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, November 29, 2011

"If I'm never happy again..." Giving Thanks redux

Lil turns 24 and parties with her Freddie, and several others. The next day after celebrating with her favorite girlfriends, she reflects on how lucky she is. (See Lil's baby picture on her birthday post at Happy Birthday, Mom. If you'd like to start at the beginning of Lil's diary postings about falling for Fred, go to Falling in Love 70 Years Ago.

Having just celebrated Thanksgiving, this seems like an appropriate post. Mom takes a good look at the wonderful people in her life and is grateful for her good fortune. I'm struck by how unusual it is today (or maybe always has been) for so many people, especially the young, to focus on the positive in their lives.

Sat., Oct. 18, 1941 

Got a card from Fred; a darling one from Carl yesterday. Went with Eleanor Stewart to Isabell’s to celebrate our mutual birthday together. Had two whiskey sours and a gentleman treated us to two more because were “obviously such right --five girls -- and we should stay that way.”

Then I had to dash home in the Essie [Lil's name for her car], grab a bite to eat and do shopping for my party tomorrow.

Got home at 6:00 pm, ate supper, got dressed, and wanted nothing quite so much as to have abour four or three hours to take a nap. I did squeeze 15 minutes in for that purpose.

Fred brought me a box of glazed fruits -- I’m so glad he was thoughtful as to remember me in this way.

As usual, I got as many roses as I am years old from good old Carl. [Carl Schodt was a young man madly in love with Mom. She dated him prior to meeting Fred, but always told him she liked him, but couldn't love him. He literally ate peanuts for lunch so he could buy Lil lovely gifts. Each time she said she couldn't accept the gift because she didn't love him, he responded, "If you don't take, it I'll throw it away."]

Went via street car to the Germania Club where Kenny and another gal, (Blondie [a model Ken was dating] couldn’t make it), Bill [Fred's older brother] and a girl,  and many others were there to make up the party. Had a lovely evening again, although not up to the kind we have when alone.

Around 3:00 AM Freddie and I got terribly sleepy so we went up to the balcony and slept, his arm around mine.

This time on the way home, no kissing; we had an audience and a very short goodnight kiss since there was a waiting gang in the car.

Ah, propriety! What an old-fashioned concept!
Lil, age 20 at The Bayer Company working for Chicago President,
Mr. Gibney. Spring, 1938. See diary comment below about her raise

Sunday, Oct 19, 1941

Had Gert, Myrtle Haling, Ruth, and Marge Johnson and Lucille Kaye as well as Ceil over to help celebrate my birthday. Had a most enjoyable day - one of the nicest birthdays I’ve had. Though I’d have to arrange to play some games, but the crowd was so congenial that conversation was definitely sufficient entertainment.

Gert gave me a recent picture of herself, a darling little traveling case, and brought a beautiful gardenia corsage with a dubonnet ribbonon it from her pop. [Gert's dad owned a florist shop.] Very thoughtful, I’ll say.

I thought tonight, if I am never happy again I really shouldn’t complain because I’ve had such a very full life already. Good friends, one excellent friend, Gert, of course, romances behind me, and now a young man I’ve been looking for all my days, wonderfully good parents, an excellent job, mein Liebchen, was willst Du noch mehr? [My Dear, what more do you want?]

How could I forget--on Wednesday Gibney [Lil's boss and president of The Bayer Company in Chicago] told me he had authorization from H.M. Manns, Pres, [maybe national president?] for an increase to $130 per month. Not bad, eh -- for a kid of 24, minus college? 

Also on Friday we learned that effective Nov. 1 we are to work 8:00 to 5:00 and no Saturday. Ah, life -- how wonderful! Couldn’t resist phoning Fred at his lab to tell him these two good pieces of news.

So here I am--Monday night, Oct. 20, and up to date on my diary. Took me an hour to write...but I think some day these notes will be worth the effort.

Boy! I'll say! I'm having so much fun reliving Mom and Dad's youth. Coming up... Trouble in Paradise. What happens when Fred puts off asking Lil for a date one too many times?

Please click below on the red word "comments" to add your thoughts. Thanks!

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow- what a look back in time. Lil could teach my teenage kids a few lessons about gratitude and perspective (being glad to get Saturday off! A raise to $130/week!Being grateful for her parents!). I agree completely with your comment-thank goodness your Mom took the time to write her diary in such vivid detail. Katy

Marian Kurz said...

Excitement reigns, everyone was so excited when they had Sats. off. A former employer told me that when her husband was younger, that cars from Evanston Golf Club met the men at the station on Sats. so they wouldn't miss their golf games. How times have changed!

Sandy Arnone said...

Lil wrote with sincerity and depth. This is a wonderful expression of the person she must have been," I thought tonight, if I am never happy again I really shouldn’t complain because I’ve had such a very full life already." Linda I know where your talent comes from.

Linda Gartz said...

We talk endlessly of how hard Americans work today--and they do, but back during WWII, the hours were long and it was mostly women doing the work at most of the young men were at war.
Mom never shied away from hard work--but there's a limit to how long one can work non-stop, and we'll see that in the future. Thanks, Katy, Marian and Sandy for your comments.

Kathy Reed said...

This was the perfect post to include so close to Thanksgiving. I can identify so strongly with her expression of thankfulness.

Jacqi said...

Linda, I'm a little late on catching up on my reading, but so glad to have found your post! What a precious thought, "If I'm never happy again..." A terrific attitude, and something we all can tuck away and remember during those hard times that inevitably come.

I loved your mom's prescient comment about her notes some day being worth it. I've seen that tendency to think of one's personal future, awareness of future generations and descendants, waft in and out of our culture's history--something that seems to be missing in our current times.

Candace said...

Linda, I was especially interested in your mother's report of her raise to $130/wk. "Not bad" indeed! I compare that with my then newly-wed parents, aged 18 and 20, whose combined weekly income at A&P in Jeffersonville, IN was $45. I love reading your posts. Candace

LInda Gartz said...

Hi folks,
Thanks for all the lovely comments. Just to clarify, Mom's salary was $130/ MONTH not per week. So Candace, That's about $32 per week. Still not bad for a single gal. Of course today, she might be running a Fortune 500 company!