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 16, 2013

Morse Code!

Army Technical School 


Dear Mom:

I had my reason for holding back this letter so please excuse the delay. The last 3 days I’ve been concentrating pretty hard and today I passed my first code check. I’ve been taking 4 words a minute and barely getting them and now I’m on 8 w.p.m. So it’s time I sent you a letter. Yesterday morning it started hailing and turned to rain and then ice. All of the streets are like glass and slippery as a skating rink. The temperature dropped to below freezing and snow fell all night. We woke up this morning and found a blanket of snow on top of our [streets.] (?)

 It wasn’t hard walking to school and I felt like turning back twice but I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. This morning I went to the side room and started taking down the cod and did pretty well, so I stopped and went to sleep at my desk. I was determined to pass so I rested my mind. You’d be surprised how hard you have to concentrate on what you are writing. Then he announced over the speaker, “4 Word Code Check.” 

That’s all I wanted to hear. I stretched and started in.

You need only 40 characters in a row to pass and I got 83 and 15 others scattered around to a total of 98 out of a possible 100. This afternoon another fellow whom I’ve been palling around with passed his and sat in back of me. Now we can stall around a bit more and take it easy as this next chen is going to be easier than the first one. I’m sorry, but I can’t send you the articles you asked for this week, but perhaps next.

I lent out $9.00 to a few friends who haven’t been paid since they left gunnery school 2 mos. ago. Heard  the other gunners are sergeants. Also when I finish this school I’ll wear 1 stripe or a first class private and then might be sent to gunnery school if I don’t pass my  physical for the cadet training.

Coookie sent me a box of things today. It was very sweet of her. I received chocolate chip cookies, a pipe, tobacco, candy, and a can of  oranges. I wish you would personally thank her for me. Does she visit you now and then? How is everthing back home. I still have my watch and am trying to mail it home but I just don’t get a chance. The post office closes at 5:0 and we don’t get through calesthenics until 4:30. By the time you get dress and hike over there it’s closed.

Here’s a little note to Will:

MORSE CODE -- see below in original

Well I have to write to LaVerne [Cookie, his girlfriend] and thank her for the package. Lil wrote me and told me your morning greeting to my picture. I ope that it will be bordreed by one in uniform soon. Well, till I write again, I’ll keep as good as I can.

Love Frank 

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