STORIES FROM JOE DOCTOR: TULARE COUNTY'S COUNTRY JOURNALIST
compiled by Alan G. George and Terry L. Ommen,
2017, Tulare County Historical Society
What would you like to know about Tulare County? How about where in the local mountains a plane landed? Hint: It was on a lake. At over 10,000 feet elevation.
Or perhaps there’s finally an answer to the mystery of how the bedrock basins were created that are sprinkled across the southern Sierra’s mid-elevations.
These stories and many more are contained in a recently published book that reprints some of the prolific writings of Joe Doctor (1911-1995), who wrote for many years on all things local and historic. Joe’s history isn’t the dry stuff of academia. It is first and second-hand accounts.
Many are sagas that would have been forgotten, told by the people who were there or just once removed from the events. But they live on because Joe had the foresight to write them down.
Joe, who came to Tulare County from Kansas as a teenager in 1925, lived in Three Rivers for a time with his wife, Mabel, and their five children in, fittingly, the most historic house in town: the Barton/Pierce place at the confluence of the Middle and North forks of the Kaweah River. His daughter, Julie Doctor, continues to reside in Three Rivers, just upriver from the Doctor family’s former home.
The Tulare County Historical Society saw the value in reprinting these works from their president emeritus who was also one of the founders of the group. And Tulare County residents are the beneficiaries of having all this history packed into a 158-page, indexed book, which reads like a… Well, just pick a favorite genre and there’s a Joe Doctor story for that – suspense, crime drama, detective fiction, mystery, legal thriller, tragedy, melodrama, Western, comedy.
Joe even touches on women’s history, describing some of Tulare County’s first women journalists. Among them are Virginia Williams and Juanita Pusateri of Three Rivers.
Stories From Joe Doctor: Tulare County’s Country Journalist is a collection of four dozen stories, just a thimble-full of his writings, thoughtfully compiled by his friends and fellow local-history aficionados Alan G. George and Terry L. Ommen, both of Visalia. Meet them and some of Joe’s offspring and pick up a copy of the book at a reception on Sunday, March 26, on what would have been Joe’s 106th birthday. The event will be from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Exeter Historical Gallery and Museum (125 South B St.).
Joe has written much about historic events and inhabitants of the flatlands, but he had a fondness for the foothills of his home county and those sky-high mountains beyond. Captain Charles Young, Judge Walter Fry, and Ben Harris grace the pages with their mountain exploits and milestones.
There are plenty of Three Rivers anecdotes with antagonists including rattlers and raging rivers. There are tales of Yokuts, the Kaweah Colony, the building of the flumes, Mineral King, the CCCs, and the Giant Forest Winter Carnival.
The hardcover book retails for $24.99. It is available online at www.tularecountyhistoricalsociety.org, at The Book Garden bookstore on Exeter’s main street, or can be purchased at Joe’s birthday-party-a-la-book-release-reception this weekend.