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, February 21, 2012

The Happiest Days of our Lives!

Fred Gartz, silhouette created at
Riverview Amusement Park, summer 1942
The Summer of '42 was one of bliss for Fred and Lil. They went to Chicago's iconic amusement park, Riverview and had several profile silhouettes cut out. These are two. I'm sure they rode the boat through "The Tunnel of Love." Here's what Lil had to say:

Wed., July 15, 1942

Fred gave me his fraternity pin––Delta Lamba Xi, saying, like the symbol on the pin, I am his guiding star. I gave him my Waller High School ring, which has left my third finger left hand for the 1st time since 1934, Nov. Fits him fine.

Didn’t say, “Will you marry me,” but it’s more or less understood. However, tonite, might be called the nite of his proposal, for he called me “Mrs. Gartz” and said how good that sounded.

Lillian Koroschetz, silhouette created at
Riverview Park, summer, 1942
We had gone swimming at North Avenue beach, then went to the Grant Park Concert. These are without a doubt the happiest days of my life.

After the concert we went to the lake, Fred tossing me over the fences between the sidewalk and street. We lay down on the grassy hill facing the lake, and there under the stars, we exchanged our pledges.

Fred said he will be glad to cooperate 60% in our marriage, and I, too, said the same, the point being where the line of cooperation is drawn too closely, friction in marriage is the result. When we’ll be married, I can’t say. 

Should he be drafted and want to get married before he goes, I’ll be happy to do so, so long as he proposed before being drafted.

Lil double-underlined the words "before being drafted." Though madly in love, she had no intention of "giving herself" to someone who may have viewed marriage as either a scheme to avoid the draft or hoped to "get something" before putting his life on the line. Fred passed the test: no draft notice hanging over his head, just pure love.

The "60% cooperation" sounds a little funny. Why not 100%? Well, I understand what they meant. Rather than just a 50-50 partnership, they're talking about giving more than half. Bottom line, they seem to understand each other. At least for now.

This was Lil's last entry about Fred in her diary for many years to come. Wedding plans had to be made, and Mom would leave no detail to chance.

But that summer of 1942, another darker event was occurring simultaneously, and may even have been triggered by Mom's wedding plans.  Her mother was plunging into madness.


Bob deStefano said...

At my first sight of Lil's silhouette all I saw was you...I guess the fruit don't fall far from the tree.

Adrienne said...

I love that she recognizes that these are the happiest days of her life. Too many people recall their happiness only after it's fled.

Linda Gartz said...

Hey, Bob, that's interesting. I never thought of that. And Adrienne -- well, as we know, Lil was effusive in her emotional outpourings.

Margaret said...


How could you leave us hanging? You do look like Lil.

margaret Lurie

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said...

What a great ending...I'm totally hooked!

Paul Gartz said...

What a pleasure to relive these moments of our deceased parents. One often hears of babies and young kids whose charm builds great emotional memories to keep parents engaged through difficult teenage years. I see the same for mom and dad. The story of madness that is coming is perhaps the most significant in the family history as it affects many as collateral damage...but is seldom discussed and never about its consequences.

Margel said...

I have followed your family story from the beginning. What an adventure and told with great love. Now you hint at clouds on the horizon, and I am sure it will be difficult for you. As family troubles start to overlap with our lives, it becomes more difficult to write. I suspect you will find that you phrase and rephrase more for these posts to try and get it "just right".