Boys were disappearing from neighborhoods in the 1940s as if aliens had come and snatched them away, and in this letter we get a first-hand view of the effect on the girls left behind. Women had to take over men’s jobs during the war, and again we see evidence of that in this letter. These letters offer a first hand view of the effect of the war on the regular folks who lived through it.
Finally, some context. Many of Frank’s correspondents were friends he knew from our family Church, Bethel Evangelical Lutheran, on the corner of West End and Keeler. It’s the church where my father and his brothers were confirmed and my dad and mom married on Nov. 8, 1942. Miss Zinter, Bethel’s ambitious choir director (at one time she managed five Bethel choirs) is mentioned again in this letter. An article (below), probably from the local paper, The Garfieldian, highlights one of her many choir presentations. My Dad, Fred Gartz, sings a solo in this one “The Dubois Cantata.”
March 26, 1943
I got your address from Johnnie’s mother so I decided I would drop you a few lines. In your letter to me you said letters are precious so I thought it [would be] a good thing to write.
How is the cold weather treating you? I see your mother and Dad every Sunday
And they have been telling me about you. It sue was a shame you didn’t get to see them when you came through Chicago.
From what they tell me you don’t like the food very well up there. Just think what the poor fellas across the sea are eating and be thankful for what you’ve got.
I don’t know whether I told you or not but I’m graduating this June [probably from Austin High School] instead of next Feb. Boy! Am I ever glad though. I sure am getting tired of school.
Miss Zinter is leaving our church. She has taken over a new organist job at the 2nd Presbyterian church in Oak Park. The organ is very large. It is a $20,000 one and has three keyboards. Right now her mother is very ill. They don’t expect her to even get out of bed again.
Ted Strecker is a sergeant now. He is still in North Carolina Don’t you think it’s swell that Frank is a PFC Of course you know that means Praying for Corporal.
Bob Hetzel left Thursday for the army. They had a party Wed. nite. I went and boy! Did we have a grand time!
Guess what? I’m a grease monkey now. I work out at my Dad’s station on Saturdays. It’s a lot of fun. I pump gas, put oil in the cars, check tires, wash windows. Every once in a while someone is kindhearted and gives me a tip. You should see all the business we get! HA! Ha!
Do you think there’s any chance of you getting a leave? It really would be swell if you could.
I have to go to choir tonite. There are no fellas at church any more. We girls have to go out together. We do and we have a picnic. We sang at a hospital not so very long ago.
Bill Owens is in the army in Texas. He says it’s pretty nice down there.
Well, Frank, how about dropping me a line or two? See you soon, I hope.
PS. I hear It’s pretty cold in S. Dakota