On Jan. 23, 1943, my uncle, Frank Ebner Gartz, (photo in uniform, above) reported to the draft board in Chicago to start his training for WWII. So began the correspondence between him and family & friends, comprising almost 300 letters going both ways. I’m posting many of these World War II letters, each on or near the 70th anniversary of its writing. To start with his induction, click HERE.
This blog began in Nov., 2010, when I posted a century-old love note from Josef Gärtz, my paternal grandfather, to Lisi (Elisabetha) Ebner, my paternal grandmother, and follows their bold decision to strike out for America.
My mom and dad were writers too, recording their lives in diaries and letters from the 1920s-the 1990s. Historical, sweet, joyful, and sad, all that life promises-- and takes away--are recorded here as it happened. It's an ongoing saga of the 20th century. To start at the very beginning, please click HERE.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Be My Valentine, 1911
The note on the Valentine reads:
Forget me not
You sweet heart
Greetings and kisses
What I write is only for you to read--not for others. No other person should see it. I kiss your hand [also idiomatic, “with pleasure," a gentile expression of the time.]
Lisi writes back to her Valentine, Sepp (nickname for Josef, like "Joe") the very next day:
February 12, 1911
On Saturday at 3:00 pm, February 11th, I received the two letters, the 2nd from E[va].
You write to me that I alone should read your writing. That no other person should see it. I am entirely alone, and will be for the time being. Laughing and talking are in the past.
But now I am joyful and moved to laughter when I read the news from you-- “From You” [She emphasizes that she wants to hear from him -- not Frau Beer], when I hear that it goes well for you. Just recently I had lost courage and my mind went back and forth because I always heard that it was going poorly [in America] for all of you. I also received a letter from my sister on February 7th in which she told me that that there was no more work and that she would come back here. [Lisi’s stepsister, Maria had gone to America before Josef did and also helped him settle in.]
But oh how I smiled when I heard...how satisfied and happy you are. What joy I felt!
Today I was at home where I occupied myself with thoughts of you, rested and didn’t do a lot. I fantasized about your letter, how you explained your trip, and I wondered if it’s only a short time until my path is free [to come to you?] Now I just don’t know what I should do.
It’s clear to me and eases my mind that our dear God turns our destiny, at times giving us sadness and heavy burdens, but then again makes the sun shine. I believe that more opportunities arise over there [America] and it would be better than here. Also our dear God gives you the chance to reach your desires.
I thought to myself that you would stay there one year (or two years at the most). Perhaps you would have enough earnings that you would come and get me. Then I would leave immediately and have no fear at all, no lack of courage, because I would leave with [you and] your protection. How I would go there myself I don’t know.
The signature is missing, but my guess is it was signed "with Greetings and Kisses."
I can imagine Lisi’s trepidation at the idea of undertaking the arduous, frightening journey to America alone. She hopes Josef will come to get her after a year or two. Naturally, she would feel safer traveling with him. But he had already left his home town once without proper papers, and knowing his impatient and determined nature, he won't want to wait a year or two for his love to join him. I'll be sharing future postcards and letters, each of which contains an amazing discovery or coincidence, and foreshadows their future together.