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.
This Memorial Day, I'm remembering two relatives who each served in one of the 20th century's two world wars.
I'd always known my grandfather was often impatient, and apparently was so as a young man. He didn't want to wait for the long visa process, so he just took off for America before his exit papers were in order, hoping to start the new year of 1911 in a new country. His diary "Meine Reise Nach Amerika" (My Trip to America), and letters to his sweetheart show that he almost didn't make it.
Front of Easter postcard from Josef to Lisi. Note Cupid appears to be rowing an eggshell boat filled with flowers and a chick guides the rudder. […]