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[Dole as a kid]

Robert Joseph Dole was born on July 22, 1923 in rural Russell County, Kan. Dole's father, Doran Ray Dole, ran an egg and cream distribution station and later, a grain elevator. Doran Dole took pride in never giving in to emotion. He notified local families when their men were killed or missing-in-action, because the Western Union man would breakdown crying when he tried reading the telegrams to people. Doran Dole was never very ambitious but Dole's mother, Bina (Talbot) Dole, was. She would criscross the county in an old Chevy to sell Singer sewing machines and vacuum cleaners.

[Dole's house]

During the Depression, Bina Dole rented out their home to oilfield workers and moved the rest of the family to the basement into Robert's room, which he already shared with his brother Kenny. People Magazine reported in December 1983 that the family shared two makeshift bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen between the furnace and a coal bin. Bina Dole (much like Bob Dole today) was not afraid of confrontation and lived by the practical slogan: "Can't never did anything."

[Young Dole]

Like their parents, Robert and his brother and two sisters rose at 5 a.m. to do their chores. The family was active in the Methodist Church, and both Dole brothers were involved in the Boy Scouts. After school, Robert delivered newspapers, and evenings he worked as a soda jerk at Dawson's Drugstore. Dole's humor (inherited from his father and honed by the witty Dawsons) helped with customer relations. Bub Dawson told Vanity Fair in April 1987 that Bobby Dole was a "good worker" who would stay until 11:30 p.m. every night.

[Dole the athlete]

A natural athelete, tall and husky, Dole competed fiercely in basketball, football and track (making the all-conference teams) and worked out with homemade weights made of cement blocks and lead pipe. Dole met the local doctors while working at the drugstore and developed an interest in becoming one himself. Dole enrolled as a premedical student at the University of Kansas from 1941 until 1943 when, halfway through his sophomore year, he enlisted in the Army for service in World War Two.

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