BZ Real Ogden Portraits Odessa Bush-Burton-4

Odessa Bush-Burton stands outside her home near downtown Ogden. Bush-Burton has lived in the same neighborhood for almost her entire life.

'I went to school here, and I was raised around here. I just had a good childhood.'

Ogden is a pretty laid-back place, Odessa Bush-Burton says.

Now 80, she has lived here most her life, save for stints in Los Angeles and a few other places. She likes it in Ogden, thinks it’s easy to get along with the people. Moreover, there are the multitude of charitable groups quick to lend a hand to those in need, to help out with food, heating bills and more.

“I would say if you can’t live in Ogden, Utah, you can’t live anywhere,” she says.

That doesn’t mean things are perfect. She remembers what it was like before the civil rights movement in the 1950s, when she says African-Americans could only walk on one side of certain commercial streets in Ogden. That’s in the past, but these days, the seemingly indifferent attitude of young people and their seemingly rampant drug use get to her.

“Looking out my door and seeing the youngsters on their cellphones and their drugs,” she says from the living room of her Lincoln Avenue home in southern Ogden, her voice trailing. Kids don’t seem to have enough places to go, she continues, remembering a girl who once threw up in the parking lot of the church across the street, apparently on drugs.

What’s more, the city’s lacking a black-owned tavern. Years back, there were three of them in Ogden, one owned by her father.

Still, fond memories of her childhood — Bush-Burton’s father came to Ogden, lured by railroad work — counter any negativity. Now widowed, she was married three times — two-and-a-half times, actually, she jokingly corrects — and worked for many years as a custodian in downtown Ogden. She’s got two children, and some of her sisters still live in Ogden.

“It’s beautiful,” she says. “I went to school here, and I was raised around here. I just had a good childhood.”

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