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, January 3, 2012

Like a bolt out of the blue!

On March 22, 1942, Lil has written that she felt “like a hussy” kissing both Burt and Fred and four months after dating the two of them was feeling the stress of indecision.

Just a week later, something clicked.

March 28, 1942,

Burt and I went [out]. Had a pretty nice time. Had a flat tire so Burt and I changed tires at 1:30 a.m.

Suddenly like a bolt out of the blue it came to me definitely and decisively that Fred is the one and only for me. Just no shadow of a doubt left. Funny isn’t it?

I saw Mom’s sudden flash of intuition in decision-making repeatedly over the years. Or maybe it’s just typical of true love. In any case, certainty has replaced doubt.  Now she just had to be patient for Dad to get around to figuring out––or at least saying out loud––that she’s the one for him.

Time to spend a holiday with Fred's parents––at the crack of dawn no less. This had to be love, because Mom was by nature a night owl and getting up for a sunrise Easter service was assuredly quite a sacrifice.

Sunday, April 5, 1942, Easter

This photo isn't dated, but I'm venturing a guess it's 
Easter Sunday, 1942.  The outfits look very "Easterish" 
and I recognize Bethel Church behind them.
Fred and I went to Sunrise Easter Service at Soldier’s [sic] Field. Had to arise at 4:45 a.m. Came to my house for breakfast, which I made. Then to Fred’s house. His mother had me comb out her curls. Guess she likes me. [It will be years before she finds out how wrong she is.]

We went to Fred’s church––the whole family.

While driving to his house, Fred told a little joke.

“A man wanted to marry a beautiful but dumb girl. Beautiful so he could love her; dumb so she could love him.”

Well, I was looking at the funny side of it,” and said, “Like me, huh?”

“I aint’ committin’ myself,” he replied.
“For a few minutes, that made me angry. We had a wonderful day, though.
Garfield Park Conservatory on Chicago's West Side
After dinner at Fred’s, we went to the Garfield [Park] Conservatory where we met Kenny and Arlyne. Then for a drive and dinner at Olson’s.
At Olson’s, Fred said, “When I finally get settled, I want a room for my library and for studying.”

How will that suit you, Lillian?” Kenny joked.

I laughed it off, then said, “Where will I put my piano?”

I’m sure some day I’ll be Mrs. Fred Gartz. He’s just right for me and vice versa. I know we could certainly make a great success of it.

Dad had a very sensitive nature, and, conditioned by a controlling mother to avoid revealing his feelings out loud, my interpretation is that he feared exposing a heart that might be trampled. But Mom's confident prediction is enough for both of them––for now! 

But then there's that "Explosive News" (click to see post) Fred gave Lil that he's been hired as a "blasting powder blender" at  the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant in LaPorte, Indiana. Little do they knew that this job will shortly "blow up in his face" when the insidious bigotry of a country at war infiltrates the minds of narrow-minded, frightened men. 

Next week: Bigotry Blow-up.


Nancy C said...

I love this photo of your mom and dad, both looking so happy and comfortable together. Love the way her hat has a little bit of a "widow's peak" in the middle of the brim. Such a lovely time of life!

Kathy Goldmann said...

You've sure got me hooked on all the little episodes!

Paul E. Gartz said...

Ahh, the awkward time between romantic discovery, love and commitment! Although I grew up with this story, I am still impressed by mom's assurance. Both were actually risk takers but in different ways and these shifted over the years. It is an open debate on what GmG's initial feelings were toward mom. She may have been happy for them, but later disappointed that mom did not behave the way GmG was trained in the Old Country. Not a new story really. I am sure Lin will have more that will open this aspect that was key to much.

Andrea Kelleher said...

Your parents are absolutely lovely in this picture. Can't wait to read more.

Marian Kurz said...

I see your face in your mom's smile, Linda. What a fun time, only recently did I think that my in laws would be proud of what I have done for their son...and they have been gone for a long time. But no doubt Fred was pleased(as is my husband) and that is really the most important thing!

Anonymous said...

You leave us (your readers) wanting more! - Naomi

Adrienne said...

I love the way you build suspense and reader interest into a story that's already taken place.

Kathy Reed said...

I think I can guess what the "insidious bigotry" will turn out to be but I can't wait to read the next installment.

Anonymous said...

As usual, you have written this post with apolmb. Maybe your Mom was dating Burt as a bit of self-protection, too, but her heart just wasn't in it!I love how she decides to go with her gut, and the rest is history, as they say. Katy

Debi Austen said...

I love, love, love this story! In fact, I almost feel a little like we shouldn't be listening :-) But I'm glad you've decided to share it with us.

Cherie Cayemberg said...

Linda, I am so loving these posts!!!! Amazing how times change and their courtship is so wonderful!

Linda Gartz said...

Nancy, Kathy and Paul--
You certainly all have had a history of your own with this family, and so nice to hear from you all. Glad so many of my readers are eager for the next post. It was traumatic. Thanks to everyone for your encouraging comments!

Sandy Arnone said...

We can all be reminded of the hopes trials and discovery we go through before we settle in to a lasting relationship and sometimes move on to more life experiences. The desire to receive approval from loved ones from the old country who lived a very different way of life.

LInda Gartz said...

Sandy, always nice to hear your thoughtful comments. The fact is my mother and dad's mother were very similar personalities: strong, independent women, Grandma, I think, expecting homage. That would have never occurred to my mother to give and besides, she was a full time working woman herself, with very little free time. Hope to get to some of this in the future.