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The loud wail of the train whistle pierced the night at my grandmother's house. The enormous steam locomotive rattled the windows as it thundered past only a hundred feet away. Exciting thoughts of adventure far beyond my hometown of Orange, Texas, bubbled in my mind. This is more than a memoir, it is a portrait of Americana.Train depots were bustling centers of activity, but even more so early in the 29th century when my grandparents were raising their family.I discovered four valuable diaries from 1917-18 written by my grandparents after the death of my mother. These journals held such a rich treasure trove of history that I knew I had to share them with others.Will and Pearl Joiner lived in Orange in 1917 when it was a lively community with a large lumber and shipbuilding industry. Will was a banker and Pearl was a homemaker. Their diaries provide first hand account of family life and daily life including outings, theater visits, illnesses, and many fishing trips. Life was simpler then. Says Pearl in her diary, "In the afternoon we took a long walk, took the buggy to Mama and Papa's and let them have a nice ride." But their lives were not without challenge. Will became ill with Spanish influenza in the winter of 1918, at the same time millions of people across the globe died in this pandemic. Will, luckily, survived to provide for his young family.Their personalities emerge from the excerpts printed in these pages. "I caught fever today...car fever, not typhoid," Will writes and the next day he bought his first car: $875 of his "hard-earned cash." Pearl, a nurturing, loving mother, was always talking about her large family, the Cottles, many who congregated on their front porch to chat. Will constantly checked the weather for perfect fishing conditions, and brought home a string of freshly caught fish every week for their maid to fry up.My childhood memories of growing up near my grandparents are part of the narrative. The 1950s with poodle skirt and tons of petticoats are truths of my life. The record player spun songs by The Platters, Sam Cooke, Johnny Mathis, and, of course, Elvis Presley. Girls' slumber parties were popular in high school when the only mischief was puffing on an occasional cigarette or gossiping about classmates.In the fifties, "making out" referred to how you did on your school exam. "Grass" was what you mowed, "coke" was what you ordered at Zack's drive in, and "pot" was something your mother cooked carrots in.Many family photos, historical Orange photos, and weathered clippings found within the pages of the old diaries are peppered throughout the book. The saying of the Joiner's favorite humorist, Will Rogers, are featured at the beginning of every chapter.The diaries of the Joiners are an honest, unembellished key to our understanding of the past, providing valuable clues about how people lived in a small town in Texas in 1917-18. Readers will enjoy this simpler, yet colorful slice of history and my cherished memories of time gone by.