Frank Ebner Gartz, my uncle, was drafted into World War II on January 23, 1943 (see previous post: “A World War II Draftee—70 Years Ago“). The next day he wrote from his new home at Camp Grant, near Rockford, Illinois. Until I found the letter below, I hadn’t know where he had started his training. Here’s how the first day in training was reported by a new inductee on his first day in camp.
Note: I corrected spelling and added punctuation to make reading easier. Original below transcription.
I just came home from church. It’s 9:30 and our barrack woke up at 6:45 this morning, one hour later than usual. We made our bunk, washed, and ate. now we have the day to our selves. Tomorrow (Monday) we get our uniforms and our classification. We arrived at 8:05 P.M. last night. OUr train was very slow. A normal trip of two hours took us twice the time, four hours and fifteen minutes. I’m going to read the paper now. There’s nothing else to do. I might get in a card game that is just starting. Hope everyone at home is well. I got the upper bunk and it’s very warm near the ceiling. Take it easy and I’ll write again soon.
Your loving son,
P.S. You can’t write me here because Camp Grant hasn’t a receiving station for mail.
Aren’t these letters great? My dad wrote to my mom every day for 4 years during WWII, and she saved all of them. He also kept a journal of his experiences. Those documents are all so precious to me.
I agree with Christine. These letters are a treasure. It is interesting to trace the evolution of the writer’s personality while going through what will surely turn into a daunting experience. At first, the focus seems to be on mundane details, but I’m sure at some point, the tone will gradually change. I don’t know if I’m reading into your family’s letters what I experienced in transcribing my own father-in-law’s experiences, but I’m interested in following your Frank’s progress. Of course, part of that change may be owing simply to the great deal of growing up an 18-year-old must face… Read more »
A very evident evolution will occur, not only in Frank/Ebner, but his mother’s writing. Actually I have letters going both ways, so it’s a window into the home front as well as the trainee’s life. The first letter from Ebner’s mother (you may remember her as “Lisi Ebner” from the beginnings of this blog) will be posted 70 days to the date it was written 1/30/43.
A friend’s daughter just returned from a peace corps like stint in Georgia–the one near Russia. They could not send her mail because there was no post office in the little town and the nearest one was a hike from there. The things we take for granted! Your uncle was a good guy to write to his mom..I will be able to preserve any letters from my kids with no difficulty…one per child!
Yes, today’s kids aren’t so great at writing. Ebner wrote LOTS of letters. It was the only way for both sides to stay in touch.