Bob Greene wrote a great book
"Once Upon a Town." It's the true story of the North Platte
canteen. North Platte, Nebraska, was a town of 12,000 located on a rail line. The citizens
there decided to dedicate themselves to the war effort by providing love and kindness to
all of the soldiers that passed through on the troop trains. From Christmas, 1941 until
December 1945, the people of the town met every troop train that came through with food,
magazines, music, and personal items for the soldiers. Groups of volunteers would be at
the rail depot from 5:00am until after midnight (they never knew when a train would come
through as the troop trains' schedules were secret). What's amazing, too, is that all of
this food,etc. was provided during rationing.
The author interviewed soldiers who had passed through (the North Platte Canteen and the
food there was the one thing they all remembered most about their war experiences). He
also interviewed people who had worked at the canteen (one woman remembered that as a
girl, her church youth group had made popcorn balls and had wrapped papers with their
names and addresses in with the popcorn balls so the soldiers would have someone to write
If you know any veterans, ask them if they ever passed through the North Platte Canteen.
(I asked the wife of a veteran I know...she said her husband would never talk about his
war experiences, but he had told her about the North Platte Canteen. He had passed through
there 3 different times...going to war, coming home on leave and going back to war.)
Over 6 million soldiers passed through the North Platte Canteen. This book tells a few of
their experiences. It's a short book...it can be read in a couple of evenings, but it's a
neat "feel good" book. It's also available in large print.
Even if you don't read this book, ask any veteran you know if they remember the North
Platte Canteen. You might hear a good "war"
Hardcover, 272 pages *
ISBN: 0060081961 * Also available in Large Print edition