Will Gartz, Harlem Airport, 1943-1944

Writing Ebner became focal point of Gartz family life. Here’s a letter from the oldest Gartz brother, Will. Born in 1913, he was eleven years older than Ebner. Age 29 when Ebner was drafted, Will was probably too old for the draft himself, but he did his part, by becoming a pilot in the Civil Air Patrol.

The previous November 1942, the month my parents married, Congress lowered the draft age to eighteen, just in time to require Ebner, who was born May 14, 1924, to enlist. As you’ll see, Will was a serious fellow. The eldest, of three boys, he was the “good boy,” always following the rules, and offering advice to his younger brothers.

I’ve shortened the transcription of Will’s 1/31/43 letter just a little, to eliminate uninteresting or confusing sentences, but you can read it in its entirely at the end.

Note: The Von Arx family, mentioned in Will’s letter, included another Frank, who was my uncle’s best friend. They called each other’s mothers “Mom.” A letter from Frank Von Arx, also in the military, is coming up soon, a window into these young men’s experiences and their adorable senses of humor.


Sunday Jan, 31, [1943] 7 p.m.

Hello Frank:
Just arrived home from the field after quite a day of weather changes that started with a fog which partly cleared, then closed in, then a rain with wind from the southeast which gradually changed to snow and wind from the northwest. The transformation was a typical “cold front” leaving all the streets covered with ice.

Enough of this now and greetings old boy. How are you and how do the regulated hours agree with you? So you’re slated for radio work. Well, it’s a great field with unlimited opportunities, so apply yourself and go the limit. Just what phase are you in anyway?
The Von Arx’s have been asking for you constantly and Mrs. Nielson has asked for your address so she can write you. Things sure are quiet around here and we all miss you. Until our next, hasta la vista.


Have you still possession of your watch? We have been told that watches disappear quickly in the service, especially in your neighborhood….Eyes open.

Original Letter