Many mothers during World War II had to send off multiple sons to war. My grandmother’s deep concern for the safety of her youngest is palpable in all her letters, yet she was lucky in that her other two sons, in their late twenties, were not drafted. This letter tells us why. Both Will and Fred, my dad, were classified as *2B, meaning that they were “men necessary to the national defense.” (See the complete listing of WWII draft classifications here). My father was working in a defense plant and my Uncle Will was in the Civil Air Patrol.
My grandmother also comments that my grandfather, Josef, is starting to take a little more time to relax—instead of working nonstop around the clock. That was good news.
The bad news in this letter is that my mother’s father is dying. A smoker since he was a child, John Koroschetz’s body was wasting away to a skin-wrapped skeleton as he entered the last stages of lung cancer. My mother spoke of a doughnut-shaped pillow that had to be placed under his buttocks to lessen the pain of bones protruding through his skin. Sheesh.
No hospice or hospital care back then for the terminally ill. He was cared for by his wife, my maternal Grandmother, Louise, at home.
Louise had already shown signs of mental instability, beginning when my Mom and Dad got engaged. [See my mother’s diary entry of the summer of 1942, when so in love. Click “The Happiest Days of our Lives.”
The death of her husband would put Louise over the edge. As my Grandma Gartz notes in this letter, my Grandma Koroschetz will move in with my parents just ten months after their marriage the previous November, and they’ll all live in the building my father’s parents managed. Too many in-laws too close.
Lots of other newsy tidbits, including meeting THE BIGGEST MAN AND WIFE IN THE WORLD! Read on.
My Dear Ebner,
Your letter from 8-14 I did not answer to you. I am ashamed, but it was the 4 days Vera and Chucky were here. I did answer [your last letter.] You tell me how busy [you are] and how tough [your job is]. You will appreciate it when you finish it. We are all proud of you and you will do the best that you are able.
God will help you to complete your difficulties and will bless you. I pray daily for that. Oh, how we all are happy and proud for your desire! You have the will power to complete [your job]. I am sure of that.
We got your card (Dad’s and mine) of where you live and eat. [Click to see vintage postcards she’s referring to at this post]. Send me one that [tells] what your eat. The last writing of mine was one day before Will [Frank’s oldest brother], was taking his test [pilot’s license]. On the morning before the day it began to rain, light at first, but then very hard the whole day. [Will] drove to the airfield, but came back to work. So now he has to make another appointment. The soonest is this coming Saturday from 2-6 p.m.
He will be near the Tribune Building at that airplane show. [Probably the Chicago Air Show that takes place at Lake Michigan, which the Tribune building is near]. I think he will be a guard or something like that. The officers from the Airfield are there [at the air show].
He will tell you all about that. Then [Fred and Lil] both have a lot of running to do because of her father’s sickness. He is bad. There is no hope for him. Later they may rent a flat here 3-3-C [she’s referring to 3 N. Keeler, an apartment building at Keeler and Madison Streets, for which my grandparents were custodians and managers]. [Lil’l] mother will be with them. She will be so lonesome after [her husband dies].
[Fred] and Will are still 2-B [draft classification].*Last Saturday Will and Fred gave blood for Red Cross, Will for the second time, Fred for the 5th time.
Pop and I are always working hard, as you know. Only Pop starts to think now once in a while about himself. It is a more pleasant way to live. We are not staying home as before even with the money not so tight. On a Sunday, we both going downtown. Yesterday we went after church with the Jackson Street bus to Grant Park. Just think, he wanted to go to the side show first, then to the big show (the circus)
Here I send you [a picture] signed by the Biggest Man and Wife in the World. I told them I will send the card to my son. This morning I received a package from Vera with a letter. Chucky has the mumps. She said that is why he was so[misbehaved] here. She sent me a pin for my watch and a blouse and to father a tie and handkerchief to match. So you can do for her not much. Enough now.
From all with lots of love,
Your Ma & Dad, & Will send you Good Luck