Sammy, That Sag Harbor Rascal

Written By: Terry  Sullivan

Sammy, ThatSag HarborRascal

By Terry Sullivan


Sammy was a nervy little rascal who wasn’t bothered by killing. Some said


it was because he was black, but there’s many a superstition about black cats


and their connection to death, mostly as omens. Sammy was my neighbor


Kate’s cat, who loved to stalk birds from the shadows; so I used to chase him


from my yard with my imitation of Donald Duck screaming, “ You Bastid!”


He came to hate that phrase, based on his body language, as he ran away,


shaking his head as if to say, “Okay, Okay already.”


Sure Sammy was a pest, chasing the birds I had attracted by my two bird


feeders, landscaping and year-round fresh water supply, but he couldn’t help


himself, it was his nature to kill and he did it well. That’s why someone said


he was named after “Sammy the Bull,” Gravano, who only admitted to 19


murders at the John Gotti trial; Sammy the cat could do that in a month.


While walking out my door one day, I saw a flying chipmunk bouncing


off the side of my large oak tree, followed by a shadow ten times his size.


“Oh NO, Sammy,” I screamed as I leapt off the stoop just in time to dis-


tract him mid-air as he was gaining on the chipmunk. His paws skidded in


the gravel path as Sammy hung a left and the chipmunk headed straight to


live another day.


That was just dumb luck, being able to catch him mid-flight, in the act,


for no matter how many times I chased him out of my yard, within hours


he’d be back. Sitting in the garden, relaxing by the fountain, waiting for


slow birds; he was telling me I might own my yard, but it was his killing


ground, and he was proud of it. He had nothing to be ashamed of, as Mark


Twain said, “ Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to.”


I admired Sammy, in a way he reminded me of myself as a wild child/


alleged adult. The more I tried to police my yard the more brazen he became


waiting in the shadows under the evergreen tree, by the bird feeder, where


some birds scour the ground for seeds, dropped by sloppy birds at the feeder.


Next door my neighbor Kate had a very different perspective, as Sammy


was the cute little lovable cat she had saved from the gallows of Animal


Control, by going to Elsa’sArk, run by Pat Lillis, an Irish woman with a


heart of gold and a benevolent boarding house for a menagerie of furry


orphans. She deserves a bundle of funding and a glowing biography for her


tireless, selfless service to the least powerful among us: the pets that are


treated like so much trash by those who abandon them.


Kate’s Sammy was the guy who came flying in the door, up onto the


counter top, and onto the back of the couch, he was always flying ; was he


flying for joy or was he practicing his predator dance in the air? She said his


body had changed over the years, getting thinner and longer, and I must


admit at fourteen years of age he looked like a long distance runner, long


and lean like a tiny panther. Even though Sammy was a rascal, if you’ve


ever had a pet, you know they grab a special little piece of your heart for


good. Even though Kate was embarassed by his bird harvesting, he wasn’t;


and the bird corpses he brought to her, he thought of them as presents. Kate


just didn’t have the same taste in “dining al fresco.”



Sammy was killed last night, in the middle of the night by someone spee-


ding down a street eight houses long. How much speed do you need on a


street so short, it’s just damn reckless? It’s not like they’re going through