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.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I never thought anything so wonderful could happen to me!

Friday, August 22, 1941

Well, my Friedrich phoned me again on Tuesday, and wanted to go swimming with me Wed. But I couldn’t make it till Friday so we made our date for tonite.

I picked him up at his office, Locust and Franklin Streets, and we went to the beach - North Avenue. It was a perfect evening for swimming, warm, the water was calm, and I couldn’t go. My visitor came 1 week and 1 day early (Wed.) due, no doubt to my having gone swimming at a beach near Louise’s house in Michigan last month on my 4th day.

So I just said to him, “I no can go,” and let it go at that. He’s a wonderful swimmer -- in fact there were many people watching him from the shore, amazed at the distance he swam.

"It was a perfect evening for swimming..."
We sang German songs and when he came out, and he was explaining some chemistry to me -- and I’m just crazy about him. After another dip, we went to the Vine Gardens and had some barbequed beef and 5 beers. We danced every number they played and he said I was so loose in his arms and followed so well. He dances very well. We had so much fun again.

Then we drove back to our beach. The wind was blowing furiously and whipped my hair about my face. We were all alone on our “Question Mark Pier” and danced a polka to our own tune. We kissed there, with the waves rolling violently below us.

Said my darling, “It’s wonderful to be alive.” And I, of course, agreed wholeheartedly. We also criss-crossed our hands and went around fast in a circle as we did once before. We sat down on a bench there, the whole place deserted, and I sat on his lap and we kissed again. He evidently is very fond of me, and I am positive I love him.

I never thought anything so wonderful could happen to me. It seems that we have known each other so long. It hardly seems possible we have been on only two dates. I hope this goes on and on.

We have a date to go swimming next Wednesday and then out to Hapsburg for dinner. Oh heavenly days! I just haven’t lived before. Also, he’s so solicitous of me.This is the kind of romance I have always dreamed about but never thought would happen.

The 70th anniversary year of Lil's and Fred's glorious dates continue next Tuesday with solo dancing and dinner.

Comments welcome. Just click below on the red words, "Post a Comment." Thanks!

To read all of Lil's diary entries from her first 1941 encounter with Fred, click here and keep scrolling forward in time to catch up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dear God, please let it come true!

We're following the budding romance of my parents 70 years ago. (Click on Falling in Love and Betcha he won't call to see the first diary entries) 

My mom, then Lillian Koroschetz, had a fabulous evening of dancing and chatting away  with Fred Gartz on May 11, 1941, but was convinced that he wouldn't follow up: "I'll just betcha he won't call!" she wrote. Well, things were looking more promising about a week later.

May 20, 1941 Tuesday 11 pm 

Quite a thrill awaited me when I came home tonite. Fred had sent me a card from Turkey Run, Marshall, Indiana, reading, 

“Hy-ya Lil - Have substituted hiking and horsing for the rhumba for the time being. This place is grand, especially the food. Nun, auf wiedersehen. Fritz” 

I can remember distinctly only two other occasions when I got such a thrill out of something. (and she relates two other boy-related incidents) I must be in love with the guy and haven’t even gone out with him. Somehow I now have a glimmer of hope he’ll phone. Here’s hoping! Sat.,  

July 12, 1941 

Just did my nails - Cutex Butterscotch - and having had a most complete week, am so tired I must go to bed without putting down what I intended [in the diary]. “Lil-no-romances-in-the-summer-Koroschetz” -- that’s me! I don’t even have time in the summer and that’s no alibi, believe me!  

Thursday Aug 14 

Finally - I heard from Fred Gartz. He wanted me to go to some German movie with him tonite. However, I had a date to go to Hapsburg for dinner and teach Ruth how to drive. So changed the date to tomorrow night. Am I glad! Now I have it to look forward to instead of having it all over by now (11:00 pm) I hope and pray this will lead to more and frequent dates!

Friday August 15, 1941 

The evening I have been waiting for a long, long time has now been realized. Fritz and I went to a little German theatre on Lincoln near Fullerton, then walked in Lincoln Park on this beautiful night, arm in arm - held hands in the show. Then to Sieben's [a Chicago outdoor brewery with great ham sandwiches] where we had some beer. Then back to the park and I think we both knew why we went back. We sat on a bench hearing the lions roar and the quacking of a duck. Oh it was heavenly! He knows all the little innuendoes of kissing and I ain’t so bad m’self, if I do say so.
[She switches to writing with indecipherable Pitman shorthand for a few lines, clearly wanting to keep this part censored! Then goes back to regular writing] 
And he enjoyed it too, I’ll say. We kissed for about an hour and a half. I hope and pray he will phone me again. I can’t really believe it happened!! Tonight was like a page from a story book and he definitely is the man I want to marry. Dear God, please let it come true!!  

Please click on "post a comment" (red, small print) at the bottom of this entry. I'd love to hear your thoughts! And please let me know if you have any difficulty commenting. lindagartz@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Betcha" -- he won't call! (And...Happy Birthday, Mom!)

Lillian Koroschetz (Gartz) 1918 ~ 6 months
Before we learn more about my Mom's incipient romance with Fred Gartz, let's take a pause to say "Happy Birthday, Mom!" Lil would have turned ninety-four today. Here's her cute baby picture, and below her Waller High School Graduation photo.

Last week we learned that my mom, Lillian, was pondering in February, 1941, whether or not Fred Gartz, whom she'd met November 19, 1940, would call her. She clearly liked him from the start. Then nearly three months passed from her February, 1941 musings ("My biggest concern is whether Fred Gartz will phone to ask me for a date") to another chance meeting with Fred.
Lillian Koroschetz 1935 age 18

A bit of character background:  Esther Schultz, mentioned here in Lil's diary, was Dad's "buddy," not really a girlfriend, which explains her generous sharing of Fred at this dance. She became a life-long friend of the family. Here's Lil's next diary entry on the subject of "Fred Gartz."

Sunday a.m. 3:15 May 11, 1941 

Well of all things--I just returned from a dance...at the Moose Hall, 130 N. Dearborn, and by a curious coincidence this diary entry is again caused by meeting Fred Gartz again.

There’s no doubt about it; I’m in love with him after meeting him thrice. He was at the dance with his two brothers and some other friends, each with a girl friend. However, shortly after he saw me there (Fred) he asked me to dance, and we had quite a few numbers together. The first time I met him, (Nov. 19, 1940), I taught him the Polish hop and tonight I taught him the Rhumba. He catches on to all dances miraculously fast. We have so much fun together.

He’s really the first man I’ve met that I think I’d like to marry--intelligent, crazy, fun, and we have no end of things to talk about. In fact, when he first came to me this evening, we started to talk and had so much fun together and were so engrossed, we didn’t even start to dance immediately.

He apparently goes out with quite a number of girls, and this one, viz., Esther Schultz liked me very well and kept urging Fred to dance with me so that she could watch us. I sat at their table practically all evening and we all had a beer and sandwich together.

Hell, I have the worst luck, though. The previous time I met him we seemed to have such a wonderful time too -- and not a phone call from him.

So difficult as it might be, I might just as well put him out of my mind once and for all because he undoubtedly will not call me up and I’m just crazy about him! I’ll probably be a “business woman" all my life or else marry just "lukewarm-about,” who won’t go in for dancing, sports, and all the things I love. The luck of some women! Amen.   And now to forget Friedrich Gartz!!

What will have happened by June 1, 1942? With whom will I go out New Year's Eve, 1941? Only time will tell, but I'll "betcha" no more word from Fred. Betcha $5.00 to put in the bank by Sept. 1, 1942.

Just when will Fred get a clue and ask Lil out!  "Quite a thrill awaited me...."  Coming up!

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy 100th Anniversary! 10/13/1911-10/13/2011

Josef and Elsabetha Gartz-Wedding day October 13, 1911
Friday the thirteenth, a century ago, was a lucky day for my grandparents, Josef Gartz and Elisabetha Ebner, when they became husband and wife.

Given how grand they look in their wedding photos, it's hard to believe that Josef had been at work since 5:30 am that morning, leaving early to get married at 3:00 p.m., and he would once again be at work at 5:30 a.m. the day after the wedding as well.

I first wrote about their wedding in my August 23rd post, The Half Day Honeymoon, where you can read my grandmother's written memories of that day.

On this day, I'm going to celebrate with their photos:

To leave a comment, please click here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Falling in Love - 70 years ago

Lillian Koroschetz, December, 1941
1941 was a watershed year in America. War was raging in Europe. Prior to Pearl Harbor, America was embroiled in debate about entering the war.  But something else was brewing seventy years ago that didn't make headlines—yet rocked the world of the young man and woman who became my parents.

Just as I've learned about the great love between my grandparents through their century-old letters, I've once again become privy to the workings of the heart in the next generation--this time through the words of my mother recorded in her diary as she experienced the topsy-turviness of falling for a guy—hard!

I only recently uncovered five more of my mother's diaries, and what a find they are!  Lillian seems to "talk" to her diary. It's like listening to a favorite girlfriend confiding to just you about her new-found love. What fun is that! 2011 marks the 70th anniversary of these engaging, sweet, vivid entries, full of hope and promise. So I decided to celebrate this Seven Decade Anniversary by letting her words speak across the years.

As a young woman, Mom had no dearth of boyfriends, and she seemed to be forever looking for "Mr. Right." Her entries are fresh and honest, a romantic's confidence that true love is found at last. The excitement and joy she relates as she falls deeper and deeper in love will take you for a ride you won't forget.

Fred Gartz and Lillian Koroschetz had first met in November of 1940, and Lil was still thinking about Fred three months later:

From the diary of Lillian Koroschetz:

February 25, 1941

How very quickly time does fly! As I just looked over the preceding pages, it hardly seems possible that an entire year has gone into the closed book of the past. All my problems of last year seem unimportant now. I may as well review the major events of 1940 since I last took time to write in this little book. 

After reviewing various boyfriends who have come and gone, her best friend's marriage and its apparent failure, she writes: 

My chief concern at the moment is, “Will Fred Gartz phone to take me out?” P.S. I think he will, and I hope this hunch is as correct as my more pessimistic ones.

Will her hunch turn out correct? Tune in next time to see how it plays out.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dad...and G-G-G-Grandpa

Fred Gartz dob October 10, 1914
Fred Gartz, 1934
If you've ever taken a course in probability, you've undoubtedly learned to mathematically prove the Birthday Problem:  if you gather a relatively small number of people in a room, the likelihood that two will have the same birthday is much higher than seems possible without the "proof." (With just 23 random people in a room, there's a 50% probability that two of them will have the same birthday!) See the Wikipedia explanation of this phenomenon (if you care) at The Birthday Problem.

Birth Registration 10 October, 1769 for
Johannes Michael Görz
But what's the probability that my dad and his g-g-grandfather would have the same birthday? That's four men of direct lineage (dad, grandfather, great grandfather, g-g grandfather). We're not talking uncles or great aunts -- but directly back through his dad's side to the guy who started the Gartz (originally Görz) lineage in my grandfather's home town.

I won't do the math, but it seems to me a long shot -- sometimes called an amazing coincidence! So I'll just say HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO my G-G-G Grandpa, Johannes Michael Görz,  born  OCTOBER 10, 1769 (no photo obviously, but here's his birth registration from Gerstheim, Alsace, before his Dad up and took the whole family (little Johann was just eight months old on this 1,000 mile trek) to Hungary, now Romania.

See Unraveling the Michael Mystery for details on discovering of this 242-year-old document.

And Happy Birthday, Dad: October 10, 1914 (he'd be 97), born 145 years after Johannes Michael.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Left Behind

Samuel Ebner Sr. my great-grandfather
Lisi Ebner/Gartz's father
Lisi Ebner, my grandmother, made the gut-wrenching sacrifice of leaving behind her family to follow her heart to America, to marry my grandfather, Josef. Or so I thought.

It turns out Lisi’s father, stepmother, Maria,  and half siblings (Theresia and Johann (aka, Resi and Hans, born in 1900 and 1904, respectively), had planned to join her!

On our trip to Romania in 2007, we learned for the first time from a relative that Samuel Ebner had never made it to America because of an eye infection, probably Trachoma, or pink eye, incurable and highly contagious at the time, but today easily treated with antibiotics.

For more details on the many inspections culling eye-disease emigrants,  see Threats to the Dream.

Since I learned this stunning news, I have discovered the actual letter Samuel Ebner wrote about what happened. It captures in simple, stark words, what was surely a devastating disappointment.

Deciphered from the old German and then translated, here’s the story, one of tens of thousands no doubt, about the immigrant who didn’t make it.

November 3, (year missing)
Probably 1912 or 1913, based on other letters after Lisi left

Dear Children, Sepp and Eliess, [aka Josef and Lisi]

It wasn’t meant to be that we would see you. Mari and Rudolf sent us free tickets 2nd class. [Lisi’s stepsister and husband in Cleveland, Ohio ]

We had our things in two boxes and what you wanted packed into a box. We sent it all, second class, to Bremen on the 11th of October. Then we traveled to Cadca. [a town on the border of Germany that Lisi had also passed through. See post: To Catch a Ship]

There at Cadca they wouldn’t let me go any farther because I needed to have a certificate from the hospital [probably for his eyes]. They took 1600 Kronen from me. It wasn’t only my money. It was also 1,000 Kronen from Mari [probably Maria Wagner, his 2nd wife’s daughter in Cleveland].

They made me turn around, but Mari’s mother [Ebner’s 2nd wife, Lisi’s stepmother] still had 1,000 Kronen and travel money to get her to Bremen, so they let her travel onward to Bremen with the children.

There they [the authorities] wouldn’t let her travel without me. Maria [his wife] wrote me in the hospital in Mühlbach, and I immediately telegraphed them that they should come back.

But they had also sent a telegram to America and waited 12 days in Bremen [probably waiting for word from Mari in Cleveland], where it cost 3 Kronen per day and there were three of them so it cost nearly 9 Kronen per day, and they [still] had to all come back along with the baggage.

Now I’ll unpack your luggage [probably extra stuff he was bringing along for Lisi and Josef] and send to Mari  [in Cleveland].

I already paid the transportation charge to Bremen and back. I wasn’t allowed to send [the packages to you] without us accompanying them. Mother came back to me sick and if she can’t get better in a short time, then I’ll have to see what I’ll do. In other things, it’s not going the best. You don’t have to worry about us. Health will come back, if God gives it to us.

Dear Son, [Josef] all the accounting of your money is the luggage. I will send it to you when the opportunity is better.

Sam Ebner Jr., Lisi's brother,
described as  "in military" by his dad.
How is it going with you both? Stay healthy. Write back soon. Sam [Lisi’s brother] is in military service and is healthy. [This didn’t turn out so well either, once World War I began. See The Fallen]

I greet you a thousand times as does the whole family

Lovingly, your father,
Samuel Ebner