Payne Sr.


NORMAN O. PAYNE SR. was born in Virginia on April 26, 1903. He married his wife Ella, also a native of Virginia, when he was 22. The Paynes, like so many African-Americans seeking a better opportunity, came north, where there son Norman Jr. was born, in Pennsylvania, in 1925. The family briefly returned to Virginia, where a second son, Robert R. Payne was born. The Paynes had come to Camden, and rented a house at 773 Mt. Vernon Street by May of 1929 when another son, William arrived. Seven more children would follow, Dorothy, Robert, Edward, Elizabeth, Thomas, Kenneth, Irene and Charles.

Around the same time William was born, Norman Payne found work with the Camden County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which under the aegis of the city and county operated a facility near where the Ferry Avenue High Speedline Station now is. He took to the work, and by the mid-1930s was one of the agencies most experienced and skillful dog handlers. 

By 1947 Norman Payne had found other employment. He and his family had moved to 722 Cherry Street, where he lived though 1956. By 1959 the Payne family had moved to 1534 Wildwood Avenue in the Parkside section of Camden, where he would live until his passing in August of 1969.

Son Norman Jr. served with the U.S. Army, retiring after more than 20 years service. During the Korean War, he earned both the Silver Star and the Bronze Star.

Camden Courier-Post - February 24, 1936

Trapped on Ice, Dog is Rescued Only to Be Shot

Imprisoned on ice beneath a pier head at the Pennsylvania railroad ferry for several hours during which it resisted rescue attempts, a stray dog was "netted" early Saturday only to be killed by a policeman's bullet.

In some mysterious manner, the animal found its way to the shifting ice jam several yards under the pier at the south side of the ferry. Passengers of a midnight ferryboat and its crew discovered the dog's plight. Efforts to free the animal failed and police were summoned.

Attempts were made to "hook" the dog by its collar but it fought off would-be rescuers. Several times it appeared the animal would be crushed between ice floes.

Police then called Miss Florence Hughes, who is in charge of the Camden County District, S. P. C.A., and informed her of the situation. Norman Payne, 32, of 773 Mt. Vernon Street, a worker for the S. P. C. A., was called from bed at 1:45 AM. He obtained a net and went to the ferry.

Payne was lowered to the ice pack and approached the animal. After several minutes "play," while the dog snapped at him, Payne finally netted the animal and brought it out. He said the dog would have drowned if it remained under the pier when the tide rose.

After the animal was extricated, it continued to fight its captor. Ferrymen then informed Payne that it had acted viciously toward workmen and commuters before it had wandered or fell off the pier. When rescued the dog was suffering from cold. It then was decided that destruction would end its suffering and avert peril in the event the animal were mad.

Payne, who has been employed at the S. P. C. A. pound, at City Line, for seven years, has "netted" more than 2000 dogs but his latest experience was a novel one, he said. Miss Hughes said he is one of the most skillful experts in handling animals.