Cover image for Crossing Shattuck Bridge
Crossing Shattuck Bridge
Sanford, Annette.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Dallas : Southern Methodist University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
200 pages ; 20 cm
Mr. Moore's old car -- Crossing Shattuck Bridge -- Strangers and pilgrims -- Fo nut X -- Helens and roses -- Goose girl -- Bear the dead away -- The oil of gladness -- Housekeeping -- In the little hunky river.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Like her first collection ( Lasting Attachments , SMU 1989), Annette Sanford's new gathering of stories demonstrates her vision of the unpredictability of life and the inevitability of loss. Much of the import in these ten stories is evoked and implied, in tightly written sentences in which every word is freighted with meaning. Here again is Sanford's trademark use of a precisely choreographed segue from dialogue to action--switching without transition and without confusion from one time and scene to another--in fiction leavened always with her wry and gentle humor.

In the title story, two longtime friends returning from a funeral must find a way to cross a fog-shrouded bridge; their mutual terror loosens their tongues and they confess to each other a guilty secret they've hidden for years.

In "Housekeeping," when a storm tears a hole in Miss Eloise Bannister's rent house, the itinerant carpenter who volunteers to repair it is so capable and charming he manages to remodel Miss Bannister's life.

Author Notes

A native Texan, Annette Sanford taught high school English for many years before becoming a full-time writer. Her stories have been featured on National Public Radio and have been read in live performance at Symphony Space literary events in New York City and at the Texas Bound Literary Series in Dallas. Her stories have appeared in McCall's, Redbook, The North American Review, The Ohio Review, and Southwest Review. The recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Sanford makes her home in Ganado, Texas.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sanford's accomplished collection of 10 whimsical Southern stories permits the reader glimpses of darker themesÄdeath, lost love, unrequited passion, the loss of memoryÄbut rarely addresses them directly. In many of Sanford's (Lasting Attachments) lyrical tales, the backstory is more gripping than the main events. In the title story, two women drive carefully over a rickety old bridge on their way to an old baby-sitter's funeral; the precariousness of the crossing brings back childhood memories of the day both their mothers died after drinking well water at a picnic. In "Bear the Dead Away," a woman's mourning of an old flame's death points up her own life's stagnation. The most successful and moving stories suggest the warmth of O'Henry and the precision of Raymond Carver. A freewheeling woman startles her stuffy, reclusive cousin with old family secrets on a surprise visit in "Strangers and Pilgrims"; Esther has not seen Nola for 34 years, and what she learns from her about their respective parentage shakes all her firmly held beliefs. Some of the stories rely on the novelty of their characters' chemistry, as in "Housekeeping," in which a handsome older man moves in on a lonely single woman by fixing up a house she rents out. Sanford has a poetic way with a sentence and she writes original, off-kilter dialogue; by turns witty and exceptionally wise, her characters are always impeccably imagined. Entertaining, civilized and delicately restrained, these tales are poignantly informed by the heart's instincts and the head's acuity. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One Mr. Moore's Old Car Mr. Moore lived with his mother across the alley from our house, down on the corner.     When I played in the alley he was always polite. "Molly, how are you?"     "I'm fine, Mr. Moore."     "How is your mother?"     "She's fine. How is yours?"     Old Mrs. Moore had white hair and a cane. She was sixty. Or eighty. "And how old are you?" She had hold of my arm on a bright winter day.     "Ten," I said.     "Are you married?"     "No, ma'am."     She was married, she said, once upon a time. She set her head like a bird's. "He was gassed in France."     I hurried home with that. "What did she mean?"     "She meant her son, not her husband," said Nora, my aunt, who had bobbed her hair and looked like a crane.     "He was killed in the war," Johanna, my mother, said. "Gas was the weapon."     "Was it shot from a gun?"     "In a manner of speaking." Johanna was primping. Lipstick and powder and toilet water.     "Was Mr. Moore's brother older or younger?"     "Molly," my mother said.     "Older," said Nora. I liked her hair, but her husband didn't. He told her, Don't cut it, and she went ahead anyway.     "What was his name?"     "Thurmond," Johanna said.     "Bertram," said Nora.     I lay down on the bed and looked at a painting of ducks on a pond, "Was Mr. Moore ever married?"     "I don't think he was."     "Do you think he was, Nora?"     "No, I do not." She put on her school coat. "Who would have Mr. Moore?"     "Nora!" Johanna said.     "Johanna?" said Nora. She went out the door. My mother left too. They were going to the dressmaker and then to the store.     "Can I go?" I asked     "No," said Johanna. "You can go to the picture show." She gave me a dime, and a nickel for candy.     I went out to the kitchen to talk to Berniece. Berniece, the cook and the Grand High Matron of the African Sisterhood. Berniece was tall and wore canvas shoes with the toes cut out to make room for her corns.     "Are you making a cake?"     "Do it look like I am?" She made flat, heavy cakes. With lard, Nora said. With lead, said my father.     "Is the cake for supper?"     "Must be," said Berniece, "since we done had our dinner."     I sat on a stool. "Do you know about gas?"     "Gas," she said. "I reckon I do."     "They used gas in the war and blew up soldiers."     "I never heard that."     "My mother told me."     "Stop bumping your feets on my cabinet doors."     "I wasn't," I said, and stopped at once. "Can I taste that, Berniece?"     "If you want to get worms."     "Worms!" I said.     "That's why we got stoves." She stood back from the bowl. "Come here and stir. And don't knock nothin over." She went out to the pantry for a dip of snuff. Wet, brown stuff she kept tucked in her lip.     "Berniece," I called. "Were you ever married?"     "You stir that cake."     "Were you, Berniece?"     "How could I be? I got too much sense to tie down to that." She came back to the kitchen. "Give me that spoon and move over yonder."     "Nora's got sense--enough to teach algebra--and she got married." To Howard the Science Teacher, but they had no baby. They might never have a baby, Johanna said. She said not to mention it or Nora would cry.     "What's wrong with getting married?" I asked Berniece.     "Nothin if you wants to. Everthing if you don't."     "I think I'd like to."     "Hop to it then."     "I'm not old enough yet."     "You fourteen, aren't you?"     "Berniece! I'm ten."     "You still only ten?" She poured yellow batter into a pan. "Reach me that towel. You got everthing sticky."     "Mr. Moore could have married, but he never did. Do you know Mr. Moore?"     "Hershey Kiss Moore? Or Mr. T-Bone Moore?"     "Mr. Moore on the corner."     "Oh, that one," she said. "Got that rusting-down car." His car in the alley that we saw every day when we sat at our table. No tires, no roof, no running board either.     I said to Berniece, "I found a chicken egg in it."     "Could've found lots worse."     "I found it in the front where the driver sits down."     "He don't sit there no more. That car been parked there since before you were born."     "Why has it?" I asked.     "Why do the wind blow? It want to, that's why. Git outta the way." She shoved her cake in the oven.     "Mr. Moore on purpose let his car rust down?"     "Drove it up there, didn't he? And walked off and left it?"     "Did you see him, Berniece?"     "Most likely I did. Hadn't I always been standing here front of this window?"     "Did he have a garage then?"     "Had it same as now. That say something, don't it?"     I leaned on my elbow. "What does it say?"     "Say something the matter with him, let a garage stand empty and a car rot down."     "Do cars rot like bananas?"     "They rots like rust! Now go along, Molly. Go somewheres else."     I went down the alley to look at the car. It sat in weeds, its back end in a puddle. Rain fell on it. It never went anywhere.     "You pitiful car." I walked all around it. "You need a name."     I scooped up water. "I christen you Curtis." After Curtis Cooper, a boy in my grade.     I climbed up and sat down where the egg was laid.     Old Mrs. Moore came out on her porch. "Thurmond! Bertram!" She hollered again. "Where are you, boys?"     I went through the fence gap and into her yard.     She was out on the steps. Her hair was a mess, all stringing down. "Have you seen my boys?"     "No ma'am, I haven't." But I knew where one was, the one that was gassed that she thought was her husband. "Do you need anything that I can do?"     "Are you a nurse?"     "No ma'am, I'm a child, but I might could help. Or I'll run get Berniece if she hasn't gone home."     "Come in right now. Come into the house!"     Her cat's head was stuck in a salmon can.     When we opened the door it was clawing the drapes down. Around on the floor was everything it had broken.     "Catch her!" Mrs. Moore said.     "I'll see if I can."     I chased her all over, in and out of rooms I wanted to look at, but didn't have time to. There were pictures galore. I saw Nora in one.     I ran past Mrs. Moore. "Is that Nora?" I said.     "Who?" She was fanning, lying back in a chair.     "That girl in the photograph." I ran back and got it.     "See to the cat!" was all she could tell me.     Mr. Moore came in. "What's happening in here?"     I caught hold of his arm. "The cat stuck her head in a salmon can."     We both ran together. "Is that Nora?" I asked.     He grabbed up a shawl and captured the cat. "Hold onto this. I'll go get a hammer."     I couldn't hold on. The cat got loose, but he caught her again. He held the can with one hand and hammered with the other until he bent it crossways and her head popped out. She staggered around and went under the couch.     "Well, Molly," he said, "you saved the day." He was scratched and bleeding on his arms and his hands.     "Where is Bertram? Where is Thurmond?" old Mrs. Moore said.     "Which one are you?" I felt I could ask.     "I'm Henley," Mr. Moore said, and went after bandages.     "Is this Nora?" I said when he came back again.     He looked at the picture: my aunt and a man on the hood of a car. "Nora?" he said. "Why no, that's your mother."     "This girl is my mother? Who is this hugging her?"     "Oh, well," Mr. Moore said. "It seems to be me."     I came to the supper table ready to tell. I said, "Mr. Moore's cat caught her head in a salmon can."     "Not now," said Johanna. "We're having a toast." Howard and Nora. Johanna and Dad.     "Where is my toast?"     "Here, use your water."     "To Nora," my father said, raising his glass.     Nora turned pink.     "And to Howard," Johanna said.     "And the baby!" said Howard, pinker than Nora.     "What baby?" I asked.     Nora gave me a squeeze. "The one we're expecting."     What they did in town was to go to the doctor. It was coming in June, the doctor said. He said Nora was fine.     "Nora is fine!" Howard said. He waved his glass in the air and spilled wine on the table.     "And isn't she beautiful!" he said after that. Her hair, too, it seemed, since he smoothed his hand over it. And he kissed her right there, not caring who saw him.     I thought I'd be happy. We wanted a baby. But instead I was sad, sad and mad and prickling all over like the time I had hives from too many crabs.     "What will you name her?" Johanna said.     "June," I offered.     "June!" Nora laughed.     "Or Junior," I said.     "Junior is worse!"     I ran from the room, boohooing loudly.     "What's the matter with her?" I heard from the pantry where I flopped on the floor.     "Hurt feelings," said Howard.     "Jealous?" said Nora.     "Probably tired," Johanna said. "Those cowboy shows affect her that way."     "I didn't go to the show!" I yelled from my hideout.     If anyone loved me they'd know where I was: up in a tree for three or four hours, watching Mr. Moore as he came and went.     I wasn't called back when the cake was served, but I heard Nora say, "Why, it's fluffy and light!"     What was light, said my father, was Nora's head.     They left after that, Nora and Howard, to go to their house. Before Nora was married, when she lived with us, they put out the lights when they kissed on the couch.     I said to Johanna when I was going to bed, "I guess when you're married you can kiss anywhere."     "Within limits," she said and put her hand on my forehead.     "I don't have a fever. I'm out of sorts."     "We won't worry, then. You'll feel better tomorrow."     "I won't like Howard any better tomorrow."     She turned down the bed. "You've always loved Howard."     "I didn't tonight. He was silly and stupid. And Nora," I said, "was so full of that baby."     Johanna laughed. "She isn't full yet, but before long she will be."     "Did you kiss Mr. Moore?"     "What?" she said. She had her head in a drawer, hunting pajamas.     "He had his arm around you."     "Who?" She stood up.     "Mr. Henley Moore."     "Oh heavens," she said and sat down on my pillow.     "Their cat caught its head in a salmon can. I went in their house and helped get it out."     "What else?" she asked.     "It ran through the rooms and I saw all the pictures. I saw yours in a frame up on the dresser. You were all snuggled up with Mr. Moore."     She looked at the ceiling. "Oh Nora, I need you."     "Did he ask you to marry him?"     "No, he did not. Well, later on he did, in a roundabout way."     I cried again. "What about Daddy?"     "Molly." She held me. "This can all be explained."     "You were off by yourself with Mr. Moore! There were bushes behind you and part of a river."     "It was a Sunday School picnic. Mr. Moore was the teacher."     I caught a glimpse of that: Mr. Moore in a suit, reading the Bible.     "--and we weren't alone. Someone else was right there, someone taking the picture."     "Who? Was it Daddy?"     "It was Nora," she said.     "Where was Daddy?"     "Swimming, I think, with somebody else."     "A girl?"     "Yes, a girl. From out of town."     We both lay down and got under the covers.     "Are you hungry?" she said. "I fixed you a plate."     I wanted cake, but how would I swallow it? "Why was Daddy swimming with another girl?"     "Sweetheart," she said, "we weren't always married."     "Where was everyone else?"     "Eating and swinging on grapevine swings."     "Was Nora in a picture with Mr. Moore?"     "Sadly, she wasn't. She had a crush on Mr. Moore, but was too shy to show it."     "Did he care about Nora?"     "He liked her, of course, but not in that way."     The way he liked Johanna, and still did, I said. "He always asks me in the alley, How is your mother?"     "You ask about his mother. It's the polite thing to do."     My father came in. "Is this about over?"     "Not quite," said Johanna.     "It's ten o'clock, Jo."     "We'll be through in a minute."     When he went in the bathroom, I said to Johanna, "Did you hug Mr. Moore to make Daddy jealous?"     "I think I did, but I don't think I knew it."     "Poor Mr. Moore," I said. "Poor Nora, too."     "Come on," said Johanna. "Let's go in the kitchen."     She brought out my plate from the warming oven. Baked chicken and gravy. Potatoes and peas.     "Do I get any cake?"     "Maybe later."     "It's awful," I said. "Daddy and you."     "I know it seems awful, but really it isn't. It's the way things are done."     "Everyone does it?"     "In varying degrees. Let's do have cake." She got up and sliced it. "And a glass of milk too."     She sat down again. "You see, that's how it happens. It's how I found Daddy and Daddy found me."     "You weren't lost from each other."     "How we fell in love, I mean. You find out who you love by going out with people you never can love."     "I don't think I will."     "Wait till you're older."     "How old were you then?"     "Seventeen. Eighteen."     I ate my cake slowly. "If Nora's crush on Mr. Moore had turned into something, she would have married him and not married Howard."     "It couldn't turn into something," my mother said. "The man Nora needed was not Mr. Moore. It was someone like Howard."     "Did she know that then?"     "Deep down she did."     I was falling asleep.     "I'll tell you something else." She patted my cheek. "You will still be Nora's girl if she has three babies."     "How do you know?"     "She told me so. And Howard said this: he said give you a kiss."     "He kisses everybody."     "He didn't kiss me."     We went back to my room and I got into bed. "Was that Mr. Moore's old car you were hugging him on?"     "It wasn't old then." She turned out the light. "It was Mr. Moore's brother's, who was gassed in the war."     "Thurmond or Bertram?"     "Whichever one it was who wasn't his father."     When I went out to breakfast Berniece was there, wiping crumbs off the table. "Who been eating my cake in the middle of the night?"     "Me," I said. "I had to eat late because I couldn't eat early."     "What was you doing? Going around asking questions?"     "I was saving a cat."     She went out for snuff. Then I told her about it. And about Nora's baby and leaving the table.     "Sound like to me you got yourself in a snit."     "I'm all right today." I sat on the stool. "And I know a few things I didn't know yesterday."     "Hoo!" said Berniece. "This bacon I'm frying done popping all over!"     "Could I have some, please? Two slices of bacon and one slice of toast. I had a toast last night made out of water. Berniece," I said, "do you know about love? The falling in kind?"     "What I know I ain't telling."     "Do you know about this?" I explained how it's done when you're finding out who to marry.     "Huh," said Berniece. "Mr. T-Bone Moore gonna sure be surprised."     "Mr. Henley Moore was in love with my mother."     "Say he was," said Berniece. "That rusty car man?"     "It was his cat I saved."     "Did you ask why he done it?"     "Why he let his car rot? I didn't have time. But I figured it out."     "Tell me tomorrow."     "Why not today?"     "I about had enough for this Sunday morning."     "Just one more thing."     "Well, hurry it up."     I made her sit down and brought the toast and the bacon. While we ate I talked. "Mr. Moore," I said, "left the car in the alley because it belonged to his brother and when his brother was gassed it made him feel so bad he parked it there and gave up driving forever."     Berniece poured her coffee. "This be the man hit the cat with the hammer?"     "He didn't hit the cat. He was bending the can."     "Wonder this morning do she know the difference."     "Or--" I went on.     "Or what?" said Berniece, gathering dishes. "One thing, that's all, and you already said it."     "That was only the first part. Now you have to guess what else could have happened." I followed her to the sink. "I'll give you a hint. Think about love."     "I'm thinking about a pork roast got to go in the oven."     "Mr. Moore, remember, was in love with my mother."     Berniece ran water fill I couldn't stand it. "Guess, Berniece!"     "I guess it might could've been when your mama wouldn't have him he throwed the keys in the river and there it sits."     I jumped up and down. "Yes! That's it!"     "Naw, it ain't. That ain't the half of it."     "What do you mean?"     "You just scratchin the top. What about what's under?" She handed me a dish towel. "Dry these plates."     I had to dry the cups, too, before she would finish.     "Don't it seem mighty funny he stopped at keys? He could of run the whole thing down in the river."     I sat again on the stool. "But he didn't," I said.     "Didn't," said Berniece, "because he got bigger plans. He going to park that car in just the right spot so your mama have to look at it ever day of her life."     "That's awful, Berniece!"     "Sure awful for old Moore. He don't even know that by now she don't see it."     "I wish you hadn't told me."     "Then look at it this way." She turned her back on me. "He might of just wore out, driving that car. Or," she said and made a hiccuping sound, "he could of drove it up there and ran out of gas."     "Are you laughing?" I said. "Why are you laughing?"     "Got a little tickle down my throat."     "Snuff," I said.     "Might be it."     "Are you laughing at me?"     She broke out in cackles. "No, sugar lump. I'm laughing at love."     "The falling in kind?"     "That kind too."     "I don't think it's funny." I got down off the stool. "Tell my mother I've gone to Sunday school."     "I will," said Berniece, "and while you're at it, stop by those Moores' and see did that cat get up for breakfast." Copyright © 1999 Annette Sanford. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Mr. Moore's Old Carp. 1
Crossing Shattuck Bridgep. 17
Strangers and Pilgrimsp. 31
Fo Nut Xp. 57
Helens and Rosesp. 69
Goose Girlp. 87
Bear the Dead Awayp. 105
The Oil of Gladnessp. 123
Housekeepingp. 137
In the Little Hunky Riverp. 169