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 21, 2011

The Highest Recommendation

Mrs. Berta Jickeli, center in black (Lisi's employer who wrote her the
 recommendation (Zeugnis-below), and her household help. 
Lisi is seated 2nd from left.The little girl she cared for, 
Berta's daughter,  Lisbeth, is at washtub, right. Dec.,1910.
The above photograph was signed on the back to my grandmother from Mrs. Jickeli, in December, 1910. (For details about what had been unseen for almost a century, written on the back of this photo, see post, Hidden Message Behind Women's Work.) It hung prominently in my grandmother's home for her entire life. I can imagine the immense sadness she felt as she prepared to say farewell to this woman and her little daughter, Lisbeth, both of whom she loved like family.

Mrs. Jickeli had taken Lisi under her wing for four years, and now this young woman of 23 was making what seemed to the forty-six year old Berta, a rash decision--taking off for America without knowing how long she'd stay or if she might return.  As she prepared for her journey, Lisi knew she would have to find a job once she arrived in Chicago, married, and settled in with my grandfather, Josef. Besides her Dienstbuch (record of all previous employment - see post: When a resumé worked as a passport, what else could be more important that a personal recommendation?

That’s exactly what she received from Mrs. Berta Jickeli. “Zeugnis" means "recommendation.

It’s a glowing report which must have made my grandmother’s heart swell with pride. She saved it her entire life - and now I have it, this century old tribute to my smart, hard-working grandmother.


The undersigned at the end [of this document] certifies herewith that Eliesabeth [also spelled Elisabetha]  Ebner from Grosspold (Nagy-Apold), Hungary, first worked for me as a parlour maid and later as cook from January 8, 1906 to August 15, 1911.

During this time, she has always been honest, upright, industrious, and faithful, and for every duty has earned my fullest satisfaction. She is superbly qualified for childcare and illness duties and is well-trained in all household work, and I can therefore most heartily recommend her. 

Berta Jickeli, Merchant’s Wife, August 15, 1911.”

Hermannstadt (Nagy-Szeben), Hungary on August 15, 1911

At the bottom, in purple ink, is an official stamp of Hermannstadt, and the document is countersigned by what is our equivalent of a notary. 

I can only imagine the conflicting emotions Lisi must have suffered through as she put all her affairs in order:  excitement, fear, anticipation, and sorrow, knowing she may never return to the beloved Jickeli household, her father, her sisters, and brother. 

She didn't write about her feelings. Perhaps she thought that was too self-indulgent, but she did record much about her trip, beginning with the delivery of her luggage to the train station in Grosspold--followed by details of her  journey. Coming up: Lisi's diary -- from Grosspold to Chicago.

I'd love to hear from any of you who have a document related to your ancestors in which they (or you) would take particular pride. 

Please click on the word "comments" below center. Thanks for reading!


Lynn Palermo said...

Wow Linda, what an incredible picture. I'm curious as to why she would take such a picture with her household help. It certainly depicts a sense of pride in what they were doing and clearly for Mrs. Jickeli to sit for this picture she took great pride and respect in them as well.

Candace George Thompson said...

Linda, I continue to be amazed and intrigued by the treasures you are sharing. Thank you.

Adrienne said...

I love that it was the custom to notarize a letter of recommendation, and also the appellation "Merchant's Wife."

Kathy Reed said...

If I recall, I've seen this picture in an earlier post. I love it. The letter of recommendation is particularly priceless. I also have several documents that are priceless to me, including a letter from a young sailor (my great-uncle) back to his parents. No one could have anticipated that he would die of diphtheria at the age of 22 aboard ship.

Linda Gartz said...

Thanks to all for your interest in one of my most precious photo. As I write, it, along with other family photos) is being published in Germany in a scholarly work about the history of Grosspold and the Siebenbürgen Germans and those who emigrated to America and elsewhere. It's a classic of the era, showing the importance of the critical work of women at the turn of the last century. Mrs. Jickeli was a business woman herself, her staff comprises these women. So you're right, Lynn, she took great pride in these women who allowed her household to function as she went about her "business." She signs the letter "merchant's wife," but she was very involved in the business too. Kathy -- you're right -- I meant to add a link to the original post from December in which I reveal what I discovered when I unframed the photo -- 100 years after it was inscribed to "Lisi." I've added that link now to the post. Please take a look at Hidden Message Behind Women's Work

Sandy Arnone said...

An amazing photograph! The fact that it was displayed in your grandmother's home reflects a time that she cherished with people who were part of a former life and a link to the past.

Linda Gartz said...

Thanks, Sandy. I have photos of my grandparents home with this photo in the background. More posts to come about Mrs. Jickeli and her family.

cg said...

Hello Linda,

last week I've read "Chronik einer Siebenbürgisch-Sächsichen Familie" von C. F. Jickeli. There is also a "Tante Bertha" among the 4 generations described in the book. Comes this Mrs. Jickeli from the same family as the writer Carl Fritz Jickeli?

Cornelia, Würzburg