|21, 16, 4, 23, 24, 2 ... Who needs Numerical Order? Boxes|
I access regularly are in my office. These... stored away.
Box 14 became the repository with this label: “Joseph and Elisabeth Gartz, Correspondence and Memorabilia.” (We used the Americanized spellings of their names.)
My older brother, Paul, gets the credit for the letters’ continued existence. Both my younger brother, Bill, and I could have been persuaded to toss them. Paul wanted to keep everything that could be remotely related to family. We sighed. “No one will ever be able to read them!” I declared.
Now I’m the only sibling that has even passable German language skills. (For lack of a better idea, I chose German as my college major. Within a year, I got the payoff for that impulsive decision: I spent my senior year studying at the University of Munich, which fixed the language into the deep recesses of my brain, even when surface knowledge was forgotten).
In 1994, after almost a quarter century hiatus from German, raising two young children, acting as executor for my Mom’s estate, and with a newly gutted and renovated house that required serious attention, I looked at those letters and prayed for dispensation. I was certain I could never endure the agony (with my creaky and diminished language skills) or the time (see above) of translating the undoubtedly mundane details from the lives of people of whom I had no knowledge. Were they even relatives? Oh...and then there’s the ILLEGIBLE part.
|Left: t, k, s, st. Right: f (recognizable) h, and ch (a common combination|
in German. I find it interesting that an American flag is used to
represent the letter "f." Promoting the dream?