Tuesday, September 9, 2014

North Platte , Nebraska

No, I haven't been to North Platte, NE. Nor am I planning a visit, but I do think it is a small town, (pop. 24,000+)  we should know about. It's located in the middle of the state and middle of the country. It's a railroad town and was a hub for passengers trains in the 40's and earlier (until freight trains took over because there was more money to be made that way). It is still a railroad town, 
 Union Pacific Railroad's large Bailey Yard is located within the city.

A friend gave me this book to read and I highly recommend it!
On Christmas day in 1941 a troop train containing service men rolled in to town to refill the water tender for the steam tanks and to lubricate the wheels, about a 10 minute task. This was a normal stop for  about 32 trains every day during WWII. On that day the men were met with smiles and welcoming words from women carrying baskets of food and treats for them. The city mothers were expecting Nebraska soldiers but these were men from all over the country. Never mind, they wanted to thank all the men and women who were serving our country so that act of kindness kept up all through the war years. Once word got out this town of about 12,000 residents had volunteers coming in from cities near and far to help. The women dressed in in their Sunday best so they could give their sincere heartfelt wishes and thanks to the young men and women who passed through. A canteen was opened and free fried chicken, meat sandwiches, real boiled eggs, angel food birthday cakes, real coffee, magazines, and other treats were available to all who entered. They only had about 10 minutes so the service men ran to the canteen and back to the train. The first timers at that stop were flabbergasted that they were treated with such love and respect. The town kept it up until after the war ended, the last day of service was April 1, 1946.
The canteen was funded only by donations. President Roosevelt donated $5 to the canteen. The ordinary citizens donated their time, food, sugar rations, even drove from other states to help.
The author interviewed as many servicemen and volunteers as he was able to. I was afraid it would to be the  same ol' same ol' but it was not. Several were from WI so this book hit home for me....maybe my dad was on one of those trains and was shown such kindness. I will keep this book next to my family tree book....just in case.
The soldiers Mr Green interviewed remembered the canteen, many times the memories brought tears to their eyes. Even when they were overseas the men talked about the canteen. Letters were often exchanged and even a few married girls from North Platte.

Remember just a simple act of kindness can affect a person very deeply.

When the canteen closed the treasury had over $3000 and the monies were used for the soldiers, none given back to volunteers, those who donated, or the city. This kind city and residents should not be forgotten.

Here are some pictures:

Let me know if you've read or heard of this book.
Thanks for stopping by.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. Sounds like a book I should read. I have been to North Platte. Didn't know about the Canteen though.