Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Dear Diary.....

 
I found this diary in amongst a job lot of books I bought at a jumble sale many years ago. 



It belonged to a young woman named Laura Johnson who was employed as a local housemaid back in the 1920's. 



Enclosed within the diary were some snapshots of what must have been Laura, her mother and her sister, Molly.


The diary has lots of fascinating insight into Laura's life including eating "brains on toast" for tea, paying the chimney sweep, knitting and visiting the cinema.


At the back of the diary is the following heartbreaking story, written by Laura about the death of her beloved sister, Molly in December 1928.

"Molly came home with her thumb badly cut. She went back to work in the afternoon but at night she complained of pains in her head. Mother sent out for the doctor who said that she had the 'flu. She raved all the week with the dreadful pain in her head and ears. When the doctor came on the following Monday he said that she had an abscess, which broke on Tuesday after poulticing. I shall never forget the way that Molly suffered. She got weaker each day until she couldn't bear us to move her whilst we made the bed or washed her.
It broke my heart when her eyesight went, she'd asked me to sit with her & said that she couldn't see me.
The Doctor came on the Sunday and said that the only chance was for her to have an operation immediately. The ambulance came to fetch her and I thought that I would go out of my mind. I went to the hospital with her. When we got there the sister said that she was seriously ill and her temperature was 104. Her groans as they were putting her to bed were nearly too much to bear. How I wished it had been me to suffer God's Will. I would have readily given my life for my little sister, I loved her so much.
Mother & I went to see her the following Tuesday. We had a telegram from the sister and we went straight to the hospital on Friday. She passed away at 6.30pm. Her last words to me were "Take me home and don't leave me".
She was brought home in her coffin and looked beautiful, like an angel. It seemed almost a sin to bury her when the day came for us to part with her for ever. It was awful when they put her in that deep grave, I felt like going in with her.
I have only visited her grave once with Mother. When I go again I shall feel like digging her up.
I miss her and to think that I shall never see her again drives me mad."


27 comments:

  1. Oh that's utterly heartbreaking. What a truly fascinating piece of social history though. Such a shame that the family it belonged to gave it away - if I had anything like that in my family there's not a chance it would leave me!

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  2. What an amazing find, the story of her sisters death is so sad, it sounds like a different world. Each time i come to your blog i love it more and more xx

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  3. How incrediably sad, and how lucky we all are now with access to medicines whenever we need them. What a beautiful post x

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  4. Such a horribly sad tale Vix, but how wonderful, in a way, that it's now been rediscovered. It reminds me that even in modern times, septicaemia (that's what it sounded like) can take a huge toll - one of my father's friends lost both legs to it a few years ago after having an ingrown toenail removed.

    Books can be such tangible reminders of the times left behind...

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  5. How incredibly heartbreaking to read and amazing that you found this diary, a fascinating piece of this persons history.
    I am always amazed at some of the items you can find at jumble sales! x

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  6. What a treasure! Both the content and the "package"!

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  7. Wow. Thank you for sharing that. It is beautiful and heartbreaking.

    I always wanted to find an old journal! So amazing.

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  8. Vix, I am astounded by how amazing this is. I'm fascinated by diaries and have kept one since I was 7 - this is just so inspiring and utterly magical. Would you mind if I included it in a blog about diary-keeping in general? It's something I've had on my blog topics list for ages but haven't got round to writing yet. I think this post from you would fit perfectly.

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  9. As a history junkie this post has made my day-thank you :)
    peace
    prettyneons X

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  10. Oh that is so awful, and brings back personal memories too. I know how that poor girl must have been suffering.
    Is there anyway you can trace the family, it seems so wrong for them not to have it.
    Vicki xxx

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  11. This is such an amazing find, incredible and such a sad story about Molly and Laura.

    X xx

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  12. What an amazing treasure you found, yet what a harrowing story enclosed within it!

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  13. What a completely amazing thing to find! Such a sad story. I think Vicki has a good plan.

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  14. Thank you for sharing this poignant real life account.
    Unfortunately social history is often overlooked in the history schoolbooks, where more attention is being paid to the endless recollection of dates & the boisterous recounting of battles won.
    In my personal opinion there is nothing more important than remembering what life was really like for people in general & not just for the overlords.

    I've never found anything quite so intimate as this but I do regularly come across things like old photo albums with handwritten captions, postcards & the odd bundle of letters.

    ...xXx

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  15. My gosh, how amazing that you discovered it...when things like that happen, I believe it happens for a reason. Perhaps it was intended for you to find that diary.

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  16. Oh that is sad.
    Wonderful to find a little piece of someone's history , very precious
    xxx

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  17. My goodness,how heartbreaking,and how incredible to be in possession of such a precious thing!Looks like we are all very moved.Lovely of you to share that!
    Antiques Road Trip sounds brillant!!Utter bliss!If it was a competition,you would win it,hands down!!
    Helga XXX

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  18. olala j'adore les vieilles photos, les vieux livres ^^ it's so cute and romantic

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  19. Hi there-what an intense and heartfelt diary, its so nice that you have it as I know it will be treasured.

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  20. As everyone has already said, this is heartbreaking. Poor Molly and what she must have suffered. I thank god that we have modern technology.

    And a great find, so interesting and a real piece of history.

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  21. That's such an incredibly sad but beautiful story. So touching.

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  22. Thanks so much for your comments. I'm sorry if the post upset anyone. The passage (which I condensed a little) brings a tear to my eye each time I read it.
    Jay, a very kind reader, emailed me with some great links. We've discovered that Laura was born in 1906 and that at the time of the 1911 census she shared her home with 8 siblings (Molly wasn't born at this time).
    As she lived locally I'm planning on a trip to her address to see if her home still stands, if it is I'll take a photo.
    If I find out more I promise to share it.
    Vix
    xxx

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  23. this is such a treasure. such a beautiful treasure.

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  24. Wow, what a find!
    Bought a tear to my eye. Glad this fell into your hands though, as someone who actually appreciates it :)

    www.heart-shaped-bruise.blogspot.com

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  25. That is a truly touching story, really does choke you up. What a fascinating piece of history you have ended up with. So lovely to think of her story, albeit a sad one, being relived after all these years.

    x

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  26. Wow. I would truly love to find something like that! So interesting and such an insight into a somebodys life. Thanks for sharing :)

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  27. I wasn't blogging when you posted this. What a heartbreaking story.

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Love from Vix
xxx