Interviewed by Lorrie Rands
22 July 2013
Oral History Program
Weber State University
22 July 2013
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Tanner, John, an oral history by Lorrie
Rands, 22 July 2013 , WSU Stewart Library
Oral History Program, Special Collections,
Stewart Library, Weber State University,
July 22, 2013
Abstract: The following is an oral history interview with John Tanner. The interview
was conducted on July 22, 2013, by Lorrie Rands. John discusses his
experiences with 25th Street.
LR: Okay, it is July 22, 2013 and we are in the home of Mr. Tanner talking about 25th
Street and his memories of it. I’m here with Avery Pince. Mr. Tanner, thank you
so much for allowing us to come into your home and do this. Let’s start off with
where were you born and how you ended up in Ogden.
JT: I was born at 29th and Kiesel, 2858 Kiesel Avenue and my mother and father
built that home when they got married, so I lived there all my life and raised a few
chickens and fed a few tramps and went through there until I went to college.
LR: So, what are some of your childhood memories of 25th Street?
JT: Well, 25th Street, when I was young, I would go over there to—we’d walk to the
Paramount Theater all the time and we’d go to 25th Street and go up and down
there. We used to like to go to the Utah Noodle Parlor there, halfway down the
street. There was a family—he was a good old Chinese man that had a very fine
restaurant. He’s the one that planted that whole hill on the Junction of Harrison,
there’s now the Kobe restaurant, and for years he just guarded that ready to
move his restaurant there, moved it there three or four years and died. But, we
used to ride our bikes up and down 24th Street to go to the Depot and see the
trains come in and up and down and watch the soldiers come through there and
watch them waving the goodbyes and the farewells, that was all an adventure to
One of the men that worked down there that was in charge of the depot, I
guess the superintendent, Raymond Wright, was in the stake presidency with my
father, so we’d go down and carry information down to him and back and forth to
the—for the family. I didn’t really start going up and down 25th Street until I got
the job in high school of going to what they call the yard office which was a
building after the twelve track tunnel. We’d come out and there was a building
there that was in the middle of the rail yard that the dispatcher’s and all would
work, so they took care of scheduling things in the ice house for the trains and
box cars and they would dump a lot of the climbers and that out of the engines
on the spot right next to it there. It was quite an interesting place because on the
trains they’d unload the garbage and we’d collect the pop bottles two cents a
bottle and I’d get the deposit on the bottle. That was my first exposure to the 25th
Street drill heavy. I joined the—worked there as a callboy for the dispatchers
there at night and I’d go there at eleven or twelve and work until eight in the
morning. I would call on the telephone to get the porters and waiters and the
engineers and the brake men for the various trains. It was my job to go over to
25th Street to the Porters and Waiters Club in the middle of the night from 2:00 to
4:00 to roust out the porters and waiters for the trains. I would also call engineers
and brakemen to come there. As a side for that, I got so I could go home, ride my
bike home in the middle of the night and sneak dad’s car out of the garage and
go out to the Washington Terrace and pick up the engineers or the brakemen.
Taxis were hard to get at that time of night and during the war and gas was
rationed and so it was a good deal for me to go pick up those people and take
them to work and I’d make 15, 20 dollars at a time, and then Dad didn’t know
about it until later on.
I’d go over to the Porters and Waiters Club at two or three in the morning
and it was, at that time, I guess the colored people could not stay in hotels and
so forth, so a lot of the traffic, it was through that hotel lobby, which was in the
front of the Porter’s & Waiters Club. But, in the rooms, the rooms were built, as
you notice on 25th Street, those buildings were stacked pretty tight on there and
there wasn’t any ventilation in that except through the roof on the third and fourth
floor and so those halls were dark and narrow and I’d have to go in there with a
flashlight and shine it in the face of the guy and wake him up and say, “Hey, are
you George Washington Jones, who are you?” There’d be six to eight men in the
room there and the three or four men that I had to call, may not all be in the same
room, so I’d have to go to two or three rooms and, of course, the smell of the
sweat and that in the summer was kind of strong down the halls and in those
rooms. They also had a bar and dance floor where people like Nat King Cole,
Count Basie, and Duke Ellington would come.
But, if it was at all possible, at night, when they weren’t busy, there’s an
old Mr. Coal that was the desk man at the hotel and he would go up there and
take me in and wake up the guys for me because he could see I was scared. We
had a lot of experiences there because there was a lot of big, scary, colored
fellows that were there and then I learned later that the whole basement was kind
of a dance floor and recreation or bar area for the people and so that would draw
the women in there that I could see some pretty fancy dressed women come in
there in the middle of the night or leave in the middle of the night.
But, my main job was going over there and getting the people out for their
job on the passenger trains and by doing it, waiting in the lobby for Mr. Coal to go
with me a time or two. I think I told you that there were a couple of big dark
fellows sitting in there and these two women came in all fancied up, you just
couldn’t believe, dressed to the T. The big bucks went over to these women and
said, “Hey babe, let’s me and you go out in the field and…” I won’t say the word,
but that’s what they wanted to do. The little gal would say, “Alright, but I got to go
home and change my clothes first.” That was kind of impressive to me because I
had never seen that seedy side of life. So, that was fun. Another good memory
for me because I was over there a lot. I would also ride my bicycle over to the
California Free Market and pick up a salami and loaf of bread and cheese for the
condiments for a couple of seedy people and the yard officer for their midnight
lunch. That was kind of interesting to go up and down the street at night on a
bicycle and see the drunks laying on the side of the road or the policemen
rousting them up and putting them in the squad cars and so forth. There was
always two policemen there, they’d never go in with one. They’d say, “Don’t ever
go in the 25th Street without two police officers.”
I saw a lot of the nightlife activity of the soldiers staggering up and down
the street and the police would help them hustle back to the train so they
wouldn’t miss their train and they’d have let them. The first time I ever got
propositioned by a queer was there, riding my bike up one night. He kept on
standing there and looking at me making funny faces and then he’d start rubbing
his leg with his arm like that. I didn’t really know what he was doing until my
mother told me and said, “Stay away from him.” I guess they liked pretty boys at
that time. So, that was an adventure I had there.
We’d go up to Ross and Jacks restaurant there opposite the Municipal
Park. Their favorite meal was burgers and fries, or burger spuds, it was potatoes
and gravy and a hamburger patty. My Uncle John was an awning maker and
canvas man and he’d go there for lunch every day, so he’d take us to Ross and
Jacks when he was around and I got used to going into Ross and Jacks. When I
was selling papers, I guess that was the earliest experience I had on 25th Street
was the paper routes that I had. I’d go along 25th Street and down to the
Paramount Theater and in the basement of the Kiesel building next to it was
where the—we folded the papers and got them in our bicycles. So, we would
stop in at Ross and Jacks maybe and eat before or after we took our paper route.
Then, as I told you, on VJ Day, the end of the war, why, the train whistles and the
factory whistles all started tooting and, so that brought all the people out from the
depot clear up to the 26th and Washington and during the day they all started
dancing. But that Sunday afternoon when the war started, I guess it was the 7th
of December, why, they called me in to sell extras and so I stood on the corner of
Grant and 25th Street and shouted, “Extra, extra, read all about it,” selling the
papers and really made a lot of money that day and sold all my papers. People
were very interested in what was going on and so I spent a lot of time there on
25th Street. Then the bus depot was there on the corner at that time—the
Greyhound Bus. Then, I guess, I went in the Broom Hotel a lot because of selling
papers and leaving papers at the desk.
There was a seaman that came as a tramp or hobo you’d call them, I
guess, or traveling guy that came to the back door of the house one time and
mother fed him and found out that he was a carpenter and had him do some
things. His name was Auto Presnitts, he was an old Dutchman sailor, but he was
a great carpenter. Mother would make sure that he was alright and we’d go down
to 25th Street. He lived in a room above the grocery store there, I think it was
Nicholas, at the time I think two doors up on the north side of 25th Street from
Wall Avenue—or no, from Lincoln, about halfway up the block. I’d sit there in the
car and wait for mother to go and see if he’s alright.
Mother had a little concern for me there because she had a brother that
had died and gone off the rail and was kind of a wayward individual and he had
died in the room and they didn’t find him for a few days there. She was always
concerned about me being in that area with the type of people. I was warned by
Mother and the police to be careful, but I had no problems there. I was too young
and immature to worry about it and as long as I chaied up my bicycle, it didn’t
bother me. I did go up and down there at night in the middle of the night at all
hours, so I saw a lot of nightlife that you just wouldn’t normally see there.
Then, also, you mentioned the prisoners of war, they had the Germans
and Italian prisoners of war out at the 2nd Street depot and they’d come by bus
into the depot at 25th Street and go up and down there and filter out into the
shopping areas. There was a men’s clothing store called B&B’s at that time just
above Grant on 25th Street, and my father had a clothing store on 24th Street
and so we would interchange with the clothing store and do some of their
tailoring and that back and forth when our seamstress wasn’t available. I’d have
to take clothing over there—the pants or a suit coat or that to get tailored for our
store. They’d send a lot of those prisoners that needed clothes over to our store
from B&B’s so we had a good relationship with them.
I know mother used to have to go and get groceries at that grocery store
for Auto Presnitts all the time and take them up to his room and that. I think there
was some connection or relationship of a cousin or something that was
connected with that that Mother knew. Of course, during the Depression, we
didn’t realize it, but she’d go and get cow’s tongues or tripe and make a meal out
of that for us and I got to where I liked sliced cow tongue sandwiches. They
weren’t bad, she’d boil them up and then all the taste buds would peel off like a
skin, so you just had the muscle in the middle and it was very good. So, I enjoyed
that part of 25th Street too that did feed me quite a bit.
We’d sit in the terminal there at the depot and watch the people go by, the
servicemen by the USO branch there, we could maybe sneak a donut or coca
cola once in a while from them. They were nice ladies. That was mainly, basically
what I did on 25th Street. I was there when the war started as a paperboy and
after, or before the war ended. When it ended, I was there working at the Porter’s
and Waiters Club was very familiar with me and the Utah Noodle Parlor was very
interesting to me. I don’t know whether it was a Legion Hall or what—just down
the street on the south side from the bus station and there was a lot of people in
there and I had some interaction with those people, but I don’t remember just
what it was. That was another spot that I spent some time at, so that was mainly
the things. We—this isn’t exactly 25th Street—but my dad did get me up in the
middle of the night one time when I was a kid, and of course, the railroad tracks
came out of the depot, or just past the depot and went down the middle of Wall
Avenue. Well they took, the circus train came, and they pulled that train right
down the middle of Wall Avenue and then all the cars were there and then the
elephants—would unload all the different cars with the tents and the poles and
animals and that—that was a real thrilling thing to go see the circus arrive in town
in the middle of the night. But, it wasn’t on 25th Street. They took those animals
and went a parade up 25th Street and then it took them to, up by Harrison—just
below Harrison where the golf course is—on the west side of Harrison. There
was a big field there and they’d pitch the three big tents there and there’s carnival
rides in the circus and have it all there, right up there by Harrison. That was
another adventure that we had, to see the circus train unload, probably not
applicable to you, but it was interesting to me. The old fashioned three ring
AP: Elephants on 25th Street.
LR: I know, that’s crazy, and did they walk all the way up?
JT: Yeah, they had a parade with elephants and then they’d doll up the elephants
with the banners and that and ladies ride them in the morning. They’d parade up
25th Street and over to 20th and then up to there, all with the elephants and the
horses and the beasts, that was quite a site to see. Yeah, a real parade of just—
well, it was Barnum & Bailey in their height of their circus season I guess. That
was interesting. I thought it was kind of interesting for me as a childhood
memory. I don’t know what else I could tell you and that—remind me.
LR: Well, I was going to ask, going back to the POW’s, did you have any personal
interaction with any of them?
JT: With who?
LR: The POW’s.
JT: Oh yeah. They’d come in my dad’s store all the time and so I got to know them.
Then we had one of them or two of them do some work for us and one of them
was Gene Miconey, which he stayed in town after the war and they had a tile
business on 7th and Wall. That was one of the prisoners of war that you’d see all
the time around town and he came over to the store. The first thing we had him
do was he replaced the tile entries in the store on 24th Street with paving tiles
and it was kind of wrapped up to the front of the store, so all those brick tiles
were there and he did that and replaced a couple of those reflective glass or
glass blocks that were in the sidewalk because the underneath the sidewalk was
a tunnel and storage and so forth for my dad’s store, Watson Tanners.
There was a lot of tunnels under 25th Street like that too that would get
from one side of the street over to the other, or traveling, so you didn’t see all the
traffic that went by as far as the corruption that was in there because all the bars
were on the other side of the street. That was a known circumstance that the
tunnels were used quite a bit there on the street. During the depression, the
German war prisoners were a little hard to associate with, they were kind of on
their own and they were kind of filthy. Not filthy in dirt, but filthy minded. I had the
opportunity one time of seeing three or four of them arguing about how much
sperm they could put in the cup. I didn’t appreciate that, but I did witness it
myself. One or two of them said they were quite proficient at producing sperm.
But I, of course, I didn’t know about life at that time, but you did see them sitting
there and talking and of course, I was a mouse listening on the side more or less.
They used to ride the Bamberger Railroad. It used to go through there and they’d
get on that and ride out to Hill Field and work out there too. I did in high school
too, the year before.
We’d get out of school and catch the Bamberger down there on 24th or
25th or even as far as south of the 29th Street. But you’d get out of school and
hurry down the Bamberger Station and ride the Bamberger out to Hill Field or the
Arsenal and I worked at the Arsenal on rollerskates. They’d have these large bins
of carts, well I’d skate around and pulling cards and putting them in different bins
waiting for the IBM computers to run that. That was an interesting part of my life
from a young experience and involved me with some of the prisoners they were
putting to work out there too. So, that was part of it.
LR: So, as far as 25th Street, would you ever just go down there for fun, or was it just
JT: Well, we would go there for fun on our way to the movies or after the movies.
We, I shouldn’t say this, but, we would go into the hotel room areas and pick up
the cigarette butts and unwrap them and make enough to get copy, roll a
cigarette. So, I got experienced with smoking a little bit, when I was a young
teenager until my mother got a hold of me. She marched me up to the corner up
to California Free Market and she bought a pack of cigarettes and a great big
cigar and she took me down in front of the house for the whole neighborhood to
see and made me smoke all of those. I was just green as green.
LR: I’ll bet you were sicker than a dog.
JT: And I never smoked again. That was enough for me. She treated me royally with
that. But, we did a lot of things there as a group. I’d find money on the street
there and one time I found, I think it was a dollar or five dollars, I can’t remember,
but you could buy the milk nickels from Brown’s Ice Cream, they were five cent
ice cream bars on a stick that the Brown’s Ice Cream would make there just off of
25th Street. So, I took that money and my mother took it and bought a few boxes
of those ice cream bars and the whole neighborhood had a party with ice cream
bars and all the kids as little kids. We would go up and down 25th Street playing
because you’d find a lot of dropped money from the drunks there and so forth.
So, I’d always get to check out and see if you could find a nickel or a dime
or a quarter going up and down the street. The prostitutes were there and they’d
proposition us or offer to help us do things, or they’d ask for information of who
was where and because they were kind of transient. Those dolls would stay
mostly around the Lincoln and 25th Street, that seemed to be the prime place
and there was a bar on the southeast corner there that had a lot of traffic and
fights and a lot of prostitutes in and out of there, so I don’t remember just what
the name of it was, but I kind of stayed away from that one.
LR: So was it as scary during the day as it was in the evening?
JT: No, no. There were lots of people, but it was mostly passengers off the trains and
so forth, so you didn’t see the seediness of 25th Street as much. We’d go there
and park a lot because mother would stop and go to the grocery store and you’d
see a lot of people walking up to the hotel Ben Lomond from the depot and back
and forth that way. The only activity you saw in the morning was—and the late
afternoon—the prostitutes would come out. A lot of the delivery trucks and that
were there in the day time, so it was more commerce than other or people asking
for directions. There was a lot of people asking for directions to find their way to
get up to the main shopping area at Washington Boulevard between 23rd and
26th, I guess.
I do remember the first time I heard about marijuana and that. Why, there
was two or three drunks in the Ben Lomond Hotel that took marijuana and were
up on the upper floors and thought they were flying and two of them went out the
window and landed. I don’t know whether they landed on that marquee of the
Orpheum theater or what, but it was quite a tragic experience for people who
were high on drugs. That was the first experience with drugs that I found out. As
far as the marijuana goes, why, that used to be all over the county. The pioneers
planted west of Ogden. Marijuana grew along all the irrigation ditches for ropes of
My dad would take me driving. I was crazy about driving and as a twelve
year old kid and so forth, why, I’d, he’d put me on a pillow and seat and we’d go
out to the west ward and the duck blinds and the gun club there and drive along
the canals and see the baby ducks and the baby coots and so forth that were
swimming there and Dad had a good friend out there and the granddad also, old
pioneer fellow that was named George East was there and had a farm there and
he had been all over that area around the lake and out to—not Antelope Island,
but the Fremont Island. He collected Indian artifacts all the way from Fremont
into Salt Lake and he’s show us these big boxes of arrowheads and spearheads
that he’d picked up all around there. I think the state finally got a hold of most of
those. Old George, he used to, he couldn’t write and read, so every Saturday
he’d come into the store and grandpa would witness his X and give him money or
a check and he’d go across the street. It wasn’t 25th Street, but it was a bar
across the street there between the Eccles building and Kiesel Avenue that was
a poker parlor and upstairs on the second floor he’d gamble all day with the
poker, but every Saturday that was his past time. So, as a kid, walking to work
with Dad and seeing the activities on 25th street, then seeing it at night, why, I
was very familiar with 25th Street.
LR: So, the business your family owned on 24th Street, how long were you there—
did your family own that?
JT: Well, it started out with Wright’s Department Store on the corner of 24th and
Washington and my grandfather was head of the men’s department and when
Wright closed, why granddad and Sherriff Watson took over the men’s
department and named it Watson-Tanner Clothing Company. Then we moved
another building west later there, and I know in the Depression they were having
a struggle and Dad bought into the store and took over a $30,000 loan and
started to pay that off, but he salvaged the business for Granddad I think.
Then, the store continued on 24th Street there and eventually moved into
the Eccles Building when they, just before they built the mall and so we had the
men’s clothing store in that area for 87 years. Then, Dad died and my brother got
called on a mission. They just had the remodeling of the Eccles Building and all
the dust and so forth had destroyed the stores stock we had in the basement and
insurance had just cleared that off, so they got the minimum stock and then a
payoff from the insurance and then Dad died and my brother, who was barely
running the store then—why, it was just time to move the—it was ten days away
from going into the mall. The mall had been operating for five or six years. They
begged my brother to move over to the mall and they were within ten days of
signing the contract to take a men’s store in the mall and my Dad died and my
brother got called on his president mission and it all changed. That’s when the
store went out of business at just an ideal time. None of the other boys or family
wanted to go to work in the store at that time,
I was in a family of seven children. My oldest was a sister, my youngest
was a sister and then there was five boys in between, so we had good use of the
men’s clothing store. I used to—the store would get some Catalina sweaters in,
in a large and medium and small. I’d always take the small and the sales clerks
would take the mediums and Dad couldn’t figure out why they wouldn’t sell,
because all they had left were the larges. It took him a while to figure out that I
had 22 sleeveless sweaters and 20 long sleeve Catalina sweaters, in high
school. I was a clothes horse with the men’s clothing, but even at that, as a child,
my mother would make shirts for us and for the families in the neighborhood that
were poor. Mother did a lot of sewing and there was a Riddle family that had a lot
of children ten or eleven, I don’t know, but they all had this weeping eye situation
that was a genetic defect I guess. All these kids would have these dripping eyes
and pouring and that, so mother would get busy and she’d make a bunch of
dresses and boy’s shirts and every Christmas, why, we’d take that over there, so
that was something.
My mother was quite an unusual woman, she was the last of 13 children
and so, well, most all of her family died before they were age 50 with high blood
pressure. So, she was the last of 13 children and by the time she got to 50, 60,
70, why, they had blood pressure pills. The doctor told us one time there he had
the blood pressure and it was off scale 325 or 350, whatever, and he said, “I
wouldn’t dare bring it down to less than 230.” They just had high blood pressure.
LR: The name of the store was Watson-Tanner?
JT: It was Watson-Tanners and then Tanner’s for Men. When we moved into the
Eccles Building it was Tanner’s for Men.
LR: Are there any other memories you can remember or would like to share about
JT: No—well, there was a tourist souvenir shop and so forth on the corner of Wall
and 25th there that the people, the soldiers and that, would come and there were
a lot of souvenirs—leather craft and silver thing there, so that was an attraction to
us and a lot of others because we’d go down there and buy belts and buy
souvenirs. They used to take wire and make a design out of it, like a little house
and so forth out in the Salt Lake and leave it for a period of time and then they’d
bring it in and it was all encrusted with salt, so there was a crystal house there
that they’d sell. We’d buy those and then we’d suck the salt off of them. That was
an interesting part of it that they had the souvenirs there all the time, so the parts
of the—other than that, why, mostly I just went up and down 25th Street. There
was no attraction to me. In high school, my one friend’s dad owned the bars
across the street from the Porter’s and Waiter’s Club, so we’d go there. He was
kind of a spoiled kid. Pappus’ dad bought him a car for high school, as soon as
he turned sixteen. And then the other kid that got me down there, he had a
connection there at Combey’s. His dad and family bought into one of the places
there and was running a business. I think it was more of a restaurant
somewhere, but I can’t remember just where that was, but that’s pretty much
what I know of 25th Street.
AP: So you were friends with George Pappas’ son.
JT: Yeah, Tom Pappas.
AP: Did you guys spend a lot of time at Pappas’ store or did you kind of stay out of
JT: Well, it was a bar, so all we’d do is go in there to cash money that Tom. He’d
take us down there when he wanted some money from his dad or something.
They frowned on young kids going in the bars and that, so we didn’t stay in there
very long and his dad would get a little upset. But he bought Tom a brand new
car off the floor. A green Oldsmobile or Pontiac I think. I was really envious of
him because he got all the girls with that because he had a brand new car and
was a good looking guy with dark hair and tall. In high school we had clubs, it
wasn’t fraternities, but we had clubs and he was in the club and I was in the club,
but I was too small to do much because I—between my junior and senior year, I
grew six inches. I graduated from high school at 5’6” and that summer I grew six
inches and up to 6’2”.
That was another thing we did on 25th Street, we’d come in with a fellow
named Dan Sylvester, who was a fellow that lost his arm and he was a foreman
at Browning Ranch up there at Connor Springs. We’d come into 25th Street and
go to the jail and bail out all the drunks in the drunk tank on Sunday night and
then we’d take them out to the ranch there and they would tromp the hay stacks.
They didn’t bail the hay at that time, it was all grass hay and so they’d take the
bull rig up and dump this hay that we’d rake up with the horse teams. They’d
tromp in and pack it down and then Friday night, why, we’d take them into town
and they’d get drunk and Sunday night we’d pick them up. Old whiskey Dave
thought it was such a great deal that he got his two sons involved working there.
There’s a lot of characters I could tell you about, but most of them would take
them into Tremonton rather than Ogden and we’d go to Ogden to get the dirt
tank. Once he got out the base, or out to Connor Springs, why, they’d go into a
bar and restaurant in Tremonton and we’d go in and take a movie and we’d go
down and pick them up after and they’d be fighting and brawling and drunk and
they’d have to herd them like a bunch of cows into the trucks.
AP: Last time we were here you mentioned that you had to go down into the
basement of The Standard to get the papers.
AP: Where was The Standard? Was it on Washington?
JT: No, it was in the basement of the Kiesel Building, it was the presses and there
was an alley between the Kiesel Buidling and the Paramount Theater and that’s
where we’d go down there. All the paper boys would go down there and they had
benches alongside and they’d bring the bundles of papers there and we’d sit
there and fold them up and put them in our paper bags on the handle bars of the
bikes. My uncle used to make canvas bags for us that would hang off the handle
bars down each side and we’d take and deliver about 150 to 200 copies of The
Standard and my route was up to between 28th and 31st—from Monroe up to
AP: And then occasionally selling papers on 25th Street?
JT: Well, when they’d call in, the fellow that had the prime spot of 25th and
Washington was I guess handicapped in some ways. They called him Popeye
because he had a round face and big bustly arms and he got hired by the
Paramount Theater to run the Popeye Club, so we called him Popeye and he
would sell papers on the corner and he was a little stupid, but he was
handicapped. Then he married a girl that was a little cerebral palsy, I guess you’d
call it, and almost blind. He’s lead her around the town. So, those two characters
were reminiscent of 25th Street because they were always right around 25th
Street. They’d go into Ross and Jacks and they’d sell papers and all of that. So,
that was a place where the presses were in the basement of the Kiesel building.
AP: So he had the prime spot on 25th Street?
JT: Oh yeah, 25th and Washington in front of the hotel. Was that the Broom Hotel or
AP: Ben Lomond.
JT: Across from Ben Lomond on the other side was where all the traffic was between
there and the Egyptian Theater and Keely’s Café and all that and Samuel’s Store
and that was a heavily populated part of the business district that was used more
too because it was right around the corner from 25th Street. So, the main traffic
flow of the people was from 24th and Washington, around 25th Street and down
to Lincoln. Most of the people didn’t go shopping below Grant on 25th Street and
that’s where the natives of Ogden, why, they just didn’t populate the areas very
AP: So after the railroad left in the late sixties, early seventies, did you not live in the
area? Did you go down to 25th Street at all after that when it started to not be so
busy down there?
JT: Well, I, let’s see, I went on my mission in 1949 and then I was working out at
Rusty’s Drive-In at that time on Riverdale Road where the Warren’s restaurant is
now. But, a lot of people from the ballpark, which used to be on 33rd and Wall,
people would go to 25th Street from there in the evening after the ball games, so
that drew quite a crowd from the Pioneer League Ballpark. I worked at the gas
station on the corner of 27th and Grand, kitty-corner from Clix’s and we’d have to
go down to 25th Street to rescue people in cars or take gas to them when they’d
run out of gas. So, that was a Quick Trip down there, but I guess I didn’t see
much of 25th Street after 1949 because when I came back from my mission, I
went to college and was working at Hill Field.
I worked at Hill Field from 11 until 7 and I’d drive like mad up to Logan for
the college. You’d go up the Brigham City Canyon, they were constructing the
freeway and you’d go up with the blasting on the road on the other side up one
side of the road in the morning and by the time you came down there in the
evening, why, they’d made a road down the other side of the canyon. So, I knew
where every Highway Patrolman was and I went through that dry lake one time at
a hundred miles an hour on three inches of glare ice. I don’t know how I did it.
LR: Well, we really appreciate your time and allowing us to come and interview you
about 25th Street.
JT: Yeah, it’s a lot of memories for me, but I didn’t frequent there a lot. We went past
25th Street and the hot dog stand is between 27th and 28th, Kramer’s Hot Dogs,
shouldn’t miss that, they made the best hamburgers and hot dogs in the world.
They were both big, fat people and they’d sit in that little teeny stand there, but
they’d bake their own rolls and they’d put up their own pickles. The hamburgers,
they’d cook in a boiling sauce that was, I guess Worcestershire sauce and
something, but it would come out with the juiciest hamburgers you’d ever get.
That was another part of my life, a very important part, we’d save a dime or a
quarter and after the show on Saturday night, we’d go over to Kramer’s and have
a sandwich on the way home. But, that wasn’t involved with 25th Street.
AP: How did the porters and waiters feel about you, would they say, “Oh, that’s
Tanner’s kid.” Were you friends with a lot of the—
JT: Oh, Mr. Coal used to take care of me like I was his only son. He was the nicest
man you could ever meet and he would escort me through the place to find the
colored people that were going to the Porter’s and Waiters and usually on the
Streamliner, they’d come through about 4 or 4:30 and they had six to eight
porters and waiters that would be ready to go on that train, so I’d get them up at
2 or 3 to—(Phone rings).
AP: So you worked out at the yard office which was behind the station, right? And
you would ride your bike?
JT: Yeah, the yard office was, well there were twelve sets of tracks there at the
Depot and they had a tunnel underneath those and they’d come up and the yard
office right out in the middle of the rail yards there. There was a big chimney
there and a pile of cinders that was right next to the yard office and all that’s gone
now, but that’s where they had the dispatchers that called the engineers and the
brakemen and the porters and waiters. I was pretty much the one that called
them and did the running and the leg work for them. There was a big Jewish
fellow that liked salami and I’d buy that salami and mustard and pickles and a
loaf of bread in the middle of the night to feed him and his other fellows there.
You can see a big, balding, Jewish man with a big cigar that—he treated me
royally and we’d have a treat with him all the time. I was young and I guess good
looking, but for a kid my age, I was so small nobody worried about me very
much. I wasn’t big enough to threaten anybody. I started school when I was five
years old, see, so I didn’t really get my growth spurt until about the time I got out
of high school. I used to go down to 25th Street to see the cowboys and so forth.
I had a friend that we’d go to the auction and I’d buy mustangs or colts for the
auction for 20 or 50 dollars and then I’d put them out in my grandmother’s land
on 24th and west of the flour mill there where the aircraft place was. He had 20
acres there and granddad would help the farmers out by taking a piece of ground
for them if they were in trouble and giving them a suit and that, so he had 20
acres there and 20 acres out at Washington Terrace and around the foothills.
AP: And the auctions happened on 25th Street?
JT: No, the auctions were the exchange down in the lower area, but the reason I
mentioned 25th Street is this Archie Anderson had a corral on 25th Street, but it
was west of the rail yards and west of the river. So, I’d buy horses and he’d take
them and get him to his corral there because I didn’t have any saddles or
anything. They were wild and I would take these rope harnesses and halters and
I’d lead them from there over into the field there where granddad had this piece
of ground and then they had a big sandy pit at the front of it and I could get on
the horses and break them there. But Archie Anderson used to buy the horses
from me and take them and I’d make 20 or 25 dollars a horse by breaking them.
I got in trouble for it because my dad was on the school board and we’d go
down to the auction and buy these horses and so the last two periods of school
they’d go down there. Well, the dean of men caught us and they had to go in and
they called you in and they were going to expel us. They expelled the other friend
that I had, but he said, “What am I going to do with you? I can’t expel you, your
dad’s president of the school board.” So, we came to a mutual agreement and
the next, rest of the summer or the school year, why, he’d go to the auction and
be with us there because he lived up in Huntsville and had a farm there. So, I’d
sit there the last two periods of school and go with the dean of men to the
auction. It worked out fine, but I didn’t realize what influence that it had with my
dad being president of the school board and on the school board for years until I
later found out how influential he was. But, Dad would never say anything about
AP: Do you remember spending any holidays on 25th Street? 24th of July or Pioneer
JT: Well, at that time, Harmon Peery was the mayor and yeah, everything was
centered around there and the carnival had come there on 25th Street right
behind where the municipal building was and where the park is now. They’d set
up the carnival there every year the carnival would come there and I was there.
An experience I had there was, a couple of friends I had lived up in Soldier’s
Hollow and they’d bought a couple of mustang horses and they would ride them
bareback. We didn’t have saddles then. Anyway, they were a couple of wild kids
and they had flippers, the sling-shots, or whatever you call it, that take a couple
of pieces of inner tube and tie them to a fork. Well, they were deadly with those
flippers, so we’d go to these carnivals that would set up the bottles of the caps,
and they’d get a prize and they’d sit there with those flippers and pick off all those
bottles and get prizes. The carnival guys didn’t think they could do that, but if
they’d let them use their own flippers instead of the guns or that that they had
there, why, these two kids could hit all the things until they wouldn’t let them play
anymore. They went out to the Hooper’s Days—Tomato Days in Hooper. We
slept overnight near the little duck pond there by where they had the—(Phone
rings). We woke up in the morning out there in Hooper and I was still in the
sleeping bag and they got up and they went over by this duck pond and I actually
saw them shoot a Mallard Duck with their flippers, on flight in the air and we had
it for breakfast. Those were wild times.
They were real wild kids and they’d ride those horses everywhere, they’d
just Dred not around town. They fed those horses so well, they were just fat,
round ponies and they could do anything with those horses. I had three horses
when I was in high school and I didn’t have any place to keep them except
Grandad’s land and I’d stake them along the road. Well, by the time fall was
coming, I had three horses and my dad didn’t know I owned a horse and when
he found out, it was just before deer season and he said, “I’ll get rid of those
horses for you.” I was riding bareback and then my pants would be so covered
with mud and sweat that they’d stand up at the back of the end of the bath tub
when I’d take a shower or bath, why, I could stand my pants right there.
Dad got a hold of those horses and got a hold of a couple of farmers out
there in Kaysville and Hooper and sold all three horses just like that. Traded me
up for the winter, I didn’t know what I was going to do with them. He knew
enough farmers there. But, we, our whole life centered around 25th Street and
24th Street. It was a big thing to go to the carnival every year between there and
the fire station and Brown’s Ice Cream, why, it was a real party every year in the
AP: Did you ever go see any of the restaurants that were down there with your
family? Did you Dad take you down there?
JT: Yeah, Utah Noodle Parlor, we’d go there and then there were three good
Chinese restaurants—the Utah Noodle Parlor, and Kay’s Noodle Parlor, which
was by the Paramount Theater, and the Bamboo Parlor, which was on Grant
between 24th and 25th. In high school, we always took our dates down to Kay’s
Noodle Parlor or Utah Noodle Parlor. They were the best. You’d get a big bowl of
pork noodles there after the dance and that would be our ideal thing to go down
to 25th Street to hang out in a car. You didn’t really connect anything other than
just high school activities with 25th Street at that time, but we did go down 25th
Street a lot.
I know Mother would go down there and buy kitchen utensils a lot from
one of those stores down there. Then, there were two or three people that she
was connected with. They lived in hotels along there and above Nicholas
Grocery Store and she was a very generous and amazing woman. I saw her one
time, she read three books in the morning, and she could read like mad and gave
three different book reviews to the women’s clubs in the afternoon. Three
different types of books, and they were big books with five hundred pages. She
had a memory and was artistic and I expected that of other people, but my
mother could do anything. She could sew up a storm and she had people come
to her to—there was the Harrington family that the woman had a twisted back
and was very hard to fit and she’d come there and mother would pin all around
the bottom of her dress and sew a dress so it’d fit her. She’d sew clothes for
widows and she’d make bread for the people and she was active in music, but
that was my activities with 25th Street and it was mostly through my mother
taking in all these tramps and so forth.
They all knew where to go. Somebody would pass the word, so all the
tramps would come to the back door and she’d put them to work and it didn’t
matter what, a little painting or what, but they’d have to work a little and she’d
have a big bowl of soup for them and make homemade bread and take care of it.
So, we went down to 25th Street a lot for that. They kind of made us stay away
because of kids, why, the two cops would say, “You don’t go down 25th Street at
night with single.” They’re amazed that I went over to the Porter’s and Waiter’s
Club and rode my bicycle up and down the street, but they wouldn’t do it with the
bars and the fights that went on there. They just kind of shied away from it.
Mayor Peery supported the rough cowboys and that of the town and that,
but the Pioneer Day Rodeo was—Mayor Peery was a big thing in the big parade
and it would bring Indians down from the Shoshoni or Black Foots right up in
Pocatello. They’d all gather just on Washington just above my house waiting for
the parade to start and we’d go visit with all those Indians in their fancy
headdresses and so forth. The other family I knew from 25th Street, was the
Lambert Family and the old man was kind of an Indian-lore individual and he had
two sons that I was involved with a lot. One was named Walt, and the other one
was named John. John was killed when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, he
was there on one of the ships and died. Walt was an oddball, but he was an
Indian artifacts collector and his Dad taught Indian artifacts all around the
northern part of the state and that tied into the souvenir shop on the corner of
25th and Wall because he provided a lot of Indian-lore souvenirs there for them
and feathers and beads and belts and so forth. But, 25th Street wasn’t a
AP: Did the police keep an eye out for you when you were younger and you were
riding your bike up and down, you said that the cops wouldn’t even go by
themselves, did they keep an eye on you?
JT: Oh yeah, up by the police station, but below Grant they’d say, “You’re on your
own. We’re not going down there with that.” But, I had no problems with riding a
bike down the middle of the street and when I’d go over to the Porters and
Waiters Club I’d just chain it up to a post out front and Mr. Cole would take me
when he could, and if not, why—but it was scary going into those rooms at night,
I’ll never forget it, but I thought those guys were giants. Big black men, I’d say,
“Hey, are you George Washington Jones,” “Hell no, I’m so and so, he’s over
there.” I’d wake them up in the middle of the night and they weren’t very happy
AP: I bet. They were up all night partying down at the club and then go to sleep
JT: Well, that was kind of a secret at that time with prohibition, why, that was a little
naughty to be having parties down there and having liquor that was prohibited
and black marketed and so forth, but those people had a good time down there
when they’d have parties. Mr. Cole kept me separated from that, he just wouldn’t
let me know what was going on. He’d have the people go when he’d open the
door and let them go down the hall there, but all I was involved with was going
upstairs down the hallways there to find the porters and waiters. That would
smell in the summer, I never forgot it. That’s probably my most favorite memories
there was what I told you.
AP: You went into the club there—into the hotel—that was your favorite?
JT: Yeah, because I did that every night all summer long. It wasn’t just a once in a
while, it was every night that I’d have to go over there, that was part of my job, so
they got to know me and I traveled up and down 25th Street I guess with people
and then I was so small that they didn’t pay much attention to me. It was fun and
it was interesting to see all the people that would come off the trains and the
G.I.’s and you’d get to see good ones and bad ones right away and that’s where I
saw what drinking could do to you. They’d have these G.I.’s that would fall down
on the curb together and their faces were bleeding and their buddies were drunk
and they’d just leave him there. “You take care of yourself, we’re going on down
to the Depot.”
LR: Well, we really appreciate your time.
AP: Yes, thank you.
LR: Thank you very much for allowing us into your home.
JT: You bet, I’m sorry, but I thought that little bit of information about the Porter’s and
Waiters Club was something you might not know about as far as 25th Street.
AP: Well, you were there to see it all happen and it’s something to hear about.
JT: Yeah, I’m 84 and half years old.
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