Chapter 1: Beginnings

The fields surrounding young Tom Malloy‘s house began at his front door. They stretched for what seemed to be miles to the small, observant boy. Upon the Malloy family’s one hundred acres of sharecropped soil, little Tom was allowed to wander through the rows of tobacco, corn, string beans, cabbage, and other vegetables. Two pigs, many chickens, and one horse roamed the spacious terrain. They were treated as beloved family pets. Tom relished it when the creatures frolicked at the sound of his and his brothers’ voices. Even the poorest black family in town used their own animals for sustenance, however. So most pets had to be bid farewell before long. “Those were the days when you cut your own wheat,” reminisces Tom today. No one could imagine that this small southern farm boy would one day sketch countless scenes and receive recognition before grand audiences—not even the curious youngster himself.