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, May 8, 2012

Cute, coy, fierce, and strong

Lillian Gartz, nee Koroschetz, 1918
About a year and a half after John and Louise Koroschetz married, their first and only child was born, Lillian––my mom. To get a tiny bit of insight into my mother's personality, just take a look at these two baby pictures. She seems to be about the same age in each––I'd say about six months. Now we all know that baby pictures can be pretty hilarious in the goofy expressions the camera can capture of these unknowing little souls, and those photos don't necessarily reveal the true personality of the subject.

But in this case, I find these two photos prescient of my mother's dual nature.
Lillian and her Mom. Is the empty bottle
causing that expression?
Picture 1 above:
Little Lillian is lying on a bed, energetically pushing herself upward. She's adorable! Her eyes sparkle. She looks at the camera with a combination of enthusiasm and coy delight. She's cute, confident, bubbling with happiness and confidence. This is a girl who seems to say, "World, here I come." 

Picture 2:
Lillian is glaring at the camera with a fierceness that would make a marine back off. I mean, that's a take-no-prisoners expression. Here Lillian looks like she's about to take charge, dress down a miscreant, tell you exactly what she thinks, and if you're in her sights at this moment, you don't want to hear it! 

Mom would evolve through girlhood and into an adult with both these traits, although the first one was more prevalent in her youth. She had immense self-confidence, a strong moral sense, and clear expectations of how people should behave, but she wasn't a prig. It was virtually impossible to sway her from her beliefs. Sometimes that's a wonderful feature. Other times...not so great. But that's who she was, and once she started writing regularly in a diary---at the age of ten---her go-getter personality came ever-more into focus.


Pat Hitchens said...

Well, I'd pick up the infant in photo #1 in a heartbeat, but that little lady boring into the lens in photo #2 would give me pause! I'm going back to look through my own family's pictorial archive to see what lessons there might have been for those who thought to look!

Love the way you mine the Past in service to the Present!

Marian Kurz said...

Such insights into your mom...wish we could have met her but you have brought her alive for all of us.

Susan Bearman said...

These are great. I keep a picture of my daughter when she was 3 and in mid-temper tantrum to remind me of that side of life.

Linda Gartz said...

Hey Marian and Pat,
I have memories of my mom when she was not a happy camper looking just like the baby in photo 2. The baby in photo one came through loud and clear in all those diary entries starting in October, 2011, with "Falling in Love 70 years ago," and throughout her youth. What a combo!

Linda Gartz said...

What I love (looking back -- not at the time) about our kids temper tantrums was how they could be like a summer storm--so intensely angry that I often thought that if I felt that amount of rage i could never speak to the person again who had caused it. Then, like the clouds parting, they forgot their anger and turned into the sweetest, most adorable creatures. Thank God, or we might have abandoned them! I'm sure it's evolutionarily programmed to keep us protecting and cherishing them.

peggy said...

Oh yeah, those baby pictures ....a story worth 1,000 words, even though you're probably approaching the 200,000 mark.
When my mom looks at my daughter, she says to me: I saw that face 50 years ago.

Kathy Reed said...

It's Mother's Day and it's refreshing to read this post. On a day when we tend to celebrate our mothers by focusing on the positive, it's nice to recognize that all of us have several sides to our personalities.

Linda Gartz said...

Peggy and Kathy,
I have some baby and toddler pictures where you know I'm my mom's daughter, but more so as I got older. And, yes, Kathy, our mom's weren't perfect people and all these gooey, sentimental portrayals don't do the mom's or their children any service. All Mom's make mistakes, whether it's overindulgence or overly tough at times. We all have to learn to forgive AND be grateful to our moms.