Model A Ford-1929 (See Blitzbuggy below) credit:

Model A Ford-1929 (See Blitzbuggy below)

It’s Carnival of Genealogy (CoG) again, the monthly opportunity for genealogy bloggers to ponder a specific topic—and for April it’s cars. Thanks to Jasia at Creative Gene for hosting CoG.

Blitzbuggy. For those of you who remember your World War II history, the term “Blitzkrieg” (Lightning warfare) may come to mind. Blitz means lightning in German, and knowing my dad, I’m sure irony came into play in naming this iconic automobile.

Blitzbuggy was my Dad’s family’s 1929 Model A Ford.

Blitzbuggy was special. My parents spoke and wrote about her as if she had a personality. She was maddening and endearing. She required pampering, cajoling, and endless tinkering, yet held her owners in thrall. My parents told stories about her breakdowns as if relating the escapades of a spoiled child, who, no matter how much trouble she caused, was unconditionally loved.

And like a loved relative, she was witness to major family events. When my dad wrote a poem to my mother for their tenth wedding anniversary, Blitzbuggy deserved special mention. I won’t quote the whole poem here—that’s better saved for a future post—but here’s the stanza in which Dad includes their faithful four-wheeled steed in his tribute to their decade-long marriage:

At Central Plaza was our reception
And it was with no exception
Perfect on each and every score.
Home came the bride in Blitzbuggy
And of course, the hubby
Carried her right through the door.
Blitzbuggy at the Draft Office, Chicago, 1/23/1943

World War II: 1929 Model A Ford, “Blitzbuggy,” brings
son to Military Draft Board. Chicago, January 23, 1943

But Blitzbuggy would also be the conveyance for a beginning that was far less joyous than my parents’ wedding and one that I wouldn’t have known about until I found this out-of-focus photo tossed in among our collection. Coming upon it, I saw only an unremarkable old car parked on a snowy street, with no identifiable people. Until I turned the picture over, and read my father’s detailed notes on the back, I never would have known the critical event this photo documented.

Prior to finding this picture, Blitzbuggy had only existed in family lore. My father had probably told us what vintage the dear little car was, but it hadn’t stuck in my memory. Dad’s notes not only identified the car—its year, model, and make—but also recorded the contribution Blitzbuggy had made to one of the pivotal events of the 20th Century—and our family’s connection to it. But his identifying data weren’t just to jog his memory. They were a way of communicating important family history to my brothers and me. In the note, he refers to his mother as “Grandma,” even though she wouldn’t be a grandma for another three years. That means he wrote these details well after the picture was taken so his children would know its significance.  Here are his exact words—in italics (my comments are in brackets. Parentheses are his):

January 23, 1943

Ebner’s drafting. Saying farewell. Grandma [Dad’s mother] in Blitzbuggy (1929 Model A Ford). Lil [my mother] on right side. [Only the back of her coat and hair are visible.]

In front of the Draft board
4748 W. Washington Blvd. Chicago, Ill 

Frank Ebner, (ABE-ner) Gartz, born May 14, 1924, was my Dad’s ten-year-younger brother and my grandparents’ youngest son. His middle name was taken from my grandmother, Lisi’s, maiden name, one you’ve read in numerous past posts.

At eighteen years old, Frank was about to start his training to become a navigator for the Army Air Corps in World War II, and Blitzbuggy brought him to sign up for the service just a few blocks from the family home. It’s a familiar winter scene for the city: the snow is piled on the sidewalks, and typical Chicago greystone apartment buildings form a backdrop. The entire atmosphere of the photo—its blurry focus, the gloomy, colorless weather, the faces of the two women in the photo hidden or indiscernible, the lone black auto on a strangely empty street—create a visual metaphor for the emotions of a family about to send its youngest off to war.