Jan 3 1919
Dear Folks All of You:
I didn't have it on the program to write to you tonight but I got my Christmas box today. The First Sergeant said it was in his office and I went in and saw about a dozen or two all alike. Some were smashed up worse than others so I went over to the pile and picked up the worst smashed one, turned it over and sure enough, it was mine, ha! Ha! It wasn't hurt a bit, only the candy was smashed, but, say, it was fine eats! I jumped on it like a hungry dog on a beefsteak, ha! Ha! Say, but that was the biggest treat I've had since I've been in the Army and that Spearmint gum always made me sicker than the very devil until today and, believe me, that didn't. I believe I will always like Spearmint gum from today on. And that longreen is getting a smashing now, or part of it at least. I'll have to get my pass and get outside of the guard line to find room to bury this wad I got in my jaw. And that newspaper you sent, I've read it all over even the advertisements, and laid it up on the bunk. I'll read it again soon as I get time, ha!
That big dizzy Bob Morgan sure shuffled off quick, didn't he? Well, if you could have seen us guys today you would have thought we were dizzy as Bob ever was. We laid roofing all day, right in a driving wind and rain. You see, we were pretty well caught up with carpenter work so the cooks concluded they would give us a treat for New Years dinner and were frying steak to who tied the pup. They got the grease on fire and went to piling on more greasy pans to smother it out, and the whole caboodle got on fire. Burned about one third of the kitchen down. Something went wrong with the fire engine and by the time they got the LaPallice fire department here, we had just literally swarmed her over with buckets with some kind of chemical dope they mix up and put it out. But the dinner was done gone up the spout and it was just about noon. So I kind of sized the thing up and says to myself "Looks like more work for the carpenters! Guess this isn't any place for a minister's son . Guess I got business downtown anyhow. Good-by Happy New Years dinner. Think I'll eat with the Y.M. downtown" Ha!
We don't work anymore holidays or Sundays. We have been building boardwalks for quite awhile but we got them about done now. This is the 35th day it has rained without missing a day and they have been working three or four teams with slip scrapers taking the mud out of the main drive to the factory, and have several big auto trucks hauling rock. They have one pretty good road now but you'd ought to see the place they dumped the mud. These auto trucks are the four wheel drive kind so when they shove her in gear, all four wheels have got to turn. So they can go most any place and they sure do some milling in the mud. Most all of us wear hip boots and oilskin suits so we never get wet. I worked this PM for an hour or two right where the water poured off the big station building in regular sheets right down on me, and I never got wet only my hands and face. The water would splash off my shoulders into my face but it needed all the water it got anyway. This working around an old burnt down charred up building doesn't add very much beauty to a guy's complexion, but everything has got to be shipshape by 5:30 tomorrow evening for Inspection. We got most of the afternoon to clean up as we only drill one hour of Saturday's afternoon.
We are going to start home now, tootsweet. Maybe by the time you get this letter we will be pulling stakes here to move. Hope so with all my heart, don't you all, eh! Well, the Colonel said we would get away from here before the middle of February, so that's not long off anymore. Well, we are all glad we came over here. We sure helped to put the Kaiser on the hummer but we will be a happy bunch of Yanks on the home stretch.
We had a big dance in the mess hall here the last night of the old year and danced the old year out and the new one in. The Lt. Col., which is our commanding officer just now, told us we were going to quit making cars and go home, and we liked to raised the roof yelling about it. We had a fine time. The French soldiers with their blue uniforms and the U.S. khaki, and the gay dresses of the madamoiselles sure made a crowd of many colors. We had one fine time, I'm telling you. The French people are the most awful music lovers you ever saw, and when our old jazz band would tear into a right nice piece they sure would go plumb dizzy.
We sure have things pretty nice here for an Army camp in war time. Of course we've fixed up the most of it since the Armistice was signed for we didn't have the time before hand, but we really have the know-how in this regiment. We have men of nearly every profession and what one can't do the other can. We haven't been selfish with our talents either. We have fixed things for other camps, built them barracks and things. Many a bunch of road weary Yanks will remember the 35th Engineers by some nice warm grub they got with us. And if they all had to ride several hundred miles in a little 2 x 4 French boxcar (40 men to a 10 ton car) like we did when we came here, they probably would feel kindly toward us for the nice big spacious 36 foot boxies we built here. A good many of the troop trains bringing in new men from the States came through here, and if anyone was within 10 miles of here when a troop train passed through, he would sure know something was going on for everybody was exercising his lungs to the limit.
Well, I mustn't run off with this for I'm going to be pretty busy from now till after inspection tomorrow PM. For as soon as the band hits the last note of the Star Spangled Banner Saturday evening, we have got to be all set for Inspection. I expect there will be a few who will get called anyway. I have never been one of that few and don't intend to ever be. I'm a happy guy over that Christmas package, and could write a whole tablet full if I had time. I don't know what my address is any more. I've been in everything but the Aviation Corps, so just write any old thing on it and I'll get it if it's nothing but my name, ha! Ha! If they don't understand the address they will send it to the 35th Engineers anyway, ha!
(On YMCA stationery) That's the way they do it. There's three or four detachments of troops here that don't know where they belong, ha! Ha! Well, this all sounds like a joke but it's blamed near the facts of the case at that! I don't actually know how to write my address but it's something like this: 99th Co. 21st Grand Div, Transportation Corps, APO 735, American EF, or that's what it was the last time I heard. The boys all have a different way to write it but as long as you get APO 735 on it, it will come to LaRochelle, and nothing gets away from here until the 35th Engineers can get away, ha! Ha! Or you can put LaRochelle on it if you want to. Aunt Mandy always puts it on, or you can put Camp Pullman on it, or put the whole caboodle on it! I get plumb out of sorts about this address business but be sure and write soon, for if this division gets orders to go home our mail will get orders to stop in New York. So write soon. As ever your son,
Pvt. L. McCoy
(censor's signature OK, Lt. R.J. Coffutt, U.S. Army)