"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, May 4, 2014

C-SPAN Cities Tour Featuring Ogden

Ogden was abuzz with excitement last month after being selected to be featured on the C-SPAN cities tour. Ogden tends to get a bad rap in Utah. It's long been known as a rough town, blue collar and full of Gentiles. It's not unusual to hear it referred to as Dogden, a reference to the awful smell that sometimes permeates the city when the local dog food factory is in production mode. Only the locals speak the shorthand of saying "It's a dog food day" while wrinkling up our noses and then continuing on with our lives. It's a small price to pay for living in such a beautiful town. 

Anyway, I digress. Ogden IS a unique city and people who live here love to talk about our town. Personally, I don't mind others thinking it's an undesirable place to visit or live. I like the small town personality, low cost of living and beautiful surroundings and definitely don't want Ogden to turn into another trendy, resort-like town. We had a chance to brag about our city and show off its many unique features during the week C-SPAN was here. They even paid a visit to our Junior League of Ogden Oasis Community Garden where we had the chance to share our vision and progress on our inner-city oasis. 

Mike, Gillian and I at the 25th St. Harvest Moon Fest 
The footage from the tour is airing this weekend and can be found online here. http://series.c-span.org/LocalContent/Ogden/http://series.c-span.org/LocalContent/Ogden. It's full of interesting stories about many local landmarks and unique history. I'm one of Ogden's biggest cheerleaders and am more than proud of how our little city and its many charms shine in the videos. If you take the time to watch some, or all, of the videos, I suggest starting with the one titled "25th Street Confidential: Drama, Decadence, and Dissipation along Ogden's Rowdiest Road.

Me and Gillian behind Union Station
Photo by Cat Palmer, used with permission
It will give you a glimpse into a street that plays a large part in my life, one that I visit several times a week. I never tire of its charms. The view looking west down the street to Union Station is one of my favorites, not only because of its beauty but also because I have sentimental and fond memories of Union Station. I come from a family of railroaders and love everything about train travel and railroad history. In fact, my great-great grandfather helped paint Union Station (I think it was the second station which was re-built after the first one burned). When I was very young we used to catch the train there to go visit my grandparents in Grand Junction, CO. I remember sitting on the long wooden benches, holding a sack lunch, bursting with excitement about our journey. My brother and I once even rode unaccompanied from Ogden to Grand Junction when we were around 7 and 9 years old. I asked my mom how on earth she dared put two young children alone on a train for a 7-hour journey. She reminded me that everyone working on the train knew who we were and looked out for us. My grandpa was the station master in Grand Junction and they would have had to answer to him if anything happened to us! The picture below was taken a few years ago on some tracks behind Union Station and perfectly captures the happiness I feel every time I hear a train speed by. Sometimes from my house five miles to the east I can hear the train whistles blow. They always remind me of my grandpa and make me feel a little wistful and nostalgic. 
May 2012
Notice the picture at the top of the page in the link above. The shot is looking east to the mountains that are ever-present in my life. I live in the foothills just a few blocks below them. Every day as I drive up the hill towards home I look at those mountains. It's a sight that symbolizes home to me.

The storefront of what is now the Lighthouse Lounge. 
And then there's 25th Street. It's where we go to eat and drink and socialize. I never miss the street festivals there. Twice, I've crossed the finish line at the end of the Ogden 1/2 marathon at the intersection of 25th Street and Grant Avenue. The building right next to the alley leading to the notorious Electric Alley is where my hairdresser's building is. I can't count the times I've walked through that alley, but it has to be in the hundreds. Mike's bar, the Lighthouse Lounge, is on the far west end of 25th Street, very close to Union Station. The upstairs rooms used to house high-end working girls. The rooms they used even had bathrooms! Supposedly one was murdered there during the 40's. The main level has been a bar for several decades and there are plenty of good stories about the place, which old-timers love to stop in and tell. The last bar there before the Lighthouse moved in was a motorcycle bar where the local Sundowners often gathered. Just last night we learned that in the 70's a drunken man once fell to his death from a balcony above the back door. In the basement there's a hidden panel with a small storage area that was used to hide liquor during Prohibition when there was an illegal speakeasy there. If only those walls could talk. 

I could go on and on about O-town's charms, but I'll let you watch the videos and discover them for yourself. Enjoy! 
The present day Lighthouse Lounge
The Lighthouse Lounge sign is a well-known Ogden icon and is designated as a historic sign.