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.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Tale of Two Photos

Genealogy sure takes you back - but sometimes to a place you didn’t expect to go. Like when I was visiting Margel’s blog, “2338 W. Washington Blvd.” a few days ago. Margel’s blog caught my eye soon after I launched Family Archaeologist last November because I grew up at 4222 W. Washington Blvd. in Chicago, just about two miles west of Margel’s family home.

Margel made a loving post about her Aunt Margel, after whom she was named, and who died tragically at about the age of two. She told the amazing story about searching for and literally unearthing her aunt's tombstone. I got to this post, which was written before I started blogging, because of a link Margel had included in her more recent post of April 5th about her mom’s birth.

Margel's Aunt Margel
If I hadn’t clicked back to A Tale of Two Margels, I never would have seen this photo she posted there of her aunt (right).

I took one look at Aunt Margel in that cute car and wrote in the blog comments: “Do you know where this picture was taken? Because I do.”

I promised her I’d write a post about it, so be sure to read to the end to get the whole story.

My parents also grew up in Chicago, my Dad on the West Side within blocks of where I spent my childhood, and my mom further east.

Riverview - Aladdin's Castle
Riverview - Wild Mouse
But no matter where you lived in Chicago, if you were a kid between 1904 and 1967, you’d remember our city’s most famous amusement park: Riverview. It had everything: white-knuckle roller coasters. "The Bobs" was the scariest. The Wild Mouse was designed with the wheels set back so you were sure you were going to plunge over the edge at a curve--when at the last moment….screeeeech -- it made a jolting turn that knocked your stomach against your ribs.

It had a freak show that freaked me out, the “Pair-o-Chutes” that took riders ever….so….slowly…..up...up...up.... The anticipation was a killer, because when the chutes hit the top, they burst open with a gut-wrenching jolt and you plummeted down, leaving your tummy somewhere along the way.

Aladdin’s Castle (see photo above) was a spook house with floors that seemed to give way so convincingly, I made my dad carry me through when I was about three.

Lillian Koroschetz
Summer, 1942
Riverview was a great place for sweethearts: You could make out in the Tunnel of Love, hold your sweetie tight on those scary rides, or even get a pair of silhouettes cut out to commemorate your visit. Maybe my parents did all that in the summer of 1942, when they went to Riverview a few months before marrying, but I know they got the silhouettes cut out-- because they were in my Mom’s scrapbook. Here they are. Really good likenesses too. I now have them hanging on my family history photo wall.

Fred Gartz
Summer 1942

And I found another photo taken at Riverview, also on my photo wall--of my Mom at age six. The photo was labelled “Lillian Koroschetz at Riverview, Aug. 17, 1924.”  Here it is:
Riverview: Lillian Koroschetz, Aug.17, 1924

And below is Margel’s Aunt Margel again.
Holy Cow! Aunt Margel was posed in the same little car my mom had been in! See the same backdrop, with ivy growing up the squat colonnade.

Riverview, Chicago--Margel's Aunt Margel
The car in Aunt Margel’s photo is positioned to the left of the stairway, while my mom is photographed in front of and to the right of the stairway. No wonder I recognized Margel's location immediately! I had been working with my mom's  photo (and others) for scores of hours last summer.

So Margel, although your aunt’s life was cut so sadly short, we know she was treated to a wonder all children in Chicago enjoyed -- a day at Riverview. And I’ll bet she had a blast!

Note: all photos of Riverview are from Chicagotribune.com. See the whole Tribune Riverview photo collection here and read a brief history of Riverview, where you'll see a heart-stopping photo of the plunging "Bobs."


Margel said...

What a grand post! I am so happy that you made the connection. Margel's photo was taken about 1922 so the photos are also taken in the same time period. Thank you so very much for sharing and the wait made it even more fun.


Susan Clark said...

This is such fun! Complete serendipity.

Kathy Reed said...

Since I am a fan of both of your blogs, I absolutely love this post. What an amazing connection! It makes the hairs on my arm stand up. Congratulations!

Lisa / Smallest Leaf said...

Great story, Linda (and Margel)! This is one of the reasons that I love blogging - making connections like these. Thanks for sharing!

Smallest Leaf

Linda Gartz said...

Margel, I had a lot of fun putting this post together. Thanks for inspiring me. Kathy, Susan, and Lisa--thanks for dropping by and sharing in this amazing serendipity!

Elizabeth O'Neal said...

Wow, what a small world! Thanks to both of your for sharing your stories!

Sandy Arnone said...

I love this post. It's truly amazing how many connections are made through the people and places we loved. My parents had silhouettes cut out in the well-known seaside town of Blackpool in England--also during the 1940s. I'm told it took only a few minutes for the artist to complete and capture an accurate likeness of both.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Yes, the blog world is a fantastic one! It is also fun to learn about Riverview. Sounds like a great place to have visited!

Linda Gartz said...

Hi Elizabeth, Gald you liked the stories. I was truly amazed when I saw Margel's photo in that little auto. Sandy, I hope you'll post those silhouettes on your blog one day. I love my versions. They are truly memories of another era - both in whom they depict and the artistry. Heather, thanks for visiting. For anyone of my era or before, Riverview is a quintessential Chicago memory.

Anonymous said...

The Riverview pictures are wonderful - and bring many fond memories! Nancy Crabtree