Burton (Burt) was born on November 16, 1923; the third of four children to JamesT. and Mary McGlynn in North Minneapolis. Burt never knew his grandfather; J.T.'s dad. Burt had two sisters, Jean and Peggy, and one brother, Dick, who was older. When he was five or six the family moved to 40th Street and Upton Avenue in South Minneapolis.
In 1929, following the stock market crash, Burt remembered many of the houses in the family's neighborhood were empty or for sale; some people were renting. He remembered people talking about handed down clothing. J.T. had the bakery business at that time, so he earned a living - more people were struggling much more than the McGlynn's were. He would bring fresh baked bread home in the afternoon from the bakery; Burt and his older brother would pull a wagon around the neighborhood to sell the fresh bread. The family was middle class, and always had plenty of food on the table. J.T. would buy new cars and the children heard talk of poor times, but didn't feel it themselves.
Burt went to kindergarten at Lake Harriet School. The school was two blocks from his house. First through eighth grade he went to St. Thomas Elementary School on 44th Street and Vincent Avenue
in south Minneapolis. In the wintertime, there was a park about three blocks away and young Burt often ice skated there. There were five parks that held joint speed skating competitions. Burt had long blades on his skates, and played some hockey. He also played road hockey in the winter. In those days there wasn't much car traffic, so the streets would get covered with snow and would be so for 3-4 weeks at a time, so the neighborhood boys would play road hockey, stopping when cars came by. Chunks of snow were the goals. There was an ice hockey rink at the school and some of the older kids played hockey, but Burt got into the speed skating. He even participated in a big race at Powderhorn Park. By about fifth grade, most boys were a lot taller than Burt - one Saturday at the beginning of the race season he got into a race and was beat badly - everyone was six inches or a foot taller than him! He intentionally fell down so he could say he fell ... instead of losing. After that he quit speed skating, he did not like losing!