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.

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,

1 comment:

Marian Kurz said...

Nice to know the friendships are so strong...letter writing is a lost art!