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, September 20, 2011

Free Sandwich with that Beer!

Josef Gartz (rear) working as Sandwich Man in Joe Nelson's Saloon,
Northeast corner of Crawford [now Pulaski] and Madison Street, Chicago
Mr. Offelke put an ad in the Abendpost, a German language paper. The title literally means the “Evening Post.” Josef Gartz, along with several other men, applied. Mr. Offelke picked my grandfather out of a line-up of applicants and gave him the job of “sandwich man,” in this saloon.

In the close-up below you can see the calendar, (I was able to see the whole page in the mirror reflection in full photo above. It was October, 1912. The clock in the background (above his head in the wide shot) shows it’s 2:30. I'm pretty sure that would be in the afternoon).  Plenty of men (no women) are drinking. Much of the signage around the place is in German, and they are literal “signs” of the times.

Detail: Josef Gartz with October, 1912 calendar behind him.
One sign says: “First Class Barber Shop and Bath," with an arrow pointing down the stairs in the back. One of the most important aspects of this job for my grandfather was that he could eat all day long, cutting way down on his food expense. It’s also because of this job that he eventually moved his family to Chicago’s West Side, to the neighborhood called West Garfield Park, where my dad, and eventually all his children, grew up.

Here’s how my grandmother described the job:

A year later [after her arrival in Chicago in 1911], my husband got a much better job in a fine place where one could get a glass of beer for 5 cents and with it got a meat or cheese sandwich for free. That was my husband’s job -- to cut the bread and lay ham, beef, or cheese on it and give it to the men with their beer. He earned $15 a week. Then we got a four-room apartment for $12 per month. Now we could save money.

Wow! Josef was earning twice what he made working at his previous job buffet. They were on their way to putting money aside, which became a central value in their lives. Work hard. Save money. It would serve them well as they began to raise a family in tough times.


Nancy C said...

How fun to see this photo of a building which once stood at Madison and Pulaski! Nice detective work, pulling up so much information from this one photo.

Adrienne said...

Ah, the nickel beer and free sandwich. It's how another German immigrant named Berghoff got his start, serving the combo at the Columbian World Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893.

Michelle Cusolito said...

I love this old photo! I have one particularly interesting photo I found in a box of my maternal grandparents photos. It appears to be in a factory but we don't recognize any of the people in it. No-one still living knows anything about it. Perhaps I need to look more closely as you did.