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Marilyn Lofgreen

Interviewed by: Adam Christensen

00:00 / 01:04



Interviewee: Marilyn (Anderson) Lofgreen

Interviewer: Adam Christensen (student)

Subject: Como Springs Resort Experiences

June 21, 2010

Transcriber: Cissy Toone

Edited by:

Adam Christensen: How were you connected to Como, why were you there?

Marilyn Lofgreen: As a child that was the one place we always went for any recreation. We would ride our bicycles as soon as mother would allow us and we were old enough. We would go to Como every day or two that we could go and spend all day long there, swim with our friends and it was wonderful. It was clean.  Old Mr. Heiner, who owned the place, John Heiner, was elderly then but he still worked in the swim suit part. You’d go to him, tell him whether you needed a swim suit or if you had your own, you paid your money, then you went down into the little dressing places after, and got on your suit.

There were three wonderful pools there. We’d start out in the baby pool because it was a little warmer, then we’d go to the one that was three- feet deep that was a little bit cooler, then we’d go to the bigger one that was about five feet and that’s where we’d swim. We had one caution from my mother; she would say “now be sure that you check for rattle snakes when you put your clothes in those little dressing rooms because you are in rattle snake country.” She scared us to death but we were cautious about that. Jack O’Driscoll said there were some times when rattlers would get in the inside pool. We were cautious about that but it was a really fun time.

After we swam we were always hungry and we would stop at Mrs. Sommers had the little kiosk in the middle of the place, and she made the best hamburger’s in the whole world. Nola {Heiner} worked there [in the kiosk]; sometimes Floriene Heiner would work there as well. Annie Sommers had a recipe for some relish that you put on a hamburger and she taught my mother how to make that; it was made with green pepper, onion, mustard, and mayonnaise. My sister has got that recipe and it is out of this world, in fact people would come from all over just to have her hamburgers to get the relish on them. She was a happy women, all the kids loved her, and she was just fun.

Jack O’Driscoll was telling us (because he lived on the premises there) [at Como] that he had four rat traps around that little kiosk. He would catch rats during the night because they’d want to get in and have food; we didn’t know that at the time. (Laughs) They paid Jack, he was a teenager, maybe thirteen, and he would catch all the rats that would come there. The pool, where the water emptied out of the pool had quite a lagoon there and for rats it was a wonderful place, it had plenty to eat, water, and all that fun stuff.

Later on as I got to be a teenager and turned sixteen, they hired me to be a waitress in the Como Café. I remember working in there, I remember vividly, we called him Fat Heiner I can’t remember what his first name is. He and his wife would have…it was Vance, I beg your pardon, his name was Vance {Heiner}

AC: Vance, okay.

ML: They had the little place where men could go in and have beer and they had the big bowling alley in the back. Jack O’Driscoll was one of the pin setter boys there. Anyways he {Vance Heiner} and his wife, they served of more like you would set up to a bar there and they had that on one side, then the Como Café was on the other side. They had a lovely, big, rustic dining room and Rex Heiner was over that pretty well. I remember that it was…I loved doing it because I met a lot of lovely people through waitressing. One of my good friends, Merle Baird was one who already worked there. We worked together there for one whole summer, enough to get me my school clothes.

AC: Uh huh.

ML: I didn’t have my license yet so my mother would get up with my dad to get him off to work at about five, then I‘d be up a Como. At about one o’clock in the morning I’d get off and mom would be setting out waiting for me; I thought “I just don’t know if I could put her through that another year. I felt kind of bad because I was in the band and we’d march at the 24th of July parade, then the band would always be invited to come to Ogden Pioneer’s Rodeo. I’d have to leave and go back to work up to the Como Café [I felt bad] because I couldn’t stay with my friends down there. That was kind of a bummer but other than that it was really fun.

The other thing I remember too, as a little child, they had a merry go round.

AC: What was the merry go round?

ML: A carousel.

AC: With horses?

ML: Uh huh with horses and little animals, actually Lagoon purchased that.

AC: Oh really?

ML: Ya, we found out later that they had purchased that. Then Hal B. {Heiner} had a little train that went all the way around the pool, (the pond that the water came out of) and he would take the little kids for rides in that. I remember also that later on he actually had a little train that went right through the premises, and he took the little kids, with the little cars in the back, that was really fun. He also had a boat that he would take people for a boat. [ride]

Then there was the skating rink, we all had skates and we would skate. What was interesting about that is, I’m pretty sure this is what my folks said, it was one of the places they had a floating floor. People would come from all over to dance there. In the evenings they would have dances in the skating rink; it was a fabulous place to dance. The floor would give a little bit so people loved to go there. They had some pretty big named bands actually come. I remember my folks would go up and dance at Como; it was one of their big deals to do that with their friends. That was fun.

The other thing I remember is the band would play on Sunday afternoon’s around the pool. Everyone from everywhere came to Como Springs; there were people from all over. Not just Morgan people but Ogden, Idaho, and everywhere. They would come and have family reunions at Como. I distinctly remember the reunions were fun, they were in the back of the Como Café, and they had places where you could build a fire. I remember my father when he was working at Hill Field all of their people came to Como Springs to have outings, it was fun.

Going back to talking about the band, at that time the LDS church had meetings in the morning, you had a break, and then you’d go back in the late evening, at about seven o’clock. So we had a whole afternoon that was free and Mr. Gale Terry was the band director. You know, no one complained, we just said that we’d go up to Como Springs and we would play. We played concerts there every Sunday afternoon, people were packed in there.

AC: Really?

ML: Times like when the Morgan County Fair [was taking place] you couldn’t even get your car into Como it was so crowded. They’d be parked on both sides of the road clear by the River Lodge, and clear down where the fairground’s is presently situated. It was fun because that’s [Como] where you’d go to meet all your friends. They had wonderful ice cream, all kinds of fun stuff like condiments, candies, and those kinds of things. Very often we’d meet together then pair off with boys, they’d bring us home, and then we’d all go to church together in the evenings. It was a really fun time to grow up.

The Como Café, they were famous for their fried chicken, and steaks; it was a chicken steak kind of deal.

AC: Ya.

ML: Rex Heiner was a fabulous chef. I can remember around the 4th of July, I think there was a table I waited on with almost thirty-five or forty people around that table; it was a big long table. I was thinking “I don’t know if I can do this or not.” I remember Merl Baird came out to help me with all the orders because there were so many people. They had some booths, I think, around the outside if I remember correctly that you could sit in. They had wonderful fried chicken.

I remember one particular instance when Rex was trying to play a trick. A man came in and ordered a porterhouse steak, they are fairly large steaks anyway and he [Rex] said “I’ve got this huge steak I’m just going to cook up for this guy and see what he has to say.” When we took it out to him it completely filled the platter and he was so stunned he said “this must be a joke” and I said “Oh no this is what we serve” all the time; well of course it wasn’t but it was a good inch thick and just huge. The man could have never eaten it in a million years, but he smacked his lips as much as he could get down and took the rest home, that was kind of fun. Those are some of the things that I somewhat remember. I remember how kind Mr. Heiner was, the old gentleman. We all grieved very much when he got to the point where he couldn’t really take care of…

AC: John? [Heiner]

ML: Ya, old John Heiner that would have been Vance Heiner and Rex Heiner’s father.

AC: Okay.

ML: That’s how they were involved. [with Como] Then John Heiner, who had the ford dealership in Morgan, who married Fluorine Heine, he was involved a little bit but not as much as his other two brothers.

AC: Okay.

ML: Then I remember Roberta Little married President Keith Little’s (who is the patriarch now) brother, she was involved too. I thing she must have been a Heiner because they were all related and they would come up. It was defiantly the Heiner family that kept Como going. We were sorry when things looked to the point where they didn’t feel they could carry on anymore. We’re all grieving still because Como isn’t going. People would come who had health issues because of the mineral water, it was warm, and it was a wonderful place for families. They had benches on the outside of the fence so people could set and watch as you swam. As teenagers, you liked to parade around up there, as you got a little older you didn’t want anyone to see you in a swimming suit. (laughs)

AC: Ya.

ML: Anyway it (Como) was great. I was kind of connected just from the fact that I grew up going to Como all the time. It was the place where all my friends were, we dated there, families congregated, and lots of reunions went on; it was just a lovely place. The cabins originally were there and I remember some of my friends would clean the little cabins that people would come stay in. Then they built the motel and I don’t think it ever really did much. I don’t think it was very successful, it didn’t seem to be.

We joked around dinner tonight, the road above Como that you’d go up to Round Valley on was right on the hill, you looked right down into Como. A lot of times kids would park up there and watch their friends down swimming but it were a dangerous place, two cars couldn’t pass.

AC: Ya

ML: We were always afraid that someone was going to run off the road and tumble down that hill, and you know what, over all those years no one ever did, so that was good.

AC: Ya, well good. You said that you remember the dance hall had some popular bands come; do you remember any of the names of those bands?

ML: You know what, I can’t remember Adam, I wish my mother was here, she could tell you in a heartbeat who those bands were. There were some name bands that came that I recognized at the time but I don’t remember anymore who they were, it was a fun time though and many people came from all over to those dances they had.

AC: Ya. What can you tell me about the day to day events at Como, it I went there during a random day, what would I see?

ML: The very first thing you’d see is the parking lot would usually be full, the next thing as you walked into Como, there were some huge swing sets, you could go really high in those swings. We were always worried that someone would stand behind them and get cuffed in the chin. They may have had little accidents here and there but I don’t remember much about that, except they were really fun and always filled with little children; parents always had the little kids there. The next thing, you had to decide was do you want to go swimming, skating, or bowling because those were the main things Como…that’s why it was there, sometimes you’d do all three, you’d swim for a while, you’d go play a game of bowling, then you’d go skate. That would be the reason you would go there.

AC: Okay. Do you remember any special events, or things that were held there? [at Como] I’ve read in newspaper articles about… for example, when the Red Cross went there or there was a Republican convention…a meeting where all the republicans could go there [to Como] and a congressman from New York spoke; do you remember any events like that?

ML: The only thing I remember particularly is my husband, John Lofgreen, his father was a leader in the Utah Power and Light Co. and they would always have their company parties as Como Springs, so that was one thing they did. I think he mentioned to you that they would put a tarp on the ground then throw sand…sand dust…

AC: Sawdust.

ML: sawdust on the ground, then throw pennies, nickels, and dimes on the ground and have the little kids go in and do that. I remember my father then, they would always have their company party from Hill field go up there, [to Como] but that’s just a minute part. There were so many different entities. People went to Como for everything, it was close, it was kind of a best kept secret in some ways, yet it was well known from the people who had been there before, families and so on. There were a lot of events that went on there; nothing so spectacular that I can recall as far as a Republican Convention or anything, I don’t remember that.

AC: Okay. Why do you think Como was so popular, what made it successful?

ML: Well, I think it was because the family kept a very tight rayne on it in the first place, they knew what they wanted to get out of Como, and what they had there. I think it was a place…in those days you had to go down to US30, which was a two lane state road and it was pretty scary around horseshoe bend so people, if they wanted to have an outing, they went to Como with their families right here from the town it’s self. I think that was a drawing car to have that kind of a facility that closed to everyone. Every holiday you went there, you didn’t go anywhere else; everyone went to Como on the holidays. We always were worried about it because there were so many people in the pool and the water got really dirty, so they would always wait until the holiday was over then they’d clean the pools the next day. We’d wait and go in the next day or two when the pools were all fresh and clean. (laugh)

I think too even the people in Ogden and surrounding areas like Layton, Kaysville, it was not that far away for them to go. Lagoon was definitely and entity but more expensive. There was no entrance fee at all to come to Como; they didn’t have to park their car for fifty-cents or anything. You just went in and went to whatever facility you wanted to go to, whether it was skating or whatever, and that’s where everyone congregated.

AC: What were some of the reasons you think Como’s not here anymore?

ML: Well the Heiner family, many of them have passed on. The Como café probably stayed longer than any other facilities there, even up until about the nineteen ninety’s. They still had the best steak in the whole world, the Como Special steak was just scrumptious until Rex {Heiner} moved away and we felt really bad about that. I think it was just that there was not enough of the family left to really keep Como going like it had been at one time. I remember very distinctly that Lagoon wanted to buy Como and the Heiner family turned that down, why they did, I’m not absolutely sure whether they didn’t feel enough money was offered to them or what.

When they covered the pool’s and started selling the mineral water out hearts grieved because we remembered those beautiful pools with that wonderful, clear water. It [the water] was very therapeutic; a lot of people with arthritis and those kinds of diseases would come and just set in the pool.

As a little child, before they cemented the pools, I can remember going to Como with relatives and the bottom of the pools were still kind of just like mud, and completely covered with moss. You would feel that moss on your feet as you’d go in the bottom, and then they cemented the pools after a few years and made it really spectacular. They put in all the slides, you just had to be careful that they had the water going down the slide, you didn’t want to get up there fifty feet on a hot day when it was one-hundred degrees on your bottom as you went down that slide with no water. (Laughs) I saw that happen a couple of times and I thought “Oh man, they’re blistered.” I feel badly that Como is not still going and I think if they had sold to someone who had a little for sight of what they wanted to do with it, Como would still be a thriving business today.

AC: Ya. Do you have any special, you personally, experiences you can remember of things that you did there or any stories you have?

ML: I remember I went with several of my friends boyfriends that they didn’t know anything about; they thought they were going steady with them. They’d come up after mutual, or church and say “so and so is not with me, how about going here and there?” We did a lot of those kinds of things, it was really funny, but a little rivalry between boyfriends and girlfriends was fun.

AC: (Laughs)

ML: I remember Shirley Randall, (Shirley Randall Sommers later on) she had a bright red convertible and she was an absolutely beautiful women, just gorgeous, popular, and fun. We envied her because she was at Como every day riding around it that wonderful convertible, we’d beg her to let us take rides with her and she was very gracious about doing that.

Those were choice memories that I had there. [at Como] I think some of the fun things for me personally was playing in the band there for the enjoyment of the people at Como. That was the personal experience that I loved, and the fact that I actually worked there and had such a good experience meeting a lot of the people; finding out why they came to Como, how did they find out about it, and would they come back again. They were always happy with their food. I don’t think they ever had a bad meal at the Como Café.

We had a couple of elderly men that had, I would say a lower IQ, and could not find work anywhere else so they were hired at Como and they kept those grounds totally clean. They were there every day picking up papers, etc. It gave them a bit of lively hood and everyone in the town knew who they were. They were certainly harmless individuals, and they kept Como clean, they truly did. That was other memories I had of Como.

AC: That’s nice. When you said you had asked people how they heard about Como, like people from down below, how? [did they hear about Como?]

ML: Mostly word of mouth, they either had family members who had grown up here, they’d moved away and had came back, or it was word of mouth: “have you ever been to Como Spring’s?” “It’s right up here in Morgan, only about twenty-five miles from Ogden.” It was defiantly word of mouth and people had such a good experience that they would come back year after year. They also came up to camp; they would come and camp for a week at a time with tents, or in the little cabins. It was just the place to go. I think it was good experiences so they kept coming back, repeat customers.

AC: They kept coming back. I’m out of the main questions I had, I don’t know if you have any other stories.

ML: No, I think I probably have told you as much about the memories I have there. The other thing too, I never remember ever worrying about whether my bicycle was going to be taken or not. We would take our swim suits, we’d have a little basket on our bikes; we were just little kids and we’d ride up there. [to Como]  You’d park your bicycle and no one ever touched it; you wouldn’t do that today.

AC: Ya.

ML: No, there’s no way you would do that today.

AC: That’s something that I’ve heard from a few people about the atmosphere up there, it was just a good, clean place to take your family. What made it that way?

ML: Well I think it was the families that participated there of course, even though there was a lot of smoking, and lots of drinking in the evening. The Heiner’s were pretty tough guys and if you got out of control there, they were out there, and I’ll tell you what, they’d literally kick you right off the premises. I remember the sheriff always patrolled that very well. If you had people getting out of line, they would just hit the phone and the sheriff would come at take care of that. There was smoking and drinking, but not to the excess that families didn’t want to still go there.

AC: Uh huh, how did that change over the years?

ML: I don’t really know that the smoking was any less after a while. I think people still smoked. I don’t think there was much hard liquor there because they didn’t have enough business later on, they really didn’t do that. They still had the little bar there that you could buy beer but not hard liquor, a lot of the times people would go to eat and have beer with their dinner. It wasn’t like it was in the early days when everyone would step in there and have beer. I don’t remember… there were few cases where I remember people I saw that were just totally dead drunk but that was the exception rather than the rule.

The other thing that was fun was your parents would go as well. Parents were there, teenagers were there, and little kids were there. It was really like everyone was there for different reasons. Some parents would go in swimming, go skate, go in and bowl, or they were there for dinner. It was certainly the gathering place for the Morgan people that lived here, that’s for sure.

AC: Ya, there was something to do for everyone.

ML: The think I really felt bad about it when they sold the merry go round, the carousel. That broke everyone’s heart because the little kids of about three to twelve could go on the merry go round and it was a big deal. (Laughs) So when that [merry go round] left, everyone pined over that one.

AC:  So they sold it to Lagoon?

ML: They did.

AC: Do you know if it’s still there?

ML: According to Jack O’Driscoll, that merry go round is still at Lagoon but I can’t verify that. I don’t know if he could verify that either, but that’s where it went.

AC: Wow!

ML: Yep.

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