Memorial Day: Serving World War II America in combat and at home

Memorial Day: Serving World War II America in combat and at home
My Dad, Fred,  is working on a new oxygen regulator that his younger brother, Frank, may very well use at some time. (Dad had a deferment from military service because of his defense work.) He updates his brother on the improvements being made on this essential piece of equipment for airmen, or order to save more lives.... Read more »

High School teacher keeps her World War II "boys" in touch

High School teacher keeps her World War II "boys" in touch
Letters were special for World War II servicemen. That’s why Miss Hartley, Frank’s division teacher from Austin High School, made such an effort to write all her “boys.” She starts this letter (her eighth to former students) with a reference to listening to “Charlie McCarthy,” a famous Ventriloquist act that was popular, even on the... Read more »

"Raising hell" for a Happy Birthday during World War II

"Raising hell" for a Happy Birthday during World War II
Today, May 14th,  is the 90th anniversary of my Uncle Frank’s birth — but back in 1944, he had just turned twenty. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, UNCLE EBNER! I’m posting these two letters together. The first is from Frank, telling my parents how he planned to celebrate his 20th in San Antonio with an old friend from... Read more »
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Mother's Day and birthday coincide: World War II cadet homesick

Mother's Day and birthday coincide: World War II cadet homesick
Ebner’s feeling homesick—missing being near family on his 20th birthday and Mother’s Day, which in 1944 was May 14th. His sweet side sure comes through. Phone service was sketchy and  made communicating difficult. No email or texting ease like today! Like all our World War II soldiers, he’s really still a kid doing a man’s... Read more »

Draft deferments & home front updates World War II

Draft deferments & home front updates World War II
Executive secretary to the president of the Bayer Company, my mother had formidable typing skills (on a tough-keyed manual 1940s typewriter, she could pound out 70-80 words a minute with seldom-a-mistake. She took shorthand at 80 wpm). In this letter, which she  typed, Mom congratulates Frank on the War Department letter, (see earlier posts), updates... Read more »

Air cadet modest response to glowing praise World War II

Air cadet modest response to glowing praise World War II
Frank is flying more and more––obviously required preparation for his future on a B-17 Bomber. Even though he’ll be navigator, all men need to know how to fly. Frank’s mother had received the below letter from the Hondo Navigation School (note: it’s dated April 10th, so it took a long time to get to her!). Grandma... Read more »
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Winter toil takes toll on WWII Dad's health

Winter toil takes toll on WWII Dad's health
The brutal snow and coal shoveling of the 1944 winter has a taken its toll on my grandfather’s knees. After decades of climbing all those stairs to bring down trash and shovel snow, he’s torn probably the ligament in his right knee. The two sons still in Chicago, Will, and my Dad, Fred, are helping... Read more »

World War II 20-year-old: The important things in life.

Frank may be the “little brother,” but he’s wiser about life and love than Will, older by eleven years. I’ve written before about Will’s “serious” nature, and difficulty “letting himself go.” Here Frank takes Will’s reluctance to get involved with a girl head on—filling his older brother in on what life’s all about. Frank, at... Read more »

World War II Navigator cadet breaks a few rules to have fun.

World War II Navigator cadet breaks a few rules to have fun.
Frank is losing weight. Who wouldn’t with the intense work-out the young cadets are put through? Stephen Ambrose, in his book about B-24 cadets, The Wild Blue, describes one such work-out, probably similar to what Frank experienced: “…push-ups, knee bends, exercises of the waist, running in place, pushing forward with hands on a wall while... Read more »
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World War II interests: Planes and girls

World War II interests: Planes and girls
Frank’s oldest brother, Will, had always the most serious of the three Gartz boys. As the eldest in the family, he was motivated to be “good,” especially because he had to compete, with an upstart younger brother, my dad, born when Will was just twelve months old. As you might expect, my Dad had to carve... Read more »
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    Linda Gartz

    I was born and raised on Chicago's West Side, where the Gartz family lived and worked for most of the 20th century. After my mom died in 1994, my brothers and I poked around the the attic of my parents' home and discovered a trove of letters, diaries, documents, and photos that had been saved for almost a century. Taken as a whole, they focus a lens on the history of our city and life in another era, as seen through the eyes of regular folks. Go to Lindagartz.com where you'll find my blog, Family Archaeologist (a clickable link is on the "About Letters of a World War II Airman" page). There you can explore this historical treasure trove that illuminates history and our shared humanity. I started my blog, "Letters of a World War II Airman," on the 70th anniversary of the date my uncle, Frank Ebner Gartz, was drafted into World War II military service. You can see that first post and the first three months of 1943 letters at my website, Lindagartz.com. All future letters will be posted on this blog. I'm an author, archivist and television producer. Please visit my website, LindaGartz.com, to see my published articles and an overview of my television productions.

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