Claudes employee

Sammy is about 17 years old. She’s had a rough time no one knows about but her— her father is stricty religious, a Southern strain of fundamentalist that brooks no dispute from children— God is to be feared more than loved, and you can’t say you’re serving him properly unless you are miserable. Her white father Thomas dominated her black/Spanish mother (Josefina) so thoroughly that Josefina had to die young to get away from him. When she died, her 8 year old daughter was ruled with stern authority— not beaten, but emotionally beaten down by her intransigent father. He ignored his daughter’s tender, creative spirit and quick wit, claiming that these, her best traits, were really just willfulness and a love of mischief.

Sammy was a tomboy that loved playing, loved reading, loved colors (but was denied the paints and chalk she craved); she tried hard to ignore her own free-spirited self, but in the end she tired of being accused for nothing and found some satisfaction from getting into small scrapes and mischief. After butting heads with her father one too many times, she was permanently grounded by him, allowed to leave the house only for church, taken out of school. Within a week of her confinement, she escaped through the window and ran away, only to be brought back home in 3 days.

Luckily, Claude Moss— known as Uncle Claude though he was no relation, bound only by duty to the remaining family of his old benefactor Sally— heard about the trouble and offered to find Sammy a suitable place to stay, and work to keep her honest. Thomas, her frustrated father, was ready to be done with her for a while by this time, even if he worried about her soul should she be away from his care; and Thomas’ new girlfriend Ameline was putting pressure on him. Ameline was younger, dirt-poor with higher social aspirations but very pretty and well turned out. As soon as Sammy left, she and Thomas married; thus Sammy would not be on her father’s mind for a while. She was glad to get away from him and Ameline, and had been fond of Claude her whole life, though shy of him. Thomas justifies his abandonment of his daughter’s care by telling himself that she will at least learn a skill. In reality, he is relieved to have her out of his hair.

Sammy is slim and wiry, but her face has the delicate bone structure of a Modligiani sculpture, with a wide brow, large sensitive eyes, and a thin-lipped, shy smile and skin like cafe au lait.Her fragile appearance belies the strength of her character- she has a fiery temper that she has learned to keep under tight control, due to her upbringing. She delights in color and water, preferring to read, swim, fish or climb trees to dressing up and doing dainty “girl” activities. Although she was a fast learner, she didn’t do as well in school as she might have; her father kept her from class as punishment, and her many absences caused her to be held back. As it stands, when she gets to New Orleans, she has two months of work left to graduate from 8th grade. Although that is farther than most girls from her area ever got, Sammy dreams the near-impossible dream of college— art school, maybe, or architecture. She has dreams, she has ideas— she has a room in Claude’s friend Jade’s boarding house. Claude will make a small food donation for her keep each month, and Sammy will be giving a fifth of her pay to stay. It’s still not much, but Jade is a good woman, a mother herself, and this is her favorite form of charity— helping kids stay on The Right Path. Hopefully she won’t be too pushy about it as time goes, because Sammy needs the mothering Jade can provide. Luckily, jade needs her too— she has two sons, no girl to relate to.

Their relationship is in the early stages, but it has begun as a warm, shy creature, with plenty of good will on both sides.

Sammy shows her gratitude for Claude’s generosity by paying sharp attention to his lessons in the restaurant; already she is adept at basic food prep, is quickly surpassing his second grill cook, and is blossoming out of her shyness a little as a server. She is a smart girl, who may have the world by the tail someday, given this chance. If only she can apply herself to her school studies, she may be accepted into Dillard in a year or so.



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