Peoria Pair

Week 4: #52 Ancestors – Favorite Photo

By Eilene Lyon

This is a snazzy portrait of The Putterer’s parents, Cliff and Fran, taken in the early 1940s. I love many things about it: their clothes, the car, the expressions on their faces. I also like how they had it framed:

Clifford Park Lyon, Jr. (Cliff) was born in the small, northern Illinois town of LaMoille on August 25, 1918.1 Both his parents were born in the same place. Cliff spent part of his childhood in Los Angeles, where his father, Clifford Park Lyon, Sr. (Park) worked as a bank manager.2

After the Lyons returned to their hometown in Illinois about 1935, Cliff finished school and headed for Peoria, where he got a job working for Caterpillar.3 By April 1940, he found lodging at the home of Carl and Cleo Struss, along with another young man, Gene Campbell.4 Gene worked at a nearby service station.5 The Strusses had an 18-year-old daughter, Frances.

This Google Maps Street View image shows the Struss home in Peoria (right) and the Methodist Church (left) that probably both Frances and Cliff attended on Sundays.

Apparently Cliff’s charms won out over Gene’s, or maybe Gene already had a girlfriend. The two young men filled out their draft cards in August 1940. Cliff’s stats: 5’ 11”, 155 lbs., gray eyes, brown hair, light complexion. Gene’s stats: 6 ft., 146 lbs., blue eyes, black hair, dark complexion. Both soon joined the U.S. Navy.

Cliff’s term of service probably began in early 1941. He became a welder and at some point the Navy sent him to work at the Norfolk, Virginia, shipyard. Either prior to going to Virginia or by obtaining a leave, he married Frances Struss in Peoria on November 15, 1941.6

Cliff Lyon’s Navy welding operator’s card.

The couple spent the remainder of Cliff’s service years in Virginia, but Fran may have returned to Peoria for the birth of their daughter in 1944.7 Before that, they visited Illinois in July 1942.8 Thus it’s difficult to be sure exactly when and where this photograph was taken. It looks more like Peoria to me. If you look across the street in the Google image, the houses in the background seem to match this photo. And it seems that Fran may have a ring on her finger, but it’s difficult to tell.


  1. Clifford Park Lyon, Jr. The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Illinois, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 1098 – via Ancestry.com. 
  2. Clifford P. Lyon. Year: 1930; Census Place: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0537; FHL microfilm: 2339887 – via Ancestry.com. 
  3. See note 1. 
  4. Carl Struss. Year: 1940; Census Place: Berlin, Bureau, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00762; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 6-5 – via Ancestry.com. 
  5. Eugene Campbell. The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Illinois, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 250 – via Ancestry.com. 
  6. Per The Putterer or not. Okay, I have no idea where I got this date! 
  7. Bureau County Tribune (Princeton, IL) 9 Jun 1944 p. 5 – via Newspapers.com. 
  8. Bureau County Tribune 3 Jul 1942 p. 5 – via Newspapers.com. 

29 thoughts on “Peoria Pair

Add yours

  1. You’re right. That is one snazzy couple. It’s a perfect photograph for the times. I also think the orange daylilies currently in front of the Struss home are pretty darned snazzy, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic photo, Eilene, and I liked your sleuthing too. My sister and her husband work at the Caterpillar in Peoria; it still exists today. I like this photo for the verve it shows of this Peoria pair. Wonderful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful photograph! Such a slice of life of those times. I don’t see the match to the houses on the Google shot, but maybe it’s just the different angle.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This reminds me of the series I am watching – exact same styles – Check this out, Eilene – you might like it : the Durrells in Corfu – it’s amazing prime – interesting how people acted and dressed classy with self respect

    Liked by 1 person

Please share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

Women Writing the West

Writing about experiences of women and girls in the North American West.

Author J.v.L. Bell

Exploring the Past to Improve the Future

thedihedral.wordpress.com/

Climbing, Outdoors, Life!

here2where

Travels Galore

WALKIN', WRITIN', WIT & WHIMSY

Strolling around SE Michigan & sending joy in the journey.

Tofino Photography

Professional Wildlife, Landscape and Seascape Photography

Notes from a Western Life

The Windbreak House Blog by Linda M. Hasselstrom

The Letters

Louise Mabey

Smart Canyon Genealogy

Viewing family trees from 8500 feet

Absurdist Fiction

BOOKS - WRITING - HUMOR - ABSURD

The Chiddicks Family Tree

Every Family has a story to tell..........Welcome to mine

Crossed Eyes and Dotted Tees

Writing, Blogging and Books

One Woman's Quest II

Navigating life through grandparenthood, chronic illness, dream work, and other inspirations

One Woman's Quest

Passion for writing ignites my soul's momentum

Opening Doors in Brick Walls

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” ~ Alexander Graham Bell

Clio the History Muse

Thoughts about teaching and learning history

The Yoga Cowgirl

Live fully and have fun doing so...

tales from my typewriter

everyone has a story

Onward Ohio History!

Buckeyes from all Directions : by Kathy Warnes

%d bloggers like this: