RIVERDALE -- The aging photos were kept in a wallet for nearly two decades. They then sat in a cedar chest for another 55 years.
Today, more than 70 years later, Joyce Preece, of Riverdale, shows off a packet of 10 small black-and-white commercially produced images of Ogden from the late 1930s or early '40s. There are photos of Ogden Canyon, Pineview Reservoir and Devil's Slide in Weber Canyon. There are pictures of Ogden High School, the Ben Lomond Hotel and Union Station. And images of the Ogden stockyards, the Great Salt Lake cut-off rail line, and bird's-eye views of Ogden and Historic 25th Street.
Preece admits it's a bit of a mystery why her father, Delmar Crystal, kept the photos all those years -- and particularly, that he kept them in his wallet. He passed away in 1958.
"These photos were in my father's wallet when he died," Preece said. "Why he carried these in his wallet all those years, I don't understand that."
Preece thinks her father originally obtained the photos to show his wife when they were considering a move to Ogden. Buy why did he keep them in his wallet?
"He really liked Ogden," Preece says with a shrug. "He had no interest in going back down south to American Fork, where he grew up."
Lee Witten, archivist for Ogden's Union Station, says he recognized Preece's photographs. Some of them are in the book "History of Ogden, Utah in Old Post Cards" by Boyd Crawford, others are in various other materials in the station's collection.
"All of the photos look familiar, so I'm sure we have all of those in our collection," Witten said.
Some of the photographs look like a cross between a photo and a drawing. Witten says that was common with postcards of that era.
"A lot of those postcards were black-and-white photos that have been colorized," Witten said. "They were hand-painted. My dad did that in the '40s."
Witten's guess is that the photos were part of a tourist packet that was either given away or purchased in gift shops. He doesn't know how many such photos might exist, or what their value might be, but they were commercially produced so there are probably still a few floating around out there.
Before the Great Depression, Preece's father owned a service station in the American Fork-Lehi area. However, that station went bankrupt when the depression hit, and Crystal moved to Leadville, Colo., to work in the molybdenum mines.
"That was a sad mistake," Preece said. "Breathing all that molybdenum."
Her father eventually died, at age 50, from silicosis, an occupational lung disease.
"He didn't have the strength to do anything the last six or seven years of his life," she said. "In those days, they didn't put you on oxygen like they do now -- you just choked to death."
After Crystal's death, his daughter took the photos out of the wallet and put them in her cedar chest with a few other cherished mementos from her father -- a cigarette lighter, a shoehorn, a shaving brush.
"I'm surprised the photos are in as good a shape as they're in, him sitting on them all those years," Preece said.