(Stationery is American YMCA On Active Service with the American Expeditionary Forces)

LaRochelle, France

November 5, 1918

Dear Mother:

Will write few lines tonight as I have time. I was supposed to take part in a kind of night Sunday School or Bible Study Class tonight. There is about 14 or 15 of us in the class but our Y.M.C.A. Chaplain failed to come. He was about sick last time we met so I guess he is down and out. Of course, you will probably think this is a queer place for religious services, but we keep it up when we can. So many people have the idea that religion is a kind of soft, mushy, sissy sort of thing and more befitting a girl than men. But the right sort of religion is for men and I am not ashamed to profess it. Some of the boys coming over were very religious while on the ship in deep sea that was beset by submarines, but when they got to land once they forgot all about it. The Chaplain said he was going to see them now and tell them that religion was a very nice thing even when there was no submarine around, ha! I guess he would about hit them right, wouldn't he? Ha!

Well, How is everybody with you now? I am O.K. right up against the bit raring to go! Say, what do you think of the war now, eh! Looks like finish toots weet, eh! Well, some Sergeant here the other day offered to bet 50 dollars that it would be over in November. I had a notion to take the bet but glad I didn't for it's liable to quit any time now.

I was talking to a French kid the other day and I told him I was going to go to American soon, that the war was over. He says "No, war's not over." They can't hardly realize that peace ever will come again. This kid's father was a Captain in the French army and had got killed. He seemed to be pretty well educated and well to do. He was probably 10 or 12 years old. I asked him if he could talk any English and he says "Yes, a few." I asked him in English where he learned it and he said in school, that nearly everyone was learning English in the high schools. There were several times he got lost and couldn't figure it out and he would ask what so and so French words were in English. I knew about as much about it as a government mule. I had a lot of fun with him. I says "Why don't you learn German in school." Say, you'd ought to have seen his eyes flash. He threw up his hand and says "finish Allamande" (done with German). Gee, but I'd hate to be hated like the Germans are. I like to talk to the French people but it's pretty hard to understand what they say every time. I have such very little time to talk with them that I don't learn it as fast as if I was turned loose among them. I got one little sketch from the Captain for talking to them while on duty. He didn't say much, only said I'd find myself doing about 2 ½ hours extra duty if he caught me again, ha! Ha! Well, it's good for a fellow's disposition to have someone tell him where to head in at when he can't talk back, ha! Ha! I'd forgot all about the backtalk since I've been old enough to be out away from home. You know I was pretty well disciplined when I was growing up "never to talk back" Ha! Ha! Well, say, you didn't know you were making a soldier out of me then, did you? Well, you were anyway and these little acts of discipline in the army by the officers bring back that old warning of childhood days "Never Talk Back" Ha! I'll bet I've thought of that a million times since April 27! I don't care what they say about army life, I like a certain something or other about it. I don't know just what it is. I, like most all other buck privates, am willing to admit that it's not all flowers and pie in the army, but it's not all bad either.

One thing sure, when I get a chance to get to some town for awhile, I am sure of a good time. I have a buddy from Wanatah who generally goes out with me. He is in my squad and we are most always together. He is a pretty good sort of a guy and, like myself, steers clear of the wine and cognac, which is a fault of most all the other boys. Last Sunday night we were coming home through one of these little two by four streets with cobble stones for pavement, and old tumble-down stone houses on each side and dark. Sa-a-a-a-ay, fellows! Those old hobnail shoes of ours scraping and cracking on the street in the stillness of the night gave one the same feeling as dirt rolling down on a coffin, ha! Ha! Anyway, we were coming with a long swinging step like clockwork that meant the more noise the merrier. My buddy says "If Ma could only see me now" and one of my knees swung into a something or other like a bench or box. Anyway it got out of the way but I got out of step and said a few things that I didn't learn at the Blble class, ha! Such is life in a city, a'la Francois! I've had a few pretty good times over here but, say, the old U.S.A. for me. When I get back there again, I'm going to be the happiest guy that ever lived in the moonlight on the Wabash!

Say, I used to be afraid to write such dope as this for fear the censor would trace me up and have me sent to some lunatic asylum, but I don't care anymore. If he doesn't like it, he can cut it out or not read it, ha!

Well, sending a post card. You can see it was made for an English soldier because the verse says "on England's shore" but I've put the word "New" in front of it so it makes it O.K.

I must close so write soon. I'm coming home soon so if you don't hurry up and write I will be gone before the letter gets here. What do you want for a souvenir de France. I'll bring it to you for Christmas present, eh? Well, I guess I've spread enough so "gimme the lines and I'll drive awhile. Giddy-up Ribbon" ha!

Private Lawrence McCoy
Co. H 35 Reg T.C.
American E.F.