The windows of the tiny cafe in the Marion Hotel give a good view of lower 25th Street, and Richard Spurgeon looked out of them, remembering.
"It's been 15 years since I was here," he said. "Used to be, somewhere across the street, was an all-night place."It was a dance hall, he said. "A lot of people from Salt Lake came here, they danced and all. It was open all night, didn't even open up until late."
But that was then, he noted, and this is now.
Now he's just an out-of-work poet looking for a place to hang his hat, make some bucks and write a book. And he's getting on in years in an occupation with no retirement plan.
"Sorta tired of running all over the place, raising hell. Thought it was time to work for a living," he said with a grin.
Spurgeon, 46, is a native of Missouri but has spent the past several decades on the road. He declines to describe himself as homeless, jobless or anything else, saying people who use those labels usually do so to get attention or help.
And he's not trying to get either, he said.
For all his life, he said, he has led a temporary existence: temporarily an emergency medical technician; temporarily a security guard; temporarily a firefighter; temporarily a psychiatric hospital worker.
But most of the time he has concentrated on being homeless, or transient, or a traveler - whatever you want to call it, taking jobs as they came, taking trips when they didn't, passing through just about everywhere.
And now he's come to Ogden.
He's staying at the Problems Anonymous Action Group facility at the moment, saying his hard-drinking past qualifies him. He wants to find work, get some money, then take six months and do some serious writing.
The one thing Spurgeon is, mostly, is a poet. He's been writing the stuff since he was 6, he said, but that was just fooling around. Only recently did he get serious about it - serious enough to get published three times.
Not that it's done him much good in the financial arena. There's no money in the poetry business, he said, and when you donate the rights to your books to homeless organizations, it doesn't help.
His first book, "Echoes from the Streets," was signed over to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless in Denver. His second book, "Echoes from the MoZarks," isn't signed over to anyone yet, but hasn't made any money either. His third book isn't off the presses yet. When it is, it goes to a Boston homeless group.
So here he is.
He describes himself as a "free-thinking conservative Democrat," with little love for advocacy groups that claim to speak for the poor but really just keep themselves in business, little love for politicians in general and a lot of love for others like himself.
Before he came to Ogden, in fact, he was working on his own advocacy group, an idea he got from his own experiences. What he wants is to set up a foundation for artists on the street - for the homeless and transient who, like him, have something to say but no place to say it.
Spurgeon said he is a man of strong feelings who doesn't mind speaking them. That sets him apart, he said, and occasionally gets him in trouble with the people in power. That's fine with him, he said. More people should try it.
"Most people today you can put out of business and they'll go to the polls and vote for the guy that did it, or the party that did it," he said.
Just ignorance is all it is. They use words like "patriots" and "loyalty" or whatever, and they'll stand by people whether they're right or wrong.
"And I make waves because I won't do that."
He's got strong feelings about the homeless in this country he's watched and listened to, as well as lived in, for decades.
"People don't know what's out there," he said. The intelligent homeless - the doctors, lawyers, and others - are not the ones who come forward for news interviews.
They have pride, he said, if nothing else. People who tout their homelessness, he said, are mostly looking for a handout, while the proud homeless, the intelligent ones, just want to live their lives.
"These kinda folks, they duck you," he said. "They've got this pride - these aren't the people you see digging in a Dumpster."
Which is where the foundation idea comes in. It would be a foundation for "all kinds of writers, poets, sculptors," and other artists like himself.
"It would give the people what they really don't have - a voice," he said. "When I write poetry, I can really only speak for me. If I can start a foundation, that will give them a voice. I want to give them an outlet, to speak for themselves, and the only way to do that is through their art."