Because he passed away in 1953 at the young age of just 43 years. I never had the opportunity to know my Great Uncle Cliff. My mom tells me that he was well liked. She said he liked to make people laugh, and always had a good joke to tell. That made him someone people liked to be around. He loved stopping by his brother’s house after work. He would leave a few snacks in his lunch pail for all the little kids to raid. Of course, that made him a big hit with my mom and her siblings.
Uncle Cliff was quite a character. He loved to pick on his mom some. When he was younger, and still living at home. He had a job, and his job required that he work a half day on Saturday. Sometimes he would not come right home after work, because he knew his mother would think he was out drinking. Grandma was mad, and indeed thought he was drinking. She decided to write a big “D” on calendar…for drunk. I guess she was hoping to shame him into not doing such things. He did it to tease her, because he wasn’t drinking at all, and the big “D” on the calendar only served as a source of humor for him.
Uncle Cliff married Marie Settell on July 28, 1940, and on their wedding night, the family gave them a real Shivaree. Now for those of you who don’t know, a Shivaree is a mock serenade with kettles, pans, horns, and other noisemakers given for a newly married couple. As sometimes happens in these event, things can get out of hand, resulting in the bride being stolen from the groom for a time, and Uncle Cliff was very worried that they would steal his bride. I suppose that once he realized they weren’t going to do that, he might have thought it was a sweet thing to do, but by that time the Shivaree was over, so he couldn’t relax and enjoy it.
When the United States joined World War II, Uncle Cliff was drafted into the Navy on August 18, 1945, at the age of 36 years. He had only been married five years at that time, and they had already had some sadness in the loss of their first child, Clifford Jr in 1941. I can only imagine how hard it would be to send your husband into war, when you had only been married for five years. But then, many woman have had to do this over the years. They and their marriage would survive the war, and they would have three surviving children, Joy, Gordon, and Judy and a number of grandchildren, but unfortunately, Uncle Cliff would never get to meet them.
Coming home from the war would not bring the best of news. I’m not sure just how long after coming home, but Uncle Cliff had some health issues, and he unfortunately put off taking care of them, In the end, it would be cancer that would take his life at the far too young age of 43. Uncle Cliff has always seemed to be a bit of a mystery to me…like an great uncle who I knew should have known, but somehow didn’t. He was a missing part of the family. He was my Grandpa Byer’s youngest sibling, and since I knew my grandpa, who was the third from the oldest of the nine children, why wouldn’t I know his youngest brother. Oh, I know that isn’t such an oddity, because a lot of people die at a young age, but it seemed strange to me at the time.
Five years after Uncle Cliff’s passing, Marie would again find love, even though I’m sure she thought it would never happen. She married Walter Oddsey (Johnny) Skaggs. Marie and Johnny were both well liked by the Byer family, and while they moved to California, they kept in touch with them through the years.