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.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Screwball Instructor looking for stripes

Frank Von Arx, Ebner's best friend, is writing to Ebner again from Von Arx's locale in Florida. The photo below is from the Von Arx's archives, of soldiers stationed with the Army Air Force drilling at Miami Beach. 
Von Arx "gives Ebner hell" in mock anger at Ebner for not writing his "Ma and Pa." He writes with lots of cynicism toward his training routine and how he gets out of it.
Army Air Corps troops training in Miami Beach. From Von Arx collection 
With the ARMY AIR FORCES in Florida

February 19, 1943

Frank Ebner Gartz,

Chief Yeep of the Yeep Flight.

Guy, you are really in for it! Yes sir, you may stop the yeeps in your flight from talking back in ranks, but brother, you’re still Private Gartz to me so get your ass out from under that bunk and take this like a man!

Now look, Hup, two, three, four, Gartz.

I got connections back at home and what they have been reporting is very bad. Agent G.B., who reported the condition first says, “Today was the first time she (your ma) got a letter from him (meaning you) since he’s been in this so-called tough life. Maybe he is just ignorant.” That was on February 13th, Gartz.

And the agent W.G. [Ebner’s older brother, Will] reported that “haven’t had written word from Frank yet except his telegram that he sent about a week ago….”

All of which makes this headquarters very irritated that the big Flight leader doesn’t even write home. Don’t be surprised if you end up on some goon platoon for the next couple of Sundays. You don’t have to write another damn letter down to this damn state of Florida if you‘ll only write one to 15 N. Keeler [Ebner’s parents’ address] at least twice a week.

I don’t want in my [illegible] discovering you as a [illegible] guy because they will sure make it tough on you when the army discharges you. I’m going to let you off easy this time Gartz, but if I hear another word about you missing the boat your ass is going to be in a sling, but good.

It’s really bad when your ma says I do better than Ebner––and I’ve only written her two letters in two months!

I don’t know, Gartz, I just don’t know what can be done to a guy like you. We’ll drop the subject right here.

Everything is lousy in Florida. We’re in our second advanced training and still no shipping orders for sheet metal. Yesterday we got a chance to shoot the Thompson submachine guns. They’re not bad, but as they have a strong pick up and to the right. This idea of getting drilled day after day is out [? illegible] so I am becoming a professional fuck off.

Today is Friday and it was the first day this week that I was on the field in the morning. They have us doing mass commando all morning and that is screwy. When they tried to make me do P.T., well that was the last straw. I ducked out of that field so fast and got back here to the hotel. I don’t even think the Major saw me go by.

There are only 3 guys left of Flight 232, three out of a hundred, and we are put in Flight 12, which is a patched-up affair of left-over soldiers. Naturally us enlisted boys of 232, who were the best boys on the beach, don’t like to be put with the Indiana Hoosiers so we just are in a state where we don’t give a damn!

The time goes faster and it’s more interesting trying to find an easy life rather than dragging your carcass around the drill field all day long while one screw-ball instructor tries to get himself another stripe by making our tongues hang out.

I wish they would send me to school so I could feel that I was really doing something while iI’m in the army.

This is all I’ll bother you with now, Gartz. I hope everthing is ok in Mississippi and that they are really giving you the works––and no girls (I’m only kidding!)

Your constant admirer as
Miss. [Mississippi's]  Best Driller,


P.S. Did you hear my Grandmother died last Monday? She was buried on Thursday. I’ve tried my hardest to get a furlough, but they wouldn’t give me one in time to get home for the funeral. It sure seems funny knowing you won’t see her when you do get home. This is the first letter I wrote since Monday so don’t blame me it is goofy.

Original will be added later

1 comment:

Diana Shoemaker said...

I didn't realize that the army commandeered golf courses. Makes perfect sense. Very interesting.

Diana Shoemaker