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.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mississippi Miserys

Ebner writes to brother, Will, about “The Mississippi Miserys,” [I'm spelling it the way he does in the letter.] It's a word apparently created by the men to dub an ailment that affects many soldiers in the camp.

He describes his duties as  flight leader (referred to in a previous letter), most of which appear to take place in the "Orderly Room," a room  set aside in the barracks for general administrative purposes. Ebner is still asking for a picture of his high school girlfriend, Cookie, aka LaVerne Karbach.

No date on this letter, but probably early February because the content fits in with other letters from this period.  

Air Corps Technical School
Keesler Field, Mississippi

Dear Will,

Never fear about my watch. It will be safe as along as it’s with me but I’m sending it home as soon as I can get around to doing so. It’s losing time fast and is of no real value to me in that condition. I wish you would give it to [Fred] and have him take it to a reliable watchmaker to have it timed.

We have a good man on the Field here but he hasn't the wrench to work with on this type. I’m sorry to hear about your bad weather up there and I hope it will clear up soon.

Down here it’s damp always. In the morning it’s very damp and chilly but there’s always a clear sky or slightly mottled with fleecy clouds and in the afternoon and late morning it’s warm and clear The camp is only about a fifteen minute walk to town but so far we haven’t been able to leave the camp.

I might get a class B pass and I tell you the reason why soon. This pass is good until 11:00 P.M. Well here’s the pay off. I’ve been made Flight leader and responsible to the sergeants in the Orderly room. That’s over approximately 200 men. At first I was scared as hell but after I got over that I had and am having a good time.

I sit on my tail in the orderly room all day doing odd jobs for the sergeants while the Flight drills like hell. Boy! Is there red tape in this man’s army.

I have what is called the “Mississippi Miserys.” It’s a sort of a cold. I’ve had it about a week now and there’s no change for the better. Nearly all the men down here have it and it’s hell. It’s a cough that almost chokes you and a clogged up nose. It comes from the damp weather. I sent home some personal papers I want kept for me.

Also before I forget, remind Mom not to write to me in German. If she thinks that I can't read her English then you write it for her. I’m up also for Officers’ Candidate School, but I’m going to pass that up right now until I’m done with my Radio Operator Mechanics course. Well, that finishes this letter right now. Maybe I’ll have more time to write now so you can expect more letters than one a week.

Your dear and loving

P.S. I’m only kidding

Just as I was finishing this letter I heard something like the rumble of thunder and asked what it was. It was the big bombers dropping their load about 14 miles away.

Send that picture of Cookie soon.



Margel said...

I do so love your blog. The correspondence that you share transports me mentally back in time. There are so many day to day experiences that have been lost with the passage of years and history books don't include them. It is personal history and how it is shaped by the larger world events that I find so fascinating. Your family's experiences could have been my family's experiences. I have gathered quite a few photographs but not much correspondence. Thank you for sharing.

Cherie Cayemberg said...

What a treasure to have such a letter! Very interesting and not surprising to know that the "red tape" hasn't gone away over the years!

Thanks for sharing!

ShirleyHS said...

I am struck, again, Linda, by your labor of love with these letters. I so admire what you're doing. And I see you amassing an amazing document with these letters, one at a time, until you have a complete record of your family's correspondence.

Linda Gartz said...

I'm so pleased that you all are finding a real history of not just my family, but of our collective history as well in these letters. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your welcome thoughts.

Kathy Reed said...

I'm finally reading posts logged by my google reader. (I don't want to even admit to how long it has been). It was a real pleasure to catch up and read some of your wonderful posts.

Marian Kurz said...

The creeping crud, bet that happens in a lot of barracks, even today. How exciting that he is a candidate for OCS...hope Cookie sends that picture soon! stedaly