Skip to main content

Wolfe and Ulmer families papers

 Collection
Identifier: SCL-MS-14214
Background: Residents of Columbia, S.C.; Lieutenant Oliver Jordan Wolfe (1919- 2002) served in in the 25th Statistical Control Unit, which was attached to the Thirteenth Army Air Force, also known as “the Jungle Air Force” for it frequent relocations among the islands north of Australia and New Guinea. His young bride, Marie Virginia Ulmer Wolfe (b. 1921), remained home in South Carolina during the war.
Summary: Letters from Marie Virginia Ulmer Wolfe and her friends and relatives, discuss include life on the home front in Columbia and elsewhere in South Carolina. Letters from Oliver Wolfe serving as an officer in the U.S. Army during World War II, and describe basic training at various locations around the United States, and at various island in the South Pacific. - by Brian J. Cuthrell (Spring 2006)
Selected Calendar, 1937-1945 (A small sample only of selected quotes, art work, drawings, ephemera, and other items of interest from the collection; hundreds of other letters not included in this list).

Abbreviations: OW = Oliver Wolfe MU = Marie Ulmer MUW = Marie Ulmer Wolfe [Names of other correspondents spelled out when known.]
Letters, 1937 (Columbia, S.C.) Several lettes of the “time capsule” variety, intended to be opened and read in 50 years; letters written by Marie’s mother, Bessie Brawley Ulmer and Dorothy, a secretary at the Ulmer’s real estate business, to Marie and Judy Ulmer and their unborn children of the future, and another by Marie Ulmer (age 16) to her unknown future husband; all written on letterhead of Jack Ulmer, Inc. (Ulmer’s business stationery illustrated in two colors with Palmetto Building in background and a single-story bungalow in the foreground.)

Letter, 14 Jan. 1937 (Columbia, S.C.) “Dorothy” (b. 1912) to Marie and Judy, “Your mother and I are working together in your father’s office and we are having loads of fun writing these letters to put away for fifty years. Hope it will be just as fun when you read it. Remember you two won’t be infants any more but I hope you won’t have the gout or anything as bad.”

Letter, 14 Jan. 1937 (Columbia, S.C.) Mrs. Bessie B. Ulmer “To the [unborn, future] grandchildren of Jack M. and Bessie B. Ulmer”: “I am secretary in your granddaddy’s real estate office and we both are working hard so we will have something to leave your mothers and you when we are gone”

Letter, 3 Jan. 1942, Sheppard Field (Witchita Falls, Texas) OW to MU. In his first letter from this post, OW reports his safe arrival in Witchita Falls, Texas, and meeting a mutual friend from Columbia, S.C., “Giles, who taught in Col[umbi]a Hi[gh] School, escorted us out here…” and temps of 10 degrees and waking to six inches of snow. Reports that this site was “the biggest air mechanics school in the world. The first ground was broken June 16 [1941]…” with totals of anticipated capacity of “26,000 men under normal conditions, upon completion, the site would include “over 700 buildings covering 620 acres of ground and a total sum of $18,000,000 will have been spent…”

Letter, 6 Jan. 1942, Sheppard Field (Witchita Falls, Texas) OW to MU, reporting blizzards and zero degree weather, daily routine: “We get up at 5:30 A.M. every morning and only have about 30 minutes rest until around 5:30 every afternoon. We drilled about two hours this afternoon and, believe it or not, it seemed more like fun than work…. just about everybody here has the same attitude when it comes to drilling and working. There is very little griping and quibbling but most everybody want to do his part because the greater majority of these follows only want to stay in the army for the duration and therefore all want the duration to be as short as possible. The only trouble that we had has been eliminated. When we came here, all the squad leaders in our barracks were Yankees and most of the fellows in here are Southerners. The squad leaders didn’t quite understand Southern boys and couldn’t get things done as they should have been done. The squad leaders which we had have transferred to another barracks now though and the new ones are from Miss. which makes everything fine.

Letter, 25 Jan. 1942, Brookley Field (Mobile, Ala.) OW to MU, includes illustrated envelope, with hand-penciled and inked image of soldier with goggles giving thumb-up sign leaning on sign which frames address; notes transfer to air depot, Brookley Field, Mobile, Ala., reporting that they are living in tents, reporting that one of his tent-mates hailed from San Francisco, Calif., and was an artist, “he draws cartoons and portraits.. for all the boys and makes quite a little money on the side doing this.”; while another soldier from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, “was a wonderful trumpet player… and sat in with Glenn Miller’s band summer before last for three pieces.” Concludes with description of his air depot.

Letter, 1 Feb. 1942, Brookley Field (Mobile, Ala.) OW to MU, reporting rumors of future assignments, and constant uncertainty as to where the Army might send him, “As far as we know all of us will be shipped out of here to school within the near future and we will return back to our same squadron when we have finished school. You never know what kind of school you will be sent to, and although… [I am] still on special duty at headquarters, we may be sent to bombadier, gunnery, armament, or mechanics school rather than a clerical school.” [describes leisure activities in Mobile and on base “go to the picture show, the library, or play ping -pong”]

Letter, 14 Mar. 1942, [Norfolk, Va.] Mary to MU, asking if Marie had completed her business courses yet: “we might not be able to use the beaches. Since the Army and Navy have taken over so much of the shore, a lot of people are saying that we won’t be able to use them at all…. We haven’t heard anything official – keep your fingers crossed for us.” “Have you heard any ‘knitting for Britain’ jokes? …: ’I went out riding in a car. I will admit I went too far. Now what I did, I ain’t admitting – but what I’m knitting ain’t for Britain!’ …Hope you don’t let anyone read these notes I send you (on government paper – and time)”

Letter, 17 Mar. 1942, Brookley Field (Mobile, Ala.) OW to MU, re large number of civilians who ride bicycles to work on the base; [mailed with illustrated envelope]; notes enclosure of several snapshots and autographed program from symphony concert.

Letter, 9 Apr. 1942, Brookley Field (Mobile, Ala.) OW to MU, mentions items seen in The State newspaper of Columbia, S.C., wedding engagements, including Guy Lipscomb (b.1917), “taking the last step” and announcing plans to marry Margaret Fant; and noting the soldier’s privilege of free postage on his letter, “How do you like the new stamps all of us use now?”

Letter, 13 Apr. 1942, Brookley Field (Mobile, Ala.) OW commenting on MU’s letter re her enjoyment of her office work, “Marie, I knew you would like working once you started at it. Now you can probably see why I talked so much about my work when we were out together. It just seems to get in the blood, doesn’t it?”

Letter, 7 May 1942 (Jacksonville, N.C.) Eleanor to MU, “This business of marrying a service man is something else again. Worse than being married to a doctor because you can’t even make plans and count on your Marine to be there. Butch is attached to the 3rd Battalion, First Marines at the New River, N.C., base – and if this isn’t an experience to tell the grandchildren we’ll never have one. The little town outside the base, Jacksonville, is suffering from an acute case of growing pains…. There are 6000 people where 900 were this time last year so you can imagine…. Being young and healthy and happily married, we’re all getting a kick out of it, but I wonder if the colonel’s wife thinks it’s funny.”

Letter, 31 May 1942, Brookley Field (Mobile, Ala.) OW to MU, re hikes of 26 miles, 10 miles, fully equipped in the hot sun, some soldiers passing out, “when we finished out hike yesterday, we completed 140 miles of hiking… in the last three weeks.” Commenting on MU’s report of a blackout called in Columbia (S.C.), when her parents were on the street instead of at home - -with attached letter, 1 June 1942, commenting on the gas rationing at home in Columbia, noting MU’s riding her bicycle to work every day, “The gas rationing must be quite a problem now. Dad only gets 5 gallons a week. The trips to the Beach this year either call for quite a bit of walking or bicycle riding…” (and enclosing two metal tokens crafted with a hole in the center, stamped with words, “sales tax token”) “I am enclosing another example of the rationing program. It seems as if the tax program is being changed in more ways than one, doesn’t it?”

Letter, 27 June 1942 (Miami Beach, Fla.) [OW enjoys a 10 day furlough in June 1942 followed by arrival at Army Air Forces officer candidate school] OW to MU, “This place is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. …We’re staying in the James Hotel which is rather small but it’s new and as nice as can be. …We can’t smoke except in our rooms, which is very seldom. We can’t even smoke in the halls. Maybe now would be a good time to quit, wouldn’t it?”

Letter, [28 June 1942] (Miami Beach, Fla.) OW to MU, stationery and envelope illustrated with air planes in color

Letter 1 July 1942 (Miami Beach, Fla.) OW to MU, re schedule while quartered in the resort hotel, while still maintaining schedule of drills and classes, sunburns, no free time, but it was far from luxury accommodations, “we don’t have any lights at all nor any hot water”

Letter, 5 July 1942 (Miami Beach, Fla.) [With explanation of training and classes he will follow at Harvard]

OW to MU, reporting “our first retreat parade” and explanation of promotion, and hierarchy within the squadrons, and explanation of selection process for most successful candidates, “There will be 150 fellows selected out of the 4800 in the class of ’42… that will be sent to statistical school at Harvard for 6 weeks and will leave here Aug. 31 for that school. …[if selected] you will get your commission at the same time as the class which will be around Sept. 17th and you will continue school until around Oct. 10th.”

Letter, 11 July 1942, War Dept. Assignment of Statistical Officer [upon completion of the “AAF Statistical School, Harvard Business School, Soldiers Field, Boston, Mass.”]

Letter, 7 Aug. 1942 (“Harvard University, Graduate School of Business”) OW to MU, re drastic change in his routine while at the AAF Statistical School, Harvard Business School and enjoyment of more free time, which included a day trip to the amusement park on Nantucket; impressions of Harvard, Boston, and Army vs. Navy soldiers enrolled there, as the Navy recruits arrived directly from civilian life and knew little of military discipline or protocol.

Honorable discharge certificate, 11 Sept. 1942 Harvard Business School, signed by “John F. Heflin, Major, AAF, Commanding” stating that OW was honorably discharged “by reason of CafG., Sec. X, AR 615-360 to accept appointment as Second Lieutenant, Army of U.S.” “Remarks: Graduated AAF Statistical School (Officer Candidate) Harvard Business School… Soldier favorably considered for Good Conduct Medal.”

Letter, 18 Sept. 1942 (Southern Pines, N.C.) “Lt. OW / 8th Statistical Control Unit / Knollwood Field / Southern Pines, NC” OW to MU, “it seems as if we are all going to be sent to the 1st District of the Technical Training Command which takes in the east coast.”

Letter, 25 Sept. 1942 (Knollwood Field, N.C.) Army Air Forces Headquaters Technical Training Command, OW to MU, reports he was offered assignment to remain in Southern Pines by head of Statistical Control unit, with duty of “compiling all reports from the squadrons and districts and the transmission of these reports to the Director of Stat. Control in Washington.”

Letter, 27 Sept. 1942 (Knollwood Field, N.C.) OW to MU, reporting a party at the officers’ club, “These people around here really believe in their whiskey. …Everydody and his brother and sister seem to love the stuff around here.”

Letter, 28 Sept. 1942 (Columbia, S.C.) Gwendolyn [OW’s sister-in-law], to OW, [written on letterhead stationery of “W.C. Wolfe contracting in painting, paper hanging and caulking / 1710 Two Notch Road, Columbia, S.C. - - letter from his brother’s wife who is mother of a baby named Gwen], reporting completion of one class and plans to complete others: “I finish my airplane engine course next week and if I pass I can get a rating (civil service) as a junior engine inspector.”

[Note: “Southern Pines” (N.C.) stationery is actually written from Knollwood Field, N.C.]

Letter, 30 Sept. 1942 (Southern Pines, N.C.) OW to MU, enclosing an early computer punchcard with MU’s name and address, “We got in some new IBM equipment today and as all that equipment is in my section, I wanted to learn how to operate it. You can see from the enclosed card I made a little progress. The holes in the card spell out the printing at the top and the printing is done by merely inserting the card in the Interpreter machine and it prints what is punched in the cards in about 2 seconds.”

Letter, 6 Oct. 1942 (Charleston, S.C.) Marion and Rachel [Knox] to OW, re Rachel’s new job, “Rachel has been offered a job at the U.S. Agricultural Station. She will go out tomorrow and see if she will take it or not. She has not had anything to do all day while I was at work.”

Letter, [8 Oct. 1942] (Cambridge, Mass.) John R. Brooks[?], Jr., to [friends in Columbia, S.C., listed at top of letter], “Bessie B. U.mer, Marie V. Ulmer, ‘Bobbie’ Root, C.J. Levy, Furman E. Cannon.” Mention of seeing Columbia natives, Carolyn and Sol Blatt regularly, “They are getting along quite well up here.” And comparison of present and previous orders: “I like Boston much better than Ithaca but I like Cornell University much better than Harvard. It seems that they know just wat was best to make a good organization at Cornell – but here everything runs around crazy.”

Letter, 20 Nov. 1942 (Spartanburg, S.C.) R.B. Richardson to OW [written on letterhead of First Federal Savings and Loan of Spartanburg, S.C. – Richardson is identified on letterhead as an officer and director of this savings and loan] Discussion of recruitment and enlistment issues, and economic impact of war on his savings and loan, re letter from mutual friend Frank, in Charleston, S.C., recruiting for the Navy, “Said he gave a talk at the Rotary Club at Allendale & the whole club tried to enlist. They’re expecting one in January I think. Hell, J[ohnson?] is not doing so good. We’re having our second one in March. If this war doesn’t soon be over I’ll have a houseful of kids trying to stay ahead of the draft board. Wolfe, business has absolutely gone to the dickens, there just isn’t any being done. Unless the gov’t let’s folks start building & buying & renting like they please, before long, the Savings and Loan Association will be in the same boat as the Finance Companies. Well, we’re in it already…”

Letter, 24 Nov. 1942 Barr Gardner and Jim to OW, comments on USC football, “what in the hell is wrong with the football teams down there (over there) this year, Carolina tees Tennessee, then Clemson beats hell out of them. …looks like Duke is going to the dogs since Wallace Wade left there. Anyway, I am more interested in how this game is coming out: Allies vs. Axis. Think the Allies are about a field goal ahead right now but that fast running back for the Axis always has something up his sleeve.”

Letter, 26 Nov. 1942 (Bethune, S.C.) Mrs. B.H. [Lessie] Gardner [mother of Barr Gardner, Jr.] to OW, re concerns for safety of her son and hopes for peace, “I’m thankful of the progress we have made the last three weeks, but I don’t think the war is near over yet, and each and every day is costing so much in blood shed. There is never any gain in war, all a loss, loss that can never be restored, loss that money cannot buy. We must have failed in some way or we would not be confronted with this terrible problem. War. I know those countries that have been so badly beaten and torn up such as Greece and the other small countries, and larger ones too, have ask [sic] so many times, How long Lord. How much longer do we have to suffer like this. Still he must say not yet. We must have drifted further than we thought from the shore.”

Letter, 27 Nov. 1942 (Southern Pines, N.C.) [Another letter discussing leisure activities and contemporary films seen] OW to MU, “I saw a darned good show tonight, ‘George Washington Slept Here,’ with Jack Benny and Ann Sheridan. It was awfully good, and one of the first that we have seen in quite a while that wasn’t full of propaganda.”

Letter, 30 Nov. 1942 MU to OW, expressing sadness over death of Mary Daly and her husband of Columbia, S.C., in the fire at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub, 28 Nov. 1942, in Boston, Mass. [The deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history, in which 492 people died and in which hundreds more were injured.] Prior to joining her husband in Boston, Daly had not seen her husband for seven months.

Letter, 30 Nov. 1942 (Cambridge, Mass.) Rachel Knox [Navy? Wife implied by this letter] to OW, re Coconut Grove fire in Boston, “Perhaps by the time you get this you will have read about the terrible fire we had last night ain the Coconut Grove…. About 450 people died and among those people were scores of Service Men.” [and news of a mutual friend requesting combat duty], “Did you know T.P. had applied for combat duty. He had a chance to stay at Chanute Field as an instructor but he refused because he wants to get into the midst of all things that are going on.”

Letter, [1 Dec. 1942] (Cambridge, Mass.) Carolyn [Blatt] to MU, congratulating her on announcement of her marriage to OW, and mention of the nightclub fire,”It is dreadful. They have 490 dead bodies & 250 identified ones. The others are too badly burned to recognize.“

Letter, [ca. 10] Dec. 1942 Thomas P. Knox to OW, re two humorous poems, one of which dealt with rationing issues, “You’ve probably heard about the latest worry of [head of the Office of Price Administration] Mr. Leon Henderson and his rationing program of cosmetics & razor blades, ‘If the skirts get any shorter, / And the winds continue to wave, / There’ll be two more cheeks to powder / And one more place to shave.’ ”

Letter, 28 Dec. 1942 Jimmy to OW, congratulating him on upcoming marriage, and attaching list of humorous definitions, such as "Pajamas: items of clothing that newly-weds place beside their bed in case of fire; Father's Day: Nine months after Labor Day"; and "Twins: womb mates who eventually become bosom companions"

Letter, 30 Dec. 1942 MU to OW, re preparations for their wedding day, 7 Jan. 1943, and news that MU’s parents planned to sell their business. [Jack Ulmer and a partner later open a savings and loan – and

Letter, 2 Jan. 1943 OW to MU, re wedding plans, and comments re sale of the Ulmer family business, “I know your Dad must have felt pretty bad about selling the business after he built it up so well, but he and your mother both will probably be lots happier when they don’t have anything to worry them.”

Letter, 4 January 1943 OW to MU, “Guess who was standing around in the locker room when we came in from our exercise period today? Nobody but Glenn Miller. He had been out playing golf with Capt. Rilot, Lt. Titus, and another fellow. Everybody seems to like him because he is just like another officer.”

Letters, 9 and 10 Jan. 1943 (Columbia, S.C.) Thank-you letters expressing appreciation to Mr. and Mrs. Ulmer for gifts of flowers following use in the church for Marie Ulmer Wolfe’s wedding. The floral arrangements were subsequently presented to at least three locations (Benedict College, the Confederate Veterans’ Home and a private home), as the collection preserves letters from president of Benedict Collge, Dr. Clarence B. Antisdel (1864 -1943) and his wife Gertrude; T.E. Cumings, Superintendent of the Confederate Home of S.C. [on letterhead with three CSA flags]; and from Mrs. R.P. Edmunds and her “invalid sister” of 1618 Marion St.

Letter, 18 Mar. 1943 (Spartanburg, S.C.) Robert “Bob” B. Richardson to OW, re wife Lucille due to deliver another baby, and locations of friends and family including his brothers, “Lee… got his commission & got married on the same day & is flying a Bomber at the Greenville… base now. Has been at Myrtle Beach bombing practice for ten days. He gets over pretty often to see us. Flew over Sunday at 12 o’clock on the way to Myrtle Beach & tried to take the roof off the house. I’m ashamed to tell the neighbors who it was. They thought the Japs had come.”

Letter, 19 May 1943 (Pinehurst, N.C.) MUW to her parents in Columbia, S.C., re recovery of ration book sent through the mail from Columbia back to MUW; it had been found in some damaged mail and its discovery raised many questions at the Post Office.

Letter, 24 May, 1943 (Florida) OW to MUW , re Florida and travel.

Letter, 9 June 1943 (San Francisco, Calif.) OW to MUW with description of the city; left California soon after

Letter, 11 June 1942 (Hamilton Field, Calif.) OW to MUW, writing from base on San Pablo Bay in Marin County north of San Francisco; all subsequent letters written from the South Pacific.

[During month of June 1943] [June 1943, Judy Ulmer completed her education at Briarcliff Junior College in Westchester County, N.Y. During early June, MUW wrote descriptions of various Manhattan hotels where she stayed and entertainments in NYC with friend Gladys and Gladys’ parents prior to arrival of her parents. Following the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Ulmer, the family lodged at the Astor in Times Square for graduation of Judy Ulmer from Briarcliff. ]

Letter, 16 June 1943 (New York City) MUW to OW re the Ulmer family visit to NYC with her parents and sister, including visits to night clubs, movies and theatrical shows, such as the Stork Club, and elsewhere, and spotting celebrities, including John Jacob Astor: “Johnny Ma[nville?] was at 'Doughgirls' with his usual blond in silver foxes, and much to our surprise, he came in La Martinique shortly after we got there. John Jacob Astor was there and evidently a lot of other well-known people judging from the attention they were receiving…"

Letter, 19 June 1943 (New York City) MUW to OW, describing shopping and nightlife, including late night at the Copacabana after attending the musical, Oklahoma!: “Mother and Daddy wore us out. We shopped with Mother all yesterday and Daddy kept us out until five o’clock this morning. Did have fun though.” And mention of using the “ladies’ entrance” to the Yale Club for lunch.

Letter, 20 June 1943 (New York City) MUW to OW, re being a part of the live studio audience during a live broadcast of the radio musical program, Your Hit Parade, sponsored by American Tobacco's Lucky Strike cigarettes. Frank Sinatra began working as master of ceremonies for this show in 1943:

“The Lucky Strike broadcast was very good. I didn’t realize until it started that Frank Sinatra was on it …We went to Riobamba [Room]…Frank Sinatra was at a table next to us. The ‘Riobamba’ is supposed to be on of the places that started him on the road to popularity.”



Letter, 28 June 1943 (Columbia, S.C.) MUW to OW, re residence out at “the lake” [i.e. the rural property later known as “Lazy Acres,” a site located East of Columbia and immediately South of Fort Jackson] re relaxation, fishing, etc. and includes note from Maude Byrnes, “While you are away, I’ll try to keep Marie out of mischief –hurry back, we miss you - - Keep ‘em flying, we are counting on you.”

Letter, 29 June 1943 (Columbia, S.C.) MUW to OW [out at “the lake” i.e. Lazy Acres], re plans to join the Olin D. Johnston family at Crescent Beach (Horry County, S.C.), “We had fourteen for supper tonight including Gov. and Mrs. Johnston and the children.”

Letter, 29 June 1943 (South Pacific) OW to MUW, re danger of falling coconuts; another coconut hit a man on his shoulder and broke his collarbone.

Letter, 30 June 1943 (Columbia, S.C.) MUW to OW, re errands relating to the Ulmer family’s real estate property and unpacking, “went to list the furniture in an apartment (duplex) we are selling to Gov. Johnston. Then I went to see your mother…”

Letter, 2 July 1943 (South Pacific) OW to MUW, re a close-call from an accidental discharging of a pistol:

“Yesterday was a pretty good day. We were cleaning our pistols last night and Fred Kennedy was sitting on the floor in front of the cot which Johnny and I were sitting on and George Moore was sitting across from us. We had just begun when Johnny’s gun went off and went through the floor right in front of Fred and only about two feet to the right of me. We were really a surprised bunch and you should have seen the looks on the faces of all of us in that tent. Gee, I haven’t exactly gotten over it yet.”



Letter, 3 July 1943 (Crescent Beach, S.C.) MUW to OW, re Myrtle Beach and impact of blackout requirements, “…getting plenty of sleep. We have to go to bed early because we can’t have the lights on. …we took the children up to the crossroads to see the bear drink a coca cola, then we took them to Ocean Drive to ride the merry-go-round…”

Letter, 4 July 1943 (South Pacific) OW to Mr and Mrs Jack Ulmer, re arrival and getting settled in hew location on an island in South Pacific, construction of an officers’ club:

“It will be rather hard for you to believe that this place here is almost as attractive as the club which we had at Knollwood Field [N.C.] but it is…. We are getting an education out here that we couldn’t possibly buy and it will be something that we will never forget when we get back to the States. It sure will be fun to go almost anywhere in the States after the War and run into people that you know from out here.”



Letter, 6 July 1943 (Crescent Beach, S.C.) MUW to OW, re Gov. Johnston’s hospitality while staying at his beach house:

“Gov. Johnston sent a whole barbecued pig down [from Columbia] today, also loads of butter, eggs, and milk. ...I’m getting plenty of sunshine and loads of good food. …the back porch… looks more like a market. There is basket after basket of every kind of fresh vegetable imaginable and loads of cantaloupe and watermelon. We have chickens under the house and beautiful steaks in the ice box…”



Letter, 13 July 1943 (Crescent Beach, S.C.) MUW to OW, re owner of house who lent it for use of Gov. Johnston, “Col Perrin, the man who let Gov. Johnston have their house, was here this morning and he insisted that they stay a while longer…”

Letter, 14 July 1943 (Crescent Beach, S.C.) MUW to OW, after debating in previous letters how long delivery of a V-Mail might take, this letter discusses that it was no faster than regular letters, “…I have been receiving all of your letters in nine, ten, or eleven days.”

Letter, 16 July 1943 (Crescent Beach, S.C.) MUW to OW, “Carolyn and Sol [Blatt] are coming Sunday night. I think they will be going on to Norfolk and Sol will be assigned to a ship from there.”

Letter, 17 July 1943 (Crescent Beach, S.C.) MUW to OW, written on official stationery of Gov. Olin D. Johnston, “Executive Mansion, Columbia, S.C.” “Mother has already packed my stationery so I had to borrow some.”

Letter, 23 July 1943 (Columbia, S.C.) MUW to OW, re brief visit with Sol Blatt as he passed through town en route to his deployment, “Carolyn and Sol didn’t get in town until almost twelve today. Mrs. Johnston had them to lunch at the mansion… we went down to the train and saw them off. …Sol is a lieut[enant]….now.”

Letter, 24 July 1943 (Columbia, S.C.) MUW to OW, re entertaining soldiers and soldiers’ use of the lake at [Lazy Acres]:

“The army is having maneuvers all around here. Two soldiers took us riding all through the woods in a jeep. We had them and tow others for supper. They seemed to enjoy it a lot. IN fact, they are still here. Harriet is sort of disgusted with the soldiers. After having about 200 come to the door for water last week, they got the commanding officer to put the house off limits, but they still come. The main trouble is that they don’t know when to leave once you have them in or do something for them.” [Enjoyed watching the people play in and around the lake on Sunday, given that] “places around Columbia to go swimming are few and soldiers on maneuvers discovered this place so Sunday there were two cars full of soldiers with their wives, babies and a picnic lunch.”



Letter, 27 July 1943 (Columbia, S.C.) MUW to OW, re use of the lake [at Lazy Acres] by soldiers from Fort Jackson,

“We really had to wait our turn to go swimming today. A colonel came by about 8:30 and said a few of his boys hadn’t been able to bath for two days so could he please bring them to the lake. Of course, we said yes. He brought the first group of about 200 about 11:30. They stayed until 3:00 then another group of about 200 came and stayed until 4:00. Then about 30 came and stayed until five.”



Letter, 30 July 1943 (Columbia, S.C.) MUW to OW, reporting that to fulfill his request for subscription to the newspaper and to mail film, both The State newspaper and the Post Office claimed that they needed to have OW’s written request, requiring MUW to cut that portion and his signature out of a letter.

[Illustration, 1 Aug 1943] Mimeograph letterhead in black ink of a topless woman in grass skirt reclining in tropical setting

Letter, 4 August 1943 (South Pacific) OW to MUW:

“Don’t believe I’ve told you what makes up our day around here, so I’ll give you an idea of our schedule. I usually shower and shave before going to bed at nite [sic] so I can sleep later in the mornings. Harry and Fred always get up a little before seven and shower and shave and get back to the barracks about 7:20. They then start waking me up and by 7:35 we are on our way to breakfast. We finish a little before 8 and go to work. We quit at 12 for lunch and go back at 1. We stop again around 5 or shortly thereafter and go to the club for a drink or a little ping-pong. After supper, we usually stay at the club a while and then either go to the office, the movies, or back to the barracks.”



Letter, 12 Aug. 1943 (Columbia, S.C.) MUW to OW, re her new job at USC, “I’m really enjoying working. I’m on my own just about, and I like that.”

Letter, 18 Aug. 1943, “General Hospital” [Sydney, Australia?] OW to Jack and Bessie Ulmer, re his recovery and walking in downtown [Sydney?], after months in rural jungle areas, plentiful food, particularly meat and milk, interest in the narrow-gauge railroads, and his continued unfamiliarity with the custom of driving and walking on the left, “The things that looked best to me when I got downtown were the civilians and the trams, buses, and automobiles. Although I had only been away from civilization for a couple of months, it sure was good to see it again.”

Letter, 18 Aug. 1943 (Columbia, S.C.) MUW to OW, re taking off work to eat lunch at Aunt Dotty’s in order to visit with Carolyn and Sol Blatt who were passing through town, “Sol and Carolyn were on their way to Texas. Sol will get his ship there as Carolyn will be home real soon now.”

Letter, 25 August 1943 (South Pacific) OW to MUW,

“Honey, I only wish that you could know how I felt that last nite [sic] we were in Washington. Knowing it would be so darned long before I would be with you again and loving you as much as I do, it sure made me feel funny. I don’t think that we would have been as happy as we were the time we were together if I had stayed in the States for the duration of the war – you know what I mean by that. I just couldn’t have felt as if I were doing all I could in the war effort and although I’m not one of these fellows who is a fanatic on the subject, I think that any body my age and with my health should be over here. It was good to have you tell me that you felt the same way although you didn’t want me to leave you anymore than I wanted to leave you.”



Letter, 19 Oct. 1943 (South Pacific) OW to MUW, with 2 clippings of cartoons re army life in South Pacific.

Letter, 9 September 1943 (South Pacific) Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe,

“Sure was good to hear about the fall of Italy. I’ve decided to predict the future and say that Germany will surrender not later than March, 1944, and very probably by the end of this year, a good date being November 11th. It will only take a matter of a few years to eliminate Japan then. Think I’m a little off my nut, honey? Guess maybe you’re right but I believe I’ll be home in ’45 and the whole thing will be over. The people here [Australia] are really celebrating Italy’s collapse, or rather the Italians’ collapse. They have been ringing bells and blowing sirens all day long. Tomorrow has been declared a holiday on which to celebrate the victory and all the school are even closed. None of us in the hospital here looked at it the way they have, as we were beginning to bet that we would conquer Italy within two months at the most. Anyway, it sure looks good but the Japs don’t fight like the Italians and the Germans. Suppose you’re reading where we have encircled 20,000 Japs in New Guinea and I’ll bet 100 to 1 you won’t read where they will surrender.… You can remember the Munda dispatches—Munda constantly being bombed by the Navy, Marines, and the Army’s 13th Air Force—and it took us 31 days to take the airport.”



Letter, 1 Nov. 1943 (South Pacific) Mimeographed Christmas card, with drawing of man in hammock on island dreaming of a cabin in the snow, while being watched by a snake.

Letter, [ca. 22 Nov. 1943] Parody letter and satirical cartoons of varieties of women’s legs during the war era, including the unshaven gams of the “she- wolf”; the well-protected variety of the defense worker, the crossed legs of “V for virtue,” etc.

Letter, 2 Jan. 1944 (New Hebrides) OW to Jack and Bessie Ulmer, re his travel and the irregular schedule of mail delivery:

“A couple days ago I made up a list of all the places that I have been since I’ve been out here and I’ve been to 7 different places and have accumulated better than 45 hours in the air since Sept. 25th and traveled over 6800 miles. I’ve also made a trip by boat of about 1500 miles… The mail out here is certainly on a peculiar schedule…. Every now and then a plane drops in the drink and loses some [mail] too, which is about the worst thing that can happen as far as we are concerned. …. Nobody ever worries about the crew who is lost when a plane goes down, but the first thing they always ask is –how much mail was on it.”

Letter, 21 January 1944 (South Pacific)

Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe: “Almost forgot to tell you that we have heard Radio Tokyo the last couple of nights since we have had Johnny’s radio. Last night they started to play a piece and the announcer said ---- most of you fellows over here were still in the cradle when the man who wrote this song died, why don’t you fellows go on back home and have a good time instead of sweating around in the jungles while your wife is playing around back home. ----- Then they go on with all kind of stuff, like, ----- wouldn’t you like to be at home dancing to a tune like this ---- all their records are old, but the programs are really good. They try and antagonize our personnel by cracks such as the above and some that get even better, but we all sit around and enjoy it no end. As one of the fellows said the other night it’s the only program on the air that doesn’t take up most of the time with advertisements and then the rest of the time asking you to buy war bonds.”



Letter, 31 Jan. 1944 (South Pacific) OW to Jack and Bessie Ulmer, re his recent relocation to a new island, a pet parrot that they keep in the office as a mascot, and a large lizard,

“One of the natives caught a lizard about three and a half feet long last week and I took a picture of it which I hope will come out okay. I’ll have to send one home to get anybody to believe that they grow that big out here, but we’ve got them even larger than that.”



Letters, 11 and 21 Feb 1944 (South Pacific) OW to MUW, two letters re set of 6 shot glasses made from ammunition scrap metal, specifically brass Japanese shells; these shot glasses were later silver plated and engraved with island locations where OW served in South Pacific (Guadalcanal, Leyte, Bouganville, etc.) and remain in the family.

Letters, 13 and 20 Feb. 1944 (South Pacific) OW to MUW, two letters that include discussion of a "war club" made by a native on the island and presented to Oliver, which Oliver mailed home to S.C. This souvenir later graced a wall at the Ulmer country house at "Lazy Acres," a site located East of Columbia and immediately South of Fort Jackson.

Letter, 16 Feb. 1944 (Columbia, S.C.) [THIS LETTER ON LETTERHEAD OF Jack Ulmer, Inc.] Bessie Ulmer to OW, discussing OW’s parrot, wishing he could bring one back with him, discussing progress following Jack Ulmer’s heart attack, plans to cancel their trip to Miami, requirements by Post Office of a request in writing from a man in service before allowing it to pass in the mail,

“Am so glad you like your pipes. Wish we could send you other things you could enjoy. The Post Office is so funny. If there is anything we can send you that you want, be sure and write a request for it so the Post Office will let us mail it and we will try to get whatever you want.” and commenting on his mention of a giant lizard, “Hope you send us a picture of the lizard. I never heard of such large ones. Are they dangerous?”



Letter, 19 Feb. 1944 (Columbia, S.C.) MUW to OW, re loud explosions noted in town from training exercises and explosions at Fort Jackson, college sports, etc.:

“they were shooting some big guns at Fort Jackson all night. According to the paper, it seems that some people got real upset over it. …Doesn’t look like the basketball team is going to the Southern Conference at Chapel Hill for about three reasons. First, because the captain doesn’t approve as it’s exam time and would mean practice when the boys should be studying and maybe switching some of their exams. Second because “Hop” [Findlay] the coach has to go to Kansas City to a meeting and couldn’t go with them and third because their best player won’t be able to go.”



Letter, 26 Feb. 1944 (Columbia, S.C.) MUW to OW, “went to see ‘Dream of a Clown’ at the auditorium. The Junior League put it on. There were eighty Columbia men in it - the majority took the part of a lady and there were really a howl.”

Letter, “29 Feb. 1944 - U.S. troop land on Los Negros, Admiralty Islands” OW to MUW [previously Oliver’s letters could only identify his location as no more precise than “South Pacific”]

Letter, 2 March 1944 (South Pacific) Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe, re progress of the war in Pacific and European theatres:

“The war is still looking good on our side and the fellows are kidding now about how funny it would be if this war were over before the one in Europe. . . . Everything seems to be moving at a fast pace both in the South and Central Pacific, especially the Central Pacific though. The latest good news is the invasion of the Admiralty Islands, and a glance at the map shows that that Island is less than 1500 miles from the Phillipines. Mountbatten seems to be doing very well in Burma and you should see some of the sessions that we have rather frequently in the office about the future operations of the war out here. We have a very large map in the office that covers everything in the South and Central Pacific and nearly every day each of us expounds his theory as to how we will accomplish the final results. The news of the Finnish-Russian treaty talk is also very good news and I imagine that by the time that you receive this, Finland will have accepted Russia’s 6 point terms. I sure hope so.”



Letter, 25 Mar 1944 (South Pacific) OW to Jack and Bessie Ulmer, re blackout requirements and fewer diversions after work,

“We still have a complete blackout at night and therefore no movies. The evenings pass very slowly as a result unless we come to the office at night and play gin rummy or read a little. We have a light at the office which we can burn provided we keep a shade around it so that the light won’t be too bright. Usually there are four or five [of] us gathered around the center of the room at night either reading or writing letters. …Right now one of the enlisted men is playing ‘I’ll be Around’ on his trumpet in his tent and it certainly follows in my train of thought at the present.”



Letter, 15 April 1944 [Bougainville?] Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe [possibly from vicinity of Papua New Guinea], re an encounter with the future Senator Joseph McCarthy,

“We have a Marine Captain here, Joe McCarthy [1908-1957] from Wisconsin, who has been drafted to run for the U.S. Senatorship from that state and he is really a swell guy. A couple of the fellows have put up a big sign over their tent with “McCarthy for U.S. Senator” and when we had a boiled egg for Easter, there was some sort of phrase on each of the eggs such as “McCarthy, the people’s choice” etc. on each one. Mc was a judge in civilian life and the scuttlebutt is that he will probably be elected.”



Letter, 3 May 1944 (Admiralty Islands) OW to MUW, [on this date, Oliver’s letters are first identified as originating from Admiralty Islands.

Letter, 6 June 1944 (Columbia, S.C.) Marie Wolfe to Oliver Wolfe, re local reaction news of the D-Day invasion of France on the home front:

“I just don’t know where to begin after all the invasion news today. I am wondering what will have happened by the time you receive this letter. Everyone has been very thoughtful all day, and the churches have been packed.”



Letter, 6 June 1944 (South Pacific) Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe,

“We heard the good news while waiting for the movie to start last night. It was at 7:05 and the band was playing before the show started when the announcer broke in and asked for everybody’s attention. I had a feeling that it was going to be the announcement of the invasion and when he did announce it, you should have heard the noise. All of us have been trying to determine what 11,000 planes would be like. Maybe things will go well and this mess will be over in another year or so. We stayed up most of the night getting short wave broadcasts from nearly every place and that’s all that people have been talking about this morning.”



Letter, 29 June 1944 (Columbia, S.C.) MUW to OW, re buildings and new construction out at the Ulmer family property at the lake, construction of new building for servants’ quarters as well as a new brick barbeque cooker with tables and benches under the trees, and adoption of the name for the country place by which it is remembered by generations of the Wolfe family:

“We thought we would call the place ‘Lazy Acres’ but everyone still seems to say the Country. I think I will start writing you about ‘Lazy Acres’ instead and maybe I will get the habit. The name ‘Pine Haven’ didn’t take at all so we thought we would try another one.”



Letter, 30 June 1944 (Columbia, S.C.) MUW to OW, includes clipping re death of Marion Stokes Davis, a native of Summerton, S.C., under the wheels of a subway car in New York City on June 29th. Davis, age 28, was an FBI agent on active duty out of the New York office.

Letter, 2 July 1944 (Southern Italy) Barrett [“Stud” Gardner] to OW, describing Italian people, buildings, towns, countryside, and life style:

“Every family seems to have about a half dozen bambinos, and every third woman you see is on the way to having another one. Musso[lini] used to offer bonuses to women who produced big families, and we formerly had a waitress in our mess who was only about 25 and had already had 10 children. Her reward for that effort was a lifetime pass on the tramways and railroads. As far as we could make out she was so busy with the bambinos that she never had time to go anywhere on her pass so she kind of got the short end of the stick on that deal.”



Letter, 5 July 1944 (Columbia, S.C.) MUW to OW, “Carolyn [Blatt] and I addressed 500 envelopes tonight for Governor [Olin D.] Johnston’s campaign letters. That really isn’t an easy job. It’s tedious and tiresome but we got them done in record time.”

Letter, 26 July 1944 (Columbia, S.C.) MUW to OW, re election of Olin D. Johnston as U.S. Senator and the defeat of “Cotton Ed” Smith, AKA U.S. Senator Ellison Durant Smith (1866-1944):

“Governor Johnston is our next senator. I haven’t seen the papers this morning but the last report last night was that he was 16,000 votes ahead of the votes of his opponents put together. That might have gone up or down when the counting was finished. Think he beat “Cotton Ed” by about 40,000 votes. Had a good time last night. Went up to the mansion and the headquarters at the hotel - -very exciting. Didn’t leave the Mansion until 12:30. The Governor had come in then. He and Gladys were too tired I think to be very excited. They were very happy about the whole thing though. We sure do hate to see them leave Columbia… but it is grand for the Johnstons.”



Letter, 9 Aug. 1944 [from an unidentified Carolina beach house] [written from Crescent Beach, S.C., or Wrightsville Beach, N.C.?] MUW to OW, “There was a big boom out in the ocean today that made the houses on the beach vibrate. Then… a lot of black smoke. Everyone is still wondering what it was! …Wish the Edens would buy this house…. Did I tell you the owners want $25,000 and that is a little steep for a beach house.”

Letter, 15 Aug. 1944 [South Pacific] OW to MUW, a V-Mail letter with red border slightly larger than letter size.

Letter, 1 Sept. 1944 [South Pacific] OW to MUW with location as “in the air” illustrated with blue glove and red lines and words “Air mail”

Letter, 16 Sept. 1944 [South Pacific] Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe,

“Everybody is getting very optimistic about the end of the war now. They seem to think that it may well be over by the end of next spring but as yet I can’t feel that much optimism. The way that the Navy has been operating in the Phillippines [sic] is awfully encouraging though and then our landings in the Moluccas and Palau are awfully good. The radio said today that the Allies had made a breakthrough of 8 miles across the Siegfried Line in Germany. I am rather optomisitic [sic] about that war as I still think that it may possibly be over this month. I don’t think that there is any doubt that it will be over very soon. All in all, it looks good on all fronts.”



Letter, 18 Sept. 1944 (New Guinea) OW to Mr and Mrs. Ulmer, Columbia, S.C., re travels around the south Pacific,

“…for last couple of months, nothing but traveling….In June I was in Brisbane, then I went back there in August. On the first trip I spent three days in Guinea on the way back but on the last one I spent the night at Townsville and then went all the way back to the Admiralties from there. … I had to go over to Guinea again and during the five days that I was away, I didn’t miss a night in a foxhole.”



Letter, 19 Sept 1944 (New Guinea) OW to MUW, re letter written at 2:45 AM reporting receipt of news of German surrender, with teletype printout attached,

“The news just came in about 15 minutes ago over the teletype that Germany has surrendered. . . . Coming so suddenly it’s rather hard to believe but nearly all of us have been expecting it either this or next month. I’ve got a copry of the message just as it came in which I’m enclosing and think it would be good for our scrapbook. Now for the bad part. Apparently the news of Germany’s surrender was false. Nobody here has heard anything except rumors about the surrender. This news release that I am enclosing was verified by the Far East Air Forces Hdqs. though as I saw it myself. We don’t have electricity here so can’t listen to the radio.



Letter, 5 Oct. 1944 [South Pacific] OW to MUW, illustrated color envelope of soldier sleeping on island dreaming of embracing a woman.

Letter, 9 October 1944 [South Pacific] Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe, re bombing raids by Japanese planes, and slang use of term “Charlie” to refer an Asian combatant, presumably taken from the successful novel and series of Charlie Chan movies:

“We have had quite a bit of excitement since I wrote you last night. Up until now we have had a very peaceful and quiet life but in the early hours this morning it changed very suddenly. Sometime early in the morning we heard the alarm go off for the red alert but none of us in the tent thought much of it as we didn’t think that it would be anything. However, we finally decided to get up and just about the time that we got out of bed we heard a plant. I thought that it was one of ours taking off and I had just said that to Charley Kelsey who is the same tent as I when I heard a whssssh, whsssh and then I knew that it wasn’t ours. I told Charley so and started running towards the nearest foxhole. I knew that it was a bomb and rather than try to make the hole, I hit the ground about the same time that a terrific explosion went off about 110 yards from us. . . . I think that I was about as scared last night as any time since I have been over here because I knew that if Charlie dropped a string of bombs that the next one would hit in just about our vicinity. When nothing happened in a few seconds thought I got up . . . I think that all of us were a little shaky as we could see where the bomb had hit and was burning itself out.”



Letter, 10 Oct. 1944 (Petersburg, Virginia) Robert S. “Bob” Brawley to “Dear Sis” addressed to Mrs. Jack Ulmer [Bessie].

Letter, 12 Oct. 1944 [South Pacific] OW to MUW, another illustrated color envelope created by same artist who created drawing for letter of 5 Oct. 1944, with full color image of girl in grass skirt chasing a soldier; enclosed letter written on a large-format, ledger-size, captured Japanese stationery, printed with several Kanji characters.

Letter, 27 Oct. 1944, [London] George Kinsey to OW,

“Everybody over here had hoped the war would be over by now but I guess the Nazis are trying to hold out over the winter. Hell, when they give guns to kids from 8 to 14 and have them snipe at our guys there’s not telling how long the damn thing will last. …Really is rugged over in France now. For the first time in the war the American soldier gets a bum break in the money exchange….. Paris is off limits and it’s hard to get there. Transportaiton is a problem, and the mud is everywhere.”



Letter, 6 November 1944 [South Pacific] Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe,

“The infantry boys were laying down a pretty good artillery barrage in the early part of the evening and were putting on a good show with their flares and shelling. I didn’t know until today that I could mention that there was ground activity on this Island [Dutch East Indies] or I would have told you about it sooner. However, we are used to a little shelling during the day as well as the night so that doesn’t bother us. We hadn’t been in bed but a short while when the first air raid alert sounded. In fact, from the time that I went to bed until I got up at 7 this morning (I was late to work of course) I had about two hours sleep. There was quite a show last night though. On two different occasions, Jap planes were in the searchlights and they threw up everything but the kitchen sink at them. Lee, Boaty and I got out of the hole and watched and yelled as though we were at a football game. The last time they followed the plane all across the sky and what a display of fireworks! The ack-ack would just miss him and we were yelling our heads off to “get the b***.” Honestly, I’ve never been so excited since I can remember.”



Letter, 17 Nov. 1944 (Dutch East Indies) OW to Mr and Mrs Ulmer, reporting on his viewing of the nightly bombardment by the Japanese and anticipating end of war, predicting that the U.S. Army would be maintained at a high level for at least 5 years following end of hostilities, and longing to return to civilian life,

“There are only about two or three of us that like to get outside and watch the excitement but we give the others in the hole a ‘blow by blow description’ of what goes on…” and “I only hope that they will keep the fellows who want to stay rather than take the men in the lower age groups. Next month I will complete three years service and for my part, that’s enough. Guess I am just a civilian at heart.”



Letter, 27 Nov. 1944 (Dutch East Indies) OW to [Mrs. Bessie Ulmer], re consideration of the Army’s furlough policy which would ultimately prolong his tour of duty, “I’ve written Marie about the leave policy that is now in effect out here and told her that I can probably get home for 30 days around February or March but if I do come home then, I will have to start another tour of duty out here. … [re nightly attacks from Japanese] We are still getting very little sleep and with the moon as bright as it is now, there isn’t much hope of catching up any for another ten days or so. We used to think that the moon was beautiful out here but are getting to the point now that we don’t even like to see it come up.”

Letter, 8 December 1944 (Dutch East Indies) Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe

It’s been three years now since we first went to war with Japan and the Axis powers and I can remember at the time that we first declared war that I was one of the optimists that thought that the whole thing would be over in a couple of years. I can distinctly remember that when I went to enlist that I didn’t like the idea of enlisting for three years as I felt that I would be caught in the Army after the war was over. Now I’m beginning to wonder if I will be out in another three years. The best that most of us can hope for it seems is that the European war will be over by early summer or late spring and after that it will take another year and a half to defeat the Japs. That’s two years if it works out that way and I guess that I will be lucky if I get out of this mess within a year after the whole thing is over.



Letter, 16 Dec. 1944 (Dutch East Indies) OW to MUW, written on stationery and envelope illustrated with red and blue air plane honoring 13th US [Army] Air Force, and requesting MUW to send him a copy of a feature to be published in the Saturday Evening Post, 6 Jan. 1945, re the “13th Air Force”

Letter, 21 Dec. 1944 [South Pacific] Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe,

“I don’t believe that I have yet mentioned the landing that we made a few days ago on Mindoro in the Philippines. I’ve remembered it every night since we heard the news of Monday, but it was always after I had finished my letter to you and was back in the tent. The new German offensive in Europe seems to be the real McCoy. However, when we break it, I hope that history will repeat itself. If you remember, in 1918 the Germans started a large scale offensive which was finally broken and shortly thereafter, Germany capitulated. It looks as if they are shooting the works now as a last all-out gamble. Sure would be good to see the end of that war in the next two or three months.”



Letter,28 December 1944 [South Pacific] Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe,

“Read the December 11th issue of Time [magazine] last night and it certainly seems that the political situation in Europe is in quite a mess. The Belgians, Jugoslavians and Greeks all seem to be having a heck of a time trying to agree on anything. If all the liberated countries have as many difficulties as these, Europe will be in a turmoil for a heck of a long time after the war over there is over. However, at the rate that the German offensive is progressing, the war won’t end for a few months yet.”



Letter, 14 Jan. 1945 Sol Blatt to MUW, thanking her for Christmas card and noting that her card along with a box from his wife and mother improved his holiday spent far from home.

Letter, 26 Jan. 1945 [South Pacific] Oliver Wolfe to Mr. and Mrs. Jack Ulmer,

“The Russians have given the European situation a much brighter outlook during their offensive of the past few weeks and I only hope that they aren’t slowed up. Unless that war ends over there by the end of March, our chances of getting home this year aren’t very good. The Philippine campaign is coming along nicely and this morning’s news said that we already have some motorized forces at Clark Field. I’m sure that we will have Manilla in a very short while and if the Japanese were normal people this war should end by summer too but they aren’t normal. It looks as if we will have to get them out of China, Formosa and also land on the mainland of Japan before they will be able to see the light. On the other hand, they may get smart and decide to call it quits before we tear up Japan. I certainly hope that they do although I don’t want to see this thing end before we get an unconditional surrender from both Germany and Japan. You have both seen two wars and I have only seen one but that’s enough to make me want to not see anymore.”



Letter and enclosure, 27 Jan. 1945 (Mollucca Islands Group) [this location is part of Indonesia and is also known as the Moluccas, Moluccan, or Maluku Islands, the Spice Islands or simply Maluku] OW to MUW, with printed regimental publication, Daily Beacon 13 (“Photo Edition Jan. ‘45”) illustrated 2 sheets, 4 pp., “The ‘Jungle Air Force’ Moves from ‘Down-Under’ to Up-Above,” with photographs with captions, including visit by Bob Hope.

Letter, 1 Feb. 1945 (Mollucca Islands Group) Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe,

“The news this morning said that the Russians are now only 62 miles from Berlin and we are really beginning to expect things to happen over there before too long. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we haven’t taken Manila by the time that this letter reaches you. I suppose that you are wondering what has happened to me lately because I’ve been so optimistic. Usually I do take a very pessimistic view of the war situation but now it seems as if things can’t help but break for us. Honey, keep you fingers crossed that the European war will be over by the end of March. If it is, I’m almost sure that we will be able to spend Christmas together. I haven’t anything to base that on but it seems logical to me that they will try and get all the fellows out of this theatre with over 24 months as soon as possible after the end of the European war. Sure do hope so anyway.”



Letter, 2 Feb. 1945 (Mollucca Islands Group) OW to MUW, “enclosing extracts from the daily newspaper here…. These articles were printed in the Jan. 13th issue, the 2nd anniversary of the Air Force….you’ll probably learn more from this about the 13th than from all the other things that you have ever seen or heard about it.”:

“Short History of Thirteenth Air Force / January 1943-January 1945” (8 pp.)

“The Thirteenth Air Force has been a member of the Allied Pacific team since its activation in Jan. 1943. It has played its roll well under adverse conditions. With the exception of a few units stationed in Noumea, a town in New Caledonia, its units have never been stationed in cities or towns.”

[13 Air Task Force dissolved 15 June 1944, when it became part of the “newly created Far East Air Forces, again under command of Major General St. Clair Streett” (1893-1970)]

13th AAF “The winged 13 stands for an outfit that has sometimes been called the “movingest” air force in the Army, the 13th AAF.”

13th “was activated during the Battle of Guadalcanal.”

“Operating many times in close conjunction with the Fifth Air Force, the 13th has served as a spearhead for surface forces which took islands and parts of islands, built airfields on them, moved up planes and shipping, took more islands…” cutting supply lines and helping to defeat the Japanese.



Letter, 4 Feb. 1945 (Mollucca Islands Group) Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe,

“The war news is still good. I may be building myself up for a terrific let-down, Honey, but we are all expecting big things to happen before long – naturally that could only mean one thing, the end of the European war. From the way that things are developing over here, the outlook for the end of this war gets brighter every day too. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if both wars ended this year, Honey. That would be like waking up from a good dream to find it true. My mind just doesn’t have the capacity for even imagining what it’s going to be like to be a civilian again. I do know that it’s going to be wonderful when we will be able to do the things that we like to do and live a normal life. I can’t imagine anything any better than it will be when we have our own home and family and we will be able to be together again, Sweetheart. You see what happens to me when I let myself become optomisitic, don’t you. My imagination just runs wild. But one of these days, maybe not this year or the next or the year after, I won’t just be imagining those things.”



Greeting card, 7 Feb. 1945 (Mollucca Islands Group) Hand-made illustrated card with original artwork featuring watercolor image of a thatched cottage in a jungle setting titled, “Ollie’s home, Mulucca [Island].”

Letter, 8 Feb. 1945 (Washington, D.C.) [Written on letterhead stationery, “United States Senate, Committee on Interstate Commerce.”] U.S. Sen. Olin D. Johnston to MUW, re Oliver Wolfe’s picture in the newspaper,

“The picture in today’s paper looks awfully good to me and I know that you have practically worn it out reading and looking. Now, the next news we want is that the war is won and your Major back home. Give all the family our love, but keep plenty for yourself.”



Letter, 20 Feb. 1945 (Mollucca Islands Group) Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe,

“The news last night was awfully good. I told you a few days ago that it looked as if we were getting ready to go into Iwo [Jima] and the announcement of the landing last night wasn’t much of a surprise to us. Any time that we hit a place as consistently as we did Iwo, there can’t be but one reason for it. Once we take the place, it will certainly be a nice spot of the 24’s. The distance to Tokyo from there is only 750 miles, which is just a nice run. The Corregidor landing was also good news. The Japs certainly haven’t put up much opposition since the Leyte landings. A landing on either the China coast for Formosa or both should pretty well bottle the Japs up. There seems to be a good possibility that the war over here may end this year and I can think of nothing that will suit me better. A lot of the fellows are already saying that it looks as if we will be sent to the ETO rather than they being sent over here. Apparently the Germans aren’t going to call that war off. It looks as if it isn’t goint to end until we breatk through the West wall and meet the Russians coming from the East. If it does happen that way, it’s going to cost a lot of lives, but it will probably eliminate the probability of another war with Germany in the next fifty years. She won’t have anything or anybody left to fight a war with.”



Letter, 11 Mar. 1945 ([Warsaw?], Indiana) Mrs. Shirley Kelsey to MUW, friendly, humorous letter of introduction, explaining that since her husband, Charley, served with Oliver, and references to both OW and MUW appeared frequently in her husband’s letters, she thought they should become acquainted; describing her physical appearance, “people never say I’m pretty, if they want to be kind and stretch a point they say I’m ‘attractive’ (which can cover a multitude of sins!)”

Letter, 14 Mar. [1945] (Los Angeles, California) Clarice to MUW, re her health, reporting mutual friends enjoyed their leave from service, while one wife she knew could not cope well with the long separation, and a suggestion of missing life in the Southeast,

“Your victory garden sounds wonderful. How I’d love some of that good ole Southern Style cooking again…. Californians broil everything and I think we lose much of the flavor that’a way.”



Letter, 1 Apr. 1945 (Molucca Islands) OW to MUW, with Easter greeting card, illustrated with 2 hand painted watercolor images; cover: tulips, pussy willows, and daffodils with blue Delft image of house; inside: view of Easter egg and white rabbit under palm trees, and message, “Easter Greetings from Molucca Islands”; along with the church bulletin from Easter services, “Easter / April 1945 / 13th Air Force” with purple and yellow illustration of palms, cross, and Bible, with schedule for Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish services.

Letter, 7 April 1945 (Molucca Islands) Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe,

“The war news sure does look good. The news finally came out this morning that we have been expecting for some time – the Russians are ending their neutrality pact with Japan. With the San Francisco conference scheduled for this month and the Russ – Jap treaty being terminated at the same time, we had been expecting to hear the announcement that the Russians were calling it off. If they only decide to declare war on Japan it seems as if there may be a good possibility that the Japanese war will be over this year. And with the new allied offensive in Europe starting in Southern Germany, it looks as if the Allies are going to try and prevent the Germans from retreating into Southern Germany where they could otherwise carry out a rather prolonged gorilla [sic] action. I sure do hope that the war comes to an end over there before too long now.”



Letter, 12 April 1945 (Molucca Islands) Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe,

“Just in case that you don’t already know, Honey, I can now tell you all the places that I have been since I have been overseas. Before I came to this island [Molucca Islands], I was stationed on Noemfoor, just off the coast of New Guinea. Before that I was in Hollandis, New Guinea. Some of the other places that I have hit over here are Munda, Bouganville, Finchaffen, Milne Bay, Port Moreseby, (the last three were in New Guinea, the other two in the South Pacific), Los Negros in the Admiralties, Owi Island, Biak, Wakde, Middleburg Island, Cape Sansapor – Dutch New Guinea, and then this place [Molucca or Maluku]. And when you come right down to it, they are all just about the same. Of all those places, Bouganville had the best beach and while I was there, there was a good bit of excitement going on.”



Letter, 12 April 1945 (Columbia, S.C.) Marie Wolfe to Oliver Wolfe,

“We have all been in a sort of state of shock since we heard of President Roosevelt’s death. . . . I hope Truman will make a good president—he probably won’t have the power Pres. Roosevelt had. Let’s pray this war will end soon and then we won’t have to worry so about a war time President.”



Letter, 13 April 1945 (Molucca Islands) Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe,

“We got the news this morning of the President’s death and it was quite a shock to all of us. It seems odd that in one of the letters that you wrote just a couple of weeks ago that you had mentioned that Carolyn had met Truman and that you hoped that we would never see him as President of the United States. I think that nearly everybody feels that way but it’s something that is going to happen now. Roosevelt was certainly a great diplomat and his presence will be sorely missed at the peace conference this month in Frisco. In all probability, the peace will be more or less dictated by England and Russia now.”



Letter, 15 April 1945 (Columbia, S.C.) Marie Wolfe to Oliver Wolfe, “I know that no man has ever received such a tribute as President Roosevelt has one the radio for the last three days—from the time it goes on in the morning until it goes off at night.”

Letter, 18 Apr. 1945, [European Theatre] George Kinnsly to OW, re death of Ernie Pyle and state of the cites and the armed forces in Germany,

“Not so long ago I was in Germany with out 17th Airborne Division and got to see a lot of the country and what we are doing to it. The cities are really taking a pasting and some of the soldiers I saw couldn’t fight in the South Carolina home guard. Actually some of them had artificial limbs but even those guys are dangerous behind a machine gun.”



Letter, 23 Apr. [1945], [Warsaw, Indiana] Shirley Kelsey to MUW, reporting on her accommodations and caretaking for family; although she enjoyed her independence while living in her own apartment, she had moved in with her recently widowed grandmother who had difficulty dealing with the passing of her husband,

“what we all thought to be grief and shock due to the suddenness of grandpa’s passing developed into a nervous breakdown and grandma is still in the throes of it – I could cope with that but toss in a wild and wooley 17 month old boy for good measure and Marie, you have enough to make a blubbering idiot out of a normal person! … Charley better never rave on about the war he took part in or I’ll tell him about the campaign I went through and haven’t even seen a battle star to show for it! I’m just kidding really - - That’s the trouble with letters, particularly to someone I’ve never met, I’m so afraid you’ll take me wrong since you don’t know what a screwball sense of humor I have ….Luckily I’m married to a man that sees eye-to-eye on the subject of humor. ”



[Circa May 1945, letters from Oliver originate from the Philippine Islands for a week or two]

Letter, 7 May 1945 [the Philippines] Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe,

“We have just heard the news that the Germans have surrendered unconditionally to the Western Allies and the Russians. It’s nearly midnight now and the fellows here have opened up several bottles of scotch which they have been saving for this occasion."

“This [the Philippines] is really some place. It’s so good to see civilization again. Honey, this is the first time that I’ve seen what could happen to a big city and it’s really awful. I’ve seen Manila and it’s completely gutted. There are some shells of buildings left standing in some places but that’s about as much as I can say for them. Beautiful homes have been completely devastated.”



Letter, 8 May 1945 (the Philippines) Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe,

“Honey, I wish that you could see some of the places that I have seen over here [the Philippines]. The buildings are completely gutted and the only thing that is left standing, if anything, is a shell of what used to be beautiful apartments, homes, offices or hotels. I hate to think what places like Berlin must look like after the terrific pounding that they took.”



Letter, 12 May 1945 (South Pacific) Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe, with description of his statistical work for the Army Air Force.

Letter [23 May 1945] (Indiana) Shirley Kelsey to OW, who was serving with her husband, noting that she owed him two letters, and asking confidentially if her letters caused her husband any worry, and honestly discussing her concerns about her family and her grandmother’s “nervous breakdown”:

“this is just between you and me… you know I write Charley a lot of things when I’m blue and down in the mouth… that aren’t listed among the things that are cricket to write soldiers. Ollie, I want to know whether he worries about me or not…You see, I don’t want him to, and he says he doesn’t, but I’m still afraid maybe he does….”



Letter, 25 May 1945 (South Pacific) Oliver Wolfe to Marie Wolfe,

“There seems to be a growing indication that Japan is going to make an effort to put out peace feelers before too long. Even the Tokyo Radio is hinting that there is a growing unrest in Japan for peace and it may be that the Japs will call the whole thing off before the Japanese mainland is dealt the same kind of punishment as Germany. Most of the fellows that I have heard saying anything about it though aren’t in favour [sic] of a peace now. They all want to see Jap industry crushed before the peace comes. It’s a hard thing to say because it will cost a lot of lives to go through with completely smashing the Japs but on the other hand it might prevent another war any time soon. Another thing that might tempt the Japs to try and get peace now is that the Russians still haven’t come into this war and when she does, she is certainly going to get most of Manchuria when the final terms are made. Personally, I have my doubts that Japan will sue for peace until she is pretty well whipped down. It would be wonderful though if this whole thing were to end this year.”



Letter, 30 May 1945 (Molucca Islands) OW to Mr and Mrs Ulmer, re destruction he saw while in Manilla, Philippines,

“While I was at FEAF, I managed to get into Manila on several nights and the place is quite a mess. I’ve read a lot about what a city looks like after it has been bombed and shelled but it’s hard to imagine what destruction really takes place until you actually see it with your own eyes.” And quoting a familiar lament while noting that he would not be home in the U.S.A. to accompany his wife on her vacation, “Sure wish that I were going to be able to be in New York with Marie on her vacation but I guess that I’ll have to be satisfied with the same phrase which we nearly always use after the [football game with] Clemson each year - - maybe next year.”



Letter, 17 Sept. 1945 (Leyte, Philippines) Charles P. Kelsey to “Mister O.J. Wolfe,” Columbia, S.C., congratulating OW on his civilian status, and reporting on developments prior to Japanese surrender,

“We were all pleased and happy for you when we learned that the army had decided to dispense with your services. And with two city blocks of property, bud, you should have the city in the palm of your hand…. Well, fella, after you left…word came to pick up and make ready for a move to Okinawa. We were going to fight the war again! Then peace came, and spoiled all the plans…”

Photographs / Visual Materials, ca. 1885-1950 among the Papers of the Wolfe and Ulmer Families Visual materials (circa 560 photographs, 1885-1950) include photographs, postcards, and a small selection of original artwork and late 19th-century cabinet photographs. Oliver Wolfe photographed the majority of images in the 1940s during his basic training and while stationed in the South Pacific. Snapshots frequently illustrate an anecdote or event described in a letter.

Earlier images, 1885-1920s, chiefly consisting of Ulmer and Brawley family prints. A family photograph album, 1910s-1920s holds images of Jack Ulmer and Bessie Brawley Ulmer during courtship, and following marriage and birth of their daughters, Marie and Judy, during the 1920s.
Ephemera, Art Work, Illustrations in the Wolfe-Ulmer Family Papers Browse the Calendar of selected quotes from the letters to identify dates/locations of various postcards, ephemera, letterhead stationery and other illustrations available in this collection. [For details of the 560 photographs, dated 1885-1950, in this collection, see list of Photographs / Visual Materials.]

Several postcards in the collection promote hotels in Florida and nightclubs in New York; letterhead stationery (many illustrated with airplanes and military insignia), and several regimental Christmas cards, including an example featuring the logo of the 44th Bomber Group, known as the “Flying Eight Balls.” The card features a color illustration of Santa Claus dressed in a brown flight suit riding a winged eight-ball attached to a bomb, identified as originating “From somewhere in England.”

Illustrated letterhead stationery from the Columbia, S.C., businesses of both the Ulmer and Wolfe families consists of several 1937 letters of the Ulmer family real estate business, Jack Ulmer, Inc.

Dates

  • 1885-1953

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

All rights reside with creator. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact The South Caroliniana Library.

Extent

5 Linear Feet (4 cartons)

Brief Overview of Collection

This collection documents life during the Second World War for Lieutenant Oliver Jordan Wolfe (1919-2002) while serving in the Pacific Theatre, and for his young bride, Mrs. Marie Virginia Ulmer Wolfe (1921-2010), residing in Columbia, S.C. Topics discussed include life in the U.S. Army during World War II and civilian work and leisure on the home front in South Carolina.

Following training in Texas, Alabama, Florida, and North Carolina, Oliver Wolfe earned a position at the Army Air Force Statistical School. Upon completion of training at the Harvard Business School in Boston, Wolfe shipped out with the 25th Statistical Control Unit, which was attached to the Thirteenth Army Air Force. This unit earned the nickname "the Jungle Air Force" for its frequent relocations among rugged islands and primitive conditions as the U.S. Forces advanced towards Japan across the Pacific. Places described include Guadalcanal, New Hebrides (Jan. 1944), Admiralty Islands (3 May 1944), New Guinea (19 Sept 1944); Dutch East Indies (late 1944); Sydney and elsewhere in Australia; Leyte, Manila, and elsewhere in the Philippines; and the Molucca Islands (mid-1945).

At home in South Carolina, his wife Marie Wolfe returned to live in the home of her parents. Despite the rationing and shortages common to civilian life of the time, she enjoyed travels of her own. Summer visits to a beach house on the S.C. coast required an early bedtime due to blackout restrictions (3 July 1943). When her sister, Judy, graduated from a college near New York City, Mrs. Wolfe and her family enjoyed the night life of Manhattan, including attendance at a radio broadcast hosted by a young Frank Sinatra. Later that evening in a nightclub, the family encountered the famed crooner once more when seated at a table adjacent to Sinatra at the Riobamba Room (20 June 1943).

In addition to correspondence and photographs, the collection includes: original art work (25 Jan. 1942), hand-painted greeting cards (1 Apr. 1945), the regimental Christmas card pictured above, featuring the logo of the 44th Bomber Group, known as the "Flying Eight Balls"; artifacts such as two metal "sales tax" tokens (31 May 1942), or a stack of early IBM computer punch cards coded with names and addresses of various family members (30 Sept. 1942); or both art and artifacts, such as the envelope illustrated with a full color scene of an island girl in grass skirt chasing a soldier; Oliver wrote the enclosed letter on a large sheet of captured Japanese stationery, printed with several Kanji characters (12 Oct. 1944, envelope pictured above).

Topics discussed range from the serious, such as Lieut. Wolfe's description of waking to an early-morning Japanese bombing raid, and finding himself unable to reach the safety of a foxhole before the bomb exploded (9 Oct. 1944); to the hopeful, as in the couple's descriptions of learning of the "D-Day" landings at Normandy on 6 June 1944; as well as the more light-hearted observations that hint at the popular culture of the day, as in this exchange between two women: "Have you heard any 'knitting for Britain' jokes?... 'I went out riding in a car. I will admit I went too far. Now what I did, I ain't admitting – but what I'm knitting ain't for Britain!' " (14 Mar. 1942).

Narrative Description of the Collection

"If I had stayed in the States for the duration of the war…. I couldn’t have felt as if I were doing all I could in the war effort and although I’m not one of these fellows who is a fanatic on the subject, I think that any body my age and with my health should be over here." Thus wrote Oliver Wolfe from the South Pacific in a letter, 25 August 1943, to his wife, Marie, at home in Columbia, S.C. Wolfe was an officer serving in the 25th Statistical Control Unit, which was attached to the Thirteenth Army Air Force, also known as "the Jungle Air Force" for it frequent relocations among the islands north of Australia and New Guinea.

Lieutenant Oliver Jordan Wolfe (1919-2002) married Marie Virginia Ulmer (b. 1921) on 7 Jan. 1943, forming a partnership that would last nearly sixty years. The demands of military service allowed the couple only a few months of wedded life together prior to Oliver’s deployment to the South Pacific for 25 months. Letters exchanged between Oliver, Marie, and a large network of family and friends preserve a daily record of life in the South Pacific and on the home front in Columbia, S.C., and elsewhere during the Second World War. Following his return to civilian life in 1945, Major Oliver Wolfe founded the Wolfe Company Realtors, a successful business that after more than fifty years continues to prosper in family hands.

This collection of 6.25 linear feet of letters and other papers, 1921-1953, and ca. 560 photographs, 1885-1950, chiefly documents the training and active duty experiences of this future civic and business leader as a young officer serving and that of his young bride. Letters discuss the daily challenges and uncertainty of life during wartime, the excitement of travel, the exploration of new regions, and reflect a number of social and technological changes experienced by soldiers and civilians alike during the 1940s.

Oliver’s letters discuss the nightly fireworks provided by Japanese bombing raids, sharing an island with giant lizards three feet long, regular requests for more film for his camera, and his longing to return and resume life at home with his wife. Letters from Marie Wolfe and others in the United States provide insight into the changes and developments of World War II on both the military and social fronts. Along with Oliver’s explanations of military life as detailed as censors would allow, the collection suggests how shortages, rationing, and security concerns impacted the daily life of the communities and the economy of South Carolina and of the United States.

Marie Ulmer Wolfe attended Mary Baldwin College for two years and graduated from University of South Carolina in 1941. Marie and her sister Judy (b.1924) were the children of Jack Melton Ulmer (1888-1967) and Bessie Brawley Ulmer (1895-1966). The Ulmers, who ran a successful real estate business, and later, a savings and loan, in Columbia, S.C., lived on Heyward Street in the Shandon neighborhood. Marie’s large circle of friends and relatives included several cousins, as her mother was one of thirteen siblings.

A son of Oliver William Wolfe (b.1890) and Lelia "Dot" Jordan Wolfe (b.1897), Oliver Wolfe completed Columbia High School in 1935, and graduated from USC in 1939, where he earned varsity letters in baseball and basketball. On 11 December 1941, four days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, twenty-two year old Oliver Wolfe enlisted in the U.S. Army at Fort Jackson.

Several weeks later, Oliver wrote to Marie to report his arrival at Sheppard Field (Wichita Falls, Texas) in a letter, 6 Jan. 1942, adding that "Giles," a former teacher from Columbia High School, had escorted Oliver and the other soldiers from Fort Jackson to Texas, where the men encountered single-digit temperatures and snow, as well as evidence of the magnitude of the rapid expansion of the armed forces as the country prepared for war. Writing in his characteristic style, both upbeat and specific, Oliver reported that although initial construction had begun less than seven months previous, Sheppard Field was said to be "the biggest air mechanics school in the world." Upon completion, the base would house and train an anticipated capacity of "26,000 men under normal conditions" and include "over 700 buildings covering 620 acres of ground and a total sum of $18,000,000 will have been spent…"

Like most of his fellow soldiers, Oliver was not raised in a military family, but the optimistic tone of his letters demonstrate his dedication to the soldier’s life and the esprit de corps shared by the troops at Sheppard Field. In a letter, 6 Jan. 1942, Oliver reports to Marie, "We get up at 5:30 A.M. every morning and only have about 30 minutes rest until around 5:30 every afternoon. We drilled about two hours this afternoon and, believe it or not, it seemed more like fun than work…. just about everybody here has the same attitude when it comes to drilling and working. There is very little griping and quibbling but most everybody wants to do his part because the greater majority of these fellows only want to stay in the army for the duration and therefore all want the duration to be as short as possible."

By late January 1942, Oliver’s letters originate from Brookley Field (Mobile, Alabama), following his assignment to the Repair Squadron of the 7th Air Depot Group. In spite of rigorous daily routine of 20-mile hikes, and hours of drill, the men still found energy for practical jokes. Oliver reported to Marie in a letter, 13 Apr. 1942, "I’ll probably have to look for my bed for 30 minutes or so before I can go to sleep. We have a game going on at the barracks, the object of the game being to see who can take a bed apart and hide it so that it will be hard to find and I’ve got a feeling that this is my night because I did a fair job on Hillery’s last night." In a later letter, 31 May 1942, Oliver included two aluminum coins crafted with a hole in the center, stamped with words, "sales tax token" along with the explanation, "I am enclosing another example of the rationing program. It seems as if the tax program is being changed in more ways than one, doesn’t it?"

In June 1942, Oliver enjoyed a ten day furlough at home in Columbia, S.C., prior to reporting for his next assignment, the Army Air Force Officer Candidate School in Miami Beach, Florida. On 27 June 1942, Oliver wrote to report his arrival, praising the look of the city, which he ranked "the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen," but reporting some difficulty adjusting to the more posh surroundings, which included beds, "we’re staying in the James Hotel which is rather small but it’s new and as nice as can be…. after sleeping in army cots for so long, it’s rather hard to learn how to sleep comfortably again" (27 June 1942). Although the hotel offered more shelter than the tents to which he had grown familiar, these accommodations were far from luxurious, partially due to blackout restrictions, as noted in letter, 1 July 1942, "we don’t have any lights at all nor any hot water."

While in Miami Beach, Oliver’s test scores and performance earned him a position as one of only 150 men from among the 4800-member class of 1942 selected to attend the Army Air Force Statistical School which was held at Harvard Business School. Upon successful completion of the six week program, Oliver would be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.

In Boston, Oliver enjoyed more free time in his schedule. Descriptions of a trip to Nantucket appear in a letter dated 7 Aug. 1942, in which he recorded his impressions of Harvard University and Cambridge. By this time a veteran of months of intense military training, Oliver also reported differences noticeable among the Army and Navy men enrolled at Harvard, as the Navy recruits on campus at that time arrived directly from civilian life and knew little of military discipline or protocol.

Oliver thrived in this program, as might be expected of a soldier whose letters frequently included such specific details of facts and figures. Upon graduation, 11 Sept 1942, Oliver accepted a commission as Second Lieutenant serving in the 8th Statistical Control Unit, Knollwood Field, Southern Pines, N.C. (see letters, 18 and 25 Sept. 1942), where his duties required the compiling of all reports from the squadrons and districts and transmitting the data to the Director of Stat. Control in Washington. Although grateful to be stationed close to home, Oliver expressed surprise at the social life he encountered among his fellow officers at Knollwood Field. A letter, 27 Sept. 1942, includes an account of his first party at the officers’ club, "These people around here really believe in their whiskey…. Everybody and his brother and sister seem to love the stuff around here."

Oliver’s statistical work allowed access to an early computer of the sort in which programmers created, stored, and sorted data using punch cards. In a letter dated 30 Sept. 1942, he enclosed an artifact from this exotic new technology: a short stack of punch cards coded with the names and addresses of Marie and other Columbia residents, "We got in some new IBM equipment today and as all that equipment is in my section, I wanted to learn how to operate it. You can see from the enclosed card I made a little progress. The holes in the card spell out the printing at the top and the printing is done by merely inserting the card in the Interpreter machine and it prints what is punched in the cards in about 2 seconds."

Oliver Wolfe was not the only South Carolinian to attend training at the Harvard Business School. Both Marie and Oliver received letters from a number of friends remaining or arriving in Boston following Oliver’s departure, including Sol Blatt, Jr., and his wife Carolyn, and others. A letter from one such expatriate South Carolinian, dated [8 Oct. 1942], from John R. Brooks, Jr., included a comparison of his present and previous posts, "I like Boston much better than Ithaca [N.Y.] but I like Cornell University much better than Harvard. It seems that they know just what was best to make a good organization at Cornell – but here everything runs around crazy."

In Columbia, S.C., Oliver and Marie married, 7 Jan. 1943, and Marie joined her husband in Pinehurst, N.C., Following the wedding, the Ulmer family sent the flowers used in the service elsewhere in Columbia, S.C., where they could be enjoyed by others, as evidenced by several thank-you notes, including one from T.E. Cumings, Superintendent of the Confederate Home of S.C., written on letterhead stationery with Confederate flags, and another from the Rev. Clarence B. Antisdel (1864 -1943) and his wife Gertrude (see letters, 9 and 10 June 1943, respectively). Antisdel served as president (1921-1940) of Benedict College, an historically black institution in Columbia, S.C.

Oliver and Marie counted themselves lucky to secure an apartment near the base in Pinehurst, N.C. Several letters dating to 1942 suggest the severity of the wartime housing situation for dependent families and civilians alike, particularly in regions near rapidly growing military installations. A friend of Marie’s named Eleanor described the situation near the Marine base in Jacksonville, N.C., in a letter dated 7 May 1942, "Butch is attached to the 3rd Battalion, First Marines at the New River, N.C., base – and if this isn’t an experience to tell the grandchildren we’ll never have one. The little town outside the base, Jacksonville, is suffering from an acute case of growing pains…. There are 6000 people where 900 were this time last year so you can imagine…. Being young and healthy and happily married, we’re all getting a kick out of it, but I wonder if the colonel’s wife thinks it’s funny."

Those who remained in civilian life also wrote to express concern with the housing situation and its implications for the economy in certain sectors. A letter to Oliver Wolfe dated 20 Nov. 1942, from R.B. Richardson, officer and director of First Federal Savings and Loan of Spartanburg, S.C., lamented the dire straits in which he found his company, "Wolfe, business has absolutely gone to the dickens, there just isn’t any being done. Unless the gov’t let’s folks start building & buying & renting like they please, before long, the Savings and Loan Association will be in the same boat as the Finance Companies. Well, we’re in it already…"

The challenges of setting up housekeeping in the face of wartime shortages are suggested in a series of letters exchanged during May 1943 between Marie in Pinehurst, N.C., and her mother in Columbia, S.C. A series of letters discuss efforts to locate a booklet of precious ration coupons apparently lost in the mail. When located among a bag of damaged mail, its eventual discovery raised eyebrows and questions among authorities at the Post Office (19 May 1943).

In June 1943, the Army assigned Oliver and the 25th Statistical Control Unit to the Thirteenth Air Force, triggering his deployment to the South Pacific. In early June 1943, Marie accompanied Oliver to Washington, D.C., en route to his deployment. This trip marked the last time the couple would see one another in person for more than two years. Letters from Oliver, 9-11 June 1943, discuss his trip across the United States and his brief stay in San Francisco prior to departure for an undisclosed location in the South Pacific.

During the next two years, Marie and Oliver resumed their daily correspondence. Oliver’s letters document the frequent island-hopping of his unit as the war progressed. From June to December, 1943, Oliver’s location is no more specific than "South Pacific" although his unit was known to be on the islands of Guadalcanal, Munda and Bougainville, based on a commendation received by his unit "for outstanding service in battle… [despite ] experiencing frequent enemy attack" filed among the papers.

During 1944-1945, however, his dateline revealed such locations as Guadalcanal, New Hebrides (Jan. 1944), Admiralty Islands (3 May 1944), New Guinea (19 Sept 1944); Dutch East Indies (late 1944); Sydney and elsewhere in Australia; Leyte, Manila, and elsewhere in the Philippines; and the Molucca Islands (mid-1945). Censors apparently relaxed somewhat as the fortunes of the Allies improved.

Oliver summarized his mileage in a letter written 2 Jan. 1944 from the New Hebrides to Jack and Bessie Ulmer, "A couple days ago I made up a list of all the places that I have been since I’ve been out here and I’ve been to 7 different places and have accumulated better than 45 hours in the air since Sept. 25th and traveled over 6800 miles. I’ve also made a trip by boat of about 1500 miles." In a similar vein, another letter suggests Oliver’s characteristic sense of adventure and an appreciation of the significance of his military experience, "we are getting an education out here that we couldn’t possibly buy and it will be something that we will never forget when we get back to the States. It sure will be fun to go almost anywhere in the States after the War and run into people that you know from out here." (4 July 1943).

One such acquaintance whom Oliver met while in the South Pacific later won election to the U.S. Congress, "We have a Marine Captain here, Joe McCarthy [1908-1957] from Wisconsin, who has been drafted to run for the U.S. Senatorship from that state and he is really a swell guy. A couple of the fellows have put up a big sign over their tent with ‘McCarthy for U.S. Senator’ and when we had a boiled egg for Easter, there was some sort of phrase on each of the eggs such as "McCarthy, the people’s choice" etc. on each one. Mc was a judge in civilian life and the scuttlebutt is that he will probably be elected" (15 April 1944).

Despite universal stories of the ease with which soldiers mailed coconuts and other exotica home to the United States during World War II, this collection suggests that outbound mail to servicemen proved more problematic. Marie apologized for the delay and expressed her surprise to discover that The State newspaper would not mail Oliver’s subscription to the South Pacific without a written request in hand signed by the soldier himself (30 July 1943). A letter from Bessie Ulmer to her son-in-law acknowledges this rule, "Wish we could send you other things you could enjoy. The Post Office is so funny. If there is anything we can send you that you want, be sure and write a request for it so the Post Office will let us mail it." (16 Feb. 1944). All complied with the rules, given the value placed upon those letters and packages from home, as Oliver wrote to from the New Hebrides, "The mail out here is certainly on a peculiar schedule…. Every now and then a plane drops in the drink and loses some [mail] too, which is about the worst thing that can happen as far as we are concerned. …. Nobody ever worries about the crew who is lost when a plane goes down, but the first thing they always ask is –how much mail was on it" (2 Jan. 1944).

Back in the United States, Marie stayed busy. Reports of her activities during the summer of 1943 fill letters with news of mutual friends and travel, as well as examples of the humor and popular culture of the day. Marie headed to New York City in June to attend commencement ceremonies for her sister, Judy, who would graduate from Briarcliff Junior College in Westchester County, N.Y. Marie, her friend Gladys, and later Judy enjoyed several days of touring and recreation, which continued when the Ulmers arrived several days later. Letters from this family visit in Manhattan, 16-20 June 1943, include accounts of Marie’s dining at the Yale Club and using the "ladies’ entrance," as well as visits to the Stork Club and other celebrated nightspots where they encountered famed New Yorkers such as John Jacob Astor, Frank Sinatra and others. After attending the new musical, Oklahoma!, followed by a late night at the Copacabana, Marie wrote to Oliver, "Mother and Daddy wore us out. We shopped with Mother all yesterday and Daddy kept us out until five o’clock this morning. Did have fun though." (19 June 1943).

Marie expressed surprise following a visit to a live performance of the Lucky Strike Hit Parade at the appearance of a crooner who had recently joined the program: "The Lucky Strike broadcast was very good. I didn’t realize until it started that Frank Sinatra was on it…. We went to Riobamba [Room]… Frank Sinatra was at a table next to us. The ‘Riobamba’ is supposed to be one of the places that started him on the road to popularity." (20 June 1943).

Both Marie and Judy returned to live at their parents’ home in Columbia, S.C., in mid-summer 1943. Marie, who had formerly worked in her parent’s real estate office, took a new job in an office at University of South Carolina. A number of letters in the collection discuss women joining the workforce. In a letter dated 13 Apr. 1942, Oliver comments on Marie’s enjoyment of her office work, "Marie, I knew you would like working once you started at it. Now you can probably see why I talked so much about my work when we were out together. It just seems to get in the blood, doesn’t it?" More than one year later, Marie spoke favorably of her new position at USC, "I’m really enjoying working. I’m on my own just about, and I like that" (12 Aug. 1943). Even mothers with small children managed to complete classes in various topics to assist in the war effort. A letter from Gwendolyn Wolfe who was Oliver’s sister-in-law and mother of a small child, reported completion of a class in mechanics and her plans to take additional instruction, "I finish my airplane engine course next week and if I pass I can get a rating (civil service) as a junior engine inspector." (28 Sept. 1942). A friend of Marie’s, "Mary," wrote a letter while "on the clock" in which she included a joke parodying the aid program that provided socks, scarves, and other cold weather garments for soldiers in the United Kingdom, "Have you heard any ‘Knitting for Britain’ jokes? …: ’I went out riding in a car. I will admit I went too far. Now what I did, I ain’t admitting – but what I’m knitting ain’t for Britain!’ …Hope you don’t let anyone read these notes I send you (on government paper – and time)" (14 Mar. 1942, Norfolk, Va.)

Even during her work week, Marie and her family frequently spent summer evenings at a rustic country house owned by the Ulmers on a tract located south of Fort Jackson. Although lacking electricity, the property with its several small lakes for swimming offered a welcome retreat from the heat of downtown Columbia. This property came to be known to several generations of Ulmer and Wolfe family members as "Lazy Acres" and was later developed as the suburban neighborhood called Reflections, located south of Leesburg Road. During the summer of 1943, however, this site came to be known as a popular destination for the officers and enlisted men of Fort Jackson.

In several letters, Marie reports to Oliver on the use of the grounds and lakes by soldiers and their families, "The army is having maneuvers all around here. Two soldiers took us riding all through the woods in a jeep. We had them and two others for supper. They seemed to enjoy it a lot. In fact, they are still here…. After having about 200 come to the door for water last week, they got the commanding officer to put the house off limits, but they still come. The main trouble is that they don’t know when to leave once you have them in or do something for them…. places around Columbia to go swimming are few and soldiers on maneuvers discovered this place so Sunday there were two cars full of soldiers with their wives, babies and a picnic lunch." (24 July 1943)

Several days later, an officer informally requisitioned use of the lake for his troops, "We really had to wait our turn to go swimming today. A colonel came by about 8:30 and said a few of his boys hadn’t been able to bathe for two days so could he please bring them to the lake. Of course, we said yes. He brought the first group of about 200 about 11:30. They stayed until 3:00 then another group of about 200 came and stayed until 4:00. Then about 30 came and stayed until five." (27 July 1943)

Other interactions between civilians and military personnel noted in this collection surpass those reported by the Ulmer family both for brevity and the resulting level of alarm generated among the civilians. Robert "Bob" B. Richardson reported in a letter to Oliver how his brother contacted the family in Spartanburg, S.C., when passing through the area, "Lee… got his commission & got married on the same day & is flying a Bomber at the Greenville [S.C.]… base now. Has been at Myrtle Beach bombing practice for ten days. He gets over pretty often to see us. Flew over Sunday at 12 o’clock on the way to Myrtle Beach & tried to take the roof off the house. I’m ashamed to tell the neighbors who it was. They thought the Japs had come" (18 Mar. 1943).

However, not all such apparent "attacks" on the home front were false alarms. Another letter, written while Marie was a guest at a beach house on the Atlantic, reports an explosion beyond the horizon, "There was a big boom out in the ocean today that made the houses on the beach vibrate. Then… a lot of black smoke. Everyone is still wondering what it was!" (9 Aug. 1944). On that same day, Oliver also wrote to describe an explosion in a letter describing the first of many nightly Japanese bombing raids, a letter which includes use of the slang term, "Charley" to describe an Asian enemy, a epithet presumably based on the "Charlie Chan" character created by author Earl Derr Biggers, "We have had quite a bit of excitement since I wrote you last night. Up until now we have had a very peaceful and quiet life but in the early hours this morning it changed very suddenly. Sometime early in the morning we heard the alarm go off for the red alert but none of us in the tent thought much of it as we didn’t think that it would be anything. However, we finally decided to get up and just about the time that we got out of bed we heard a plant. I thought that it was one of ours taking off and I had just said that to Charley Kelsey who is the same tent as I when I heard a whssssh, whsssh and then I knew that it wasn’t ours. I told Charley so and started running towards the nearest foxhole. I knew that it was a bomb and rather than try to make the hole, I hit the ground about the same time that a terrific explosion went off about 110 yards from us. . . . I think that I was about as scared last night as any time since I have been over here because I knew that if ‘Charlie’ dropped a string of bombs that the next one would hit in just about our vicinity. When nothing happened in a few seconds thought I got up . . . I think that all of us were a little shaky as we could see where the bomb had hit and was burning itself out." (9 October 1944)

After almost two months of these nightly visits by enemy aircraft, particularly during the full moon, Oliver wrote of the toll taken on everyone’s rest, "We are still getting very little sleep and with the moon as bright as it is now, there isn’t much hope of catching up any for another ten days or so. We used to think that the moon was beautiful out here but are getting to the point now that we don’t even like to see it come up." (27 Nov. 1944).

Another weapon employed by the Japanese, the radio, proved less successful in its efforts to demoralize the troops. Oliver reported on the unlikely popularity among the men of the English language broadcasts intended to undermine morale of Allied troops. Music formed the appeal of these broadcasts, "Almost forgot to tell you that we have heard Radio Tokyo the last couple of nights since we have had Johnny’s radio. Last night they started to play a piece and the announcer said… ‘why don’t you fellows go on back home and have a good time instead of sweating around in the jungles while your wife is playing around back home…’ all their records are old, but the programs are really good. They try and antagonize our personnel by cracks such as the above and some that get even better, but we all sit around and enjoy it no end. As one of the fellows said the other night it’s the only program on the air that doesn’t take up most of the time with advertisements and then the rest of the time asking you to buy war bonds." (21 January 1944)

Promoted to the rank of Major in December 1944, Oliver’s schedule continued to include extensive travels. By May of 1945, Oliver wrote from Manila and Leyte, and elsewhere in the Philippines, reporting his amazement at the destructive capacity of modern warfare in an urban environment. Describing the aftermath of the Allies’ return to the Philippines, he mentions unconditional surrender by the Germans, and comments on local conditions, "This is really some place. It’s so good to see civilization again. Honey, this is the first time that I’ve seen what could happen to a big city and it’s really awful. I’ve seen Manila and it’s completely gutted. There are some shells of buildings left standing in some places but that’s about as much as I can say for them. Beautiful homes have been completely devastated." (7 May 1945).

Although the collection includes only scattered letters written from the European Theatre, letters written by Oliver and Marie typically relay news and rumor of events in Europe, including a false report of German surrender received by Oliver, 19 Sept 1944, in New Guinea via the teletype machine which significantly predated the actual Victory in Europe day of 8 May 1945. However, the Allies broadcast news of D-Day with no delay, and both Oliver and Marie wrote to describe its coverage from their respective vantage points on 6 June 1944. In Columbia, S.C., Marie reported, "I just don’t know where to begin after all the invasion news today. I am wondering what will have happened by the time you receive this letter. Everyone has been very thoughtful all day, and the churches have been packed." Oliver received the news in the evening, "We heard the good news while waiting for the movie to start last night. It was at 7:05 and the band was playing before the show started when the announcer broke in and asked for everybody’s attention. I had a feeling that it was going to be the announcement of the invasion and when he did announce it, you should have heard the noise. All of us have been trying to determine what 11,000 planes would be like. Maybe things will go well and this mess will be over in another year or so. We stayed up most of the night getting short wave broadcasts from nearly every place and that’s all that people have been talking about this morning."

Two correspondents serving in Europe provide interesting descriptions of conditions in Italy and Germany. A friend identified only as "Barrett" wrote to Oliver from southern Italy with his thoughts on Italian buildings, towns, and lifestyle, particularly the large families, "Every family seems to have about a half dozen bambinos, and every third woman you see is on the way to having another one. Musso[lini] used to offer bonuses to women who produced big families, and we formerly had a waitress in our mess who was only about 25 and had already had 10 children. Her reward for that effort was a lifetime pass on the tramways and railroads. As far as we could make out she was so busy with the bambinos that she never had time to go anywhere on her pass so she kind of got the short end of the stick on that deal." (2 July 1944).

George Kinnsley wrote from London, lamenting the death of Ernie Pyle [18 Apr. 1945], and commenting on German cities and soldiers observed first-hand, "Not so long ago I was in Germany with our 17th Airborne Division and got to see a lot of the country and what we are doing to it. The cities are really taking a pasting and some of the soldiers I saw couldn’t fight in the South Carolina home guard. Actually some of them had artificial limbs but even those guys are dangerous behind a machine gun." (18 Apr. 1945).

Another genre of letters represented in this collection demonstrates a common practice of the day: namely an exchange of one or more letters between correspondents who had never met but who shared information about a friend or relative in service. Similar to the phone call offering news of a loved one that soldiers on leave often promised to deliver while home in the U.S., these letters show a striking level of honesty and frankness to be sent to a virtual stranger.

Marie received one such letter, 16 Mar. [1945], from Capt. W.C. Stevenson, who was visiting Lexington, Ky. He opted to write a letter conveying news of Oliver rather than the phone call he had promised, "When I left the Philippines last month, Ollie sent word… to be sure and call you. So naturally I intended doing so but it seems long distance calls are over so quickly and usually both parties think of things to say after the receiver has been put down. So I thought I would drop you a note instead but if this doesn’t suffice…write for any more information."

Oliver exchanged a number of letters with Mrs. B.H. [Lessie] Gardner of Bethune, S.C., the mother of Barrett H. Gardner, Jr., a friend Oliver met at Sheppard Field in Texas. A letter dated 26 Nov. 1942 expressed hopes for peace along with concern for safety of all her sons, "I’m thankful of the progress we have made the last three weeks, but I don’t think the war is near over yet, and each and every day is costing so much in blood shed. There is never any gain in war, all a loss, loss that can never be restored, loss that money cannot buy. We must have failed in some way or we would not be confronted with this terrible problem. War. I know those countries that have been so badly beaten and torn up such as Greece and the other small countries, and larger ones too, have asked so many times, ‘How long Lord. How much longer do we have to suffer like this.’ Still he must say not yet. We must have drifted further than we thought from the shore."

Shirley Kelsey of Indiana corresponded with both Marie in South Carolina and Oliver Wolfe in the South Pacific. Mrs. Kelsey’s husband, Charles, worked closely with Oliver and shared his tent in the Army. As she explained to Marie in a letter, 11 Mar. 1945, since her husband frequently mentioned both Oliver and Marie in his letters, she thought they should get acquainted. In her friendly letter of introduction, written with clever jokes, Shirley discusses her interests, hobbies, sense of humor, and physical appearance, "people never say I’m pretty, if they want to be kind and stretch a point they say I’m ‘attractive’ (which can cover a multitude of sins!)"

Shirley’s letter to Oliver, [23 May 1945], took a more serious tone as she sought his advice in confidence, asking if her letters caused her husband undue worry. Shirley’s recently widowed grandmother had suffered a nervous breakdown, which caused great concern and formed a frequent topic in her correspondence. This letter also references the U.S. government’s strong suggestion that citizens should write only optimistic letters to loved ones serving in the military to maintain morale, "this is just between you and me… you know I write Charley a lot of things when I’m blue and down in the mouth… that aren’t listed among the things that are cricket to write soldiers. Ollie, I want to know whether he worries about me or not…You see, I don’t want him to, and he says he doesn’t, but I’m still afraid maybe he does…."

Other persons represented in the collection include a number of politically active families whose names and correspondence appear in the collection, including Gov. Olin D. Johnston (1896-1965) and Sol Blatt, Jr. (b.1921) and his wife Carolyn. The Ulmer family enjoyed the hospitality of Gov. Johnston at Crescent Beach north of Myrtle Beach (3-17 July 1943); the Ulmers included Gov. and Mrs. Johnston among fourteen guests at Lazy Acres (28 June 1943); Jack Ulmer sold a duplex rental property to Gov. Johnston (30 June 1943); Marie wrote of assisting with Johnston’s campaign for the U.S. Congress, "Carolyn [Blatt] and I addressed 500 envelopes tonight for Governor Johnston's campaign letters. That really isn't an easy job. It's tedious and tiresome but we got them done in record time." (5 July 1944); and reported his election to the U.S. Senate, "Governor Johnston is our next senator. I haven’t seen the papers this morning but the last report last night was that he was 16,000 votes ahead of the votes of his opponents put together…. Think he beat "Cotton Ed" [long-time incumbent Ellison DuRant Smith (1866-1944)] by about 40,000 votes. Had a good time last night. Went up to the mansion and the headquarters at the hotel - -very exciting. Didn’t leave the Mansion until 12:30. The Governor had come in then. He and Gladys were too tired I think to be very excited. They were very happy about the whole thing though. We sure do hate to see them leave Columbia… but it is grand for the Johnstons." (26 July 1944)

The annual Clemson-Carolina football game was a topic of perennial interest to many expatriate South Carolinians whose letters often included mention of college sports among the news of war. Barr Gardner and "Jim" commented on the football programs at USC, Clemson, and Duke, but added, "Anyway, I am more interested in how this game is coming out: Allies vs. Axis. Think the Allies are about a field goal ahead right now but that fast running back for the Axis always has something up his sleeve." (24 Nov. 1942). After two years in the South Pacific, Oliver wrote to Mr. and Mrs. Ulmer from the Molucca Islands, quoting a familiar lament when noting that he would not be home to join his wife on her next trip, "Sure wish that I were going to be able to be in New York with Marie on her vacation but I guess that I’ll have to be satisfied with the same phrase which we nearly always use after the [football game with] Clemson… - - maybe next year." (30 May 1945)

In late June 1945, Major Wolfe left the South Pacific to enjoy a long awaited furlough from his tropical island paradise. With the surrender of Japan in August 1945, the Army did not mandate his return to duty. Wolfe’s close friend Charles P. Kelsey conspicuously used the civilian honorific when he wrote to congratulate "Mr. O.J. Wolfe," on his civilian status and his plans to work in real estate upon his return to South Carolina in a letter, 17 Sept. 1945, from Leyte in the Philippines, "We were all pleased and happy for you when we learned that the army had decided to dispense with your services. And with two city blocks of property, bud, you should have the city in the palm of your hand…. Well, fella, after you left…word came to pack up and make ready for a move to Okinawa. We were going to fight the war again! Then peace came, and spoiled all the plans…" Only a few items post-date the end of war in the Pacific. After his return to Columbia, he founded The Wolfe Co., Realtors in 1945, and soon after, Oliver and Marie Wolfe began a baby boom of their own, as their family grew to include seven children.

Visual materials (circa 560 photographs, 1885-1950) include photographs, postcards, and a small selection of original artwork and late 19th-century cabinet photographs. Oliver Wolfe photographed the majority of images in the 1940s during his basic training and while stationed in the South Pacific. Snapshots frequently illustrate an anecdote or event described in a letter. A "scrapbook" of text and photographs produced for officers bears a title including an intentional pun: South Sees : It Couldn’t Last Forever: 25th Statistical Control Unit, Headquarters Thirteen Air Force in the Admiralty Islands, 1944. Documenting aspects of life experienced by many men stationed in the South Pacific, the volume includes interesting anthropological photographs depicting construction of a traditional thatched hut in the island style. This volume, spanning the period 1944-1945, reflects the relocation of the 25th from Guadalcanal to the Admiralty Islands and documents (via detailed text and photographs) the construction of bures, the native thatched buildings which were much cooler and more suited to the climate than the men’s previous abode: regulation Army Quonset huts. Other photographs include group shots of Oliver and fellow officers at Guadalcanal [1943?] and on the Admiralty Islands, July 1944.

The collection includes several postcards of hotels in Florida and nightclubs in New York; letterhead stationery (many illustrated with military aircraft), and several regimental Christmas cards, including an example featuring the logo of the 44th Bomber Group, known as the "Flying Eight Balls." The card features a color illustration of Santa Claus dressed in a brown flight suit riding a winged eight-ball attached to a bomb, originating "From somewhere in England."

Photographs of a young Oliver Wolfe during the 1930s, consist of 8 x 10 prints that suggest his athletic prowess and include images of church league, high school, and varsity college teams in Columbia, S.C. Several of these images include identifications of his team mates and detailed information such as position played, and scores for each game, such as the image titled, "Tabernacle Baptist Basketball Ball Team – Champions of Sunday School League – 5 Dec. 1933 – 24 Feb. 1934," showing Oliver Wolfe at age 15, and team mates, schedule, and record.

Earlier images, 1885-1920s, chiefly consisting of Ulmer and Brawley family prints. A family photograph album, 1910s-1920s holds images of Jack Ulmer and Bessie Brawley Ulmer during courtship, including one labeled "single blessedness," images of young Jack Ulmer in the uniform of the U.S. Army during World War I, and later images with young daughters Marie and Judy when the Ulmer family lived in Lakeland, Florida, during the 1920s before returning to Columbia, S.C.

Other visual materials include illustrated letterhead stationery from the Columbia, S.C., businesses of both the Ulmer and Wolfe families consists of several 1937 letters of the Ulmer family real estate business, Jack Ulmer, Inc., which featured an illustration the ornate Palmetto Building on Columbia’s Main Street behind a bungalow-style home in the foreground. A letter dated 28 Sept. 1942, promotes the contracting business of Oliver’s brother: "W.C. Wolfe: contracting in painting, paper hanging and caulking"

A small amount of original art work documents talented soldiers who made extra money illustrating cards and letters using ink or water color. The collection includes several sketches and cartoons on envelopes and paper, several Easter greeting cards, and a card dated, 7 Feb. 1945, illustrated with a watercolor image of a thatched jungle hut titled, "Ollie’s home, Mulucca [Island]." Another letter dated, 12 Oct. 1944, from Oliver Wolfe was sent in a hand-painted, full-color illustrated envelope depicting a watercolor image of girl in a grass skirt chasing a soldier. Wolfe wrote the associated letter on a sheet of large-format, captured Japanese stationery, printed with several Kanji characters.

Ephemera and printed items include a clipping announcing Marie Ulmer as the winner in the "Popular Baby Contest" (9 Apr. 1922, sponsored by the newspaper, Columbia Record); Oliver Wolfe’s University of South Carolina student photo identification card for "first semester, 1938-1939… For admission to all home athletic games"; a ticket from the Clemson – Carolina game, 23 Oct. 1941; two printed regimental booklets celebrating Victory in Japan: Club 13 Jungle Air Force [1945] (featuring images of the men in the Molucca Islands and elsewhere); and Jungle Air Force Celebrates V-J (1945), published by the Public Relations Office; and tickets, a program, and passes for Bessie Ulmer to attend the 1949 inauguration of President Harry Truman.

Repository Details

Part of the South Caroliniana Library Repository

Contact:
910 Sumter St.
University of South Carolina
Columbia SC 29208 USA
803-777-3131
(803) 777-5747 (Fax)

Status
Completed
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script