I love these two pictures of my Dad. Lots of journalling here about his childhood.
"Gene was born on a farm in Sabetha, KS on September 29, 1929. He was the third and last child of Oscar and Mary Lou Payne. He loved growing up on the farm, but when he was eight years old, his family lost everything in the Depression and they had to move to California. They brought what belongings would fit in the car with them. He often told the story of having a pet farm dog, Fritz, that had to be left behind with neighbors and how heartbreaking that was for him as a little boy. Gene's Uncle Forrest and Aunt Katie Payne loved Gene very much and wanted to take him in and have him stay in Kansas, but he had to move with his parents and older sister and brother. When they arrived in California they stayed with Mary Lou's brother, C.R. (Kalip) Berry and his wife Freddie Ruth. It was a very small house, only one bedroom, but seven people lived there for 6 weeks or so.
When Gene started school in Long Beach he had to wear his farm overalls, and his only pair of shoes were quite raggedy, so he was picked on and made fun of by some other boys. One day, they chased him home from school. When he got to the front door, his Dad, Oscar, was standing there and told him he would have to face them. He locked the door, and Gene had no choice but to turn around and fight off the bullies. He put up a good fight, because the boys stopped picking on him after that day.
Gene always had a soft spot for Kansas, and went back several times to visit his Uncle Forest and Aunt Katie Payne."