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.

Monday, February 11, 2013

My troubled heart

Elisabeth (Lisi) Gartz, Jan. 1943
Ebner's mother was undoubtedly finding that writing her son in English was so difficult, she fell back to writing to him in German. Below is a translation into English of what she wrote, but she'd soon find she had no easy way out of her struggle with English. After Ebner received this letter, he requested that no one in the family write future letters to him in German. It was, after all, the language of the enemy. 

(To see my father's own run-in with anti-German sentiment during the war see the posts: War and BigotryAn FBI investigation, and Anti-American Hobbies,

Translated from the original German, edited for length and interest. Original at end.

Feb. 11-43

Lieber Ebner…

Dear Ebner,

I have to ask whether you have received the money that on January 31 you asked me to send. I sent you the money on the same day––20 dollars––with a letter from me and also from Bill [brother Will]. On Feb. 1, 1943, I sent you the underwear about which you asked. Now 11 long days and nights and I wait to at least hear whether you received everything. Are you sick or haven’t you received it?

On Feb. 3rd Will sent you a letter with a few lines from me. Haven’t you received that either, or what’s going on? I have the receipt from the money order, so I can get the money back.
Your two girls, LaVerne* and Shirley ask about you on the telephone––not once but several times, twice a week up to now. What do you think I should tell them with my heavy heart. Not once a word [from you]. So I ask you, if it’s not possible to write a lot, just write a few words how it’s going for you.

I only wish for a few words. From Frank [ probably Von Arx] I received a long letter. It made me very happy, but I would much prefer a letter from you. Papa had the flu.

With a thousand Greetings and kisses from us,

Ma and Pa

Don’t let me worry or be troubled in my heart any longer.

* "LaVerne" is the birth name of Ebner's high school sweetheart, whom everyone called "Cookie."


Diana Shoemaker said...

I'm tempted to copy this letter and text it to my own son at college.

Marian Kurz said...

Grandma's lament is fresh today...things haven't changed much!

Linda Gartz said...

Ah, yes, getting kids to write, but back in the '40s that was the only way to communicate. We'll see that Frank becomes a faithful correspondent to the many people, family and friends, who write to him. Thanks for the comments.

Adrienne said...

La Verne and Shirley, huh? A blast from the future! Seriously, this reads like any mother's complaint.