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, August 16, 2011

For Love and Money

Mrs. Jickeli, Lisi Ebner's former employer, gave Lisi this business card
This  business card from my grandmother's employer, Mrs. Jickeli, was among the documents I ignored for a while.  I put off finding out what was written on the back (see below) because I was putting my time into deciphering and translating old letters, which seemed so much more important.

I could read the date at the end, 9/14/1911, and figured Mrs. Jickeli must have given it to Lisi just before Lisi had boarded the train from Hermannstadt to the port of Bremen. (See The Train Journey-Part II. To Catch a Ship). I wondered just what Mrs. Jickeli would have written to Lisi on the back of this card, as they said their sad goodbyes.  Was it a fond farewell? A "be safe and write?" Actually it was far more practical. It was a promise to safeguard Lisi's hard-earned money--savings she may have to ask Mrs. Jickeli to send to her in America.

Dated at the end, 14/9 1911 (September 14, 1911), here’s what Mrs. Jickeli wrote on the back:

I hereby acknowledge that I have taken for safekeeping Elisabeth Ebner’s bank book of [her] deposits in the Hermannstadt General Savings Bank.
Salzburg on 9/14 1911.

Of course this is “Bad Salzburg,” (Salzburg baths, near Sibiu/Hermannstadt in Transylvania--not Salzburg, Austria), where Mrs. Jickeli had her summer home. As Lisi disembarked from the Kaiser Wilhelm II, she probably carried this card tucked safely into her wallet--knowing her money was in safe hands.

After visiting with her step-sister, Maria Wagner, in Cleveland, Lisi began the final leg of her journey--a train to Chicago to meet up with her sweetheart, my grandfather, Josef. But how would they connect in that big, bustling city? Another business card I had passed over  because of its seeming insignificance, ended up being very significant.

I looked at the Albert Von der Lippen Buffet card several times and wondered: Was it a favorite place for my grandparents to eat? (Didn’t make sense -- they were too frugal to eat out). Was it the card of a friend? Was it a landmark of sorts?

The Buffet that smoothed the way to Josef’s arms.
Instead, this little buffet business card turned out to be a major clue to my grandparents’ reunion in Chicago. I wouldn’t know that until I finally sent a scan to my "Rosetta Stone," 90-year-old-Meta, in Germany. She deciphered the short note on the back. 

It turned out to be instructions from Josef Gartz to Lisi on how to reach him when she arrived. He either sent this card to Hermannstadt before she left, or perhaps to her step-sister in Cleveland. On the back he wrote:

This is the address where I work: Albert von der Lippen is my boss’s name and above is our telephone number. When you arrive at the train station you can call me at Humboldt 2512.

She arrived in Chicago on October 11th, and two days later, they were married. How do I know? My grandmother wrote a script before tape-recording the details of her first days in Chicago.  Coming up.


Sandy Arnone said...

Fascinating! I can't wait to read the script for your grandmother's tape recording of her first days in Chicago. It must have been a huge culture shock for her.

Linda Gartz said...

Hey, Sandy, so glad to see you again. That script was written many years later, but it was quite a surprise to find it and finally figure out what it was--a kind of summary of their lives in the US.

Susan Clark said...

I am so far behind on my reading, but these posts of yours make catching up worthwhile. What a blessing your "Rosetta Stone" is!