Interviewed by Deborah M. George
27 March 2014
Oral History Program
Weber State University
Deborah M. George
27 March 2014
Copyright © 2014 by Weber State University, Stewart Library
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The New Zion Community Advocates worked with community members age 80 years and older to have
contributed to the history of Ogden city. The interviews looked at the legacy of the interviewees through
armed services, work, social life, church, NAACP and educational systems in an environment where their
culture was not predominant. This program has received funding from the Utah Humanities Council and
the Utah Division of State history.
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Jones, Herman, an oral history by Deborah
M. George, 27 March 2014, WSU Stewart
Library Oral History Program, Special
Collections, Stewart Library, Weber State
University, Ogden, UT.
Herman and Hazel Jones,
photo taken at their home
on March 27, 2014
Serrelle’s Charity Club
Abstract: The following is an oral history interview with Herman and Hazel Jones
conducted on March 27, 2014 by Deborah George.
DG: Alright tell me your name.
HaJ: Mr. and Mrs. Herman Jones or should I say Herman and Hazel. Jones?
DG: Alright and tell me your birthday.
HeJ: My birthday is August 6, 1921.
HaJ: I was born May 8, 1932.
DG: And are we related at all? We always ask that question.
HaJ: No, I don’t think so.
DG: Alright well tell me what are you doing now?
HaJ: What are we doing now? Well Herman and I both have some health problems.
We are just taking life one day at a time. And thank God’ we are still in the land of
HeJ: I retired from the Railroad in 1981 after thirty-nine years, and just retired from my
second job with the Ogden Golf and Country Club after another twenty-eight.
DG: Alright so tell me about some of the most important lessons you’ve learned in
life. Things that you know you could pass on to somebody and tell them about?
HeJ: You see I came from a large family. It was six boys and three girls, I am the
fourth child. My parents taught us to love one another and to love family. I grew
up on a big farm. The Jones’ and the Tillman’s was a big family. I enjoyed
growing up with my sister and brothers and all my cousins.
If I could pass one lessons on to people it would be to love your family and
friends. A family and friends is a clan held together with the glue of love and the
cement of mutual respect. A family is a group of human beings who care about
each other…and feel comfortable with each other. Like all groups of human
beings with frailties, families will taunt and fight and bicker among each other. But
when trouble threatens from outside the clan, there is an instant closing of ranks
against the outsiders.
DG: Now where was the farm?
HaJ: Herman is originally from Helfin, Louisiana.
DG: Is that H-E-F-L-I-N.
HeJ: We would have ten or twelve bales of cotton a year, two or three bales of
peanuts. A couple of loads of sweet potatoes, and white potatoes, We had a
large potatoes bin, We had potatoes all winter. My father would killed eight or
nine hogs and two or three cows a year. We had a smokehouse were they would
stored the meat.
DG: So you pretty much grew all your own food from the land and farm.
HeJ: Yes, We also had a big gravel pit, my mother sold quite a bit of gravel off the
place anywhere from four to five lodes of gravel ship out every day.
DG: So tell me what was the proudest moment of your life? When were you most
proud do you think?
HaJ: You’ll have to talk a little louder he don’t hear very well.
DG: Okay. Tell me what you most proud of in your life?
HeJ: I would have to say when I had my first child. I was thirty three years old when
my first baby was born. My other daughters—being able to provide them with an
education, so they could be prepare for all the changes in life. I have seen a lot of
changes over the past 92 years, some I could deal with and some I couldn’t,
because I did not have an education. I have tried to teach my children to never
look down on a person no matter what their condition. That everyone have
something to contribute to this world, no matter how large or small.
DG: How long have you lived in Ogden?
HeJ: I moved here in 1942 and I have been here for sixty two years.
DG: What brought you to Ogden?
HeJ: I was working at Steel Mill, one day something happen on the job and they tried
to blame me for it. It was only two blacks working there at the time. So I thought it
was best that I got out before I got into some big trouble. I decided I would come
to Utah where my uncle and brothers were.
DG: What brought your uncle here?
HeJ: My uncle was in Kansas City in 1919 He work for the outfit cars. Then he moved
to Pocatello. That when my aunt came out to be with him. I guess he gave up the
outfit car and stared working for the dinner car department. He and the family
moved to Ogden.
DG: So your uncle brought you out here because of the job opportunities?
HeJ: No, my brothers were here one came in 1936 and one 1940. That is why I
decided to come out this way.
HeJ: After I was hired on the dinner car, I could have gone to Los Angeles, Denver or
Omaha, Nebraska to work. Five districts needed men at the time. I chose to stay
in Ogden. I had family here. Ogden was pretty much the same as Louisiana, very
segregated. I was used to the segregation.
HaJ: When I first came to Ogden from Los Angeles, I thought I was in the pits of Hell.
Everything was so different from what I was used to. It was very hard for me to
except segregation. But things got a little better when I made a few friends.
DG: How has it change over the years?
HeJ: I have seen a lot’s of changes through the years. Black America was not allowed
to eat in restaurants, they were not allowed in hotels, or clubs. We could only rent
or buy homes, between Wall Ave. and Lincoln Ave. from 22sd to 30th street and
that about as far as a black person could go. Black people now can rent and buy
any place in the state.
Other changes when I came to Ogden, it was a lot’s of farm land in the
surround towns. Now all that is homes, shopping centers, malls, factory and
building. Washington Terrace was a old army barrack doing the war for family
that work second street. It was converted to homes in 1954-55.
DG: What do you miss most about the way it used to be?
HeJ; Back in the day people seem to care about each other more. Now everyone is so
busy. We just don’t take time to socialize any moor, We just don’t take time to
visit the sick
Or visit with each other. When we were younger, friends were friends. If
they had $1.00 you could get .50c. Now day’s people don’t care. They can see
you hunger and want give you a piece of bread.
DG: Who was some of the great characters from here?
HeJ: I don’t know any from Ogden. But doing my traveling I have met some of the
world’s greatest. People like President Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Eisenhower,
Ralph (Tip) O Neal, Thurgood Marshall, Roy Wilkins. From the sports world. Joe
Lewis, Jackie Robinson, Abdul Jabbar. Music Stars, Duke Ellington, Lewis
Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr. Movie Stars, Rita Haywood, Gloria
Swenson, John Wayne, Jerry Lewis, Clark Gable. And the list go no of the Rich
and famous I mat.
DG: Do you remember any great story are legends about our town.
HaJ: Ogden so many legends, and most of them was true. Lower 25th Street was
once one of the most Notorious places in America. It was call Two-Bit-Street.
There was a place between 25th and 24th street call Electric Alley. There were
row of house that was like a little motel. These little houses had one room in
them. Just large enough for a bed and small kitchen, No bathrooms, No running
water. This was a haven for Prostitute. Gambling, Murder, Boot lag alcohol, All
kinds of illegal things going on. Some of this I personal witnessed. It was a crazy
time in Ogden.
HeJ: my brother’s wife, my sister-law Mattie Jones was murdered in 1956. I believe a
white policeman killed her. Her body was found about four weeks after she
HaJ: This happen October 1956, some duck hunters found the body in West Ogden
near the old Ogden city dump, off 24th street, the police never solver the case.
HeJ: My reason for saying a Policeman was involve. Marshall White was on the force
at the time, I could never get him to talk with me about the case. When I would
try to talk with him, he would tell me that he was busy. I said to him one night,
that I thought he knew that one of his friends on the force had killed her. The
policeman that was involved was killed later. Doc White was killed two.
DG: Who were your best friends? What were they like?
HeJ: I had lots of friends. Roscoe Howard, Carl Bunn, Paul Willis, Willie B. Daniels,
Ralph Brooks, Jim Gillespie, Charles Wilson, John Hayes, My best friend was my
brother-law, we were friends growing up in Heflin as boy as boys before he
married my oldest sister, just to name a few. Differ personality for sure, but we
enjoyed each other when we got together.
HaJ: My best friends was Lucille Lovette, Leetha Johnson, Helen Knox, Hazel
McEwen, Tommie L. Bunn, Glendale Wilson, Merle Holston, My running buddy
was Gladys Dockery. She and I work together for years. She lives in Arkansas
now, but we stay in touch.
DG: What did you do for fun?
HaJ: There was not much for black people to do in Ogden. We created lots of Charity
and Social Club for entertainment. I was a member of the The Friendship Chairty
league, The Serrelles Social Club, Daughters of Elks, The American Legion
Auxiliary, and Alph-Kapp-Alph Sorority. Herman, were a charter Member of
Pioneer Post #66 organize in 1943, and the only living charter member. A
member of Bee Hive lodge of Elks No 407. The Union Pacific Old Times Club #6,
And we both or members of the New Zion Baptist Church for over fifty years. I
have some pictures and information that may be of help to you.
DG: Okay, great, Oh wow this is so wonderful. Can we scan these?
HaJ: yes you may, But I would like to have them back.
DG: We’ll get them before we go.
HeJ: You see, every week-end someone were having party or get together some
were in Ogden, Layton, Salt Lake City, are someone would rent a place and have
a big dance. Everyone would be there. We had family picnics in the summer with
all the children and adults
The Old Mill, There was a camp ground up Weber Canyon call the Wagon
wheel. We used to have some big picnic up there. People would come from Salt
Lake, Hill Air Force Base and around the valley. Though were the days.
HaJ: Herman and I both have received many Awards and Certificates from services in
these organizations. We both were very active through the years.
DG: What are your memories of grade school/high school?
HeJ: Meeting George Washington Carver when I was about fourteen. He came to our
school to teach the young boys tailoring. As a project we made a bed matters, I
never dream that some day he would make history. But of course I never dream
that I would see a black man in the White House as president.
DG: How did you meet your wife/husband?
HeJ: We both were on our way to work in October 1951. I was running from Salt Lake
to Butte Montana and had to ride the Bamberger, She and her girl friend were on
their way to work Hazel was working at the Ogden Arsenal. I gave her money to
play the baseball pool at work.
HaJ: My friend Gladys and I started talking with him and another guy. Herman wanted
to know who I was, were did I come from, my life history. I thought he was very
nosey. Yes he give me some big money $2.00 WOW!! I was just being nice by
talking with him. We were married July 18, 1952, sixty two years together.
DG: How has being a parent change you.
HaJ: When you are only responsible for yourself and you have children that you must
take care of. Your life style changes, the children should always come first. If it
was a choice of buying for myself are the kids. My baby’s always came first with
me. It was just part of being a parent.
DG: What did you do for a living?
HeJ: I spent thirty nine years cooking. Retired as a chief cook in 1981
DG: So you had to go whenever they needed you.
HaJ: Right, I basically raised the girls by myself. We could not depend on him to be
home for anything. Holidays, birthdays, PTA meetings, school activates, church
activates. I basically raised the girls by myself. With four girls it kept me pretty
busy. The girls and I just kind of live our lives around his job.
DG: Were you out of town a lot?
HeJ: Yes, I was put on as the troubleshooter would come in at night, early the next
morning, I would get a call, someone was unable to come to work. My wife had to
keep my clothes ready for me. When they call, I had to pack my bag. It was so
bad at one time. I hated to hear the phone ring. I knew it was the commissary
calling. There were times I have had to do a triple trip. Back to back that meant I
was going for about fifteen to eighteen days at a time.
DG: Go get your bag.
HeJ: When I became a chief cook back in the sixty’s a lot’s of the older cooks in age
but not in work years. Did not want to work under me, I told the boss let them be
the Manager. Whoever was in charge, had to be responsible for the menu for
everyday, planning and overseeing food preparation. It was a big responsibility. I
was the one getting the chief pay, so let him have the headaches, it was okay
DG: Smart man.
HeJ: In the 1979 when the U.P. passenger train, stop running I was on the last run
from Chicago, Ill to Los Angeles. We had to take a plane back to Utah. Then I
went to work for the outfit car, cooking for the guys that work on the tracks.
Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. I had to buy food for 15
or 25 men feed breakfast, lunch and dinner. Keep records of how many meals
they ate, figure out how much they meal ticket was every two week. Keep track
of time card. Most of the guys were from Mexico and could not speak English. It
was jest hell out there. One of the happiest days fo my life was the day retired.
DG: So were you ever in the military at all?
HeJ: Oh yeah.
HaJ: He was in the Army.
HeJ: I quit the railroad for awhile, and went to Hill Field and work for a few months.
Then I decided to go back to the railroad. Just back to work a few months when
Uncle Sam said I need you. I had to report to Camp Wolters, Texas. Company
“B” Infantry Training Battalion March 8, 1943. Now you talk about a hell hole
Camp Walters was one. We was out in the field weeks at a time, we had to
movie around from place to place. Sometime we would just get camp set up and
we would have to take down the tents again. It would be raining so hard you
would be sore from the rain beating on you. We had to break camp to movie on.
You slept on the ground, with all kinds of snakes and bugs, we was out in the
swamp. A lot of guys died in basic training from snake bites. These were thing
family never knew about. After service I return to my job on the railroad. I was put
on a hospital train. Transporting wound solders to hospital throughout the
country. I have seen it all and experience thing that some people will never see.
Frozen body’s, missing legs and arms, missing eyes, I seen it all.
DG; Yes you have.
HeJ: Also haul the Japanese and Italian prisoners, doing world War II. They had a
Italian prisoners camp here in plain city, My Italian neighbor use to tell me about
how they was treated doing the war. He and his brother and sisters was born in
American. But his parents were from Italy.
DG: Oh my you was right in the thick of it.
HeJ: You seen it all and don’t want to live that again.
DG: So how did those war experiences change you? Do you think it changed you
HeJ: not really, I was just cooking, working in the dining car. I did not work with the
patients. It was just like cooking in a hospital.
DG: Right but seeing that didn’t bother you much then?
HeJ: You see them and feel sorry for them. And then you thank God’ it not you laying
DG: You just did what you had to.
HeJ: When I was fifteen, my mother got sick. I had to stay home to take care of her
and cook for my young brothers and sisters. I remember I had to cut wood to
keep the big pot boiling, that how we clean cloths. And in 1978 my mother and
father lost everything when a tornado hit Heflin, Both of my was disable at the
time. That both suffer for months from injury receive in the storm. receive bad
injury, My older sister was bedridden for a few years and her husband along with
two other brothers. And I help take care of them before they passed away.
DG: You was a good brother.
DG: What did you learn from this time in your life?
HeJ: Just be thankful. I am ninety three years old, and have been blessed. My health
was fairly good until a few years ago, I have had a wonderful life with my wife
and daughters. My wife and I have had the pleasure of crisis crossing American.
From Portland, Oregon to Florida, from Main, to California. We have enjoyed
several cruses over the years. I have enjoyed my children growing up, cookouts,
and family gatherings. My wife have been a very good help mate a very good
mother and grandmother. And I am very proud because she was both Mom and
Dad most of the time. I know that I don’t tell her often how much I appreciate her
for been in my life. She is truly the Wind beneath My Wings.
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