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, December 27, 2011

Explosive News!

We're following along in the diary of Lillian Koroschetz as she dates two guys: Fred and Burt.  Her present quandary is whom she will marry. To start at the beginning of her amorous adventure, click on Falling in Love––70 Years Ago and scroll forward. After being "damn mad" at Fred for not asking her out New Year's Eve, he's back in her good graces--and they've dated just about every Saturday night since February, 1942.

Tuesday, March 17, 1942
Marbro Theatre, 4124 W. Madison on Chicago's
 West side. Photo credit:
Chicago Architectural Photographing Co.
Fred called me at 5:00 p.m. at work tonite and said he was coming over at 6:30. He certainly had loads of news for me.

He bought a $50.00 Ford––1930 model––from a young draftee. Five brand new tires and in very good condition. He has a new job–––in Kingsbury, Indiana, as a blasting powder blender, at $57.50 per week compared to $30 per week at Lanteen.
[The new tires are worth mentioning. Rubber is rationed during the war and tires are hard to come by.]

Played piano and sang. We had loads of fun. Then went to the Marbro to see “Corsican Bros.” with Douglas Fairbanks Jr.––a marvelous picture. Didn’t get in till two.
[Mom changes to writing  in Pitman shorthand again! CENSORED!]
I pray nothing will happen to him on his new job. He’ll come in every weekend.
Sunday March 22, 1942

Burt phoned at 6:00 and asked me out.

[Lil and Burt went to a friend’s house where she drank whiskey highballs. They all went together to a club called "El Rancho," where  Lil drank two Cuba Libras and danced the night away. But the drink combos made her so sleepy, Burt drove her home. She was wracked with indecision about her two beaus.]

Got in at 4:30 a.m. Terrible, isn’t it? Burt is so grand––such a gentleman, and I do enjoy being with him and also kissing him. I feel like a hussy, kissing both Burt and Fred, and here I am trying to decide––Burt or Fred? It is awful.

I love that! She feels like "such a hussy" KISSING two guys. A different era--for sure!

I pick up on something in Mom's entries of  which she herself seems to be unaware. Burt may be a “gentleman” and a “wonderful dancer,” but he seems like a cardboard cut-out compared to Fred, who's worthy of detail!  She's never given Burt the ink she devoted Fred during their glorious summer and fall of dating in 1941. Then there's her concern for Fred's safety as a "blasting powder blender." 

On a subsequent date, Lil and Fred take turns making up funny couplets about their lives, and Dad throws out one related to this risky work: 
Now Fred is mixing TNT
If he ain't careful, he won't be

His cute sense of humor prompts Lil to write, "Gee, I'm in love with that guy!"

In the next post:  "It came to me like a bolt out of the blue..."

(To start at the beginning of Lil's adventures with Fred, see Falling In Love 70 Years Ago and scroll forward in time.) 

NOTE: This week marks the 101st anniversary Fred's father, Josef  Gärtz, began his harrowing trip to America at the age of twenty-one. He left from Transylvania by train on Christmas Eve, 1911. Destination: the port of Bremen. To read a first hand account of one immigrant's travels click:  Terror Atop the Train Threats to the Dream, Out to Sea, and Atlantic Crossing in Winter. Or just scroll forward in time.

To make a comment, click below either on "comments" or "post a comment." Thanks!


Cherie Cayemberg said...

I'm loving these posts, Linda! Can't wait for the next!

Adrienne said...

Inquiring minds need to know: is it that you haven't translated the shorthand, or that you want to preserve Lil's privacy?

Nancy C said...

Ah, the Marbro Theater! @Adrienne, those shorthand entries intrigue me as well! They seem to only show up when Fred is around.

Marian Kurz said...

At least she wasn't kissing them both on the same day,like someone I know!

Linda Gartz said...

Hello, my faithful followers. Well, I can't read Pitman. I did find a blogger friend who was able to decipher a bit. Sandy Arnone, has a wonderful blog (check it out: http://spittalstreet.com/. Really great content on a variety of topics. She posted an awesome video of Lennon's "And so this is Christmas" that's a joy to watch).
Without being able to get every word figured out, it appears that Fred and Lil are engaged in some fairly light (by today's standards) petting. Cute. More Pitman to come--related to treachery against Dad in his new job!

Paul E. Gartz said...

Sis, For those who don't know, the Marbro was a super huge theater in Spanish Baroque style, red velvet drapes 30-40' high and seated 4,000! It is hard to conceive its elegance given what we have today. It was gorgeous and impressive to all and filled for "talkies" (sound films) and live performances. I remember being able to get behind the screen and discover "secret" passages between double walls and climb up where I was not suppose to go. Our Uncle Ebner was an usher there ~1940 at 17. I had one of my early dates there and later became an usher myself at a smaller theater in 1962. But times had changed and it was rough with fights & police guards.

Linda Gartz said...

Paul, thanks for sharing those memories. Yes, now I recall, Uncle Ebner was an usher there--part of Dad's comment "He was a boy of many unitforms." The Marbro was a gem of a theatre. The Art Institute site calls the style: Baroque Revival; Another site says "Spanish Revival" so I don't know if those two styles are related, but just Google Marbro Theatre Chicago and you'll see not only several cool photos, but more than 200 comments from people who remember its heyday and its sad demise along with the neighborhood.

Kathy Reed said...

I love that your brother is now adding his perspective to the blog. It always amazes me that siblings can grow up in the same family in the same environment and recall so many different elements of the same situation. I'm always looking for the next post.

Debi Austen said...

I don't know....I kinda like not knowing what the shorthand says. Some things are better off left unsaid, especially when it comes to our parents ;-)

Judith Richards Shubert said...

Yes, keep us guessing ~ I think we can all imagine!

Love the history of the grand old Marbro Theater and your brother's memories.

Linda, thanks for reading Tennessee Memories and your intuitive comments about my hubby's dad, Ray. He was a very confident and strong willed man, and yes, I think it showed up in those early photos of him.

Genealogy Traces /
Tennessee Memories

Nancy said...

I want to read this in book format, Linda. Perhaps once it's all transcribed you can find a publisher like Victoria did for her WWII London Blitz Diary (http://womanlondonblitz.blogspot.com/).

I think it's interesting that you know the outcome of her dating two men and now you're able to find about the beginning and middle of the story.

Jenny Jones said...


I just found your blog through the Follow Friday at Climbing My Family Tree and I am hooked!

I can see that I won't be getting as much accomplished today as I had hoped, as I will be reading through your posts!

Happy New Year!

Linda Gartz said...

So glad you found me. I look forward to future visits at both your blog and mine.