Despite the serious command with which the notebook begins, Josef changes the tone immediately. On the opposite side of the “Draft Summons” page, he enters the date, followed by a tongue-in-cheek explanation of the notebook's raison d’etre:
July 5, 1910
This book should not be used to teach or as a toy for children, but only for amusement during serious and hard times. It wasn’t because of an excess of money that I purchased this book, but rather unbearable boredom tempted me to do so.
The moral and immoral contents from recited poems and songs which I entered into this book are a remembrance of the fantastic, fun trip I made to Vienna in the most wonderful years of my youth, from 19-21.
In the center of the page he writes in large, bold letters the Vienna address to which the military draft summons had been addressed, followed by a request:
VIENNA VI Mariahilferstrasse Nr. 78
Third Floor (our 4th floor); Door #7
This book is dear to me and whoever steals it is a thief, and whoever gives it back is a good fellow and whoever finds it, in case it is lost, will receive on delivery 5 Kronen. Please send it to my home Neppendorf Nr. 587 near Hermannstadt in Hungary.
Yours sincerely, Josef Gärtz.
The notebook book comprises 57 pages with 95 numbered entries. Most of them are folksongs with multiple, numbered verses, but several are off-color jokes or anecdotes--the “immoral contents” he probably was referring to in his introduction.
|Josef Gärtz 1909 or 1910 in Vienna|
But he still had that draft notice hanging over his head, was in love with Lisi, and undoubtedly surrounded by buzz about America.
Did he respond to the draft summons on September 30, 1910, in Vienna, as ordered? I believe he must have at least registered, for he often relayed a story that he was told he was “too skinny” for the army, a trait that four years later, at the start of World War I, would have been meaningless. But later letters to him from Mrs. Jickeli indicate that he still had some sort of unfinished business with the military.
Whatever the circumstance, in the following few months he had made up his mind.
He was heading for America, and the next time he writes, he will record his harrowing trip, leaving Transylvania on Christmas Eve, 1910. I’ll explain how I made the extraordinary discovery of his diary documenting his trip in my next post, and post the diary 100 years to the date after it was written, December 24, 1910.