Friday, May 9, 2008

Jim Johnson: A Polio Survivor

Over the past several years, I’ve been writing an autobiography that really didn’t start out that way. I had polio as a child. I contracted the dreaded disease in June, 1948, about three months prior to my fourth birthday. During the 1990’s, I started to write a small article for the Polio Survivors’ Newsletter about my experiences related to my living with the after effects of polio. However, before I finished the article, the Polio Survivors’ Newsletter was discontinued. So, what started out as a 2-3 page condensed article is now up to about 25 pages and chronicles some of the highlights and lowlights) of my life. Because I have tried to make it as accurate as possible, it is by no means a ‘fluff’ piece of journalism. I’ve tried to balance the good and the not so good. By the time I finish, I’ll probably have enough material for a small book, but I have no plans to publish it.

Although my writing refers to many of the problems I have faced as a polio survivor, it also details many of the things I have been able to accomplish in my life, the most important of which is raising a happy family and achieving some measure of success in my business life. I was an only child who was born to parents who were over thirty years of age at the time of my birth. Nearly all of my relatives on both sides of my family were also much older than comparative relatives of kids my age. My father died shortly after I turned 18 and my mother passed away when I was 29. Both sets of grandparents died before I was a teenager. In fact, I never knew my Grandfather Johnson who died long before I was born. Sadly, I don’t know as much about my family history as I would like although I have done a bit of research. I wish I had learned more, but you really don’t think of those things when you are young and your parents are there to tell you; at least I didn’t.

So, my autobiography has evolved into something that I can leave to my kids and grandkids so they will know a little something about their heritage. Owen Rader’s ‘History of Elnora 1885 – 1985’ has been invaluable in adding a bit of knowledge about my family history. I am a direct descendent of Andrew Hannah who came to Elnora in 1816 (long before it was Elnora) and the Hannahs are prominently featured in Owen’s book. I’ve also found out a little bit regarding the Johnson side of the family but, unfortunately, I don’t know as much about them as I should.

Since I left Elnora, I graduated from Purdue in January, 1966. I began my career as an accountant for the now-defunct National Homes Corporation in Lafayette, Indiana. In 1972, my family and I moved to Indianapolis where I started my thirty-five year employment with Citizens Gas & Coke Utility, retiring in 2007 as manager/CEO of the Citizens Gas Credit Union. My wife Carol and I have been married for nearly forty-two years and we have two sons, a daughter, and eight grandchildren. We all live in the Indianapolis area.

I look forward to writing some short recollections of my life growing up in Elnora. These were some of the happiest times of my life, and I think of them often. I love reading Carroll Vertrees’ articles in the Odon Journal and while I certainly don’t put myself in his league, I do enjoy writing.

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