The Boy Jim spent the early years of his life in Leland, Mississippi, a place which was described by
 George M. Moreland in the Memphis Commercial Appeal as, an exquisite little city, and 
speaking of Deer Creek wrote, I saw its emerald-splashed banks with shrubs and flowers 
growing, winding like a beautiful park through the city.

It was here on the banks of Deer Creek that his love of nature developed as he swam, fished 
and gathered frogs, turtles and snakes which became his pets. He was also fascinated with 
birds with the purple grackle as his favorite. He gathered pictures of birds for a scrapbook he 
made and began to draw during his pre-school years. He was eager to join his older brother
 Paul Jr. at school in order to learn how to sign his name on his art work.

It was also here that as a Cub Scout project, he participated in his first puppet show. Each of 
the boys either bought or made a puppet for their original production which was greatly 
enjoyed by the audience.

He attended Leland Elementary School through the sixth grade where music, dancing and art 
had recently been added to the curriculum. James, as he was then called, did well in school excelling in art. He had many friends, one of whom, Kermit Scott, later became famous as the source of the name of the world’s most famous frog.

In 1948 the family was transferred to Maryland by the USDA where his father, Paul Sr.
 continued his work as an agronomist specializing in soy bean research. Although Jim was only 
in Leland during his formative years, he always considered it home and christened it,