Too often the newspaper provided by motels is the ubiquitous USA Today. Here in Layton, Utah, however, the Davis County newspaper is delivered to our door every morning. It's a great local paper. Apparently realizing that most folks get their national news from television or the Internet, The Davis County Standard keeps its eyes on city and county events. There is news from nearby Hill Air Force Base and from the The Athenian Restaurant small bedroom communities on the highway to Salt Lake City. Much of the commentary lately has concerned Ogden, the city just to the north of Layton, indicating that it is suffering from urban blight and crime. We thought we'd take a look.
Yesterday, after a morning spent among the microfilms at the Family History Library, we drove north past Layton to Ogden to look for lunch and the downtown. To get into the city from the highway we crossed a bridge over more than a dozen railroad tracks, thick with freight trains. The old railroad depot stretched longer than most on the city side. We turned to get closer to it.
Twenty-fifth street is historic Ogden, preserved and being revitalized. We parked and walked past a series of Private Clubs (bars) and cafes, as we selected our lunch spot. The third or fourth was the The old railroad station Athenian Cafe where we had a good Greek luncheon. As we continued our walk, we noticed that each building sports a historic plaque and there was considerable similarity among the notices -- we were walking past a row of early twentieth century brothels!
Suddenly, thanks to the research and preservation efforts of the Ogden citizenry, we got a glimpse Civic art, Ogden style of its history: The railroads made Ogden. The Golden Spike site which fastened the eastern and western halves of the transcontinental railroad was driven in at Promontory Point, less than 30 miles from Ogden. Two giant murals in the railroad depot celebrate the building of this railroad. In contrast to the more agrarian history of Salt Lake City, Ogden is Commerce and Transportation and Gold-Seekers.
Even though most of the hotels are no longer in business, the facades speak of the glory days of a Blessing dress century ago, when Twenty-fifth Street was known as Two-Bit Street and night life flourished.
We stopped at a candy store where the owner was proud of her special confections, and were pleased to tell her about Nanaimo bars, which are quite popular in Canada.
Today there are many charming statues placed along the sidewalks and in the parks. The vandalism we had read about included stealing parts of some of the statues -- we photographed a dog chasing a no-longer-visible boy. But others are still in good shape, the boy is due to be replaced, and the police are tracking down the culprits.
As we were photographing the vandalized statue, a woman approached and told us its story, and mentioned that she was on her way to the yarn shop just down the street. We, of course, followed and entered one of the most attractive knitting and yarn stores we have yet seen. The displays of knitting yarn were artistically arranged in custom made polished wood cabinetry, with patterns and sample garments nearby. One side of the store was dedicated to needlepoint and cross-stitch and other embroidery.
But the biggest attraction for us was a small white dress. This "Blessing Dress" was knitted out of silk yarn by the man who owns the shop; it graced his granddaughter at her blessing on Sunday.