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.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New Website for Family Archaeologist

Hello Everyone,

Family Archaeologist has migrated to my new website, LindaGartz.com. There you'll find all past and future posts. 

I want to thank all my faithful followers for your interest and for the wonderful comments you've made since the blog's  beginning on November 17, 2010. 

Since then more than 92,000 readers have visited Family Archaeologist. I'm so grateful to each and every one!

I do hope you'll drop by my brighter website, with its fresh new look, and leave a comment to say hello. 

You can also check out the start of a second blog, "Letters of a World War II Airman," clickable on the navbar at any page at LindaGartz.com

I post a transcription and the original of the missives to and from my uncle, Frank Ebner Gartz, on or near the 70th anniversary of the writing of each. The blog begins with Frank's induction date into the Army Air Corps on January 23, 1943. The letters give a first-hand look at an eighteen-year-old kid transforming into a seasoned airman. Letters from the home front show how friends and family rally to support the young soldier and expose a mother's worried heart. 

At the end of April, 2013, I was invited to join a compendium of more than 100 Chicago bloggers at ChicagoNow. Go to this link: Letters of a World War II Airman on Chicago Now, to find the latest  and all future letters.

More changes to come in the future.  Thanks again for all your support.

Linda

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Let's review the rules!

Will is the practical oldest brother who finds it so difficult, if not impossible, to be chatty and newsy. It seems he can’t stop himself from chastising, advising, informing, correcting. You can skim it if you prefer, but if you are following along and getting to know the characters through their letters, this one is revealing of Will’s personality. It’s especially poignant when he gets to the part where he recognizes and admits his shortcomings.

I’m amused by Will’s focus on Frank’s misspellings, many of which I corrected in the transcription, but visible in the original. See what you think as you read through this.

My grandmother adds a note at the end, again singing the praises of Ebner's girlfriend, Cookie.

Friday March 19, 1943
Chicago, ILL.

Dear Frank,

I am sorry I haven’t answered your letter of March 12th but I’ve been somewhat busy what with a new class. I am now teaching in the C.A.P. [Civil Air Patrol], namely “General Servicing of Aircraft.” Boy there is on way to learn a subject; just try and teach it to someone. Since I received your letter to meof March 12th, we have received your letter to Mother of March 19th, so I’ll try to cover both of them here.

In the first place let’s get down some sort of a system by which we can determine whether you receive our letters and packages. You mentioned in one letter that you received one package….Now, have you received the package containing the candy bars (Package #1). And package #2 Containing assorted chocolates, sausage, etc. Sent March 13?

I was saying to Mom...if it wouldn’t be a good idea to enclose in each pacakage a self-addressed penny post card so that when you open the package all you have to do is note you had received package # so and os and whether it was in good condition or not.

Mom was wonder why you don’t answer the specific questions she puts to you in her letters and if you are having difficulty in deciphering them.

By the way, I want to mention something to you...for your own good, some of your spelling is pretty bad especially the phase in which you double the consonant and add the suffix. Example of the worst or more frequent error: you spell “geting” for “getting.” The rule concerning this reads in part “in a word ending in a consenant [sic] and having the accent on the last syllable you double the consenant [sic] and add the suffix.”

Well, so you’re sending 4 words per minutes or is it receiving that many? I’ve sort of dropped away from code practise [sic] because of other work but no matter here is a dose of something I’m sending you.

MORSE CODE MESSAGE WHICH CAN BE READ IN THE ORIGINAL BELOW.

You mentioned that you loaned some $9.00 to some sergeants does this mean you finally were paid? I don’t want to be critical but you know “Borgen macht Sorgen.” [Borrowing makes sorrow.] In other words be generous only if you have evaluated the integrity and honesty of an individual and at all times keep your book business like and dear.

Darn, I can’t write anything but cold turkey, which, as you know, is my makeup. Abstainance [sic] from the pleasure of life sure is showing and leaving its mark, but I can’t help it. One of these days I’m going to throw caution ot he wind and have a nice long fling.

Hasta la vista

Bill

Now Grandma writes in her handwriting:

My Dear Ebner.

Only a few words I send you. Your letter March 16, I received 18. You ask [about] Cooky [Cookie]....

Once she called [me] at home from work.... She is very busy untill 6 p.m. I called before and talked to her mother and thanked her for your package. As soon as she [Cookie] came home she call[ed] me. Allways so sweet, as you know.

We are  so busy at home with that snow, beside the other work. Would you like Paprika Spek [bacon]? This is the real one from Kovash, the Contractor.

Please send me word if that bread was dry. Again is 12:30 at midnite, so Goot Nite on Paper, then Goot nite to your picture.

With Love, Mom


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Morse Code!

Army Technical School 
A.A.F.T.T.C.
SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA

3-16-43

Dear Mom:

I had my reason for holding back this letter so please excuse the delay. The last 3 days I’ve been concentrating pretty hard and today I passed my first code check. I’ve been taking 4 words a minute and barely getting them and now I’m on 8 w.p.m. So it’s time I sent you a letter. Yesterday morning it started hailing and turned to rain and then ice. All of the streets are like glass and slippery as a skating rink. The temperature dropped to below freezing and snow fell all night. We woke up this morning and found a blanket of snow on top of our [streets.] (?)

 It wasn’t hard walking to school and I felt like turning back twice but I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. This morning I went to the side room and started taking down the cod and did pretty well, so I stopped and went to sleep at my desk. I was determined to pass so I rested my mind. You’d be surprised how hard you have to concentrate on what you are writing. Then he announced over the speaker, “4 Word Code Check.” 

That’s all I wanted to hear. I stretched and started in.

You need only 40 characters in a row to pass and I got 83 and 15 others scattered around to a total of 98 out of a possible 100. This afternoon another fellow whom I’ve been palling around with passed his and sat in back of me. Now we can stall around a bit more and take it easy as this next chen is going to be easier than the first one. I’m sorry, but I can’t send you the articles you asked for this week, but perhaps next.

I lent out $9.00 to a few friends who haven’t been paid since they left gunnery school 2 mos. ago. Heard  the other gunners are sergeants. Also when I finish this school I’ll wear 1 stripe or a first class private and then might be sent to gunnery school if I don’t pass my  physical for the cadet training.

Coookie sent me a box of things today. It was very sweet of her. I received chocolate chip cookies, a pipe, tobacco, candy, and a can of  oranges. I wish you would personally thank her for me. Does she visit you now and then? How is everthing back home. I still have my watch and am trying to mail it home but I just don’t get a chance. The post office closes at 5:0 and we don’t get through calesthenics until 4:30. By the time you get dress and hike over there it’s closed.

Here’s a little note to Will:

MORSE CODE -- see below in original

Well I have to write to LaVerne [Cookie, his girlfriend] and thank her for the package. Lil wrote me and told me your morning greeting to my picture. I ope that it will be bordreed by one in uniform soon. Well, till I write again, I’ll keep as good as I can.

Love Frank 
XXX







Thursday, March 14, 2013

Radio Days Devotion

A radio similar to theone on which my 
grand mother set Ebner's photo to 
greetMorning and Night


My grandmother explains how she and Grandpa say "Goot Morning, Ebner" and "Goot Night, Ebner" twice daily my uncle's photo, set up as a small shrine atop a radio the the one posted here. It's kinda sweet, picturing them trying to keep a connection through a picture. A refresher on names: Will is my grandparents' oldest son, then Fred, my dad (whom the family called "Sam." I changed it in the letter to [Fred] in brackets, to avoid confusion. Lil is my mom. She and Dad had married just two months, on November 8, 1942, before Ebner's draft date.





Chicago, Ill 3/14 1943

My Dear Ebner,

I was waiting till 7 minutes before 10 pm Sunday for maybe you would call me on the telefon. But it was for nothing. Were you so busy or have you got school on Sunday. I hope and pray for you in our church that God should bless you everywhere you go and in everything you do. He should be with you, my loving son. The letter you send to [Fred] I heard about two days after and wish to help you.

As soon as [Fred] read me the news I send you 1/2 salami, a little bread [and want to find out if] everyting reach you. Was the bread dry out or is it o.k.?

[I sent you dill pickel and some fruit and nut candy Will bought, so I packt it tight, hoping [it] reach you good.

[Fred] and Lil send you a package. Sam mail mine with his on Sat 5pm time. Send me a few lines so I kan know and keep going [to send you] the next one.

How is it with the money? You have still or do you need a littel more. As much as I can I will do. Write me more about yourself. Please don’t get discourage. Read some time the verse I give you [from] the Bible or hymn book. I am sure God will be with you if you think on him.

Page 2


My Dear Ebner,

Your watch you were sending home is not here--or did you change your mind? Your dad is busy. Same [with] Will. Both working so hard, often we have our meal [supper] at 9:00 or 9:30

[At the six flat, a contractor [put in] new front steps to the basement. All the tenants’ leases begin on May 1, 1943, so I was going with the painter and contractor for all the cleaning [of the apartments] and [paid] the last bill of the income tax, and paid the painter, so [that’s the reason] I was not writing.

I don’t know if you can read all. I try very hard with a dictionarie.

Every morning [first thing] I say “Goot Morning, Ebner” to your picture on the radio, and Father, he says it as soon as he comes home...and prays for your blessings for the day. Then [again I say good night to the picture] the last thing before I go to bed.

Those two lights [flanking Ebner’s photo] burn as soon as it gets dark. Often our living room is [lit] only by those green lights.

So chin high. God will be with you all the time and [will] always bless you. It is now 12 o’clock Sunday the 14th. So good night on paper. Before I go to bed, I stand by your picture two times.

With loving and more loving from your Mother and Dad and Will





Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The War-years work schedule

Long hours were common during the war years, as women and the men left behind had to do the work of the men deployed and in training. It was no different for my parents. My Mom, Lillian, was executive secretary for the president of the Bayer Company in downtown Chicago. She was an expert typist, resulting in letters like the one below. It needs no transcription, but if the print seems too small, just hold your command or control button and press the + key to enlarge.



Saturday, March 9, 2013

What's the Pitch? What Gives?

Frank Von Arx
Frank Gartz's first letter from a pal.

Fun Lingo from the 1940s crops up throughout this very first letter written to my Uncle Ebner BEFORE he was even drafted. That's because his best buddy, Frank Von Arx, had already been inducted into the military the previous December (1942). Here Von Arx chides Frank Ebner Gartz for not writing to him. (Seems the pattern started early, but won't last for long!)

 Its lighthearted scolding and teasing tone, tell us a lot about these two young men and the friendship they shared. Sounds like Ebner was pretty hard to pin down, always on the go. Frank VA is is doing his best to wheedle a letter out of his buddy, Gartz, still in Chicago. Von Arx is already demonstrating his scribe skills which will eventually land him in journalism.

I chose not to post it on the date it was written because that was before Ebner's induction, and I started this thread on that date, 1/23. Here it is now.


January 7, 1943

Dear Frank,

Boy are you in for it now. All you better hope is that we get called out to the drill field before I get started here.

To make myself perfectly plain to you I will put it this way–––
What the hell goes on in Chicago?
Yes, that is what I said. What’s the pitch? What gives?

Here is the situation. Two old pals who knew each other for practically all their lives are separated by a cruel stroke of fate. They bid tearful goodbyes and make stout promises to send a good word as often as possible.  So here is what happens.


The galoot who stays home [my uncle] send the track-maker one high-class letter on stolen stationery and then promptly leaves his poor lost pal in the lurch, alone in the world to tear out his hair and beat out his brains trying to guess what possibly could have happened at home.

Now to make it all the worse, you must consider the one pal who made his goodbyes at home. If he were an ordinary guy, one could just about guess what makes at home, BUT this guys is different. Never try to guess what he is going to do or is doing. You just can’t do it! I know I tried. And that makes all the worst, anything could be happening and this poor pal would never know it. Oh Dear!

Gartz, are you lucky there are five states separating us (or are there? I wouldn’t be too sure of even that ?) or else I would make it tough on you.

(Pause of approximately 5 hours)


So, as I said, What goes on in Chicago? Especially around Keeler and Madison [where Gartz family lived], even though you aren’t at home long enough to get a good night’s sleep at least try to write a letter saying--”Dear Frank, Am feeling ok -- or am not feeling okay, whichever the case may be.

Get the idea?

Now I know this isn’t a very good way to talk to a guy’s best friend, but then I haven’t bawled anybody out for a long time so it might as well be you. You at least, have sense enough not to listen.

I forget when I last wrote you so therefore, I cannot tell you an accurate account of all the heroic deeds I have performed down here in Florida. In fact, just for punishment for not writing, I think I shan't tell you any of them all. So there!

We are now in our third day of Basic Training (15 more to go). This morning we started drilling at 7:45 am, although we had been up since 4:45, and kept at it until 8:30 when we wit and got a lecture on battlefield first aid. At 10am we went to P.T. (Physical Trn.) and got a dose of exercise and a couple of simple lessons on breaking a choking grip or likewise. Now it is 12 noon and we are in our barracks waiting a call for chow.

This afternoon I suppose we will get more drilling and then an hour of P.T. Before we go off duty at 5pm. For the afternoon P.T. We can put on our swim suits and take the exercises on the beach, after which we all take a nice swim. It really is nice in ocean water despite the salt. You can’t swim much but the waves sure knock you around a lot.

There are several basketball outdoor courts, tennis court, volleyball and baseball fields which we get to use in our spare time. I hope to get quite a tan before we get sent to school.

Which reminds me, did I tell you that they have classified me for either metal worker or armorer mechanic schools? That is just what I wanted. I want to get this in the mail at chow time so I am going to close now. Just want to let you know everything is all right -- except for a couple of tired bones -- and I can’t kick on a thin--except your mail.

Say hello to your mother, father, and brothers for me.

Your Pal,
Frank




Thursday, March 7, 2013

I'd hate for you to go haywire.

Austin High School, Chicago, Il
Frank's former science and division teacher at Austin High School, Miss Hartley, was a regular correspondent, not only to Frank Ebner, but to many of his buddies from his high school class. Harvey Duck was in Frank's same division (see photo above), and his name comes up in this letter as Miss Hartley is keeping all the boys apprised of their classmates doings and whereabouts  (See 3/3 posted letter from Frank's Mom.) Miss Hartley also mentions that Cookie, Frank's girlfriend, took over Duck's job. 

I'm not transcribing this letter. A teacher's handwriting is pretty easy to read. It's an example of how everyone on the home front rallied behind the boys in training and kept their spirits up with a regular flow of correspondence. Frank's teacher adds a few notes of chastisement for some of Frank's apparently not so "mature" behavior in high school, but, like all good teachers, also leavens her critique with guidance and encouragement.
Miss Catherine Hartley's Division #451 Austin High School, 1942Miss Hartley, center 2nd Row. Frank Ebner Gartz, top row second from right.
Friend, Harvey Duck, top row-3rd from left





Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Zero-Dark-thirty-five below


Frank Gartz left Keesler Field in Mississippi and arrived on February 27th, 1943, at the Army Technical School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for an 18-week stay. His long days of classes, studying, and drilling in a frigid wind will toughen him up. Here's a good description of the town and the first serious courses for an airman in training. He probably wrote this letter before receiving the one his mother wrote to him on March 3rd too, so I'm posting this a little after the date it was written.




ARMY TECHNICAL SCHOOL
A.A.F.T.T.C.
SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA
3-3-43

Dear Mom:

I had to write tonight because soon I’ll be going nuts studying lots of dashes and electron theory. I just made up my bunk and came back to the day room to write this letter. Soon I’ll have to turn in because it’s after 9 now and I’ll have to get up at 4:30.

Today we went to school (6:50 A.M.) and got through at 2:30. From 3:00 to 5:00 we went for a walk and covered about 7 miles. From about 6:30 to 8:00 I have been studying and now writing letters. At Keesler* I wrote and told you I didn’t have much time to myself. Here the situation is more acute. I have less time and more things to do. I’ll write as often as I can which will be 2 times a week or at least once.

I received your $20.00 and have arranged to have my picture taken as soon as I get to town. [Fred's] letter hasn’t as yet reached me but I know it will soon be here. I received a letter from Duck** today and promptly answered it, my first letter to Harvey since I’ve come in the army.

How is Dad and Will? Tell him I’ll write him soon in code to give him and myself some practice. I bought an extra book today called “The Radio Amateur’s Handbook” $1.00.
This book I hope will give me the needed extra help. So far everything is OK in schoool. Now I’ll try to give you a description of the field.

I can do it in a short sentence, but I won’t. It’s on flat ground which hasn’t an ounce of life on it. It’s dusty and very windy and very, very cold. A mild day is 0∘or two below. A cold day is between -15 and -35 degrees below, but today was nice-only 15∘above. This weather as today was very nice. The wind blows up to 50 and 60 miles per hour. Today only 20 mph. The sun even came out in the late afternoon. When the sun sinks, it throws a red carpet over Sioux Falls and the tall church and water tower throw weird shadows over the town on the hill.

I’m with a fellow from Texas who is one swell guy. He is married and is trying to get a call through to his wife. He is a good conversationalist and has almost got me believing that I want my home in Texas when I get out of the army.

Again I’m going to try to send my watch home. It’s losing time something awful. I’ll have to send home my garrison hat ‘cause they’re not allowed on the field. The rules down here are very strict and sometimes unfair, but that’s the army. This will be my home for 18 weeks or so and I had better make the best of it.

Send me some candy (chocolates) if you would. A package would lease the boys very much. A fellow got a cake and some fudge [and] in about 3 minutes they were all gone. The squadron is restricted at the present from leaving the post, so town will be passed up till Restriction is lifted.

In my barracks all the members are sergeants except the 8 men of whom I’m one who came in last Saturday.*** All the men have passed their aerial gunnery school requirements and now have to take Radio Operator and mechanics courses before they go overseas. Well, I’ll have to turn in now so till I write again,

Love
your son,
Frank

*Keesler Field In Mississippi, where he was stationed just prior to Sioux Falls, S.D.
** [Harvey Duck--see previous post, 3/3/43 letter from Frank’s mom].
***The previous Saturday was February 27th, so that’s when he arrived in Sioux Falls

Original below
again, markings are mine on a xerox copy, easier to scan.





Sunday, March 3, 2013

Let me know how you come along

LaVerne "Cookie" Karbach
(bridesmaid photo) Ebner's
high school girlfriend
Chicago, ILL
March 3, 1943
Harvey Duck

Dear Ebner,


I was waiting [for] Will to send you a Letter but he is with his Air Port Working and so busy so I have to try again.

2 March Cooky [Cookie] kam [came] from Work befor going home and we both visit for [a] goot 1/2 hour. She like her work. You know it already [that] she have Duk’s work.


Note: "Duk" is Harvey Duck, one of Ebner’s best friends from Austin High School. His h.s. grad photo (1942) notes, "Ambition: Become a successful sports writer." He did. Read about him HERE.]

My grandmother is writing that Cookie, Ebner's girlfriend, took on Duck's job, a typical transference of a job to women when all the men went into the military). She continues her letter: 

Probably the "insignia" my grandmother refers to
I gave her one of your insignias. [see right]

I just waiting for some lines from you––If only 10 line from you to leave me know how you com allong and how is school. Try hard. God bless you steady and help you to finish what you wish. I will [be] praying steady for you by your picture.

Sunday afternoon I sent you $25.00 with a letter. Do you need some sweater or anyting [so] you not get a cold? Send me lines. [i.e., write me.]

We have very cold here, [and] steady hard working for Papa of course.

I [wish] the best for you [wherever] you go and [whatever] you do. God lead and be all the time with you. With lots of love and kiss.

Mother and Dad and Will







Thursday, February 28, 2013

I pray hard for you

My grandmother placed two lights with green beaded shades flanking Ebner's high school graduation picture, as my father mentioned in his 2/21-23 letter. Here my grandmother tells her son how she keeps "in touch" with him through this home shrine she had erected.

I've edited difficult-to-understand language and taken out confusing parts. Original at end.

2-28-43

Dear Ebner,

20 minute [ago] I talk[ed] with you, so I [tell you now]  what I forgot [to say] we did. We was in church today. So many askt about you. [Fred] and Papa made the collection today in church. 



Will at Harlem Airport
Will is flying at Harlem Airport. Father went to his Work. Today is cold. As soon as I finish the letter, I send it airmail and American Express money order so you have it as soon as possible.

The lights are burning steady by your picture in the living room after the sun is sinking until I go to bed. Then I say “Good night, Ebner.”


Page 2

Dear Ebner my Son,

At 5 or 5:30 in the morning the 2 green light by your photo from Ebert [photo studio] go on with a “Goot morning and God bless you today, Ebner.” Then I go to work as allways. I forgot not one evening or Morning [to greet his photo] since you left us. So you see, you be with us steady. I pray hard for you that all will be with you well. Now I hope you can read this letter. Try hard to please leave me know if you have understood.

On 23 Feb. 1943 I was working as clerk at the poll [for voting]. I [did] goot so Father teases me [that I am a] Politichen). I like it well. We had to buy a washing machine. It is so much troubel with the Laundry. I got a Maytag and it is swell. You call again (next Sunday). Will tells you the time in his letter when we are all together.

So please don’t forget to pray to God, morning and Night. God be allways with you. As allways, Your loving Pops and praying for you.

Lots of love,

Mother with 1,000 kisses. God bless you.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mom bubbles over with joy to hear from you

The Gartz Boys. Left to right, Fred (my Dad) Will, the
oldest, and Frank "Ebner." My grandma did a bit of
magic by cutting in Frank's grad photo ten years after
the photo of Fred and Will was taken.
My father (left above) wrote to Frank, who was his best buddy as well as kid brother. Ten years older than Frank/Ebner, my dad had changed Frank's diapers as a baby, fed him, and entertained him with walks to the park when his Mom was busy working on the apartment buildings his parents maintained and the never-ending housework of era. 

Feb. 21- 23 1943
The grad photo of Ebner that his mother
flanked with "two green lights"
(see letter for details)
Dear Ebner: ––

First and foremost forgive my lateness in writing. It was more than once that I sat down to write but then sleep overtook me as usual or we were interrupted etc. etc.
However I finally finished one letter in German and was about to mail it when I heard that you believe that it might not be good for you.

My idea in so writing was to keep you from being completely out of touch with German, for after all, you might still some day find need of it and practice makes perfect. Well enough of that. I hope that you are in good spirits and in good health, and that “Soldaten Leben”
[military life] agrees with you. If I were you I shouldn’t gripe too much about desk work for you will get enough of activity later on.

At any rate this will probably give you some inside information and idea how an army runs which should broaden your viewpoint when you return to “active service.” I am very happy to hear that you have been given some responsibility. This is well; make yourself worthy of it. Have you started any of your radio work as yet? I think that you are in an excellent field for radio has an excellent future. I don’t have any of your letters here so that I can’t comment on your various statements as I would want to. You know “shrimp” every time Mom got word from you, she would call me either at home or at work and bubble over with joy about it. We all miss you but mom of course, as you know her, makes the most of it.

Your dresser must remain “as is” or rather, as was, with all of your paraphernalia in its respective place. Furthermore, and this is quite faithful of her, she has flanked your graduation picture on the front room radio with those two small green nite lamps from the bedroom and at sundown the lamps are lit and remain lit until sunrise.

Yesterday (2-20-43) Lil and I and Kenny and Arlyene went to the Schiller Liedertafel at the Germania Club. We had a good time and believe it or not, we left at two o’clock. At every other Liedertafel affair we never left before 4:30 or 5:00. Of course it was packed. This was a summer formal, their annual February concert. We missed most of their singing, but what we did hear was grand. I got an application to join. It might give me some much needed practice which I’ve missed since choir days.

Also there is now a new field of some new songs. Next Saturday the Rheinischer Singverein von Chicago [Rhein singing group from Chicago] is giving a Masquerade at the Lincoln Turner Hall. Lil and I are planning to go. As no doubt you know these affairs are loads of fun and in a most congenial atmosphere. 


Mrs. Von Arx’s mother died during the past week [see Mrs. Von Arx’s letter of 2/8/43] and the folks went to pay last respects. Dad got the Pastor and Mrs. Kaitschuk into such a laughing fit at the wake with some of his stories that they had tears in their eyes. Same old Pop.

Marvin Newman from church was also drafted and is at Camp McCoy in Wisconsin. Also Jack Magnuson was given a 12 hr notice to be ready to leave and for the present he is stationed at Loyola University and he flied at Palwaukee Airport.

Lil and I stopped off at Mrs. Grac’s today to deliver to her her pictures of the wedding, and we exchanged quite a number of stories.

Feb 23, ’43

Well here it’s Tuesday nite and I still haven’t mailed this letter. As you can see by the handwriting above, I was beginning to doze, as usual. Today I was 13 1/2 hours at work so there is little time left for all those things which one wants to do and has to do such as income tax returns, etc.

Tomorrow is registration for canned and processed food rationing. Well here at last is the method that will shorten my waist line.

The days since Sunday have been very springlike so at noon, “Steve, Katz Grazt & Borkin” go out to play ball. We roll up some fluffy packing material into a ball (or close facsimile) about 3” - 4” in diameter and use a parked car for a net and play volley ball. I know it’s screwy, but it’s fun, fast, and exciting.

Both brights and dims are out on Blitzbuggy [took Ebner to draft board 1/23/43]. They went out all at once while driving the other day. Essy [The Essex car my mother drove to her job with the Bayer Company at Chicago’s Wrigley Building]. Had a bit of misfortune. She had a rip about 3 inches long in her roof at the front end. That night there was a stiff wind from the west and in the morning the covering of Essy’s roof was hanging over her rear. Until we get it fixed, scotch tape is keeping her together. So I’ll have something left to say in the following letters I stop this one now. Take care of yourself and when you get time, drop us a line.

Auf Wiedersehen,

Love, Sam [Fred]

(Like Ebner, the family usually called my Dad, by his middle name, Sam).














Thursday, February 21, 2013

Screwball Instructor looking for stripes

Frank Von Arx, Ebner's best friend, is writing to Ebner again from Von Arx's locale in Florida. The photo below is from the Von Arx's archives, of soldiers stationed with the Army Air Force drilling at Miami Beach. 
Von Arx "gives Ebner hell" in mock anger at Ebner for not writing his "Ma and Pa." He writes with lots of cynicism toward his training routine and how he gets out of it.
Army Air Corps troops training in Miami Beach. From Von Arx collection 
With the ARMY AIR FORCES in Florida

February 19, 1943

Frank Ebner Gartz,

Chief Yeep of the Yeep Flight.

Guy, you are really in for it! Yes sir, you may stop the yeeps in your flight from talking back in ranks, but brother, you’re still Private Gartz to me so get your ass out from under that bunk and take this like a man!

Now look, Hup, two, three, four, Gartz.

I got connections back at home and what they have been reporting is very bad. Agent G.B., who reported the condition first says, “Today was the first time she (your ma) got a letter from him (meaning you) since he’s been in this so-called tough life. Maybe he is just ignorant.” That was on February 13th, Gartz.

And the agent W.G. [Ebner’s older brother, Will] reported that “haven’t had written word from Frank yet except his telegram that he sent about a week ago….”

All of which makes this headquarters very irritated that the big Flight leader doesn’t even write home. Don’t be surprised if you end up on some goon platoon for the next couple of Sundays. You don’t have to write another damn letter down to this damn state of Florida if you‘ll only write one to 15 N. Keeler [Ebner’s parents’ address] at least twice a week.

I don’t want in my [illegible] discovering you as a [illegible] guy because they will sure make it tough on you when the army discharges you. I’m going to let you off easy this time Gartz, but if I hear another word about you missing the boat your ass is going to be in a sling, but good.

It’s really bad when your ma says I do better than Ebner––and I’ve only written her two letters in two months!

I don’t know, Gartz, I just don’t know what can be done to a guy like you. We’ll drop the subject right here.

Everything is lousy in Florida. We’re in our second advanced training and still no shipping orders for sheet metal. Yesterday we got a chance to shoot the Thompson submachine guns. They’re not bad, but as they have a strong pick up and to the right. This idea of getting drilled day after day is out [? illegible] so I am becoming a professional fuck off.

Today is Friday and it was the first day this week that I was on the field in the morning. They have us doing mass commando all morning and that is screwy. When they tried to make me do P.T., well that was the last straw. I ducked out of that field so fast and got back here to the hotel. I don’t even think the Major saw me go by.

There are only 3 guys left of Flight 232, three out of a hundred, and we are put in Flight 12, which is a patched-up affair of left-over soldiers. Naturally us enlisted boys of 232, who were the best boys on the beach, don’t like to be put with the Indiana Hoosiers so we just are in a state where we don’t give a damn!

The time goes faster and it’s more interesting trying to find an easy life rather than dragging your carcass around the drill field all day long while one screw-ball instructor tries to get himself another stripe by making our tongues hang out.

I wish they would send me to school so I could feel that I was really doing something while iI’m in the army.

This is all I’ll bother you with now, Gartz. I hope everthing is ok in Mississippi and that they are really giving you the works––and no girls (I’m only kidding!)

Your constant admirer as
Miss. [Mississippi's]  Best Driller,

Frank

P.S. Did you hear my Grandmother died last Monday? She was buried on Thursday. I’ve tried my hardest to get a furlough, but they wouldn’t give me one in time to get home for the funeral. It sure seems funny knowing you won’t see her when you do get home. This is the first letter I wrote since Monday so don’t blame me it is goofy.

Original will be added later

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Watch your spelling!

Will Gartz writes this letter
In an earlier letter, after his family expressed concern they hadn't heard from Frank, he assured them he was writing at least every 4 days and suggested they start numbering the letters so that he'd be sure he received them all. His older brother Will, starts doing that numbering here. Will also tries to smooth Frank's ruffled feathers at the apparently sarcastic letter Will had sent regarding not hearing from the young soldier.

Will, ever the older brother, chastises Frank/Ebner for his spelling (which I had corrected in the transcription to eliminate confusion.)


LETTER No. 1.

Friday Feb. 19, 1943

Dear Frank:

We have just received your letter of Feb 16 and as you will note we’ll start numbering from now on, this being no. 1. Later letters will be designated by L-2, L-3, etc.

Now, as to the tone of my first or second letter, don’t take it so hard. We had no word from you and were getting worried, particularly since we hear you had written someone else. So I hope you’ll excuse its curtness since we were only wondering whether you had forgotten us. Since thenn we have been receiving your letters on schedule.

Don’t crowd yourself in the writing. So long that we hear from you at least once a week and know that you are alright. By the way, not to be critical though, watch your spelling for you will be tested for that in O.T. School examinations. For instance , “geting” for “getting” and “appreatiated” for “appreciated.” Another rule is “I before e escept after c as in “believe” and “receive.”

Talking about examinations, we have just taken our officers qualification examination with C.A.P. [Civil Air Patrol] Boy, what an exam--about 20 T and F questions and 40 questions in essay form -- all in 2 hours.

Mother and I are sending you five dollars apiece via the enclosed money order for ten dolars and hope you can use it to help replace your pen and anything else you might need. If you can’t get a pen, let us know and we’ll get one for you.

Have you had time to write Pastor Kaitschuk? [pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church, where they attended].

Oh, by the way, we are receiving your letters 2 days after you send them. How much time elapses in your receiving our mail and packages?

So long,

Will

“By transcription for Mother:"
My Dear Ebner,

Here are but a few lines that are racing through my mind which is crowded with so many things that it would fill a book. How are the chances of getting a snapshot of you? Have you lost any weight? We did not receive your watch as yet, but we have arranged with Sam to have it repaired fro you. Your letters have made me very happy and I wish to think you for them.

God bless you wherever you may be and I pray that you may be alright every day.

Lots of love and kisses from us
Mother







Monday, February 18, 2013

Money all gone

In Frank's letter to his Mom, below, he refers to "boilers." These were the furnaces in the many buildings my grandparents cared for. In this era, and for many years afterwards, they burned coal, requiring lots of coal shoveling when the weather was very cold, often several times a day, even overnight. They could be finicky and required a good deal of attention. 

Ebner gives a detailed description of Keesler Field, MI, where he's stationed. He even includes a drawing of his barracks) 

2-18-43

Dear Mom:

How is everything at home? Please don’t work too hard on those boilers. I still want to see you standing up if I ever get home. Your letters get here in about 2 days and packages take a day longer.I have been writing you every other day or so. I don’t know why my letters haven’t been reaching you. Today I received the package from Powers and I want to thank you for sending me those cookies; they were delicious. The Mississippi miserys are almost over for the time being. [The "Mississippi Miserys" is apparently some illness the boys came down with at Keesler].

I’m waiting for that picture [of Cookie, his girlfriend] impatiently. I wish the time was up to collect that $5.00 from Lillian because my money went too fast down here. I bought a garrison hat last Saturday which cost me $5.00 with the pin and rain cover and seven arm insignia at 15 cents apiece. I bought more shoe polish and an almanac which cost me 98 cents. Now all my money is gone. I was shopping for the boys who couldn’t leave camp and I over ran my money so I owe three dollars to one of the fellows. He trusts me but I hate to owe anyone money.

[Note: Lil and Frank made a bet about Fred or Frank losing more weight, and Frank, apparently is winning. See 2/15/43 letters]

There is a nice U.S.O. down here, but I didn’t stay long because I wanted to see the town. Then I started drinking, first Boilermakers and ended with Tom Collins. It was my first drink since I left Chicago and it tasted good. They have military beer in camp but the stuff isn’t even 3.2.

Thank [Fred] for changing his letter just for my sake. [Fred, my dad, had written a letter in German but after Ebner's request to send no letters in German, Fred rewrote it in English. This letter is coming up soon]. I really appreciate it. As I told you in my last letter, I have received that $20.00, but I haven’t a cent left. If you could send me $10.00 soon I could really use it.

John Hetzel and I have been together ever since Camp Grant and are still very near. I owed him seven dollars before I received your money order and promptly paid him in full.

I’ll give you a detailed description of Keesler Field. It’s about a mile away from Back Bay on the Gulf of Mexico near Biloxi, Mississippi. In fact it’s on the outskirts of town. The terrain is sandy and the roads built in camp are based with clam shells. We live in huts which house a maximum of 28 men at the present time. See diagram on the back of this sheet.

The weather down here is mild. At night it’s cold and during the day it’s warm, but not hot yet. The last three days the moon has been so bright that you don’t need a flash light any more. It even casts a shadow. I must close now but I want to ask one more favor.

Please send my camera in a well protected case for the mail is mistreated something awful. The cookies were broken but most of them were in good shape. The boys down here are talking about girls and it takes concentration to keep on the beam. Please protect my camera well and send my equipment with it.

I must close now but I’m very happy here and I’m fighting a clean battle for leadership. In about 10 or 12 days I hope to get shipped to Chicago? If so, I’m going to show the boys that come with me some Northern hospitality. I must close now so goodnight. It’s 10:45 now and I must turn in so till I write again I’m just

Your Loving Son,

Frank

P.S. I’m going to send my watch home soon. You can tell [Fred] that it’s losing time one day and keeping it another. I can’t figure it out. Still, Frank.

Below is the original letter and the drawing Frank sent along of his bunk house, "hut."