Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 1, Number 1, Spring, 1989 Page: 39
This periodical is part of the collection entitled: Legacies: a History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the Dallas Historical Society.
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Other Stories, by the late Winifred M. Sanford,
are two welcome additions to the literature of
Dallas Stories is a collection of extremely
well-written and at times provocative stories that
present a city living with a burdensome past and
an occasionally troubling present. The collection
begins with "The Prince of Dallas," a story about
the devastating effect of the Kennedy assassination,
not only to the image of the city but to the
shattered idealism of an entire generation as well.
The importance of this collection is Terry's
ability to uncover the everyday ambiguities of
Dallas life (or anywhere for that matter), whether
attending a Cowboys football game or playing
tennis; he portrays a way of life that on the surface
appears to be enviable, yet the participants
are unsatisified, sometimes tragically so. Never
is this more evident than in "The Wind," a story
about a wife's struggle to find herself. The
dialogue and detail ring true, at the same time
celebrating success and its accoutrements while
echoing its hollowness. And while this all sounds
moribund, it is not. Remarkably, Terry infuses
a very subtle wit throughout.
Terry is not afraid to delve into the experimental.
Some of the stories present difficult
narratives, particularly "What Ever Happened to
Danny McBride," but the reader is rewarded for
his efforts. The most playful stylistically, and the
story Terry himself calls the most experimental,
is "Gretta, Claude, and Sally," in which the lives
of three distinctly different characters connect in
both an obscure and a somehow meaningful
fashion. All of the pieces in Dallas Stories are
worthy of serious attention.
Winifred Sanford's publishing career was a
short one - just six years - but it produced
some startling stories. Half of Windfall and
Other Stories portrays life in rural Northern
Minnesota, and half reflects her observations
after moving to Texas - an oil booming Texas
- in the 1920s. She stopped publishing in 1931.
The collection's first story, "Wreck," was also
her first published piece (in fact, the stories appear
in order of their publishing date). In a story
set along Lake Superior during a raging ice
storm, a ship has run aground. The female protagonist
is working out a love dispute with one
of the rescuers, while a rival suitor slowly freezes
on the deck of the troubled ship. Mixing the horror
of man against elements with romantic tension
is both powerful and evocative. Nature can
intervene in the cruelest ways.
The title story, "Windfall," is perhaps the
strongest. A Texas farm family has struck oil and
the locals are gathering to watch. The mother can
only think of having to live up to new expectations,
and she worries that her son's moral fibre
will be jeopardized by new wealth. "Windfall"
offers the clearest example of Ms. Sanford's
powerful ability to show the dark side of obsession,
luck, and apparent good fortune. "Wealth
at what cost?" her stories ask. In "Fever in the
South," a character wonders about the future of
a black family who through ignorance and fear
sold their farm and the rights to the oil
underneath it for a pittance. However, these
observations are not heavy handed and overt,
but are intertwined in some very good fiction.
What stands out the most about these stories
is the prose employed in the telling, the sheer
writing ability. No matter the character or tone,
and they vary dramatically from story to story,
the dialogue and description evoke marvelous
images of people, time and place. Ms. Sanford
ended her writing career at 41 when she moved
from Wichita Falls to Dallas. That she lived to
be 93 makes us wonder about the stories we
might have had (she reportedly burned a novel
she was working on), yet there is joy in experiencing
the stories in this volume.
- Dan Baldwin
Dallas County Heritage Society
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Dallas County Heritage Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 1, Number 1, Spring, 1989, periodical, 1989; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35122/m1/41/: accessed June 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.