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, March 20, 2012

The Masterpiece

Alöisia Woschkeruscha's masterpiece, 1912
Alöisia (Luise, later Louise) Woschkeruscha, my maternal grandmother, apprenticed at Frau Elise Vogel's dressmaking salon in Vienna,  from July 1, 1906 through July 1, 1909

She received her beautiful "diploma," the Lehrbrief, shown in the last post, A Pock-marked resume, signed by both Vogel and the Director of Vienna's Dressmaker's Collective (union or guild), and was now declared to be a Gehilferin, an assistant, like moving to the "Journey-woman" stage. She was now certified or "licensed," to work in any  dress shop. She stayed on as Frau Vogel's assistant in her Viennese Dress Salon.

The director of the Dressmakers' Association also noted in Louise's Arbeitsbuch  that Louise had successfully completed her apprenticeship. The Arbetisbuch entry (below, right) was important, because that is the "resume" she'd show to potential employers, rather than the huge (about 12 X 17) diploma (Lehrbrief).

Detail: notice rosettes surrounding top of high-neck
and overlapping material festooned with tiny bows.
Louise worked in Frau Vogel's dress shop for the next three years. 

In 1912, Louise created her Masterpiece, the dress pictured above and in the close-ups.
sleeve detail
Note flowered fabric
Elegant and detailed, her gorgeous dress shows off the wide range of skills she had acquired in six years of training. 

The material she chose is flowered. She continues the flower theme in the rosettes that edge the high collar. Pearls are festooned down the chest which is V-framed in what appears to be lace. Pearls splash the peaked waistband.  I'm no seamstress, so I'm not even sure how to describe the tucks and overlaps that appear on the bodice, sleeves, and neckline. Every detail testifies to her creativity, workmanship, and eye for beauty. I have little doubt it was the finest in the class, as Louise always contended, but her dress was awarded second place. According to Louise, first place had to go to the mayor's daughter. 

Elise Vogel's
If Louise's description of a "competition" is accurate, then other young women from her class must have also stayed on to complete their training in the Vogel Dress Salon as "Journey-women."

Because this photograph/pencil drawing (an artist penciled in detail to the original photograph) is dated 1912, it had to have been created at the very end of her work with Frau Vogel, who then wrote a Zeugnis, "Recommendation" into Louise's Arbeitsbuch (resume book), shown right, on page 13. Louise left the salon on February 2, 1913,  and Elise Vogel wrote her recommendation a month later, on March 1, 1913. 

Date of Departure [from salon]

The undersigned confirms herewith that Miss Luise Woschkeruscha, from the date of entry [noted as 7/1/1909]  to this date, six years,  has worked very industriously and has also learned to beautifully tailor jackets, coats, bodices/corsettes, [and] skirts so that this young woman is recommended to any [dressmaking] Salon and has conducted herself to the fullest satisfaction in every respect [for this] recognition.

Marketplace, Leobersdorf, near Vienna
E. Vogel
Dress salon
Leobersdorf on the first of March, 1913
Signed by Elise Vogel.

Louise must have already had her plans in place to leave for America when this recommendation was written, for in less than two weeks, that's just what she'd do. 

Next week: Louise takes her skills to Chicago.


Diana said...

How wonderful to be able to reach across the generations to make these connections, and delight in and with family members no longer here. In the Jewish tradition, we would say:" May their memory be for a blessing"

Marian Kurz said...

How proud she must have been; was the dress then sold to someone or did it come with her to America?

Adrienne said...

Nothing changes; Louise knows her dress should take first place, but power in the form of the mayor's daughter triumphs over quality.

Linda Gartz said...

I only knew of the dress growing up. It hung in our home, but as a child, I had never noticed the details. After I just recently discovered her Lehrbried and Arbeitsbuch, I was able to put the details of her training together - and a face with her teacher. I never saw the actual dress, Marian. It probably came with her, but I have no idea what happened to it. And yes, Adrienne. I'd say this story was my earliest exposure to politics and favoritism. As a child, I was outraged, but we should be equally outraged at all the political shenanigans to that bestow favoritism on the well-connected!

Jasia said...

Totally awesome. I dont know what else to say.

Candace said...

The initial vision of her masterpiece and painstaking detail-work that it required is a testament to her superior skill and creativity. Ultimately, she triumphed as, generations later, we are still admiring and exclaiming over her work.

Andrea Kelleher said...

A masterpiece indeed! Absolutely beautiful.

Sandy Arnone said...

What a talent! The dress is so elegant and ultra feminine with all the ruffles and tucks. I like Adrienne's comment because it's so typical of politics then, now, and future. She knew her creation was the best and that's what counts in the end. I've said before and I'll say it again. You have an amazing family!

Kathy Reed said...

Absolutely beautiful and elegant! Louise was such a complex woman -- almost as complex as her creations.

Linda Gartz said...

Thank you everyone for your appreciation of my Louise's dress! I should clarify my comment above--I meant to say that the PHOTO of the dress had always hung in our home, not the dress itself. And yes, Kathy, she's a complex case. All that talent -- but with so many talented people, inner demons can overtake skill, intelligence, and creativity. Sad in that regard.