Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Holiday Is Home at Heart but Travelers, Far from Families, Find the Spirit Elsewhere

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Holiday Is Home at Heart but Travelers, Far from Families, Find the Spirit Elsewhere

Article excerpt

Thanksgiving is for families - except for the people who can't get home to them. Here are some capsule looks around the St. Louis area Thursday at a few of those far-from-home folks.

At the James S. McDonnell USO at Lambert Field, Army Spec. Michelle Latterel, 20, all but had the place to herself.

She comes from St. Cloud, Minn., lives at Fort Campbell, Ky., and was on her way Thursday to Abilene, Kan., to visit an aunt.

"For the past two Thanksgivings," she said, "the Army made me work. This time, I told the Army that I wanted the day off."

She got it, as befits the first woman to serve as a helicopter crew chief in the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry.

But she got loose only at the last minute, Thursday morning, which meant killing time for much of Thanksgiving at Lambert Field.

Latterel found a haven in the USO, "which sure beats sitting around at a gate." Inside the USO, the volunteer workers outnumbered her badly.

At the snack-food counter, volunteers Ruth Hubbs of Florissant and Nell Holshouser of Granite City had plenty of sandwich-style turkey, but nobody to take it.

Hubbs said, "This is the smallest crowd I've ever seen on a Thanksgiving."

Which, in itself, was a reason to give thanks, at least in the opinion of front-desk volunteer Ruth Shedlofsky.

"To tell you the truth," she said, "we're just thrilled that we're not busy.

"That means that they all got to their destinations - that they all got home."

As often as not, home for Henry Smith is someplace on the streets. Early Thursday afternoon, home was the New Life Evangelistic Center at 1411 Locust Street.

He had lots of company. "We've had over 1,500 people here today," said the center's director, the Rev. Larry Rice. "They were lined up around the block - a constant flow of people."

From a big group of volunteers like the nine youngsters from the Air Force Junior ROTC detachment at Dupo High School, the people waiting in line got such goods as blankets and canned food - and a Thanksgiving dinner like the one Smith was wolfing down. …

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