But her mother, Gussie, will not be swayed. Isaiah Montgomery, Vicksburg’s newest, wealthiest, coal-black complexioned store owner, is more than welcome to come courting her daughter. “She’ll Find Her Way Home” is a fictionalized account of the courtship of Martha and Isaiah Montgomery, the historical founders of the African-American town of Mound Bayou, Mississippi.
“Like August Wilson’s scenes of blacks at home and at leisure, these moments have the natural, artless flow of life itself. And below the easygoing horseplay, the historical context creates an undertow of suspense, for these are the lonely advance scouts on a perilous journey from slavery into an alien white world.” (Dan Hulbert, Theater Critic, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, February 6, 1991. )
“Jomandi Productions’ “She’ll Find Her Way Home” Hits Home… Anderson fingers something vitally important that all too often gets overlooked, pushed aside, –benignly censored from African American theater. Hats off to her for writing a love story about how an African American man and woman are able to work through difficulties, and learn to trust each other.” (Angela E. Chamblee, Theater Review, The Atlanta Voice, February 16, 1991.)
From the Play
Martha: Martha Robb is in her mid teens with features and complexion distinctly European, like Halle Berry. She has been totally protected from any of life’s realities by both a master/father she barely remembers and her mother, Gussie.
Gussie: Gussie Robb, a seamstress, is in her early 30s, a mere 15 years older than her daughter, Martha. She is a beautiful, mulatto woman, like Lena Horn, who had been “well kept” by her former owner, Martha’s father, and has learned to prosper through adverse circumstances.
Thomas: Thomas Siefred is the unclaimed son of his former master. A few years older than Martha, Thomas has been her lifelong friend. But his brotherly love has grown romantic and he is impatient for her to feel the same.
Beth: Elizabeth Ann Lincoln is the daughter of the community’s self ordained minister with nearly pure African ancestry. Her father’s determination for her success has created a persona that is desperate for security and acceptance. She is a jealously competitive friend of Martha.
Isaiah: Isaiah Montgomery is Thomas’s age, well educated, well traveled and hard working with no European blood in his ancestry. The former slave of Joseph Davis, the brother of defeated Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Isaiah’s family owns three Mississippi cotton plantations, including the former home of Jefferson Davis.
Place: Vicksburg, Mississippi
From Act I – Scene 3
The Scene: The Robb home’s backyard, early evening after dinner.
Beth: You’re going to judge him by his master? Who was your master, Thomas? Does it still matter?
Thomas: It would, if he gave me a store, instead of the back of his hand.
Gussie: Now we ain’t going to let them days spoil things, tonight, are we?
Isaiah: It’s just that…
Martha: It’s just what, Isaiah?
Isaiah: My Pa built our first three stores. Thornton reopened them, after the war and is branching out with this one. My family’s built everything we’ve got.
Thomas: Your Pa opened them, “before” the war? Sounds like your Pa’s white as ours… except for you, Beth. (to Isaiah) Wouldn’t of thought it, to look at you. Your Pa must’ve took a liking to you, like Martha’s Pa took to her. Who’d of thought it, black as your are? Well, I’ll just be damned!
Beth: (whispers) Oh, Thomas, let it alone.
Gussie: And watch your mouth.
Isaiah: Most folks say I look just like him… color and all.
Thomas: You’re saying your Pa’s black?
Isaiah: That’s exactly what I’m saying.
Thomas: (to Gussie) Well it still looks like you invited the wrong Montgomery, Aunt Gus, black or not.
Gussie: Now, both of you, that’s enough!
Beth: (points to sky) Look there! The moon’s up!
Martha: She’s full, tonight, Mama.
Beth: She ain’t full yet. Give her another day. Did you see her, last night? Wasn’t she pretty?
Thomas: (to Isaiah) Somebody should’ve warned you. All three of them’s moon watchers. The moon tells them ’bout the river and weather both. (ruffles Beth’s hair, ghostly) Ooh, ooh, ooh!
(Beth swats at Thomas with her fan.)
Isaiah: Lots of folks use the moon. Don’t know a planter, who don’t. I mean real planters. Not those Yankee “investors,” who’ve swarmed down here, thinking the land’s going to make them rich, without getting their hands dirty.
Thomas: A lot of them’s ex-Union soldiers, I heard. Farmers wanting to be planters.
Isaiah: Places change hands so quick, no one’s tending the ground. All they’re after is one or two good harvests. Then sell, quick, before the dirt wears out and the levees give way. (beat) But I was gonna tell you how the Navy goes by the moon.
Thomas: Aunt Gus said she’s heard enough about the war, remember? (to Gussie) Maybe you’ll tell us, how those biscuits got so high. You still setting the flour out in the moonlight? (to Isaiah) She used to do that all the time.
Beth: There you go, again, talking that nonsense!
Thomas: Maybe it ain’t nonsense. That’s what I’m asking! (crosses to Isaiah) This ain’t bothering you, none, is it? You ain’t a superstitious man?
Isaiah: No more than most.
Thomas: Good. You know what I think?
Beth: God, Himself don’t know what’s on your mind.
Thomas: I think you grow the secret. (points to garden) A few grindings of some root you got growing out there.
Isaiah: If so, can I take some home to Mama? Don’t tell her I said so, but her biscuits ain’t near ’bout high as yours.
Gussie: Neither are mine. Martha made the biscuits.
Beth & Thomas: Martha?!
Thomas: Well I’ll be! You finally learned to cook.