(Stationery is Jewish Welfare Board, United States Army and Navy)
(Addressed to Mrs. James McCoy, Trevlac, Ind., Brown Co., postmark Jersey City, NJ)
(Envelope bears 3 cent stamp)

Detachments 19th & 35th Engineers
Overseas Casualties
Merrit, NJ


Dear Mother

Will drop you a few lines today as I expect this will be my last chance on this side for awhile unless I fail to pass the examination. I don't know how or what you think of my going across but you know I have always said I wanted to see some of the big row over there, and you don't know how well pleased I am at the chance of getting to go. Of course, I know there is some danger but not so much in my place as there is in most others, as we will be behind the lines all the time. The 35th is a railroad gang and they don't build railroads on "No Mans" land but for all the danger of the front line itself I would rather face than come back now.

If I fail to pass the examination here I might as well never have been in the Army at all. I would be left here to build another camp like I did Ft. Foote and would probably be here yet when the boys come back. If I was I wouldn't even be counted as a soldier. I'd be just the same to them as a man with a blue serge suit and a straw hat. But I won't consider that at all. I'm going, and this world is only a little old coop anyway. We can't get very far past here when 10 days would take me from Paris to Indianapolis.

The transports are here and well protected, too, and they're not all American transports, either. Only one of them is American. I am told that you can't count the number of all the transports there are here on the fingers and thumbs of one hand. We will not get to go to bed tonight until every one's hair is sheared close and everyone has got all the clothes and everything he needs. So that means no sleep tonight.

This afternoon we are all invited to the YMCA to an old fashioned cake and ice cream supper. The YMCA is just across the street from our barracks. We are not allowed over there to write anything, but will get to go this afternoon on special permit from the Captain, unless we are called out to get our equipment. We have nearly everything we need but they condemned it, or most of it, and we have to exchange it for more. So that means an all night job for the crowd.

We have a fine little Captain. I only wish he was going with us. His name is Donniez, about Frank's size. He was in here last night till midnight or later checking our clothes.

There are a lot of boys here from Illinois and Iowa and some were shipped in from Pittsburgh, Pa. with a bunch of Signal Corps boys. One is a Ralph Smith from Minier, Ill. And I've seen several boys meet who knew each other maybe way out west. You see all the shipping is done here on the eastern coast and when a bunch is shipped in, they represent several different states and maybe you think it don't surprise a guy to meet up that way. Every once in awhile you hear some one say "Well, who left the gate open and let that thing in. It's a shame what they will have in the Army anymore!" Then the other fellow spouts off awhile and then its "How's everything in Illinois, Iowa or Indiana" and so on.

Well, I must close as dinner is ready and we certainly do get some eats here, believe me. We haven't got any regular cooks and we have one fellow who is a good cook. He goes ahead and bosses the job and the rest take turns helping. The quartermaster furnishes the feed and we have what we want. We got here just about noon or a little after the day we came, and we had to go get everything stocked up in the kitchen. We got pans and boilers, and everything, then got dinner and turned right around and started supper (afternoon).

Well, the hair cutting is on full swing now and some of them have a hard time giving up their wool. I just saw one fellow took down and held while three fellows sheared him, ha! Ha! Another had his all cut pompadour and had an awful nice head of hair, and some fellow grabbed him by the foretop and made a slash with a big pair of scissors, took a notch right out of the middle about 3 inches long clear to the hide, ha! Everything goes in as fun. It all has to come off anyway and about half the fellows sure have their heads shaved. Gosh, but they look ferocious, ha! Well I must close so write soon. As ever,

Lawrence Mc