Halloween is tomorrow. Just to be different, how about some non-scary stories from the Ogden Cemetery?
Maybe a little spooky, but that’s it.
A word of warning: Do NOT visit the cemetery Halloween night to check out these stories. The cemetery is closed and the police will not treat intruders kindly.
So, during the day, drive in on Gold Star Drive (the one with the monuments and cannon balls), turn left on North Street and park at the third intersection down, which is 10th Avenue.
Look northwest for a very tall monument put up by the Pingree family. West of that monument is a black frame steel bench with a bronze plaque.
Sit down and rest. It is quite comfortable. Then read the plaque, but be sure to have a tissue handy.
That bench is a monument to heartbreak.
The plaque says: “On May 12, 1912, Lorenzo and Annie Elizabeth Welch Jackson lost their seventh child, Arthur, to smallpox. When he died Annie was devastated and would come to the cemetery every day to mourn. She’d hitch the horse to the buggy and after a while the horse brought her to the cemetery without guidance. Lorenzo built this bench for Elizabeth to rest on. It is almost 100 years old and has been a respite for countless visitors these many years.”
Lorenzo had no trouble building the bench. He was a contractor whose work includes the Egyptian Theater and the old Weber College/Golds Gym.
Arthur was 10, and it is hard to imagine a more horrible thing than to watch a small child die of smallpox. I have no idea how many years Annie kept up her vigil, but the couple lived near 25th Street, so it was a short trip for the horse.
As you sit on Annie’s bench you will find it natural to recreate her daily meditation. Arthur’s gravestone is off to the right. There’s a lovely view of the mountains to the east. Trees and green grass are everywhere. The traffic of the city is far away.
At some point Annie gave the horse a break and bought a car. We know this because in 1928 she and Lorenzo were driving a car across Washington Boulevard at 28th Street when one of the city’s streetcars ran into them. Annie sued and won $800.
Lorenzo died in 1939 and Annie four years later. They are buried next to her bench.
Someone is continuing the family tradition. Last Memorial Day they put flowers on the graves.
And, I hope, sat down and rested just as I did, with gratitude.
While at the cemetery, I visited the very friendly Simone Penrod in the cemetery office. She handed me a map with some famous people’s graves marked and pointed out Moroni Olsen.
“Did you know he was the voice of the magic mirror in ‘Snow White?’ ” she said.
I had no clue.
Moroni (yes, named for that angel) was an Ogden kid, born in 1889. He had a distinguished career in the New York theater as well as movies.
While never hugely famous, he was versatile and got steady work. He appeared in several dozen films, including as Buffalo Bill opposite Barbara Stanwyck in the 1935 film “Annie Oakley.”
Few of his films are shown any more, but Disney’s “Snow White” is a classic. Kind of sad, his one lasting role is in a film where he didn’t get an on-screen credit.
Olsen died in 1954. His grave is the fourth one south of Center Street, two in as you look west from 9th Avenue. The cemetery office has a map if you get lost.