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Olive Miriam Johnson

At last I have finished writing the memoir about my maternal grandmother.

Had I written this book fifty years ago, it would have been far more revealing. Olive, my maternal grandmother and Nanna as she was known to the close family, was alive and could have answered many of my questions in the blink of an eye. My great uncles Archie and Bob could have helped fill in missing details, and my mother was there to tell me about her early life in Great Yarmouth.

Fifty years on, that golden window of opportunity to discover more about the person who probably influenced my life the most, has been missed. There is nobody left to ask.

Although when I started my research I had little knowledge of my maternal ancestry, a few facts had become vivid memories. They may have been vivid, but I soon discovered they were not necessarily accurate. Of most help was a small and battered brown suitcase, probably a century old, containing a few documents and photographs accumulated after Olive’s death in the late 1970s and the untimely passing of my mother in 1982.

Inside the suitcase, which had rested in our loft for longer than I can remember, were two old address books, a birthday book (these were fairly common through the first half of the twentieth century but lost their popularity to cheap throwaway diaries), and an autograph book dating back to the First World War. Also inside were various receipts, some photographs (including one of my great grandmother stuck onto wood so it would stand up by itself), wills and certificates of births, marriages and deaths.  At the bottom of the case was a poignant document that entitled Olive a burial plot in Caister Cemetery alongside her first husband.

Researching and writing this account of Nanna’s life, and touching on the lives of her close relatives, triggered lots of memories for me which were long forgotten. It also brought to light a few incidents, some happy and others quite tragic, that I was not aware of and believe that my mother probably didn’t know about either.

Sadly, there are no close family members left to share the memories with, but at least the record is there for posterity and serves to keep memories of Nanna alive.

If anyone would like to read it, the book is available in e-Book format from Amazon here.

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