A new book has an intimate look at day-to-day family life in Orange during World War I from first-hand accounts. Carrie Joiner Woliver of Houston and a graduate of Stark High School, has published "The Train Stopped in Orange." She used the diaries of her grandparents, Will and Pearl Joiner, to write the book. Woliver will be at the Old Orange Cafe Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. to sign copies, which will be available for $10. Woliver found four diaries from 1917-18 in things left when her mother died. She was fascinated by the diaries and knew she needed to put together the stories. The Joiners lived at 1204 Pine, two houses from the railroad tracks and one block from the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot on Green Avenue. "That was the center of action for anybody to travel from town to town," she said. Good roads didn't exist and everyone went to the depot.
The diaries include stories about her grandparent's horse and buggy, plus their first purchase of an automobile. "There's a funny story about my grandfather going to get his first car. He saved $800 to get it," she said. She also learned how the term "joy riding" developed. The people fortunate to own a car would pick up their friends and family for a "joy ride" around town or the countryside as a type of recreation.
They didn’t have TV or radio, but the theater was popular. Woliver said her grandparents went to The Princess Theater which featured silent films and lots of live entertainment. She found a diary entry about the famous comedian and silent film star Fatty Arbuckle coming to town.
Woliver’s family also liked to hunt and fish, especially fish. She said that love has spread through the generations. She and her children love to fish. She learned that almost a century ago, hunting and fishing were more than a past-time. “My grandfather put food on the table,” she said. He would catch fish or shoot ducks and the game was immediately cleaned and cooked for the supper table.
The years of the diary cover the period when the United States joined into the fight of World War I. Pearl Cottle Joiner, Woliver’s grandmother, came from a large family. Three of Pearl’s brothers went to France to fight. They returned after the war ended, but Woliver is still curious about what they did in the war. “It was a challenge to find out what happened,” she said. She got in touch with a cousin who knew that one of the brothers stayed in Paris to take courses paid by the government and had a French girlfriend. During the two years of the diaries the world went through the pandemic Spanish flu. Will Joiner caught the disease and survived. The book includes his illness.
Woliver is a 1959 graduate of Stark High and has included her memories of growing up in Orange during the 1950s, the days of poodle skirts and petticoats. Her parents were J.D. and Katherine Joiner and they lived on the corner of Cherry and 14th streets. The book includes lots of photographs and some copies of faded newspaper clippings. She still has a number of classmates living in Orange and hopes they’ll drop by the book-signing and reception. The event is open to the public. “I know anyone who loves Orange history and the 1950s will love it,” she said.
-Margaret Toal, KOGT-