OGDEN -- World War II scenes an Ogden soldier drew on postcards and mailed to his dad, who was a barber at Ogden's Union Station, have turned up in Sacramento and may be coming back to town.
The baker's dozen postcards are a window to one family's life in Ogden.
The kid who drew them, William M. Johnson, also drew cartoons for the Standard-Examiner and went on to paint murals in Lehi and be a newspaper artist in Salt Lake City and, later, in California.
The kid's father, William Wallace Johnson, was a well-regarded Ogden businessman who cut the hair of movie stars and everyone else going through Union Station.
The kid's son, Mike Johnson, 57, was born in Ogden but now lives in Sacramento. He found the postcards while going through stuff his father, who died in 1981, left him.
He thought the postcards would have historical value, and some military historians he asked were interested, but then he got to thinking.
"When I looked at these, they're wonderful 1940s art, but the fact that they're connected to the war and the fact that my grandfather was the barber down there, when you look at the cartoons, they're saying something unique to the time," he said.
Unique to the time -- and the hometown.
"My selfish take on this is, my dad, honest to God, loved Ogden, and if you were in Ogden in that era, Ogden was the all-American town. It was big enough to be a city but small enough for you to know everybody," Mike Johnson said.
He worried if the cards went anywhere else, they'd just get lost.
He still has family in Utah. An aunt and cousin live in Ogden, and his father's brother lives in Bountiful.
As a result, he's talking to folks in Weber State University library's Special Collections and Archives, which collects historical artifacts from Weber and Davis counties and regularly has displays on World War II themes, such as the prisoner of war camps at Defense Depot Ogden and individual memorabilia of returned soldiers.
Sarah Langsdon, associate curator of Special Collections, said she'd love to get the collection and is talking to Mike Johnson.
Mike Johnson said his father graduated from Ogden High School in the late 1930s.
He was an art student, drawing traffic safety cartoons for the Standard-Examiner.
After joining the Army, he was sent to Italy. When it was time to send news back home, he drew a picture instead of trying to write a letter.
The cards are as if he had a Polaroid camera and was just putting stamps on the pictures as they came out:
* An Italian priest is showing a bemused soldier, presumably the artist, the way.
SBlt The same bemused soldier is shown pondering a road sign with arrows pointing to Florence, Naples and Rome.
SBlt The soldier is shown sweating, pondering a Rome guidebook, haggling with a street vendor and getting his picture taken for 10 lira.
SBlt The soldier is shown enjoying a free Coca-Cola and hot dog, going into a Red Cross office that advertises a "snack bar inside," and then sitting, exhausted, on a park bench.
All of these cards were mailed to William Wallace Johnson, who had always posted his son's artwork in his barber shop.
Thousands of people saw the work as they got their ears lowered.
Many were famous.
"Before the war, Sun Valley (in Idaho) was a destination," Mike Johnson said, and his grandfather cut the hair of a lot of movie stars who were killing time between trains.
"The story I get is, Gary Cooper had come in to get a haircut at the barbershop and saw some of the artwork my dad did," he said.
"He brought it up to my grandfather and Gary said, 'Have you ever thought of sending your son to art school?' and even offered to send him.
"And my granddad, being of his generation, wouldn't hear of it."
Mike Johnson's uncle, Gordon Johnson, of Bountiful, said he and his brother grew up watching their father work long hours.
"He worked six days a week, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day," said Gordon Johnson, 87.
"He got home on the streetcar. He'd catch the 23rd Street streetcar that took him up to Harrison Boulevard."
He said his dad was so valued at Union Station that the president of the Union Pacific Railroad was a regular.
One time, the station manager wanted to remodel and move the barbershop, Gordon Johnson said.
"My dad dropped a letter to the president of the UP and said, 'They're going to remodel and suggested I might have to leave.'
"The president sent a letter to the manager and said, 'I don't care what you do to that place, but you're not moving Bill Johnson.' "
Mike Johnson said his grandfather continued to cut hair until 1962, when he died of a heart attack in his barbershop.
His father didn't stop at drawing cartoons on postcards.
After the war, he worked at the Salt Lake Tribune as an artist and art director.
Gordon Johnson said his brother befriended the Tribune's columnist, Dan Valentine, and illustrated several book collections of his columns.
He painted murals in what is now a Lehi city office, but then was a bank. He later moved to Sacramento and worked as a newspaper artist there.
He died in California in 1981 at the age of 57, but Mike said his dad never forgot home.
"I think he related more with Ogden," he said. "From the stories my dad said, it was sort of an amazing place."