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 20, 2011

Whom shall I marry? Indecision is a killer!

A vintage postcard Lil sent to Fred from her visit to Milwaukee, in
August, 1941--when she and Fred were in the throes of falling in love.
After being  "Damn Mad at Fred" for not taking her out on New Year's Eve, Lil doesn't write in her diary for a couple months. I'll tell you a little secret that she doesn't write about, but I happen to know from family lore.

I'm quite sure her "damn mad" really translates to "damn hurt." After all those wonderful dates, all that kissing, all the passionate feelings she had for Fred, I think she just couldn't believe he'd let her down. Isn't anger so often "hurt" by another name, the two emotions so closely intertwined?

So when Fred called the next day, to take her out to Math Igler's, a Chicago German restaurant, she said yes. After they had danced for a while an older couple came up to them and said that every year when they went out to celebrate the New Year, they looked for a couple that they wish they could be if they were young again. That night, they wished they could be Fred and Lil.

Mom picks up her diary again in March, and opens it with a little French and Latin (she had studied French in high school and enjoyed the sound of the language.) Burt, who rescued her on New Year's Eve, is giving Fred some competition. But maybe not as much as even Lil thinks.

Monday - March 16, 1942

Tempus Fugit, n’est ce pas? Here 2 1/2 months have flow by before I got a chance to write in my little diary again.

March 1 (Sunday) Burt took me to El Rancho Grande. We had just a wonderful time rhumba-ing. Stayed out till 3:30––we just didn’t want to go home. Had 6 Cuba Libras and they didn’t faze me a bit.

For a while I just couldn’t decide––did I like Burt or Fred better. Never thought there’d be the faintest doubt about my ever preferring Fred. I still think now that Freddie is my #1 boy. There for about a month (February) Freddie and I went out each Saturday and always had a marvelous time. Never yet had a dull time with him….

I got to feel kind of retrospective tonite. Friendships seems such a temporary thing, even the most permanent ones. You cling to many for the sake of old times, drifting into new groups who have the same interests you do, but I guess that’s life. I’d hate to be without friends….

I wonder whom I shall marry. I’m sure some day I shall for I would not like to be single forever. Up to now I certainly am glad I was single. Have had just wonderful times.

I wouldn’t want to marry Burt. I have always vowed never to marry a traveling man; life would be just too lonesome. Fred would be fine for me, I’m sure. I love him [and] am sure he loves me (although never has he said so). Still, I’d hate never to see Burt again. Some day I shall have to give up one––or perhaps they both will give me up. Who knows? Then I’ll be lonesome.

Her vow to “never marry a traveling man,” will come to have a sadly ironic ring in the next decade––an outcome she couldn’t possibly have predicted when she was dating and looking for Mr. Right.

Next week: "Explosive" News from Fred as he gets a new job and makes an exciting new purchase!


Cherie Cayemberg said...

Oooooo...very interesting! I can't wait to find out about the next decade!

Adrienne said...

I'm feeling a little woozy from all those Cuba Libras!

Marian Kurz said...

it's hard to imagine all that drinking, but now that i think of it, it does remind me of my 20's. Shudder to think which table i would be under if I tried that today!
You've thrown us a couple interesting hints in this one.

Debi Austen said...

I love the hints - can't wait to read more!

Paul E. Gartz said...

Sis, "The rest of the story..." Zoom forward 48 years to Venice. I had wanted mom to see Europe and Paris before she died as she always talked of it. You supported. We went everywhere and she had a great time at 72. We were sitting in San Marco Piazza and mom orders a cuba libra. She said,"I always wanted to do this". I now understand the history goes back to her at 24. Then she kept shaking her head saying, "17,000 lira for a drink...my God". P

Sharn White said...

Waiting with anticipation for the sequel.......

Linda Gartz said...

Thanks to all for your comments. Yes, many changes will come in the future for Fred and Lil -- and will unfold. I don't recall my parents drinking all that much as I was growing up, so it definitely seemed a partying habit from younger, more carefree days.
Paul, thanks for sharing the Cuba Libra story in Venice. Now it has context!