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.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Slow Starvation?

Elsie and Bert Von Arx, parents of
Ebner's best friend, Frank Von Arx.
Ebner's best buddy, Frank Von Arx, wrote him on Feb. 2, 1943. Seventy years ago today, Von Arx's mom took  her turn filling Ebner in on the home front. She reports her mother is dying. I've edited the letter for clarity and length. Original at end. 

Chicago, Ill
Feb. 8, 1943

Dear Frank:

How nice it is to hear from our second son Frank. Well. It looks like you are in the Air Corps also, so I take it from the heading of your letter. Also that your pal Johnny is with you. Knowing someone does make a difference when away from home, not that it would take Frank Gartz very long to pick out a few buddies.

Received three letters from Frank V.A. today, after telling us a week ago not to send anymore mail as they would be on the move. Imagine his disgust in still being stranded and with nothing but repetition of maneuvers and marking time. 

The third letter of course was an S.O.S. For funds. Nothing to do and no money would wear on anybody’s nerves. So pronto things will be straightened by air mail unless he gets the sudden request to move on.

Was out today for our an hour’s fresh air after ten days of imprisonment. Mother is right down in bed now and can’t be left at all alone––must be fed, if [I] succeed in so doing, and all other necessary duties of nursing. Thought she would leave us last week, but somehow rallied back a little again, but it just can’t be very long with no food to speak of (Imagine that, Frank, slow starvation?)

Mr. V.A. Is very busy. Do you know him ever to be otherwise?  Being property man for the OCD he is presently in the throws of giving out some 700 fire extinguishers to block captains in this territory. Those are assembled at the fire barns at Wilcox [Avenue] South. 

The girls are both busy with work, school, bowling, and what not. Not much time left over. All are out tonight. I’m just alone with Grandma who is sleeping in a steady stupor so it is very lonesome.

Haven't’ seen many of the church people as I have not attended lately. Just Ruth has been holding up the family good name.

Your letter was addressed to Mr.[Von Arx] but I took the liberty to open it. Therefore the early answer from me.

[I] suppose you are getting your dose of shots and drilling etc. Never mind boy. You can take them and show ‘em all up. What say you?

Best wishes to you for your health, happiness, and good luck for a speedy return home to family and friends and in the meantime, may God bless you and keep you from all harm.

Sincere love,

Mrs. E. Von Arx
4431 Wilcox Street


© Copyright Linda Gartz - No part of this blog (photos, letters or letter quotes, written work, etc.) may be used without the express permission of Linda Gartz or a link back to this blog.


Anonymous said...

Again thank you! What a woderful insight into Grandma. Great Grandma - Kate Schulz - died on Feb 15 1943. Never knew any background to that.

The non-transcribed part of the letter talks of my Dad, Lee. The tragedy referred to is that he lost his first wife in the barracks of boot camp due to a gas leak. Again an insightful look into my parents history.

Can not thank you enough for this blog! And letting me know of it! God Bless!!

Chris Perrino said...

Oops - previous comment from me :)

Anonymous said...

What an amazing woman! She is completely externally focused, despite her heavy burden of being the mainstay for her mom. Her manner of writing makes her so present--as if she is talking over a cup of coffee. Thanks for sharing these letters! Katy Krigbaum

Marian Kurz said...

How many of us today would write to a child not our own, how kind of her to do so. I guess i should rephrase the question, how many of us today would write, period?

Always happy to read these, Linda, and as I hope to go through family photos this year, I hope that I can be as careful as you have been in preserving histor y.