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.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Are we going there to stay?

June 7, 1911, postcard from Lisi to Josef. The two love-birds in a heart
of roses,  the clasped hands, and the forget-me-not blue flowers
speak of love without saying a word
Lisi has made up her mind! One hundred years ago today, she sat down to write another postcard to Josef, probably in response to his desperate pitch  (May 25, 1911) to come and marry him. Read it at
If you love me...

This strange land of America is so confusing: even the addresses make no sense. What part goes where? Despite the fact that she mixes up the street, state, city and house number on the postcard, it still gets to Josef. His heart must soar. Lisi is coming to America to marry him! She writes this postcard from Salzburg, where she has undoubtedly joined her employer, Mrs. Jickeli, at the family's summer home.

Some background notes: Pentecost (celebrated the fiftieth day after Easter and marking when the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus’s apostles) was a holiday in the Evangelische Lutheran church worth mentioning in her letter.

Herrn Josef Gärtz:
Orchard Ill St. 1550
Chicago, North America

Beloved (Dearest) Heart,

I have spoken with Kathi and mother on the 2nd Pentecost day. Am I right -- that you want to marry there [in Chicago]? I should do what I think is right.

How will [the trip] work out in the end? Is there anything I’ve forgotten to ask you in the letter? Please, answer me immediately. I have already spoken with the madam [probably her boss, Mrs. Jeckeli] that I could leave before autumn. But please let me know clearly what I must do. Then I will make all the arrangements.

When will we two return home? Or are we going there to stay? What is your thinking about that? Please answer every question soon.


Salzburg, June 7, 1911

Despite not knowing if she is going to live in America just for a short time -- or for the rest of her life, Lisi is taking the plunge. What she takes on her journey -- coming up.

I look forward to your hearing from you. Please click on the word "comments," centered, below this post and leave me a message. You do not need to sign up for anything or have a URL (website) -- just fill in whatever name you want to use (or anonymous), comment, and click "post comment." Easy!


Sandy said...

I love these old-world post cards. We found a few in my grandmother's attic. Even now when sending cards to my cousin in Germany I'm confused with the address. It seems so simple but for me it's counter-intuitive. Although the zip is always the key to any delivery.

Kathy Reed said...

As you know, I've loved following this story. I can't wait to read what Lisi decides to take. I'm amazed that she made this commitment without knowing whether or not she was going to remain in the U.S. permanently. How great that this is the 100th Anniversary!

Linda Gartz said...

Thanks, Sandy and Kathy, for stopping y. I agree -- these postcards are luminescent -- and as much so today as a century ago! I wonder if any other readers have had an experience in which they made a decision based on emotion -- not really knowing the facts and how what they didn't know could affect their lives?

Kerry Scott said...

I can't imagine communicating such big decisions via postcard. Sometimes I wonder how different our ancestors' relationships would have been if they'd had the communication tools we do.

Linda Gartz said...

It's an impossible question to answer. They wouldn't have been the same people. Our communication tools bring the world along with us at every step. We're never out of touch. We don't even have to worry about meeting someone at the right exit at the mall (a huge mazey-mix-up potential when I was a kid. Now we just call - "Hey, where are you?") The drive, the passion to change their lives -- the sexual values (sex couldn't even be whispered about) -- It's like trying to imagine how we would have fared in the middle ages. One philosopher I read said the biggest problem going back in time would not be the lack of technology or comforts -- but the completely different world view we couldn't possibly understand. Interesting to ponder, but we all belong to our own time. Thanks for an insightful question!

Margel said...

I love this story - I can just see it on Masterpiece Classic!

Linda Gartz said...

Thanks, Margel! More to come.

Jennifer said...

I can't wait to see what happens next!!