My grandmother’s latest letter, written seventy years ago today, combines homey sorts of news with motherly concern for Frank. She relates her visit to her half-sister in Cleveland, Ohio, asks about the visit my dad and mom made to see Frank in Madison, WI, brings him up-to-date on his dad’s health and the casual birthday party they had for Grandpa as he turned fifty-four.

Always the mom, she expresses her concern over his stolen helmet, how he’s doing with the clarinet, and whether Frank should be taking war bonds or the money they represent. He’s been in the service three months already, and his mom has just received the war bonds he’s earned since his induction at the end of January.

As always, I’ve retained as much of my foreign-born grandmother’s grammar and spelling as possible to lend authenticity to the letter.


Chicago, Ill 6-8-43

My Dear Ebner.

I got your card…about the 2 war bonds. Do you have to take them? Dont you think it better to send the money….19 May I got your first bonds for 3 months—is that correct?

We was by Mrs. Wagner  [this is Lisi’s half sister in Cleveland, Ohio] and Rudi [the Wagner’s son] is over 1 year in Australia. We saw his photograph. He has gained 20 pounds and looks more like his mother.

From the beginning the gevernment sent from his pay every month $25 to her for bonds or saving. 

How was [the visit] from [Fred] & Lil [my parents] in Madison?

I wish goot luck with your helmet [Frank’s helmet was stolen]. Keep clean hands [she means: don’t do anything wrong.] Just let me know how much the price is. You and I we both feel better, don’t you think so?

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My Dear Ebner,

With you taking one test after the other, you will get what you want and wish by praying to our God and Father. With full trust he will help you if it is for you best and for your safety. That is my biggest praying to God, to keep you thinking that you will always be in the safe way. So don’t be in so big hurry. You try hard.

How you make out with your clarinet. I hope you have many good hours with it. On father’s birthday [6/6] [Fred and Lil] came over, then Will came home from the Field [flying]. So we hat cake and coffee….

We all played 5 card, a new game from Lil. It was very good. At 12 [midnight], Fred and Lil went home.

Father got a bad cough and cold. Will is busy as before; [Fred and Lil] the same….I send you $5 with this letter to you.

With lots of love,

Ma and Pa and Will

Original Letter