Chicago — a view over time

Landing the Dream

Landing the Dream

January 11, 2011, is the 100th anniversary of Josef Gärtz, my paternal grandfather, arriving in America, losing the umlaut over...

Mystery Writing

Mystery Writing

While Josef makes his way across the Atlantic to America in early January, 1911, I thought I’d use his “travel...

Atlantic Crossing in Winter

Atlantic Crossing in Winter

Crossing the North Atlantic in the heart of winter was a grueling experience, as Josef reports in his diary. The...

Out to Sea

Out to Sea

Once Josef arrived in Bremen, and his path to America seemed clear, he wrote to Lisi. Not only had Friedrich...

Threats to the Dream—Vienna to Bremen

Threats to the Dream—Vienna to Bremen

Josef wrote both in his diary and to Lisi about his terror atop the train from Pressburg (Bratislava) to Vienna,...

Terror Atop the Train

Terror Atop the Train

I’d always known my grandfather was often impatient, and apparently was so as a young man. I learned from my...

Channeling the Dead to Life

Channeling the Dead to Life

I sometimes feel like a medium—you know—those people able to communicate with the dead. But in my case, they are...

Last Summer in Europe

Last Summer in Europe

In 1910 Josef began a second book, this time the notebook in which I found his Military Draft notice handwritten...

The Cash and Song Book

The Cash and Song Book

When we asked my grandfather why he had come to America he always said, “Nothing from nothing makes nothing.”  A...

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