Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen

Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen

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Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen by Bob Greene, Fritz Weaver

In search of "the best America there ever was," bestselling author and syndicated columnist Bob Greene finds it in a small Nebraska town few people pass through today — a town where Greene discovers the echoes of the most touching love story imaginable: a love story between a country and its sons.

North Platte, Nebraska, is as isolated as a small town can be, a solitary outpost in the vast midwestern plains, hours from the state's urban centers of Omaha and Lincoln. But from Christmas Day 1941 to the end of World War II, a miracle happened there.

During the war, American soldiers from every city and walk of life rolled through North Platte on troop trains, en route to their ultimate destinations in Europe and the Pacific. The tiny town, wanting to offer the servicemen warmth and support, transformed its modest railroad depot into the North Platte Canteen — a place where soldiers could enjoy coffee, music, home-cooked food, magazines, and convivial, friendly conversation during a stopover that lasted only a few minutes. It was a haven for a never-ending stream of weary, homesick military personnel that provided them with the encouragement they needed to help them through the difficult times ahead.Every day of the year, every day of the war, the Canteen — staffed and funded entirely by local volunteers — was open from 5 A.M. until the last troop train of the day pulled away after midnight. Astonishingly, this remote plains community of only twelve thousand people provided welcoming words, friendship, and baskets of food and treats to more than six million GIs by the time the war ended.

In this poignant and heartwarming eyewitness history, based on interviews with North Platte residents and the GIs who once passed through, Bob Greene unearths and reveals a classic, lost-in-the-mists-of-time American story of a grateful country honoring its brave and dedicated sons.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060097394
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/01/2002
Edition description: Unabridged, 4 Cassettes
Product dimensions: 4.50(w) x 7.08(h) x 1.23(d)

About the Author

Award-winning journalist Bob Greene is the author of six New York Times bestsellers and a frequent contributor to the New York Times Op-Ed page.

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Once upon a Town 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very informative. The author went into great detail to track down and interview particiapants whom are now scattered throughout the USA. A most humbling and patriotic effort put on entirely by volunteers in a time of great need. A part of our history that should not be forgotten. Perhaps today's USO carries on this tradition.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bob Greene's 'Once Upon A Town' is definitely a story that needs telling. The subject matter is an enthralling expose' of the basic, down-home patriotism of the American Midwest and the determination of the common folk to show their devotion to their country and their armed forces. The writing itself came-across to me as a bit 'korney' in some areas (the reiterative 'love will find you' angle got a bit tiresome) and it seems the author was trying a bit too hard at times to infuse a degree of drama into a story that needs little additional flavor. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the home front of WWII.
Guest More than 1 year ago
During World War II, approximately 6 million military personnel passed through the nondescript town of North Platte, Nebraska. Some were headed to Europe, others to the Pacific, and some returning from battle; many of them wounded. The citizens of North Platte, and its surrounding communities, pitched in to greet the troop trains as they made their brief stops. The generosity of these people was overwhelming as they used their ration coupons and precious food reserves to bake goods for the servicemen to enjoy. Many also used their gas ration coupons to deliver it to the train depot. The author interviewed both the servicemen who were aboard those troop trains, and the citizens who greeted them. Their recollections are very moving. To quote one Veteran interviewed in the book, 'That was the other side of the war - the one that doesn't get mentioned in the history books. What people at home did.' Once Upon a Town recreates an era when Americans stood proudly in support of their military personnel.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Very well told story of outstanding citizens in a special town.
liner63 More than 1 year ago
There were good people then and there still are good people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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NaomiNoon More than 1 year ago
By author of "Once Upon Yesterday". This book is about American during World War II, a time when married men quit their jobs to join the service, sixteen year olds lied about their ages so they could enlist to serve their country, and most of the service men were only kids who had just graduated from high school, they were lonely and scared, optimistic and brave. This book is about the volunteers at the canteen of North Platte, a small town in Nebraska, who were women of all ages and from all walks of life, including farmer's wives, from Nebraska and Colorado in the vicinities of North Platte, and with their husbands, sons, brothers went to war, they were lonely and scared, optimistic and brave. As the service men pass through North Platte by the thousands daily in troop trains, on their way either to the east coast, then to Europe, or to west coast, then to Pacific, they were met at the canteen at the railroad station in downtown North Platte, without fail, day and night, rain or shine, during the four years of war, by the women with home made sandwiches and cakes, hard boiled eggs, coffee, candies, cigarettes, chewing gums, magazines, all aplenty and free of charge, to show them, with a smile, that the country cared about them and was grateful to them for what they were doing for the country. The volunteers used their scarce food ration to make food for the service men and the canteen was supported by the people and business in the vicinities with generous donations in the form of money, food and supplies. As the book jumped back and forth from the war time to the present, it could easily get confusing, but in the hand of a talented and experienced writer, it served as the bridge between now and then. The author said he wanted to write the book, when many of the women who had volunteered at the canteen and many of the servicemen who had been there were still alive, so that he could interview them, and the events were told just the way it had happened, without exaggeration or distortion. The book gave me a glance of America during World War ll, as I came to America only years later.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was an extremely easy read and opened up an entire part of our history that I had never known existed. Had the author not done his research and interviews when he did this story may have never been told. I wish my own father were alive to ask if his trips across the country as a soldier included a stop in North Platte.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dear Readers, what a wonderful way to go back in time. I was born in 1941 and now have an idea of how times were then and the impact the North Platte Canteen made on our young soldiers passing through this very thoughtful town. How unselfish. Something so generous that they did for our soldiers remains in the minds and hearts of those still living who experienced this selfless act, whether on the giving or the receiving end of it all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is just further proof that the 'Greatest Generation' is appropriately named. These people exhibited unbelievable generosity while enduring their own hardships and never sought recognition or fame.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book. The writing effortlessly evokes a wide range of moods. It convincingly conveys the intense emotions those men and women experienced so long ago. You glimpse the incredible generosity of the American heart.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I started reading this book at the stoplights on the way home and made it to the couch. I did not move until the last page! It's not because the book is full of war action on the front. It's the support action behind the troops that makes this book a Pulitzer prize worthy read. I had heard of the 'Nebraska Ladies' from my father, who was one of the soldiers on the West bound troop trains. I bought him the book for father's day..now I will have to buy him another as I am keeping this for my personal library. I hope that some sort of memorial honoring these fine people can be erected...A must read...even if you are not a history buff.We could all learn a valuable lesson from the people of the North Platte Canteen. I give it 5 stars as the best read of the year.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bob Greene researched his latest book by spending lots of time in North Platte, Nebraska. I was born and raised in North Platte, and so walking the streets of memories along with Mr. Greene brought joy and some tears. BUT, this book tells it like it really was, and I know because my Mother was one of those special ladies who volunteered their time at the North Platte Canteen for the duration of the War. Mom told our family what is was like to help Our Boys get through rough times, and Mr. Greene retells it perfectly. He is an author in great command of the genre and I could not put this book down.