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, 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).


Jacqi Stevens said...

Couldn't help but notice the comment about your grandfather at the Van Arx wake. While, at first glance, that might have seemed inaensitive, it may be that your grandfather actually had a true gift.

I remember, through the funerals in my own family over the years, there were some people--usually good friends, but sometimes a relative--who had that rare grace to lead others through remembrances in such a way as to turn the mournful sense of loss into a more uplifted sense of appreciating the life of the loved one. I've had my fair share of experiencing those times of even laughter despite the funeral, thanks to such a person and his talent for refocusing from despair to gratitude for what that life represented. A rare gift, indeed.

Marian Kurz said...

How worried they all are underneath the jokes and teasing; your uncle's stint in the military had to fill your grandmother with aprehension every night...and it still continues with moms all over the world.

Linda Gartz said...

My grandfather was a known jokester, and even at a wake, his levity was appreciated. I agree with you, Marian, there's no doubt that Ebner's Mom was sick with worry every day her son was in the military--even before combat--and with good reason. Many young men died during training.
Thanks for dropping by!