Tom was born in the small town of Nickerson, Kansas, and for the first few years of his life, he lived with his family in a railroad boxcar – a boxcar. His mother tried with what little they had to make it seem like something else, but it was undeniably a boxcar. Neither of his parents finished high school, and the family struggled for necessities.
The Black family moved into an old two-bedroom house where Tom shared a room with his sister. The house had one tiny bathroom and one gas stove for heat.
Tom never realized he was one of the poor kids until one day in 7th grade when some of his classmates were making fun of his clothes. From that moment on, he realized one thing – he never wanted to be poor again; he never wanted to wonder if he’d ever have new clothes to wear; he wanted to taste what “significant” was. He wanted a better life.