TUESDAY AFTERNOON BOOK CLUB
In December of 1941, a woman from North Platte, Nebraska wanted to provide a send-off for Nebraska soldiers on a troop train heading to fight in World War II. Many people showed up at the train depot with food but the soldiers on the train were from Kansas! The treats were given away anyway and so began a remarkable project called the North Platte Canteen. The November selection of the Tuesday Afternoon Book Club, “Once Upon A Town” by Bob Green, tells the story of the canteen in North Platte Nebraska. This nonfiction book shared a remarkable true story unknown to many.
North Platte was a large railroad center and all troop trains going both east and west went through North Platte. Soldiers on those trains were treated to sandwiches, cookies, cakes, coffee and other treats during their short stop at the depot. This continued, 7 days a week- from 5 AM to midnight, until April 1946. As many as 7,000 to 8,000 soldiers a day went through North Platte.
The book tells the story of the canteen from the viewpoint of soldiers, who remembered the kindness of the area and the residents who helped serve all the soldiers. The author, who wrote the book in 2002, interviewed grateful soldiers as well as those who worked in the canteen and shared their stories. The canteen workers even continued after the War until all the soldiers had returned to their homes.
The Book Club enjoyed this little known story of a small town in middle America with a generous heart. Stop by the LeRoy Public Library to check it out.