I posted this essay last year on Martin Luther King Day. What I write about still stands today, but what a difference a year makes in our greater understanding of Black Lives Matter and the inequities wrought by the coronavirus.
My father wrote to Frank, who was more like a best friend to him. Ten years older than Frank/Ebner, my dad had changed Frank's diapers as a baby, fed him, and entertained him with walks to the park when his mom was busy working on the buildings and the never-ending housework of era.
The two Franks (Von Arx and Gartz), 18-year-old high school buddies, were so close, they called each other's parents "Mom and Pop," as here. This letter indicates that Frank "Ebner" Gartz is now in Santa Ana, CA. Frank Von Arx-"Somewhere in the Aleutians."
In an earlier letter, after his family was so concerned they hadn't heard from Frank, he assured them he was writing at least every 4 days and suggested they start numbering the letters so that he'd be sure he received them all. His older brother Will, starts doing that here. Will also tries to smooth Frank's ruffled feathers at the apparently sarcastic letter Will had sent regarding not hearing from the young soldier.
In Frank's letter to his mom, he refers to "boilers." These were the furnaces in the many buildings my grandparents cared for. In this era, and for many years afterwards, they burned coal, requiring lots of shoveling of coal when the weather was very cold, often several times a day, even overnight. They could be finicky and required a good deal of attention.