Tommy Smith grew up with thirteen brothers and sisters in a Coney Island bungalow. Their father worked at a number of bars around town and Tommy began working around town at an early age too. He learned to make egg creams and frappes at Dick's Candy Store on 36th and Mermaid Ave. Growing up poor, he figured out which carnival games and rides gave the most for their ticket price, and those became his favorites. He describes visits to Steeplechase Park with his brothers and sisters, finding ways to get on rides for free. He never worked up the courage to go on the Parachute Jump, but did finally go on the Cyclone roller coaster to impress a girl he wanted to date. It didn't work out with the girl, but Smith still loves the Cyclone.