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, July 26, 2011

From Ship to American Soil

The Atlantic crossing from Bremerhaven to New York on her ship, Kaiser Wilhelm II, took Lisi a week. Early on, she learned the genre of the types of seafaring craft in which she traveled, and recorded it thus:

The big ship is called a Stimer [German phonetic for "steamer"]. The little boat which brings people to the big ships is called a sailboat. [I don't know whether that was what the boat  actually was called in English, but that's how her word, Segel, translates.

Before making its way to the open ocean, the Kaiser Wilhelm II  picked up additional passengers, including a little bird, as Lisi noted:

10:00 a.m. Isle of Wight. A swallow travels with us
11:00 a.m  Arrive Southampton
12:30 p.m. Depart Southampton

Every day she documented what she ate, which included such delectables as roasted (sometimes stewed) meats and fowl: beef, turkey, goose, and duck. She was served salads, soups, apples and oranges. Desserts like chocolate cream, pastries, vanilla cream custard,  compote, a type of bundt cake, or ice cream might conclude the meals.

Lisi  found a perfect souvenir to remind her of these savory repasts. On September 21, 1911, she wrote:

I paid 10 Pfennig for a postcard of the lunch menu to send to my sister.

She bought a couple copies of the 9/21/1911 breakfast menu for herself as well. Written in German and English, it was formatted to be addressed, stamped, and mailed--or, in the case of this one, saved--for 100 years. See below.

Check out the death scene at the top -- two wolves or wild dogs bringing down a terrified buck. Nature’s violence is something we twenty-first century sophisticates would rather not have to contemplate--especially at meal time.

Breakfast (Frühstück) Menu (Speisekarte) for 9/21/1911 the top (with photo)
 folded over the bottom and could be addressed and mailed as a postcard.
The same date as the menu postcard, 9/21, she made the only note in the whole diary about being seasick:

I threw up a little and didn’t feel well, so I wasn’t hungry. 

Besides the postcard menu, she bought other souvenirs on the boat as well:

On September 23, I bought a small teaspoon for 4 marks [German money].
7 cents for 2 postcards for me and one for J.G.  of New York. 

(See 7/19 post, Lisi's Moveable Feast to view Bremen/Bremerhaven postcards, which may be the ones she bought for herself).

The postcard for J.G. [clearly Josef Gartz] must be this one. It's a scene in New York and addressed to Josef with a postmark of "September," and content that tells him she’s landed safely. Before deciphering and translating her diary, I had assumed she bought the postcard in New York. Now I know its true provenance--from the ship. [Details coming up in a future post].

Lisi's postcard of her ship,
Kaiser Wilhelm II
Welcome to America!

At some time in her life (not clear when), Lisi recorded the details of her arrival in New York on the back of this postcard of the Kaiser Wilhelm II, bought either on the ship or in Bremen.

She wrote on the left side: Landing in N.Y. Disembarked from the ship at 7:00 p.m. on  26/9 (Sept. 26th) Elise Ebner, now Gärtz. (The "now Gärtz" tells me she made this note after her wedding. Another indication is that in her diary she noted the arrival time was 8:00 pm, meaning perhaps she misremembered the time by the time she made these notes. But close enough!). 
On the right she wrote: This is my ship that brought me to America in the year 1911.
Lisi's documentation of her arrival on the back of the
Kaiser Wilhelm II postcard, shown above left. 

On the next post, Lisi arrives at Ellis Island in New York where the ship's manifest (passenger list) documents the details of the next destination on her journey. It wasn't directly to Josef. To find out where she went first, check back next week.


Dorene from Ohio said...

So interesting! That was quite a menu!

Claudia said...

I am enjoying the tale. My mmother and grandparents came via the same route a mere fifteen years later. I am thinking that they had a similar experience.

Debi Austen said...

She wasn't hungry on 9/21 after she looked at the postcard :-)

Adrienne said...

I'm reminded of my mother's travel diaries, which also concentrated on the meals she ate.

Mark said...

Very cool blog:) I've done similar research for my wife's family and found out that they were related to the Pilgrims. Looks like you're finding some interesting stuff as well.