Writer’s love for Ogden develops into city-focused news, events website
“A line from my third or fourth grade journal reads: ‘When I grow up I want to be a writer or a ballerina, but I’ll probably just end up being a housewife.’ I didn’t think girls were supposed to have big dreams like writing books or performing on stage. I did become a housewife. But years later, the writer had to get out.” — Deann Armes
Deann Armes, creator of The Ogdenite, is a freelance journalist with published stories in local media outlets including Salt Lake City Weekly, Utah Stories, Indie Ogden Magazine, C Within Magazine, Visit Utah and, most recently, the Standard-Examiner Arts & Culture section.
She started The Ogdenite in 2021 with the weekly listing “Goings On About O-Town” to help people find things to do in the Ogden area. It has since expanded to include news stories, local shopping listings, “Eat, Drink, Ogden” restaurant reviews, the “Ogden Music Scene” local music news and “Letters from the Ogdenite.”
Raised in a Los Angeles suburb, Armes grew up tumbling in the waves, collecting seashells and warming herself from the damp sea air by beach bonfires while the sun set over the Southern California ocean skyline. She frequented Disneyland, strolled the Santa Monica Pier and attended Broadway shows at the Hollywood Pantages Theater.
She doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t reading. “My mom always talks about the piles of books she had to keep in my crib. I don’t remember ever being without a book, or a song to sing,” Armes said.
She entered herself in the fourth grade poetry reading contest and earned an honorable mention for reciting a memorized, multistanza poem about a bear. “That was the greatest sense of accomplishment in my life at that point, and come to think of it, probably responsible for the cascade of embarrassing risks and failures in the decades to come,” Armes said. “I think that award ribbon would have more accurately read, simply, Longest Poem, but I felt like Judy Garland that day.
“I just love words. I remember studying words on boxes of Trix and Lucky Charms as a kid. It was delightful. I think the compulsion to read and write, for me, comes from the need to constantly be learning new things and ideas, and the written word is my medium.”
After leaving California for college at age 18, Armes was captivated by the high mountain peaks, falling leaves and less hurried lifestyle of the Intermountain West. “As long as I am surrounded by nature, sprinkled with a good dose of people and culture, I am satisfied.”
Armes attended the University of Utah, obtaining a degree in psychology and a minor in English. “I couldn’t decide between writing and becoming a therapist. It wasn’t until I was being interviewed by someone at City Weekly for the work I was doing at Utah Pride Center that I realized what I really wanted was to be on the other side of the interview. And more than being a counselor, I simply wanted to hear people’s stories and share them.”
Armes moved to Ogden in 2015, charmed by Ogden’s Historic 25th Street and the accessibility to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, both walkable from her new home. “I absolutely loved my ‘Sugar Hood’ in Salt Lake where I experienced some of the best years of my life, but Ogden called to me and I had to go,” she said.
Armes was deeply influenced by favorite books, authors, poets and musicians … and, as most of us girls of her generation were in one way or another, by The Queen — Oprah. “From junior high to college to motherhood, I faithfully watched ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show.’ I believe I learned to interview from the queen of talk shows herself. She did perfectly what I always wanted to do — ask questions. I wanted to be just like Oprah and help everyone be happy and ‘live their best life!'”
Her writing career started when she took a risk and applied for a writing internship with Salt Lake City Weekly eight years ago as a newly divorced mom with no journalism background. “Writing was a calling I couldn’t ignore or deny any longer — and it won out over trying to be the next Loretta Lynn, thank God!”
Armes started The Ogdenite in 2020 as a passion project to help Ogdenites and visitors find things to do and encourage more support for local businesses, artists and musicians. “I love writing for local publications but there was so much more I wanted to write, and people I felt deserved their stories to be shared.”
She noticed how hard it was to keep track of all the happenings in Ogden. “I love making lists so I started ‘Goings on About O-Town,’ inspired by my favorite magazine, The New Yorker’s ‘Goings On About Town,'” she said.
Now people, on or off social media, can find a complete listing of events in Ogden all in one place. “I couldn’t stand seeing one more musician or band fit for the Grammys playing to an empty bar any longer and had to do something to try to help,” Armes said.
“I am a romantic and still believe in the power of the written word, even if it’s digital,” she added. “I have dreams of real-life print and keeping it alive (and believe it will survive). Ogden deserves beautiful words because, in my book, it’s ‘the new City of Dreams.’ … There is a whole world of possibility here. I am inspired by the accepting, genuine people, the beautiful landscape and Ogden’s historic music, arts and culture scene. It is easy to want to write about Ogden; the stories are endless. It is home.”
Follow Deann and keep up on all things Ogden at theogdenite.com, on Instagram @the_ogdenite and Facebook @theogdenitewriter.