“Tales From Two-Bit Street and Beyond … Part 1,” features a collection of ghostly short stories that deal primarily with hauntings along Ogden’s Historic 25th Street. It’s no secret that “Two-Bit Street” has a mysterious, crime-infested history. It was the tenderloin district of Ogden, a railroad city with its share of illegal booze and drug runners, thugs, swindlers, and prostitutes who would solicit customers by dropping beans from the upper windows to men on the street.
What the various local authors of “Tales From Two Bits’” provide are stories that underscore the mysteries and hints of ghosts that still haunt Junction City’s most famous street, with its alleged opium and booze tunnels. The spooky tales all provide good, quick reads, although some have more depth than others. There is a diversity within the fantasy/horror genre among the tales. Some are “surprise-ending” stories, or “distressed families helped” stories, or “ghostly recollections,” or “only children can communicate with the dead” stories; there’s even a couple of shocker tales that will remind readers of the older thriller “Creepshow-like” comics.
Gangsters, prostitutes, prostitutes with hearts of gold, muggers, thieves, addicts, gun-, drug-, and booze-runners, thugs, travelers, angry spouses, bewildered newly dead, girls in distress, families in distress, even a kitten, are all subjects of stories. My favorite tale is number 11, “Susan Jones,” by Sandee Martin Drake. It takes a real event, the 1870 murder of a black woman, Susan Jones, and crafts a tale of how the kindhearted victim provides aid and comfort, before and after her death, to a single woman just arrived to 25th Street.
Perhaps the spookiest tale is “Room 1102.” Ogden’s Ben Lomond Hotel is featured in this story, by Rod Cohen, where an unhappy pair try to spice up their marriage by returning to their wedding night room. The ending is very Stephen King-ish. Another interesting tale is “Annie,” by Michelle McKinnon, where a recently dead wife retrieves her grieving, feckless husband from 25th Street with a stern warning to get on with his life. “You’re only Young Once,” by Drienie Hatting, is set in the present, where a teen girl who just endured a dangerous snowslide while snowboarding Taylor’s Canyon finds very puzzling conditions and acquaintances when she returns to Ogden. I also liked “A Working Girl,” by Lynda West Scott, where a ghost of a woman, murdered long ago when she was a prostitute on 25th Street, reminisces about her life on the ghostly street and how much she misses her mother.
The collection is worth its $10 cost, cheaper via Kindle. I plan to buy a couple for friends, including a Boston couple that we hosted recently at our home in Ogden. We took the pair for a walk up and down Historic 25th Street, and trekking Two-Bit Street” does provide a hint that there’s more than dust and furnitures behind the closed doors and windows of the picturesque street.
The anthology is compiled by Hattingh and edited by West Scott. There are several art elements in the book. The book is the second in a series of short story anthologies that deal with the community and Utah. “Tales from Huntsville, Eden & Liberty” was published in 2011. Next year, another collection is planned. The book has a Facebook page. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org Also, here’s an amazon Kindle link.