Family heirlooms come in many forms, shapes and sizes. It always amazes me what types of material appears on eBay as part of estate liquidation sales. Family scrapbooks, bibles, photo albums and personal diaries. In this case, I was able to purchase a small group of photos and a War Department Identification card from a nurse who served in WWII. Included were a few photos of her in wartime garb, shots of her husband (pre-marriage) and her wartime ID card. As I always say, it’s about the research….
It’s sad to thing that a family would sell off relics of their family’s past, but it’s not for me to judge. I’m here to interpret the material at hand and figure out as much as possible with scant information.
I always start off with a quick ancestry.com search to help figure out the background story. We have a name – Helen Boretski and a birthdate of March 31st, 1924. Helen was 5’6″ when the photo was taken and a healthy 142 pounds. Her hair and eyes are listed as brown. Her thumb and right index finger are both present on the back of the ID.
A quick ancestry and google search helped me discover that Helen was dating and eventually married to a Navy man named Paul Bronesky in 1946. A few photos included in the purchase we indeed identified to a Paul, so this helps confirm the identification. In fact, further research into Paul’s WWII service shows that he was a radio man on a Navy aircraft. This is further confirmed through the photo included in the group. He is wearing a rare set of Navy air crew wings with a radioman rate patch on his sleeve.
What makes this grouping of photos interesting is the fact that both the husband and wife (dating in wartime) were both service members. Helen was a nurse and Paul was a Navy radioman. Helen strikes a chord with me. There’s just something about her gaze and smile that make me want to reach out and talk to her. Sadly she passed away in 2008. Please see below for an obituary record from Plymouth, PA:
“Helen (Boretski) Bronesky, 83, formerly of Plymouth, died March 24, 2008, in Mequon, Wis., of a cerebral aneurysm. Mrs. Bronesky was born March 31, 1924, in Plymouth and raised in Lyndwood. She graduated from area schools and RN school and was a veteran of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in World War II. She was preceded in death by her husband, Paul; parents, Michael and Susan Boretski; her brother, Michael Boretski. She is survived by son, Paul; daughter, Susan; granddaughters, Michelle, Erica and Leslie; sisters, Mary Koliga, Anne Kochevar, Margaret Cowan and Dorothy Bedosky; numerous nieces, nephews and friends.
Interment will be Saturday, July 26, 2008, at 11 a.m. in S.S. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Plymouth Township. Arrangements are by the S.J. Grontkowski Funeral Home, 530 W. Main St., Plymouth.