Academic journal article Military Review

ONCE UPON A TOWN: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen

Academic journal article Military Review

ONCE UPON A TOWN: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen

Article excerpt

ONCE UPON A TOWN: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen, Bob Grecne, William Morrow, NY, 2002, 265 pages, $24.95.

Near Christmas of 1941, the people of North Platte, Nebraska, heard that their local soldiers were coming through town on a troop train. Deciding to give the boys a homecoming party, they brought food and drink to the Union Pacific depot. But to the dismay of the townspeople, their boys were not on the train-all of the troops were strangers. The organizers decided to go ahead as planned, and the soldiers responded so positively that the townspeople decided to do it all over again.

Throughout the war and for half a year after the war, the townspeople of North Platte and the surrounding communities met every troop train that passed through. Despite being hindered by wartime rationing, they brought cakes, pies, fried chicken, sandwiches, milk, and coffee; they offered smiles, and warm welcomes to each trainload of troops. The townspeople served 6 million troops, and there were often up to 32 trainloads of soldiers a day. They used no state or federal funds; the food was supplied from North Platte and hundreds of other small Nebraska and Colorado towns.

Author Bob Greene went to North Platte to research the canteen registers and other old documents for his book. …

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