Main Street in the town of Kingfisher, Oklahoma, around the time of Sam's birth, in 1918.
Sam was born in the rural town of Kingfisher, in central Oklahoma, in 1918. He and his brother, James “Bud” Walton, born in 1921, grew up during the Great Depression of the 1930s. As Sam said, “this heartland area ... was hard hit in that Dust Bowl era.” To find work, their father, Thomas Gibson Walton, moved his family from Oklahoma into Missouri and from town to town. Sam helped his mother, Nancy, run a small milk business. He milked cows in the morning and delivered milk and newspapers after school.
Sam and Bud
Nancy Walton always said that her dearest wish was that her sons would stay close to each other. Sam and Bud enjoyed their relationship; they played together as children, went to the same schools until college, held similar jobs, and both served in the military during World War II. Later, Bud would work at Sam’s first variety store in Newport, Arkansas, and then become a cofounder of Walmart. It was a loving and loyal partnership that lasted all their lives.
I learned from a very early age that it was important for us kids to help provide for the home, to be contributors rather than just takers.