OGDEN — A recently discovered, nearly 70-year-old transcript of an interview with one of 25th Street’s most notorious figures has Weber State University’s Special Collections department trying to unlock a mystery.
Sarah Langsdon, head of Special Collections at WSU, said her department has stumbled upon handwritten notes from an interview former Standard-Examiner reporter Bert Strand conducted with the infamous Rossette Duccinni Davie.
During the 1940s and ’50s, she 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 Ogden’s most fabled dens of vice. Today, it’s home to the nightclub Alleged.
The interview was from Aug. 30, 1951, and was dictated by Olwyn Bergeson. Langsdon said the notes were found hidden inside a box of 1970s photos from the newspaper. For a historian, Langsdon said, the interview notes and the old Standard-Examiner envelope they came in was a treasure trove of material. But there was just one problem: the transcription is written in a decades-old shorthand style that no one really uses anymore.
“It’s definitely a lost art,” Langsdon said of the dated dictation style. “And with shorthand, a lot of times people would use their own symbols — so it could be hard to figure out what it says, but obviously we really want to know.”
Langsdon said Davie was well-known for her prostitution operation and probably was Ogden’s most notorious madame, perhaps sharing the title with Belle London, who ran houses of prostitution on 25th Street from about 1890 to 1914.
“Anyone we’ve ever interviewed who was alive (when Davie was in business) remembers her,” Langsdon said. “She’s definitely a well-known figure in the history of Ogden.”
It’s widely accepted that Davie ran her brothel under the forgiving eye of 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 the Davies were paying off then county sheriff Mac Wade. Davie skated on several prostitution charges but was ultimately done in by a federal tax evasion charge, Langsdon said.
“She was making something like $30,000 a month back then,” Langsdon said. “And she wasn’t claiming anywhere near what she was making.”
Langsdon said the special collections department is hoping to find someone who can make sense of the lost interview notes.
“Like I said, it’s probably been decades since anyone has used (shorthand),” she said. “But if we could find someone who can decipher these notes, it could be pretty fascinating.”
Anyone interested in possibly translating the notes should contact WSU’s special collections department at 801-626-6540.