Frank Ebner Gartz is now the farthest away from home he’s ever been since starting his World War II training. He’s in Los Angeles, California, and tells his mom he wants lots of letters from the folks back in Chicago. He sounds a little homesick and wants to keep in touch.
Christmas and New Year’s Eve are in the past. He’s now facing the reality that he’s entering into some tough competition in his branch of the service. One third of the cadets have already washed out, even before being classified for their role in the Army Air Corps. The alternative to the Army Air Corps isn’t pleasant—getting sent to the infantry. Frank’s still waiting for his classification. (See his letter, Future on the line, about the tests he took on December 24, 1943, to determine his classification). Frank ends this letter on a “shaky” note.
Well the new year is here may it bring as much happiness to all as last year did an a little more would do no harm.
I’m writing as you see from a U.S.O. in Los Angeles where I have been since yesterday and will stay till tomorrow morning. I went ice skating last night and had a fairly good time. I’m here with two other cadets and the three of us welcomed in the new year on a bus coming from Hollywood to Los Angeles. We had a nice New Years evening. We had a steak dinner in town last night and a glass of wine with it. Besides that I have done no drinking and have cut my smoking almost completely out. I’m quickly becoming a nice guy as you see but I still haven’t learned to hang on to my money Don’t get the idea I want you to send some for I don’t. We haven’t been paid yet but will be in a few days.
I wish you would send me my shoes I sent home and also if you can get some jewelers rouge [to clean his brass] and some stiff brushes (small ones) it would make me happy. I sent home a Garrison hat I found here so you do what you want with it.
So far I’ve received only one letter from you. You are writing aren’t you? I try to write about 3 times a week and usually get it done. I still haven’t received a letter from Cookie but she sent me a swell box of stuff including a small Christmas tree, two dolls, a piggy bank, a diary, a chicken game, some very good after shave lotion and powder and nuts, candy and cookies. Oh! Also some crackers, cheese, caviar and sauerkraut juice. As you can see I’m well taken car of. (PS) it’s all gone.
The thing I need most is letters and plenty of them for I’m so far away from home it takes quite some time [for the letters] to get here. I hope dad is fine and Bill too. How are you these day, Sweetheart? Have you any complaints?
Say hello to Fred and Lill for me and thank them for their Christmas present. It if wasn’t for them I would not be here now. I’m feeling swell but a little shaky. So many of the boys are washing out it’s a damn shame. Out of a squad of 240, 78 have been eliminated already and we haven’t been classified as yet.
Well I’m praying more often now and find some help in it so till I write again keep well and write often.
Love, your son