“The Tiger’s Widow” and “Stories from the Battlefield” Book Launch

July 22, 2014 – Chicago, Illinois.

Jennifer Holik announces the release of two of her latest books. The Tiger’s Widow the second book in the Stories of the Lost series. And, Stories from the Battlefield: A Beginning Guide to World War II Research.

Widow_Cover3The Tiger’s Widow Synopsis:

Love knows no boundaries of time and space or life and death. It exists forever in our hearts as we remember and honor those who have gone before us. Through those memories we pass life lessons on to the next generation. We teach others there is light after darkness, hope after despair, and love is the glue that puts shattered hearts back together. This is a story of five hearts separated by time and space; hearts which would meet in the perfect moment. It is a story about never ending love that lived on even after death.

Join me on a journey that spans 72 years and several continents. This is the story of the life of Virginia Scharer Brouk, the wife of Flying Tiger, Robert Brouk. Virginia picked up the pieces of her life and joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, later known as the Women’s Army Corps (WAC,) to take up the fight after Robert was killed in a plane crash. Virginia’s story is of life, loss, war, and the connection of hearts filled with love.


Stories from the Battlefield: A Beginning Guide to World War II Research Synopsis:

StoresBattlefield_6x9_webSynopsis: All the records burned! We hear this over and over when we think about World War II research. Yet there are many records and resources available to get you started. In this short guide, you will learn the basics of World War II military research and what to look for in your home sources. Then we will explore components of personnel files, death records, and other associated records in this short book.

This guide is meant to be a starting point for World War II research, not an exhaustive examination of all the military branches and records available. In 2015 I will release the first in a series of in-depth books on World War II records, the first being Stories from the Battlefield Volume I: Navigating World War II Home Front, Civilian, Army, and Air Corps Records. Please visit my website for more details on the release dates.

Coming in 2015!

Volume I: Navigating World War II Home Front, Civilian, Army, and Air Corps Records

Volume II: Navigating World War II Accident Reports, Internment and Prisoner Records, and Death Records

Volume III: Navigating World War II Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Merchant Marine Records

Volume IV: Navigating World War II National Guard Records

The Tiger’s Widow and Stories from the Battlefield are available through the author’s website: http://jenniferholik.com where you can also find the World War II Toolbox!

About Jennifer Holik

Jennifer is a genealogical, historical, and military researcher. Jennifer lectures throughout the Chicagoland area on World War II records and stories, women during World War II, kids genealogy, and Italian genealogy.

As a researcher and writer she can help you research and piece together the stories of your ancestors, particularly if they served during World War II. Jennifer is also on staff at the World War II History Network where she assists with the genealogy group.

© 2014, Jennifer Holik, Woodridge, IL

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Follow Friday – Camp Butner Society

James Camp Butner

Camp Butner, NC, January 1944

Did your soldier train at Camp Butner in North Carolina during the war years? One of mine did, James Privoznik, who I wrote about in my book, Stories of the Lost.

There is now an official society that is taking membership to help raise funds to acquire an old building and restore it and obtain Camp Butner memorabilia. The membership form is attached if you are interested in becoming a member. TCBS_Inc_Membership_Form.pdf

For more information, see their FaceBook Group and read this article about the society.

On another note, when you research and write the stories of your military ancestors, don’t forget to include history of the camps at which they trained. Many camps and bases have websites with history and photographs.

© 2014, Jennifer Holik, Woodridge, IL


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Military Monday – The Tiger’s Widow Exceprt July 14, 2014

The following is an excerpt from my soon to be released book about Virginia Brouk, a member of the World War II Women’s Army Corps. The Tiger’s Widow is book 2 in the Stories of the Lost series and continues the story of Flying Tiger Robert Brouk’s life through the life of his widow. This is one of the letters she sent home. Please visit my website for details on ordering this new book on July 22.

Ginny became “famous” in part because of her job as Western Electric’s “Hello Charley” girl in 1941. This is a piece of that story.

Hello Charley!

Ginny and the Hello Charley court. Ginny is in the center. Photo courtesy Virginia S. Davis.

Ginny and the Hello Charley court. Ginny is in the center. Photo courtesy Virginia S. Davis.

In the 1920s, Western Electric had an employee named Charles Drucker. A postcard addressed to “Charley the Western ,” was sent to the plant. It was intended for Charles Drucker, but the sender could not remember Charles’ last name. As the postcard circulated the plant searching for the proper owner, plant workers started calling each other “Charley Western” which became “Hello Charley” as a greeting. In 1930, the company used the “Hello Charley” greeting to create a beauty pageant and crowned the first “Hello Charley” girl.

The “Hello Charley” girl was the woman who, for a period of a year, represented the company at all functions inside and outside the company. She participated in marketing campaigns for the company and appeared in photographs, advertising, and the company newsletter. In the late 1930s when the U.S. was recruiting soldiers, the “Hello Charley” girl’s role also included greeting former employees in the military who visited the company on leave. The “Hello Charley” girl had a wholesome, girl next door image people adored.

Each year, after the tradition began, hundreds of women were nominated to be the year’s “Hello Charley” girl. Elections were held in May and the “Hello Charley” girl and her court were crowned in June. The winner received a three piece luggage set and tags with the “Hello Charley” logo and the current “Hello Charley” Girl’s photo.

Of course, promotional items followed — including auto stickers with the “Hello Charley” winner’s photo, thus identifying Western Electric workers all over the world.[i] When the U.S. entered the war, additional promotional materials were created that included stickers with glue on the backside which could be affixed to military bags, shaving kits, and other items a soldier might carry with him. These stickers were sent to former employees with the company newsletter.

Ginny was nominated as a “Hello Charley” contestant in April of 1941. Her assistance at the April 21-25, 1941 Hobby Show, handing out flowers did not go unnoticed. 132 women were nominated and voting occurred throughout the company. The nominees were narrowed down to only five. On June 11, 1941, Ginny was elected the “Hello Charley” girl for 1941, after having been employed only six weeks. Ginny was so fortunate to have been elected because it changed her life.

"Hello Charley" marketing. Photo courtesy Virginia S. Davis

“Hello Charley” marketing. Photo courtesy Virginia S. Davis

As “Hello Charley” girl, Ginny’s duties included attending all company events, ribbon cutting ceremonies, various social functions, and representing Western Electric at events outside of the company. Ginny said for every event she attended, the company provided a different escort. Photographs were taken at every event. Afterward, articles were written for the company newsletter. Ginny’s modeling skills and strong family values played a large role in her comportment during these events. As always, she was an exceptional company representative.

Ginny’s war effort duties to support the troops required her to write letters to the former company employees serving in the military. She also greeted returning military personnel who stopped for a visit on leave.

Over the course of her reign as “Hello Charley” girl, Ginny’s photo traveled across the country. Employees both past and present sent her postcards from their travels. Soldiers, after seeing her sticker or visiting the plant, sent her letters. Ginny’s photo appeared in the major Chicago newspapers at company events and in the company newsletter. Ginny’s fame grew over the year. As a result, Ginny amassed a collection of letters and postcards in her scrapbook during her year as “Hello Charley” girl from soldiers and fans across the country.[ii]

During Ginny’s year as the “Hello Charley” Girl, she was asked to star in the play This Thing Called Love. The Western Electric Theater company was floundering during 1941 and Ginny was suggested for the role because of her modeling experience. Ginny was not excited about this turn of events. She had no love for acting. Of course, her protective father supported her decision to not take the role, but it was her mother who convinced her to do it for the company. In the end, Ginny’s performance as Ann Winters was a smash.

News clipping. Courtesy Virginia S. Davis.

News clipping. Courtesy Virginia S. Davis.

Ginny’s year as the “Hello Charley” Girl made her job of order clerk bearable. The extra duties of a photo shoot, meeting a G.I or other event took her away from the tedious daily duties of an order clerk. She was able to enjoy her job, keep her father’s protectiveness at bay, and play the perfect company girl.


[i] Hawthorne Works Museum, Hello Charley 1963, pamphlet (Cicero, IL. : 1963), inside panel 2.

[ii] Davis, Ginny. “Interview with Ginny Davis.” Personal interview. 19 July 2013.

© 2014, Jennifer Holik, Woodridge, IL

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