Commentary: Then & There — Remembering Lorin Farr Park fun, 70 years later
Photo supplied, Jeff Stowe
Shortly before school recessed for the summer in 1951, Mrs. Wessler’s second grade class at Lincoln Elementary School was taken to Lorin Farr Park in Ogden for an excursion. At that time, the school was located at the northwest corner of 3rd Street and Adams Avenue in a “working class” area on the north side of Ogden. The school building consisted of two sections, an older part on the east side and a somewhat newer part on the west side. Even then, both sections were very old. In fact, the east part of the building was so old that many of those students’ grandparents had also attended school there.
As the students unloaded at the park, it was as if they were entering some sort of magical place as most of them had never been there before. The grounds were meticulously cared for and at the park’s east end there was a swimming pool, complete with a very high diving board. Further west, there was a merry-go-round, a Ferris wheel, a miniature train, kiddie-size boats in a small circular pond and a confectionary filled with all sorts of candy, drinks, popcorn, peanuts and even “cotton candy.” There was even a nearby enclosure housing two monkeys that were named Buster and Browney.
Scattered throughout the park were teeter totters, swings and a circular metal platform that many of the kids called a “whirly gig.” It was actually a small merry-go-round that one could run along its side to get it moving at a relatively high rate of speed and then jump on to ride, hoping sometimes the speed would knock a playmate off. There was also a very high metal “slippery slide” with no sort of protective apparatus that occasionally caused a broken arm or leg if one fell off it because they were not being cautious. (Of course, in those days, people seldom sued.)
At the park’s west end was the Ogden stadium and there must have been some type of ongoing competition, as one could see people riding horses. Along the south perimeter of the park, there was a rock wall that one could peer over and see the beautiful Ogden River far below, flowing past with its raging springtime current. That view was a bit scary as the thought of falling into that raging current was so frightening.
Now, “fast forward” to today, 70 years later during the summer of 2021, to find many of those same second grade Lincoln Elementary students gathered again in Lorin Farr Park’s pavilion to celebrate their 60th high school reunion (Ben Lomond High Class of 1961). Those graduates are now 78, and many of them have already “passed on” in about a 2:1 ratio, males to females. For some reason, males just don’t seem to last as long as females.
Photo supplied, Jeff Stowe
Upon coming to the reunion, the classmates were very happy to see that the park and especially the pavilion and the restrooms were still well maintained. Everyone entering the pavilion at the reunion was given name and picture badges to help identify themselves. Unfortunately, a number indicated that they were unable to attend the reunion because of poor health and it was soon readily apparent that those attending were much slower now. Some needed assistance in walking. A number wore eye glasses and hearing aids and the majority said that they no longer felt comfortable driving at night.
Some of those attending’s own children dropped them off with a warning that their parents may be suffering a little dementia, as what they might talk about may appear to be a little confusing. In fact, one classmate reported later that after the reunion, in returning to his home in St. George, he had stopped in Beaver to get gas and rest. As he entered the interstate to continue returning to his home in St. George, he became confused and headed back north instead of south. After driving north for over 90 miles, he noticed a sign alerting him that Provo was still some distance ahead and realized that he had been driving the wrong way.
For those second grade students who attended school at Lincoln Elementary in 1951 and returned again to Lorin Farr Park this summer for their 60th high school reunion, they found that Lorin Farr Park was still the same magical place they remembered. A magical place because it brought back so many wonderful memories of those long-ago days when they were kids.
Jeff Stowe lives in Ogden.