Kansas must have been awful for Gen. When Dick was off on a drunk, he always took the car. How would she get to work? How to get groceries? Where was Dick, anyway? Would he come back? If he did, would he still have a job? Would the police come calling? What shape would the car be in? How would she manage when he was gone? Moreover, how would she manage when he was around? Gen actually had three children at the time. The trouble was that one of them lacked self-control and had a driver's license. Ya gotta wonder about this behavior. If you would rather drink and drive and write bad checks instead of taking care of yourself and your family, why not just take off and stay off? Not Dick. He always came home eventually and things were ok for a while.
In about 1953, Gen sold the New Moon and bought a new two-bedroom brick house on the east side of Wichita, on Armour Drive. The house was (and still is) south of U.S. Rt. 54, across the street from a segment of Wichita's Big Ditch. Here's Gen in the living room of that house, with her stunning smile, during a stable interval, which, of course, didn't last.
The pressure of the new house was too much for Dick, who had managed to stay employed at Boeing in spite of his benders. Something happened that precipitated a fight with Gen and another abandonment, but with a new twist. He loaded up his newest daughter (me) in the grey Ford and took off for California. Gen says that he left Susie crying and wondering why she couldn't go too.
The reason, of course, was that Susie wasn't Dick's "real" daughter, but Susie, who wasn't more than five years old, didn't know that. Some wretched instinct possessed Dick to stick it to Gen and Susie and take off with me. Gen couldn't prevent him from taking me; he was my father and apparently had a legal right to me. The ugly truth behind his actions is that he used children as pawns in a power struggle with his wife.
Gen kept track of me as best she could through the then-equivalent of California child protective services, who reported that I was being well-cared-for. Dick took refuge with his brother, Dale, and Dale's wife near San Bernardino. During this episode I was apparently plagued with diarrhea. Traveling with a kid in diapers who has a gastric problem. Dick got his, eh? Eventually he brought me back to Wichita and took up domestic life with Gen again.