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.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Explosive News!

We're following along in the diary of Lillian Koroschetz as she dates two guys: Fred and Burt.  Her present quandary is whom she will marry. To start at the beginning of her amorous adventure, click on Falling in Love––70 Years Ago and scroll forward. After being "damn mad" at Fred for not asking her out New Year's Eve, he's back in her good graces--and they've dated just about every Saturday night since February, 1942.


Tuesday, March 17, 1942
Marbro Theatre, 4124 W. Madison on Chicago's
 West side. Photo credit:
Chicago Architectural Photographing Co.
Fred called me at 5:00 p.m. at work tonite and said he was coming over at 6:30. He certainly had loads of news for me.

He bought a $50.00 Ford––1930 model––from a young draftee. Five brand new tires and in very good condition. He has a new job–––in Kingsbury, Indiana, as a blasting powder blender, at $57.50 per week compared to $30 per week at Lanteen.
[The new tires are worth mentioning. Rubber is rationed during the war and tires are hard to come by.]

Played piano and sang. We had loads of fun. Then went to the Marbro to see “Corsican Bros.” with Douglas Fairbanks Jr.––a marvelous picture. Didn’t get in till two.
[Mom changes to writing  in Pitman shorthand again! CENSORED!]
I pray nothing will happen to him on his new job. He’ll come in every weekend.
Sunday March 22, 1942

Burt phoned at 6:00 and asked me out.

[Lil and Burt went to a friend’s house where she drank whiskey highballs. They all went together to a club called "El Rancho," where  Lil drank two Cuba Libras and danced the night away. But the drink combos made her so sleepy, Burt drove her home. She was wracked with indecision about her two beaus.]

Got in at 4:30 a.m. Terrible, isn’t it? Burt is so grand––such a gentleman, and I do enjoy being with him and also kissing him. I feel like a hussy, kissing both Burt and Fred, and here I am trying to decide––Burt or Fred? It is awful.

I love that! She feels like "such a hussy" KISSING two guys. A different era--for sure!

I pick up on something in Mom's entries of  which she herself seems to be unaware. Burt may be a “gentleman” and a “wonderful dancer,” but he seems like a cardboard cut-out compared to Fred, who's worthy of detail!  She's never given Burt the ink she devoted Fred during their glorious summer and fall of dating in 1941. Then there's her concern for Fred's safety as a "blasting powder blender." 

On a subsequent date, Lil and Fred take turns making up funny couplets about their lives, and Dad throws out one related to this risky work: 
Now Fred is mixing TNT
If he ain't careful, he won't be

His cute sense of humor prompts Lil to write, "Gee, I'm in love with that guy!"

In the next post:  "It came to me like a bolt out of the blue..."

(To start at the beginning of Lil's adventures with Fred, see Falling In Love 70 Years Ago and scroll forward in time.) 

NOTE: This week marks the 101st anniversary Fred's father, Josef  Gärtz, began his harrowing trip to America at the age of twenty-one. He left from Transylvania by train on Christmas Eve, 1911. Destination: the port of Bremen. To read a first hand account of one immigrant's travels click:  Terror Atop the Train Threats to the Dream, Out to Sea, and Atlantic Crossing in Winter. Or just scroll forward in time.


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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas and a look back 101 Years ago today

Merry Christmas, Everyone -- and Happy Holidays.

I'm thinking of all of you celebrating with your families and the impressive posts and research so many in the family history and genealogy community have done over the past year to share their stories and knowledge. 


I'm also thinking back to 101 years ago, when my grandfather, Josef Gärtz, boarded a train in Austro-Hungary to start his fateful path to America and the terror he experienced on that journey.

In honor of the 101st anniversary of that trip, I'm adding a link to the post I made on Christmas Eve last year to mark the centennial of his departure.

Click Terror Atop the Train to read the story of this twenty-one year-old's audacious manner of getting to the port of Bremen  and my discovery of the diary which allowed me to share his story with all of you.

All the best in 2012. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Whom shall I marry? Indecision is a killer!

A vintage postcard Lil sent to Fred from her visit to Milwaukee, in
August, 1941--when she and Fred were in the throes of falling in love.
After being  "Damn Mad at Fred" for not taking her out on New Year's Eve, Lil doesn't write in her diary for a couple months. I'll tell you a little secret that she doesn't write about, but I happen to know from family lore.

I'm quite sure her "damn mad" really translates to "damn hurt." After all those wonderful dates, all that kissing, all the passionate feelings she had for Fred, I think she just couldn't believe he'd let her down. Isn't anger so often "hurt" by another name, the two emotions so closely intertwined?

So when Fred called the next day, to take her out to Math Igler's, a Chicago German restaurant, she said yes. After they had danced for a while an older couple came up to them and said that every year when they went out to celebrate the New Year, they looked for a couple that they wish they could be if they were young again. That night, they wished they could be Fred and Lil.

Mom picks up her diary again in March, and opens it with a little French and Latin (she had studied French in high school and enjoyed the sound of the language.) Burt, who rescued her on New Year's Eve, is giving Fred some competition. But maybe not as much as even Lil thinks.

Monday - March 16, 1942

Tempus Fugit, n’est ce pas? Here 2 1/2 months have flow by before I got a chance to write in my little diary again.

March 1 (Sunday) Burt took me to El Rancho Grande. We had just a wonderful time rhumba-ing. Stayed out till 3:30––we just didn’t want to go home. Had 6 Cuba Libras and they didn’t faze me a bit.

For a while I just couldn’t decide––did I like Burt or Fred better. Never thought there’d be the faintest doubt about my ever preferring Fred. I still think now that Freddie is my #1 boy. There for about a month (February) Freddie and I went out each Saturday and always had a marvelous time. Never yet had a dull time with him….

I got to feel kind of retrospective tonite. Friendships seems such a temporary thing, even the most permanent ones. You cling to many for the sake of old times, drifting into new groups who have the same interests you do, but I guess that’s life. I’d hate to be without friends….

I wonder whom I shall marry. I’m sure some day I shall for I would not like to be single forever. Up to now I certainly am glad I was single. Have had just wonderful times.

I wouldn’t want to marry Burt. I have always vowed never to marry a traveling man; life would be just too lonesome. Fred would be fine for me, I’m sure. I love him [and] am sure he loves me (although never has he said so). Still, I’d hate never to see Burt again. Some day I shall have to give up one––or perhaps they both will give me up. Who knows? Then I’ll be lonesome.

Her vow to “never marry a traveling man,” will come to have a sadly ironic ring in the next decade––an outcome she couldn’t possibly have predicted when she was dating and looking for Mr. Right.

Next week: "Explosive" News from Fred as he gets a new job and makes an exciting new purchase!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Year's Eve, 1941 "Damn mad at Fred"

Lil Koroschetz's diary entry, 12/31/1941
Last week I posted Lil's entries into the new diary she had started on the eve of 1942, three weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and America's entry into World War II. If you'd like to see how the war had already begun to affect every-day Americans, see Lil's ruminations at Pearl Harbor Day-A diarists response to war. If you'd like to start reading Lil's entries of falling hard for Fred Gartz from the get-go,  start at Falling in Love 70 Years Ago and just scroll through to the present.

Lil had met a "grand young man", the "Burt" of this entry, in late October, 1941, on a Saturday night when Fred had failed to ask her out (See Trouble in Paradise). Now Fred's got some serious competition, and Burt has stepped in to take out  Lil for New Year's Eve.

December 31, 1941 (continued)

I've been damn mad at Fred for not phoning me for a New Year's Eve date which seems very low-down. He has $65.00 saved, so surely he could have spared the few dollars necessary for New Year's Eve. He's so darnn tight he squeaks. Of course, maybe he took out another gal, but somehow I doubt [it]....

Burt, however, came through for me. (Something always turns up so that I go out Halloween and New Year's Eve). He said...he would be in Indianapolis Tuesday and Wednesday and possibly wouldn't get back in time. But at 7:00 he phoned [and] said he made it back. I'm waiting for him now and hope he comes soon for I want to be some place when 1941 leaves us to take its place in history.

He's a grand guy, sort of on the bashful side when it comes to romancing. He didn't kiss me until our last date, Monday, and even then he doesn't put any feeling into it. But it's kinda nice when someone goes with you for your "delightful" company. He's a swell dancer too.

I'm particularly fed up with Fred now and think it's damn cheap he didn't call me up for New Year's....Perhaps this is the end of my "story book" romance with "old stingy" Fred. Too bad. It started out so fortuitously too. But this neglect has killed something in me. I don't care now whether he's drafted or not and whether or not he calls me again. 

(Hope Burt comes soon--it's 10:45.) I want to get out in a crowd on New Year's. Well, now to put on my gorgeous green rhumba dress––hand made by Koroschetz [not sure if she means she made it or her mother], with black felt hat and green leaves thereon to match.

Sounds like Lil is lookin' good this first New Year's Eve after America officially entered World War II. She's mad, but I think more hurt, that Fred didn't ask her out. I doubt he went out with another girl. Did he have the money? Were his savings "untouchable?" If he didn't have the money, I know he would have been embarrassed to say so. 

Will Burt's attitude that she's "delightful company," but puts "no feeling" into his kisses take precedence over Fred, who knows "all the little innuendos of kissing?" 

Whatever prevented the New Year's Eve date, Lil's peevish attitude didn't last too long. 

Her next entry: March, 1942, when she's deep into a quandary:  Fred or Burt?

To comment, just click on the red word "comments" or "post a comment" below. Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day-A diarist's response to war

December 7, 1941

Pearl Harbor was bombed seventy years ago today. My mom, Lillian Koroschetz, started a brand new diary on New Year's Eve, 1941 reflecting back on the previous year and the effects the barely three-week-old war was already having on the every-day lives of Americans.
See this link at Naval History and Heritage for a thumbnail sketch of why the attack in Hawaii was such a surprise and how it enraged and united Americans into a singular resolve to defeat Japan as well as the German Nazi and Italian Fascist regimes.

December 31, 1941 - 10:15 pm

Wreckage of the USS Arizona after attack on Pearl Harbor
Image from Wikipedia "Day of Infamy speech"
By pure coincidence, I am beginning this book practically at the dawn of 1942. What will this New Year bring me––I wonder. For that matter what will it bring the world? 

This has been a momentous year for the world, rather sad for the world, and a very good year for me. 1941 gave me great happiness with Fred.

December 7, 1941 brought the momentous bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, that definitely entered the United States in the World War #2 in which, in my opinion, we were destined to enter since the repeal of the Arms Embargo Act. So far the war has not yet touched the great mass of us as much as it probably will have by 12-31-42. We already have a taste of it by the rapidly rising prices in everything, federal tax of 10% on luxuries ($1.65 "Nylons,") which, however give a tremendous amount of wear. 

President Roosevelt delivers his "Day of Infamy"" speech
12/8/1941. (Wikipedia image). Within an hour after the
speech, Congress declared war on Japan.
Automobile tires, too, are unobtainable for civilian use, and car production will be eliminated in favor of defense activities by the auto plants. I have a firm conviction there will be a severe depression in possibly 5 or 10 years and I am determined to save some money. I have a start now, $34.00 in postal savings. Also I buy 10 cent defense stamps. When I have saved sufficiently by way of these stamps, I shall buy an $18.75 defense bond.

Ever practical and pro-active, Lil was planning for how she would personally respond to the the war.


Next week: Lil's leaves the topic of war behind to prepare for New Year's Eve and be "damn mad" at Fred for not asking her out!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Trouble in Paradise-- Love and War

All is not well on the Lil and Fred front. Lil meets another fellow who gets into serious contention with Fred for Lil's affections. (To start at the beginning of Lil's charming diary posts about her budding romance with Fred Gartz, go to Falling in Love 70 Years Ago and follow the weekly posts to the present). 

Tuesday October 28, 1941

At the moment I’m plenty mad at Fred. Didn’t take me out Saturday so I went to the Chateau where I met a grand young man named Burt. He wanted to take me to a party next Saturday. Said no thinking Fred would call for that nite. No call yet. He always waits till the last min, damn him. If he doesn’t call, I won’t refuse other dates for him any more, and that’s for sure. 

Lil doesn't write in her diary again for a couple months, but then she catches up with what had occurred just after this last entry. 

Halloween week I was really a "belle." Managed to go out with Burt Wehlte Saturday, 11-1-41, for he phoned me that day wondering whether I still couldn't go out with him. I said, yes, I could, since the previous "engagement" I told him I had for that evening turned out to be the previous evening. The truth, of course, was that Fred didn't call to take me out as I had expected. I had a lovely time with Burt at a house party. 

Friday, Halloween Eve, I went to the Chateau and met Johnny Lynn, a young soldier (draftee) on leave. We went bowling and to some night clubs and had a grand time. He took me out, too, Sunday November 2, and Burt wanted to take me out that Sunday. Fred, too, phoned Saturday evening for a Sunday horseback riding date, and I was so annoyed I couldn't make it. Apparently he was broke for Halloween. So three possible dates for one day ain't bad!

The world had changed by the time Lil caught up in her diary!  I'm thinking of today's date, seventy years ago: December 6, 1941. It was the last day that American mothers (and fathers) of young men could rest easy for the next three and a half years. The next day, December 7, 1941, they would never forget just where they were when they heard the shocking news: the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor at 8 a.m. Hawaii time, and America was now destined to enter the war. 

Tomorrow, on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, I'll post Lil's ruminations on how the war had already affected every-day life by December 31, 1941, three weeks after the Japanese attacked, and her thoughts about the future.

Then next Tuesday, we'll view her harsh opinions of Fred for not asking her out for New Year's Eve, 1941! I'm keeping my posts within about 300 words to make them a fast read--just a nugget of history in your busy days.


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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"If I'm never happy again..." Giving Thanks redux

Lil turns 24 and parties with her Freddie, and several others. The next day after celebrating with her favorite girlfriends, she reflects on how lucky she is. (See Lil's baby picture on her birthday post at Happy Birthday, Mom. If you'd like to start at the beginning of Lil's diary postings about falling for Fred, go to Falling in Love 70 Years Ago.

Having just celebrated Thanksgiving, this seems like an appropriate post. Mom takes a good look at the wonderful people in her life and is grateful for her good fortune. I'm struck by how unusual it is today (or maybe always has been) for so many people, especially the young, to focus on the positive in their lives.

Sat., Oct. 18, 1941 

Got a card from Fred; a darling one from Carl yesterday. Went with Eleanor Stewart to Isabell’s to celebrate our mutual birthday together. Had two whiskey sours and a gentleman treated us to two more because were “obviously such right --five girls -- and we should stay that way.”

Then I had to dash home in the Essie [Lil's name for her car], grab a bite to eat and do shopping for my party tomorrow.

Got home at 6:00 pm, ate supper, got dressed, and wanted nothing quite so much as to have abour four or three hours to take a nap. I did squeeze 15 minutes in for that purpose.

Fred brought me a box of glazed fruits -- I’m so glad he was thoughtful as to remember me in this way.

As usual, I got as many roses as I am years old from good old Carl. [Carl Schodt was a young man madly in love with Mom. She dated him prior to meeting Fred, but always told him she liked him, but couldn't love him. He literally ate peanuts for lunch so he could buy Lil lovely gifts. Each time she said she couldn't accept the gift because she didn't love him, he responded, "If you don't take, it I'll throw it away."]

Went via street car to the Germania Club where Kenny and another gal, (Blondie [a model Ken was dating] couldn’t make it), Bill [Fred's older brother] and a girl,  and many others were there to make up the party. Had a lovely evening again, although not up to the kind we have when alone.

Around 3:00 AM Freddie and I got terribly sleepy so we went up to the balcony and slept, his arm around mine.

This time on the way home, no kissing; we had an audience and a very short goodnight kiss since there was a waiting gang in the car.

Ah, propriety! What an old-fashioned concept!
Lil, age 20 at The Bayer Company working for Chicago President,
Mr. Gibney. Spring, 1938. See diary comment below about her raise

Sunday, Oct 19, 1941

Had Gert, Myrtle Haling, Ruth, and Marge Johnson and Lucille Kaye as well as Ceil over to help celebrate my birthday. Had a most enjoyable day - one of the nicest birthdays I’ve had. Though I’d have to arrange to play some games, but the crowd was so congenial that conversation was definitely sufficient entertainment.

Gert gave me a recent picture of herself, a darling little traveling case, and brought a beautiful gardenia corsage with a dubonnet ribbonon it from her pop. [Gert's dad owned a florist shop.] Very thoughtful, I’ll say.

I thought tonight, if I am never happy again I really shouldn’t complain because I’ve had such a very full life already. Good friends, one excellent friend, Gert, of course, romances behind me, and now a young man I’ve been looking for all my days, wonderfully good parents, an excellent job, mein Liebchen, was willst Du noch mehr? [My Dear, what more do you want?]

How could I forget--on Wednesday Gibney [Lil's boss and president of The Bayer Company in Chicago] told me he had authorization from H.M. Manns, Pres, [maybe national president?] for an increase to $130 per month. Not bad, eh -- for a kid of 24, minus college? 

Also on Friday we learned that effective Nov. 1 we are to work 8:00 to 5:00 and no Saturday. Ah, life -- how wonderful! Couldn’t resist phoning Fred at his lab to tell him these two good pieces of news.

So here I am--Monday night, Oct. 20, and up to date on my diary. Took me an hour to write...but I think some day these notes will be worth the effort.

Boy! I'll say! I'm having so much fun reliving Mom and Dad's youth. Coming up... Trouble in Paradise. What happens when Fred puts off asking Lil for a date one too many times?

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hello, Darling. Hello, Sweetheart.

Fred & Lil Nov. 9, 1941
Lil and Fred are at it again--this time it’s a date to go horseback riding--if rain doesn’t interfere. These two knew how to party--Lots of kissin’, a good deal of drinking, out till 4 a.m -- and an ambiguous “snack” described near the end. 

Sunday, October 5, 1941

Here I am again!

Fred phoned my home yesterday afternoon....Mom relayed on to me the message about Fred so I phoned his house at once and Bill [Fred's older brother] answered the phone. Fred was out so Bill asked me for him to go riding that night with a gang. Of course I said yes, although I’m not very good at it yet.

Further it was raining cats and dogs, but he mentioned we would all go to a house party if it was still raining. I always get such a thrill when Fred calls me!

I did a little shopping, dashed home and was ready when Fred called for me. It was raining all evening so we all went to a house party on the South Side. All the gals were in riding breeches, and, for that matter, so were the men.

Had a simply wonderful time. We had about seven Scotch and sodas, sang many songs to the accompaniment of Hank, who is a wonderful popular-style pianist. Fred and I played billiards, and he won (my first time playing that game.)

Fred and I also danced the Beer Barrel Polka, our theme song, then sank exhausted on the bed they have in the basement for lounging use, by way of explanation. Later someone turned out the lights, so Freddie and I took advantage of the situation. He’s so darned sweet!

We had a lovely “snack” later and got home at 4:00 a.m. Freddie and I kissed just about all the way home. I never seem to tire of kissing that lad. (If I don’t marry him, this sure would make mighty interesting reading to some other spouse. It had better be he --for me!!) If not, this goes in solitary confinement.


Friday,  Oct. 10, 1941  [Fred's Birthday]  

So having already reported on the eve of October 4, I shall now write about Fred’s birthday celebration.

I had caught another terrific cold Sunday, which took til Tuesday to come out full force. Freddie phoned me last night fo the date. I met him at Lewis Institute - Damen and Madison - and ran into his brother, Bill, in front of the school, who was there to take care of Fred’s books.

We went with Kenny Eggen and his gal friend, Arlyne Hennings - a lovely tall blonde model. Went to the “Glass Hat” cocktail lounge in the Hotel Graemere. Had about six scotch and sodas and really had a grand time. Fred and I soloed again as usual. Danced a waltz and the Beer Barrel [Polka] to the organ music interlude between band sessions.

Fred had their precious car tonite - took a taxi to his house.

When kissing me goodnight, he paused and said, “Hello Darling,” and I for the first time in my life - said “Hello Sweetheart” to a man.

To drop me a note, please click on the red word, "comments" below. Thanks!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Family Archaeologist––First Blogiversary!

It reads "Heartfelt Good Wishes for your Name Day
Dated November 18, 1910, Josef Gärtz
 sent this postcard to his sweetheart, Lisi Ebner
 to arrive on her Names Day, Nov. 19th, 1910
One year ago today I posted the oldest missive in my collection, this sweet postcard sent from my grandfather, Josef Gärtz 
to his sweetheart, Lisi Ebner. (See:  Can Love Last 100 Years?) If you've followed along, you've learned a lot about their long distance courtship as the letters they wrote from fall of 1910-summer of 1911 persuaded them they must be together, and my grandmother made that fateful trip across the ocean. 


Josef Gärtz, summer, 1910
 Although I officially entered the blogosphere with my first post, introducing Family Archaeologist on November 17th, (click Welcome to Family Archaeologist to see the intro) I like to think of today as the beginning of the story. My goal has been to share my family's letters, diaries, and original documents, dating back over the past century. My hope was that the stories of this one immigrant family, told in their own words, would find resonance with other readers.

Elisabetha/Lisi Ebner, June, 1910
By entering the genealogy and family history blogging community, I have been amply rewarded with the wonderful blogs I've been introduced to and their creative, prolific, and caring writers. I have met bloggers who have inspired me to write my family history, who have impressed me with their intelligent and thoughtful posts, who have introduced me to technologies and techniques to make blogging and family history research simpler, who have opened my eyes to self-publishing outlets, who have shared so generously their knowledge of genealogy research, and  many whose own family histories, documents, and photographs have been beautifully displayed and written about. I've been enriched by all of you.

I don't always get around to visiting as many blogs as I'd like, but I do try to drop by every couple weeks just to see what others are doing and to let them know I appreciate their work. Thanks to all for your wonderful writing and touching stories.

Because I promised myself to post at least once a week, the blog has been my inspiration to look more closely at and really think about the meaning of all these letters and documents my family so carefully preserved over the past century. As E.M. Forster said, "How do I know what I think until I see what I say?" This blog required me to put into words the inchoate thoughts rumbling around in my brain about my family's past. It has enriched my understanding both of my roots and actually introduced me to family members as they were in their youth. Old, careful souls were transformed into the young, rash, passionate people that existed decades before I was born. 

Thank you to my family for being such pack rats, for not only saving these treasures, but labeling and carefully preserving just about everything  so that my brothers and I can know you as you were -- and can share your story with others.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A little jealousy doesn't hurt

Lillian Koroschetz, 1937, age 20
about 3 years before meeting Fred
We've been following along with Lillian Koroschetz, my mom, as she writes about the joy of falling in love with my dad seventy years ago, in 1941. To start at the beginning of Lil's diary entries of falling for "Freddie" see Falling in Love 70 Years Ago.

Since her previous entry on September 3rd,  Lil has had to wait almost  three weeks before she heard from Fred again.  What's wrong with that young man?

Mon. Sept 22, ’41 

I thought I had been deserted by my Freddie and was becoming angry with him. But he called at work today. He wanted to go swimming, but I was afraid to since I had caught a cold after our last date. It had already started the day we went swimming.
So he came to my new address - 2714 Marshfield--and we sang songs and I played piano -- I’m practicing again and picking up faster than I have in my life.

At 8:00 pm we went to the Vine Gardens, had beer and danced and danced and talked and talked.

Then we walked to the Question Mark Pier where it was "veddy, veddy" dark and embraced each other by our lonesomes.

We waited for a street car quite a while at North Ave. and Ashland. Wow! We just waited an eternity it seemed. Fred gave me his suit coat because I was cold. We were just going to take a taxi when a street car came. I got home at 4:00 and Freddie, I discovered later, got home at 6:00 am. (At the Vine Gardens, several people complimented us on our dancing.)

Lil and Fred's next date is five days later. Maybe she gave him a "talking to," but it's still a day-before invitation. An old boyfriend, Frank, from a year earlier, horns in on Fred's best girl at a Germania Club dance. Lil handles it, but thinks that maybe a little jealousy is in order!

Saturday, Sept 27, [1941] 

Freddie phoned me last night for tonite’s date. We went to some “San Verein’s” concert and Dance at the Germania club. Met Frank Schiller, Carl Schodt, and the entire German Club Gang there. Frank danced a number with me and upon returning me to Fred, Frank kept saying, “We ought to see more of each other, etc. etc. And don’t I agree.”

I said I was afraid I had to disagree and was rather embarrassed.

But then Freddie could see at least that I could go out with someone else besides him if I so desired. But I don’t so desire.

We did some crazy things tonite like sliding down the bannisters, dancing in the balcony where we had some room -- and incidentally, Fred could cool off for a moment or so by removing his coat.

We also fixed up a little fencing they had up there into a square enclosure and danced in there.

Around 3 AM Freddie and I left and walked over to his laboratory which he wanted to show me. So we went through the whole thing and I got so sleepy. We took a taxi home and I promptly snoozed off on Fred’s shoulder. Another wonderful time.


Mom would learn over the years that Fred had no end of "crazy" ideas. He definitely thought "out-of-the box." But that's another story.


Coming Up: November 18th: the first anniversary of this blog:  Family Archaeologist,   and November 19th -- a double date to remember: the 101st anniversary of the oldest missive in my collection: a Names' Day postcard from Josef Gartz, my grandfather, to Lisi Ebner, his future wife and also -- the anniversary of the day my parents met.


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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Fred and Lil 1942 - 2011

Fred and Lillian Gartz, Nov. 8, 1942, outside church
I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, but this post isn’t really a spoiler. After all, you did know my parents would be getting married -- right? So even though I’m posting entries from my mom’s diary from seventy years ago, describing her and my Dad’s courtship, I just couldn’t allow their 69th anniversary to pass without celebrating it on my blog! November 8, 1942, was the big day. After this post, it will still be fun to follow along in Mom's diary to see how they get to this happy ending.




Their invitation tells us the wedding took place on a Sunday, and this article about the event, ("Miss Koroschetz Weds Fred Gartz At Bethel Church") published in the West Garfield Park local newspaper, The Garfieldian, includes wonderful sartorial details: 

"The bride wore a gown of egg-shell satin with a fingertip veil held in place with a seed pearl tiara. Her flowers were white chrysanthemums." The matron of honor wore a "gown of fuschia velveteen and net with a Juliet cap and carried pom poms." The bridesmaids' gowns "were of plum velveteen and net." Mom saved small samples of the fabric, labelled as to who wore which.

Mom planned the bridesmaid’s outfits to be practical. It was the war years, after all, and Mom wanted her bridesmaids to get use out of the outfits after the wedding. Remove the net over the skirts, and each had a beautiful velveteen suit. 

Of course, being a skilled executive secretary for the president of the Bayer Company, mom created a minute-by-minute run-down of the ceremony and reception, who had to be where at which time.

Speaking of the reception, what do you think that might have cost back in 1942? So glad you asked! Here's the receipt for the Central Plaza Hotel. It appears to include everything. I'm assuming the line item: "32 covers @ $1.50 each" refers to the cost per plate of dinner. If you have a different idea, weigh in. Cake for 32:  $12.50. Juke box: $10.00. The rest, including candles, tax, tip, ferns, and a case of ginger ale comes to a grand total of $72.60. I know my parents weren't tee-totalers, so they must have supplied the liquor separately.

Eva Coleman, a voice major and friend of Dad's from  church, sang "Because." Everything went without a hitch--except for one. Ken Eggen, Dad's best friend and one of the groomsmen, fainted dead away during the ceremony. Dad immortalized this memorable event in a loving poem he wrote to Mom for their tenth anniversary. Its cadence is reminiscent of "The Raven," written by Edgar Allen Poe about his lost love, Lenore.  I’ve included Dad's poem below, just as my dad would have presented it to Mom, handwritten on parchment, carefully laid out to keep each line straight and beautiful. (Just a little note: in stanza 4, "Blitzbuggy," refers to my dad's 1929 Model A Ford. "Blitz" means "lightning." To learn a little more about this special steed, and its role in World War II, see the post, Blitzbuggy––A Car with History.)

When we get back to their courtship in the fall of 1941, we'll see how a little jealousy may have kept Fred on his toes. 

Please click below this post on the red word, "comments." Any ideas what your parents' or grandparents' weddings cost? It would be fun to compare notes.

Left to Right, Ken Eggen (who fainted during the ceremony) Frank
Ebner Gartz (17-year old brother to Dad), Lillian, Fred, Will Gartz (Dad's
29-year old brother). Seated: Arlyne Hennings, Myrtle Haling, Gertrude
Nowles, maid of honor.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Love is dancing by ourselves

Lil and Fred-8/27/1941  This is the
first photo of the two of them together,
and this diary entry confirms the date.
North Ave. Beach, Chicago
Charles Schultz wrote two memorable square-shaped little "Peanuts" books in which each page expressed a single, simple thought about love or happiness. You can click to see these classics on Amazon:  Love is Walking Hand in Hand and Happiness is a Warm Puppy

Well, I think my mom's following diary entries of falling for my dad could add something to those books: 

Love is swimming in the lake together.
Love is dancing by ourselves.  
Happiness is a farm wagon under the full moon. 

Read on to see how Lil and Fred's romance is progressing. 

To see my first post about LIl's diary about falling for Fred, see Falling in Love 70 Years Ago, and read on from there. (All past posts can be found on the right -- just scroll down past the Twitter Icon to Blog Archive, and click on the one you want to read.)
Wed., Aug 27, 1941

Went swimming at North Ave. Beach However the water was extremely choppy and we had to stay close to the pier. (I picked up Fred at his place). We had a man take a picture of us after getting our street clothes on again against the lake. (see left) Then I drove Fred to meet his Mom, Pop, and Bill at a real estate office where they are trying to consummate a deal for an apartment.

Then we went to their house for supper and Fred showed me pictures and slides of their vacation. Fred and I fenced in the front room for a few moments too. Then he drove home with me and another nice evening was at a close.

Wed., Sept 3, 1941

Went swimming again, although it seemed very cold out. However, this time the water was just delightful. We swam a great distance and really enjoyed it immensely. Then we drove out to Hapsburg.

Fred is just like me--he can’t resist a polka or a waltz. So whenever the juke box played a number we just left our food and up and danced - a solo. We are quite immune to dancing by ourselves. After our chicken dinner and a few beers we went outside and went for a walk.

Oh, this was just about the most beautiful and gorgeous night we’ve had together. There was a full moon so bright it illuminated the entrire landscape.

We walked arm-in-arm down a side road, then saw a wagon in a farmer’s field and decided this was made to order. Oh boy!

Hapsburg Inn-- Des Plaines, Illinois
Then we walked back to Essie and Freddie fell asleep while I drove home.




Coming up:  A little jealousy can't hurt!

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Friday, October 28, 2011

I never thought anything so wonderful could happen to me!

Friday, August 22, 1941

Well, my Friedrich phoned me again on Tuesday, and wanted to go swimming with me Wed. But I couldn’t make it till Friday so we made our date for tonite.

I picked him up at his office, Locust and Franklin Streets, and we went to the beach - North Avenue. It was a perfect evening for swimming, warm, the water was calm, and I couldn’t go. My visitor came 1 week and 1 day early (Wed.) due, no doubt to my having gone swimming at a beach near Louise’s house in Michigan last month on my 4th day.

So I just said to him, “I no can go,” and let it go at that. He’s a wonderful swimmer -- in fact there were many people watching him from the shore, amazed at the distance he swam.

"It was a perfect evening for swimming..."
We sang German songs and when he came out, and he was explaining some chemistry to me -- and I’m just crazy about him. After another dip, we went to the Vine Gardens and had some barbequed beef and 5 beers. We danced every number they played and he said I was so loose in his arms and followed so well. He dances very well. We had so much fun again.

Then we drove back to our beach. The wind was blowing furiously and whipped my hair about my face. We were all alone on our “Question Mark Pier” and danced a polka to our own tune. We kissed there, with the waves rolling violently below us.

Said my darling, “It’s wonderful to be alive.” And I, of course, agreed wholeheartedly. We also criss-crossed our hands and went around fast in a circle as we did once before. We sat down on a bench there, the whole place deserted, and I sat on his lap and we kissed again. He evidently is very fond of me, and I am positive I love him.


I never thought anything so wonderful could happen to me. It seems that we have known each other so long. It hardly seems possible we have been on only two dates. I hope this goes on and on.

We have a date to go swimming next Wednesday and then out to Hapsburg for dinner. Oh heavenly days! I just haven’t lived before. Also, he’s so solicitous of me.This is the kind of romance I have always dreamed about but never thought would happen.

The 70th anniversary year of Lil's and Fred's glorious dates continue next Tuesday with solo dancing and dinner.

Comments welcome. Just click below on the red words, "Post a Comment." Thanks!


To read all of Lil's diary entries from her first 1941 encounter with Fred, click here and keep scrolling forward in time to catch up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dear God, please let it come true!

We're following the budding romance of my parents 70 years ago. (Click on Falling in Love and Betcha he won't call to see the first diary entries) 


My mom, then Lillian Koroschetz, had a fabulous evening of dancing and chatting away  with Fred Gartz on May 11, 1941, but was convinced that he wouldn't follow up: "I'll just betcha he won't call!" she wrote. Well, things were looking more promising about a week later.

May 20, 1941 Tuesday 11 pm 

Quite a thrill awaited me when I came home tonite. Fred had sent me a card from Turkey Run, Marshall, Indiana, reading, 

“Hy-ya Lil - Have substituted hiking and horsing for the rhumba for the time being. This place is grand, especially the food. Nun, auf wiedersehen. Fritz” 

I can remember distinctly only two other occasions when I got such a thrill out of something. (and she relates two other boy-related incidents) I must be in love with the guy and haven’t even gone out with him. Somehow I now have a glimmer of hope he’ll phone. Here’s hoping! Sat.,  

July 12, 1941 

Just did my nails - Cutex Butterscotch - and having had a most complete week, am so tired I must go to bed without putting down what I intended [in the diary]. “Lil-no-romances-in-the-summer-Koroschetz” -- that’s me! I don’t even have time in the summer and that’s no alibi, believe me!  

Thursday Aug 14 

Finally - I heard from Fred Gartz. He wanted me to go to some German movie with him tonite. However, I had a date to go to Hapsburg for dinner and teach Ruth how to drive. So changed the date to tomorrow night. Am I glad! Now I have it to look forward to instead of having it all over by now (11:00 pm) I hope and pray this will lead to more and frequent dates!

Friday August 15, 1941 

The evening I have been waiting for a long, long time has now been realized. Fritz and I went to a little German theatre on Lincoln near Fullerton, then walked in Lincoln Park on this beautiful night, arm in arm - held hands in the show. Then to Sieben's [a Chicago outdoor brewery with great ham sandwiches] where we had some beer. Then back to the park and I think we both knew why we went back. We sat on a bench hearing the lions roar and the quacking of a duck. Oh it was heavenly! He knows all the little innuendoes of kissing and I ain’t so bad m’self, if I do say so.
[She switches to writing with indecipherable Pitman shorthand for a few lines, clearly wanting to keep this part censored! Then goes back to regular writing] 
And he enjoyed it too, I’ll say. We kissed for about an hour and a half. I hope and pray he will phone me again. I can’t really believe it happened!! Tonight was like a page from a story book and he definitely is the man I want to marry. Dear God, please let it come true!!  


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