Veterans Day evokes Thanksgiving Thoughts

On Veterans Day, I always think of my beautiful, young, handsome Uncle Frank Ebner, whom I never met in person, yet I feel I know intimately. Why? Because I have nearly 300 letters written to and from him from January 1943 to the end of September 1945. Then the letters stopped coming home.

Mother’s Day and Mental Health Month

In May we're called upon to honor our mothers and to increase our awareness of mental health for ourselves, our families, and others. With this post I hope to do both: honor my mother for the anguished choices she alone, as an only child, could make about her mentally ill mother, and bring the choices she had to make at that time into focus in our own time.

Landing the immigrant dream

On Jan. 11th, 1911, (1/1/11) a massive steamship, named "Friedrich der Grosse" (for Frederick the Great, a one-time Prussian ruler) pulled into New York Bay. My dad's father, Josef Gärtz, was on that ship, peering out at the Statue of Liberty, greeting him and the other hopeful and exhausted boat-load of immigrants. It was the beginning of a life entirely different from the lives of the family and friends he left behind.

New Year Nightmare

On New Year's Eve, 1910, a young immigrant boards a steamship from the Port of Bremen to head out into the unknown, across the Atlantic to America. Using his wits, Josef Gärtz overcame every obstacle in his path—and recorded how he did it in letters and diaries. That's why I can share with you today a first-hand account of what he experienced 108 years ago. Read on to find out what happened.