A digital companion to the biography Becoming Richard Pryor
In late-1941 Mayor Woodruff and Peoria’s city council feuded over the protection of vice in the city.
“Council-Mayor Fight Widens As New Edict On Vice Is Ignored,” Peoria Journal-Transcript, Dec. 17, 1941.
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1942–1945: WWII Comes to Peoria
Reform This Town!
gamblingMayor Ed Woodruffprostitutionurban reform
The block, in the red-light district, where Pryor was raised
Three years after he was born, World War II spurred Richard's parents to marry
LeRoy Pryor was discharged without honor from the US Army at the height of mobilization for WWII
The Pryor family diversified its operations, becoming proud owners of a tavern in the mid-40s
A black sergeant, flush with cash, was robbed on N. Washington Street — and Richard's father seems to have been the culprit
A Peoria grand jury indicted LeRoy Pryor for robbing a black soldier
The divorce papers of Richard Pryor's parents
In late-1941 Mayor Woodruff and Peoria's city council feuded over the protection of vice in the city
A spike in VD in Peoria led the US public health board to take action
The Jaycees led the attack against the red-light district
The Christian Century editorialized against Peoria as “the sinkhole of midwestern vice”
Illinois's State Attorney stepped in where Peoria's mayor did not, attacking the red-light district
Booming Peoria hoped to keep the growth going after World War II
All of Illinois law enforcement was marshalled to stamp out vice in Peoria
After the military threatened a further crackdown, Peoria police took action
A judge sent a stern message to Peoria's brothel owners and prostitutes
The city council urged the Mayor to work with the US Army to fight vice
The health department was empowered to inspect anyone thought to have VD
Ministers called vice “sabotage” and accused Peoria's citizens of thwarting the war effort
Peoria's USO Club offered a respectable alternative to the red-light district
A $1000 order of penicillin was urged to combat the city's growing “social problem”
A harbinger of major reforms to come, the wealthy bluff outvoted the valley for the first time in 1945
In a stunning defeat for Sin City, Mayor Ed Woodruff was clobbered in the 1945 mayoral primary
Woodruff's defeat marked the end of an era in Peoria
A grand jury widened the crusade against vice to the taverns frequented by prostitutes
Peoria had been “the biggest little wide open town in the Midwest,” but what was next for the city?