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!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hello, Darling. Hello, Sweetheart.

Fred & Lil Nov. 9, 1941
Lil and Fred are at it again--this time it’s a date to go horseback riding--if rain doesn’t interfere. These two knew how to party--Lots of kissin’, a good deal of drinking, out till 4 a.m -- and an ambiguous “snack” described near the end. 

Sunday, October 5, 1941

Here I am again!

Fred phoned my home yesterday afternoon....Mom relayed on to me the message about Fred so I phoned his house at once and Bill [Fred's older brother] answered the phone. Fred was out so Bill asked me for him to go riding that night with a gang. Of course I said yes, although I’m not very good at it yet.

Further it was raining cats and dogs, but he mentioned we would all go to a house party if it was still raining. I always get such a thrill when Fred calls me!

I did a little shopping, dashed home and was ready when Fred called for me. It was raining all evening so we all went to a house party on the South Side. All the gals were in riding breeches, and, for that matter, so were the men.

Had a simply wonderful time. We had about seven Scotch and sodas, sang many songs to the accompaniment of Hank, who is a wonderful popular-style pianist. Fred and I played billiards, and he won (my first time playing that game.)

Fred and I also danced the Beer Barrel Polka, our theme song, then sank exhausted on the bed they have in the basement for lounging use, by way of explanation. Later someone turned out the lights, so Freddie and I took advantage of the situation. He’s so darned sweet!

We had a lovely “snack” later and got home at 4:00 a.m. Freddie and I kissed just about all the way home. I never seem to tire of kissing that lad. (If I don’t marry him, this sure would make mighty interesting reading to some other spouse. It had better be he --for me!!) If not, this goes in solitary confinement.

Friday,  Oct. 10, 1941  [Fred's Birthday]  

So having already reported on the eve of October 4, I shall now write about Fred’s birthday celebration.

I had caught another terrific cold Sunday, which took til Tuesday to come out full force. Freddie phoned me last night fo the date. I met him at Lewis Institute - Damen and Madison - and ran into his brother, Bill, in front of the school, who was there to take care of Fred’s books.

We went with Kenny Eggen and his gal friend, Arlyne Hennings - a lovely tall blonde model. Went to the “Glass Hat” cocktail lounge in the Hotel Graemere. Had about six scotch and sodas and really had a grand time. Fred and I soloed again as usual. Danced a waltz and the Beer Barrel [Polka] to the organ music interlude between band sessions.

Fred had their precious car tonite - took a taxi to his house.

When kissing me goodnight, he paused and said, “Hello Darling,” and I for the first time in my life - said “Hello Sweetheart” to a man.

To drop me a note, please click on the red word, "comments" below. Thanks!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Family Archaeologist––First Blogiversary!

It reads "Heartfelt Good Wishes for your Name Day
Dated November 18, 1910, Josef Gärtz
 sent this postcard to his sweetheart, Lisi Ebner
 to arrive on her Names Day, Nov. 19th, 1910
One year ago today I posted the oldest missive in my collection, this sweet postcard sent from my grandfather, Josef Gärtz 
to his sweetheart, Lisi Ebner. (See:  Can Love Last 100 Years?) If you've followed along, you've learned a lot about their long distance courtship as the letters they wrote from fall of 1910-summer of 1911 persuaded them they must be together, and my grandmother made that fateful trip across the ocean. 

Josef Gärtz, summer, 1910
 Although I officially entered the blogosphere with my first post, introducing Family Archaeologist on November 17th, (click Welcome to Family Archaeologist to see the intro) I like to think of today as the beginning of the story. My goal has been to share my family's letters, diaries, and original documents, dating back over the past century. My hope was that the stories of this one immigrant family, told in their own words, would find resonance with other readers.

Elisabetha/Lisi Ebner, June, 1910
By entering the genealogy and family history blogging community, I have been amply rewarded with the wonderful blogs I've been introduced to and their creative, prolific, and caring writers. I have met bloggers who have inspired me to write my family history, who have impressed me with their intelligent and thoughtful posts, who have introduced me to technologies and techniques to make blogging and family history research simpler, who have opened my eyes to self-publishing outlets, who have shared so generously their knowledge of genealogy research, and  many whose own family histories, documents, and photographs have been beautifully displayed and written about. I've been enriched by all of you.

I don't always get around to visiting as many blogs as I'd like, but I do try to drop by every couple weeks just to see what others are doing and to let them know I appreciate their work. Thanks to all for your wonderful writing and touching stories.

Because I promised myself to post at least once a week, the blog has been my inspiration to look more closely at and really think about the meaning of all these letters and documents my family so carefully preserved over the past century. As E.M. Forster said, "How do I know what I think until I see what I say?" This blog required me to put into words the inchoate thoughts rumbling around in my brain about my family's past. It has enriched my understanding both of my roots and actually introduced me to family members as they were in their youth. Old, careful souls were transformed into the young, rash, passionate people that existed decades before I was born. 

Thank you to my family for being such pack rats, for not only saving these treasures, but labeling and carefully preserving just about everything  so that my brothers and I can know you as you were -- and can share your story with others.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A little jealousy doesn't hurt

Lillian Koroschetz, 1937, age 20
about 3 years before meeting Fred
We've been following along with Lillian Koroschetz, my mom, as she writes about the joy of falling in love with my dad seventy years ago, in 1941. To start at the beginning of Lil's diary entries of falling for "Freddie" see Falling in Love 70 Years Ago.

Since her previous entry on September 3rd,  Lil has had to wait almost  three weeks before she heard from Fred again.  What's wrong with that young man?

Mon. Sept 22, ’41 

I thought I had been deserted by my Freddie and was becoming angry with him. But he called at work today. He wanted to go swimming, but I was afraid to since I had caught a cold after our last date. It had already started the day we went swimming.
So he came to my new address - 2714 Marshfield--and we sang songs and I played piano -- I’m practicing again and picking up faster than I have in my life.

At 8:00 pm we went to the Vine Gardens, had beer and danced and danced and talked and talked.

Then we walked to the Question Mark Pier where it was "veddy, veddy" dark and embraced each other by our lonesomes.

We waited for a street car quite a while at North Ave. and Ashland. Wow! We just waited an eternity it seemed. Fred gave me his suit coat because I was cold. We were just going to take a taxi when a street car came. I got home at 4:00 and Freddie, I discovered later, got home at 6:00 am. (At the Vine Gardens, several people complimented us on our dancing.)

Lil and Fred's next date is five days later. Maybe she gave him a "talking to," but it's still a day-before invitation. An old boyfriend, Frank, from a year earlier, horns in on Fred's best girl at a Germania Club dance. Lil handles it, but thinks that maybe a little jealousy is in order!

Saturday, Sept 27, [1941] 

Freddie phoned me last night for tonite’s date. We went to some “San Verein’s” concert and Dance at the Germania club. Met Frank Schiller, Carl Schodt, and the entire German Club Gang there. Frank danced a number with me and upon returning me to Fred, Frank kept saying, “We ought to see more of each other, etc. etc. And don’t I agree.”

I said I was afraid I had to disagree and was rather embarrassed.

But then Freddie could see at least that I could go out with someone else besides him if I so desired. But I don’t so desire.

We did some crazy things tonite like sliding down the bannisters, dancing in the balcony where we had some room -- and incidentally, Fred could cool off for a moment or so by removing his coat.

We also fixed up a little fencing they had up there into a square enclosure and danced in there.

Around 3 AM Freddie and I left and walked over to his laboratory which he wanted to show me. So we went through the whole thing and I got so sleepy. We took a taxi home and I promptly snoozed off on Fred’s shoulder. Another wonderful time.

Mom would learn over the years that Fred had no end of "crazy" ideas. He definitely thought "out-of-the box." But that's another story.

Coming Up: November 18th: the first anniversary of this blog:  Family Archaeologist,   and November 19th -- a double date to remember: the 101st anniversary of the oldest missive in my collection: a Names' Day postcard from Josef Gartz, my grandfather, to Lisi Ebner, his future wife and also -- the anniversary of the day my parents met.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Fred and Lil 1942 - 2011

Fred and Lillian Gartz, Nov. 8, 1942, outside church
I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, but this post isn’t really a spoiler. After all, you did know my parents would be getting married -- right? So even though I’m posting entries from my mom’s diary from seventy years ago, describing her and my Dad’s courtship, I just couldn’t allow their 69th anniversary to pass without celebrating it on my blog! November 8, 1942, was the big day. After this post, it will still be fun to follow along in Mom's diary to see how they get to this happy ending.

Their invitation tells us the wedding took place on a Sunday, and this article about the event, ("Miss Koroschetz Weds Fred Gartz At Bethel Church") published in the West Garfield Park local newspaper, The Garfieldian, includes wonderful sartorial details: 

"The bride wore a gown of egg-shell satin with a fingertip veil held in place with a seed pearl tiara. Her flowers were white chrysanthemums." The matron of honor wore a "gown of fuschia velveteen and net with a Juliet cap and carried pom poms." The bridesmaids' gowns "were of plum velveteen and net." Mom saved small samples of the fabric, labelled as to who wore which.

Mom planned the bridesmaid’s outfits to be practical. It was the war years, after all, and Mom wanted her bridesmaids to get use out of the outfits after the wedding. Remove the net over the skirts, and each had a beautiful velveteen suit. 

Of course, being a skilled executive secretary for the president of the Bayer Company, mom created a minute-by-minute run-down of the ceremony and reception, who had to be where at which time.

Speaking of the reception, what do you think that might have cost back in 1942? So glad you asked! Here's the receipt for the Central Plaza Hotel. It appears to include everything. I'm assuming the line item: "32 covers @ $1.50 each" refers to the cost per plate of dinner. If you have a different idea, weigh in. Cake for 32:  $12.50. Juke box: $10.00. The rest, including candles, tax, tip, ferns, and a case of ginger ale comes to a grand total of $72.60. I know my parents weren't tee-totalers, so they must have supplied the liquor separately.

Eva Coleman, a voice major and friend of Dad's from  church, sang "Because." Everything went without a hitch--except for one. Ken Eggen, Dad's best friend and one of the groomsmen, fainted dead away during the ceremony. Dad immortalized this memorable event in a loving poem he wrote to Mom for their tenth anniversary. Its cadence is reminiscent of "The Raven," written by Edgar Allen Poe about his lost love, Lenore.  I’ve included Dad's poem below, just as my dad would have presented it to Mom, handwritten on parchment, carefully laid out to keep each line straight and beautiful. (Just a little note: in stanza 4, "Blitzbuggy," refers to my dad's 1929 Model A Ford. "Blitz" means "lightning." To learn a little more about this special steed, and its role in World War II, see the post, Blitzbuggy––A Car with History.)

When we get back to their courtship in the fall of 1941, we'll see how a little jealousy may have kept Fred on his toes. 

Please click below this post on the red word, "comments." Any ideas what your parents' or grandparents' weddings cost? It would be fun to compare notes.

Left to Right, Ken Eggen (who fainted during the ceremony) Frank
Ebner Gartz (17-year old brother to Dad), Lillian, Fred, Will Gartz (Dad's
29-year old brother). Seated: Arlyne Hennings, Myrtle Haling, Gertrude
Nowles, maid of honor.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Love is dancing by ourselves

Lil and Fred-8/27/1941  This is the
first photo of the two of them together,
and this diary entry confirms the date.
North Ave. Beach, Chicago
Charles Schultz wrote two memorable square-shaped little "Peanuts" books in which each page expressed a single, simple thought about love or happiness. You can click to see these classics on Amazon:  Love is Walking Hand in Hand and Happiness is a Warm Puppy

Well, I think my mom's following diary entries of falling for my dad could add something to those books: 

Love is swimming in the lake together.
Love is dancing by ourselves.  
Happiness is a farm wagon under the full moon. 

Read on to see how Lil and Fred's romance is progressing. 

To see my first post about LIl's diary about falling for Fred, see Falling in Love 70 Years Ago, and read on from there. (All past posts can be found on the right -- just scroll down past the Twitter Icon to Blog Archive, and click on the one you want to read.)
Wed., Aug 27, 1941

Went swimming at North Ave. Beach However the water was extremely choppy and we had to stay close to the pier. (I picked up Fred at his place). We had a man take a picture of us after getting our street clothes on again against the lake. (see left) Then I drove Fred to meet his Mom, Pop, and Bill at a real estate office where they are trying to consummate a deal for an apartment.

Then we went to their house for supper and Fred showed me pictures and slides of their vacation. Fred and I fenced in the front room for a few moments too. Then he drove home with me and another nice evening was at a close.

Wed., Sept 3, 1941

Went swimming again, although it seemed very cold out. However, this time the water was just delightful. We swam a great distance and really enjoyed it immensely. Then we drove out to Hapsburg.

Fred is just like me--he can’t resist a polka or a waltz. So whenever the juke box played a number we just left our food and up and danced - a solo. We are quite immune to dancing by ourselves. After our chicken dinner and a few beers we went outside and went for a walk.

Oh, this was just about the most beautiful and gorgeous night we’ve had together. There was a full moon so bright it illuminated the entrire landscape.

We walked arm-in-arm down a side road, then saw a wagon in a farmer’s field and decided this was made to order. Oh boy!

Hapsburg Inn-- Des Plaines, Illinois
Then we walked back to Essie and Freddie fell asleep while I drove home.

Coming up:  A little jealousy can't hurt!

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