OGDEN — Mysterious notes from a nearly 70-year-old interview with a notorious Ogden brothel owner have garnered widespread intrigue from around the country.
Sarah Langsdon, head of Special Collections at Weber State University, said her department is dealing with a rush of interest regarding the department’s request for someone to decipher recently discovered shorthand notes from an interview with the well-known Ogden madame Rossette Duccinni Davie.
The interview was conducted by former Standard-Examiner reporter Bert Strand on Aug. 30, 1951. The notes from the interview were found hidden inside a box of 1970s photos from the newspaper. The decades-old shorthand style the notes are written in presented a conundrum for Langsdon and her department: nobody could read what they said.
So Langsdon, through social media and other channels, put out a call for possible translators.
The Standard-Examiner published a story on the find in the Jan. 27, 2020 edition of the paper. A subsequent Associated Press story ran a few days later. Since that time, Langsdon said her office has received at least 700 correspondences — mostly phone calls — from people all over the United States willing to have a go at transcribing the notes.
“We’re still getting phone calls every day,” Langsdon said. “And people are calling all over campus. We’ve got calls from the president’s office about people saying they can help.”
So far, Langsdon said the department has accepted seven translations and is slowly piecing together the puzzle of what the notes say. Langsdon said because shorthand usually includes many individualized markings, it will be impossible to translate the notes verbatim. But a common theme has already emerged from the translations.
“It kind of reads like a deposition, which is kind of interesting,” Langsdon said. “But she basically accuses (former Weber County sheriff) Mac Wade and the sheriff’s office of corruption.”
During the 1940s and ’50s, Davie and her husband, Bill Davie, ran the Rose Rooms brothel on 25th Street. Located on the second floor of 201 25th St., the one-time brothel is one of 25th Street’s most infamous spots. Today, it’s home to the nightclub Alleged.
Langsdon said it’s widely accepted that Davie ran her brothel by having a cozy relationship with the Ogden Police and Weber County sheriff’s departments. In 2013, historian Val Holley told the Standard-Examiner Davie and her husband were likely police informants, while Langsdon said there is a theory they were paying off the authorities.
The translated interview notes give credence to the theory, with Davie saying the sheriff’s office accepted bribes and hid evidence, among other misdeeds.