’t know each other. I tell them all the time hey you know me. Some of them
come in they want a pop, you black. I said sure what’s wrong with that? Gee I
would be white if they didn’t keep me in the oven too long. You got to have it.
You’re going to be great. Both of you going to be great with your job cause you
ask good questions.
SL: So I read somewhere that you used to do golf tournaments.
WM: I mean tournaments all over this. Would you get my golf tournament stuff out of
there? My pictures of stuff. Oh I got about six or some trophies. I used to play
golf, that’s all I did. I played from Hilton Island to Pebble Beach to anyplace you
can name. I got a stack of stuff like this. I won the Mormon tournament and that’s
a tournament they have that people from Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah, 100 people.
I walked away with the tournament. Yeah walked away with it and guess what?
Winning the tournament and birthday on the 24th of July, that’s when my birthday
is on Mormon. I played golf.
SL: So did you used to hold tournaments for fundraisers for kids?
WM: Yes, we had one at Ben Lomond, we had one at Riverside, places like that.
Whole tournament and I was going to do it this year, but seemed like Betty was
kind of slowing up a little bit and I wanted to stay close to her. I think if it come
again next year I’m going to do it for one of the big disease. We win a lot of
money, Leavitt mortuary, up here, he was helping me and we win that together.
Well Ernie Snider, all those places we were together. You can call Ernie, we had
the same birthday, 24th of July. He owned two or three golf courses: The Bluff,
Riverside, and another one. We go together, that’s the reason I had all these
different clothes. I wanted to be ready, I didn’t want anybody dragging me along.
I don’t want to walk my head up. Yeah that’s what you want to go, that’s what
both of you are going to do. It’s going to be there for you all you have to do is get
It’s out there, I tell my wife you’re just as great as anybody out there.
You’re as great as they are and I told my kids that. They seem to did pretty good,
but I tell you what happened about five years ago. Somebody killed Betty’s son.
He had a check come from the government it was really big. They beat him in the
back of his head and took his check. I think it was 17,000 then, but it had more
coming. They beat him all over the head and I tell you, you could hear Betty
scream from here to Salt Lake. She walked in and seen him and they killed him
and took his money and everything. Just when he got off that child thing.
You have to change sometime if you don’t change you don’t know where
you’re going, a person might lead you any place. That’s what I used to tell them
all the time. I told be a leader, if you be a leader know where you’re going, you’re
going to make it. If you got any kids or any friends or anybody, make them be
number one. I tell them I said when you go out in the world today don’t never tell
you that we are broke. Just tell them we don’t have no money today. That’s the
way I did. I learned that because I was adopted here with Jewish people and they
like money. Jewish people like money, they don’t food around, they like money
it’s quite a thing.
This is a busy barber shop, but it doesn’t look like it now. I’m glad because
I can talk loud, I like to talk. Betty and I talked like we were strangers. I loved that.
I’ll never forget her, no never forget her. Somebody told me the other day would
you think about getting married again? I says, “What? I’ll kill you dead.” That’s my
Betty the rest of my life, that’s the way I feel. That’s the way I’m now, love it and I
love people. Good golf tournaments and good basketball tournaments. Golf,
basketball, pool and bowling go to these places up there. Like when they didn’t
let us eat. We would bowl black and white, but we couldn’t eat together.
Up on 25th street we ordered 28 steaks, that’s all they had in the place, 28
steaks. When we got ready to eat they said, “We can’t serve black.”
I say, “What?” “We can’t serve black.” I said, “Well, you know funny thing about
that I got to work for them because I’m in the barber shop. You don’t serve
blacks, that’s okay because I don’t eat blacks either because it would mess up
my stomach. Every time I eat one it mess up my stomach.” We walked out of
there; they come out left those steaks. You should see that Japanese man (ha ho
ching chong bing bong!!!) we gone, eat them yourself.
So many times like that, but it wasn’t the toughest thing in the world. The
toughest thing in the world was education. If they had an education girl they had
education think good, think real good. You’ll make it, I bet you will. What I mean
by that is, there’s nobody on the hill that has no more than you have if you got
education. You can do what you want with it and they can’t do no more than you
can with it. So if your kids say, “Momma we broke,” say, “No we just don’t have
money today.” They give me hell here, all these barbers, but I know how to
handle them. I say yes and don’t get mad. You come in that door there all mad
about what happened you going to be in bad shape, got to be good.
SL: When did you play for the Harlem Globetrotters?
WM: Well what happened that was, I went to a black school called Gramblem College
and I wanted to come back to Utah. The globetrotter was coming up this way and
they could only play in black school. They play at black school so they told me
we’re short of people, we need another person. I say okay but the way we do
that, but my name could be John Robinson and John Robinson being on their
team. People didn’t know that who I was, there was a way to see the
Globetrotters. Globetrotters had a pretty bunch of girls when we’d go and play
we’d come out of there, the girls out there waiting. So I when substituted for a lot,
but I helped them even when the Globetrotters broke up. See people don’t know
the Globetrotters broke up and the team they broke up from was the big
Globetrotters and they were named Harlem Magicians.
If you ever look at them-I got a shirt up here right now, I think it’s in this
drawer. A shirt up here and they got six stars, big stars on the Globetrotters.
Then when we broke up we let those stars here, but farmer was about this size
so he couldn’t see. When they would see Globetrotters all the time what would
happen there is-Garcia would you look in here? Garcia look in there and see that
shirt in there. I got a shirt here now right in this corner, you see it there, right in
the top drawer. Is it the bottom? Yeah that’s one of my old shirts. I got a lot of
The Globetrotters and the Magicians we had there. I enjoyed it, see those
stars. You can put it back. What we would do with that is we would go in front of
the Globetrotters. We still Harlem Globetrotters, but we were performers and we
would go in ahead of the people and collect the money. When the Globetrotters
come, the real Globetrotters there wasn’t no money for them. I substitute all the
time. When they had a girl they wanted to see or when someone got sick or
something that’s what happened. I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t a clown no more when
I met Betty. She didn’t like the clowning so I had to get out of that thing. That was
one thing I like about her, she was just real. We would go out with somebody and
she’d bring up that race thing and I just got so shaky. I said, “Don’t do that now,”
but she said, “When am I going to do it?” You know about it that’s what she said
to me. Tough as a boot.
SL: Well thank you Willie, we appreciate it.
WM: Okay I’m so glad you come down. I’ve had more fun with you than I had with
what’s his name? Charles, he stayed here a long long time. I thought I had his
stuff here I guess I don’t. This right here I want you to talk about this one.
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