(YMCA stationery " On Active Service with the American Expeditionary Force)

Dec. 2, 1918

Dear Mother:

Will write you a few lines tonight. Got a letter from Mary McCoy today. Said Bill was to be married to Edna Cremens the day she wrote the letter (Nov. 14) Ha! Ha! Wouldn't that jar you loose, ha! I told Mary I guessed he was satisfied now or soon would be, ha! She said everybody was getting married but her and she wasn't going to be in any hurry, ha! I told her I didn't believe in getting rushed about anything like that unless I had to, eh!

Harley is at LeMans. I got a letter from him a few days ago. Well, I just thought I'd scratch you a few lines tonight to let you know I was still at it. We'll be home in February, I think. How is everybody? Your letters are coming sooner after you write them. Mary's letter was just 14 days from the time it was stamped in Hopedale until I got it. Look for another letter toot sweet. I am still swinging the hammer and, say, I like her fine, oh, wee.

Well, I must close. I have done boo coo writing tonight and am finishing up with a note to you. As ever your son, Pvt. L. McCoy, Co H 35 Reg TC, American E.F.

Dec. 3, 1918

Dear Mother:

Will write you a few lines tonight. We have had a devil of a time today. By rights, this ought to have been payday, but we had too many other irons in the fire. Yes, I'll say, fire. We had about 16 tons of straw down in the basement of this here railroad depot, which is our barracks, and it got on fire. Well, we ran our old fire engine out and got all the hose wagons from all parts of the yards and pumped water to who laid the chunk, but nothing doing. Couldn't stop it so they called the fire department at another camp over at LaPallice and it came toot sweet.

Everything was so full of smoke they used their gasmasks and sent firemen down into the basement to fight it. It was right at noon and I couldn't get my messkit, which was up in the barracks, so there was a bunch of guys marooned on the roof and I yelled at them to get my messkit, ha! Well, the supply Sergeant went in and got it and threw it down to me from the third story. So everybody was yelling for their messkits, too, and they were throwing them out the windows. But it finally got too smoky and, what was worse, it turned in to raining and the guys out on the roof were about seventy feet from the ground. This station is like the Union Station at Indianapolis, only not quite as big. There is about seven companies sleep in here and there is a room for a dining room for 1,400 soldiers, the Commissary on one floor, the band boys barracks and stage for actors, and movie booth, and I don't know what all else. So you may well guess what it meant to have it burn out the building. Itself is stone and would have been a big place if it hadn't been that the Germans had the contract of building it, so when the war broke out the French hid them until the war is over. Well, I don't know how much straw it burned but I'm glad I got my old bedtick full about a week ago. They got it put out about two or three o'clock in the evening.

I don't know how long we will build cars. They seem to need them bad. They're yelling "more cars, more cars" and this place running wide open and wild, Sunday, Monday, day and night. She sure is a lively place. There is about 35 or 40 derrick cars running unloading the crates of car material and setting the wheels on the track, etc. The stuff is coming in from Bordeau and LaPallice at the rate of 4 to 8 trainloads a day. They've got the spaces between the tracks piled sky high with car parts and you'd ought to hear the noise all of the riveting machines make. Do you think you could sleep? I can't, and the yard engines banging up and down the track within 50 feet of me. She is a continual grind day and night, with red hot rivets flying in every direction like fireflys. They throw the rivets from the furnaces to the riveting squads and sometimes the squads are as far as to the upper end of your garden from the kitchen door, from the furnaces and they give the old rivets a flip in the tongs and she flies like a rocket. A guy catches them in a funnel shaped concern and you very seldom see one touch the ground. I've seen as high as 12 and 13 rivets drove and every one be red hot yet when the last one was driven. We have to unload about 125 carloads to get the material to build 100 cars. It's all work here but if Pershing needs the cars to send the stuff to the boys on the Rhine, why the 35th will try to make them. It looks like we've made enough cars to load all Europe on, but it still isn't enough to haul the stuff they need up front. We have built close to twenty thousand, maybe more.

I'll bet the U.S. owns more property here in France than France is worth. Some of the boys are worked pretty hard, too, but the most of them are extra hearty looking and if you could have seen me when I came from the hospital awhile back, and then see me now, you'd say they had built a new addition onto me. I am pretty near back where I tipped the scales in Camp Merrit, New Jersey. But believe me, I was a pretty peaked looking baby for awhile after I landed here. That flu is H--- with a capital H! But with plenty of birdseed, goldfish, corned willie horse and spuds three times a day as regular as the clock, and plenty of sleep - and with someone to make a fellow got to bed instead of galavanting around until ___A.M., will soon build a guy up. Especially when he's got a good old backwoods man's constitution to build on.

Yes, Miss Margaret Wilson paid us a visit at 6:30 this P.M. and stayed about an hour. She sung songs and talked a little. She is some singer, believe me. I saw her several times last summer but I never did think she was such a raving beauty like the papers all say. But she is pretty enough for anybody and she looks enough like her dad that you'd think of President Wilson if you met her in Trevlac! I was within 20 feet of the stage she spoke from in our big mess hall tonight and she surely will remember the 35th Engineers by the reception and applause she got. You could almost see the roof bulge with noise When she would finish a song and bow to the crowd, everybody whistled and yelled and clapped his hands. She liked that, too, for all she could do was laugh. She sang Dixie, Carry me Back to Old Virginia, and several others. Then the 35th plus one company of the 19th, and about 3 companies of the 31st Regiments of Engineers sang "There's a Long, Long Trail" with her. Gee, but you ought to hear that many voices all turn loose at once. That's an old training camp song and everybody knew it and knew how to sing together, so we sure made some noise.

Well, I am ready to call it a pretty good day for fun, excitement, etc., if we did work pretty hard. Three of us covered one side of the boiler house and built a scaffold about a hundred feet long this P.M. This is the 3rd of Dec., the date which that money I sent ought to be to you, and I'm going to wait for a letter from you saying whether you got it or not. If you didn't get it I'm going back onto the Y.M.C.A. for it. I've got a lot of cash to have to carry around but if I can't send it home, why I can carry it OK. There's not much danger of getting bumped off for your money in the Army.

Well, I wrote to you last night more to tell you where Harley was than anything else, so I must close. Answer soon. Will eat your birthday dinner with you for I think we'll be coming home toot sweet after Wilson gets over here and lines things up. As ever your son,

Pvt L. McCoy
Co. H. 35th Reg. T.C.
American E.F.
A.P.O. 735
LaRochelle, France