I really liked this book. Although this true story takes place in my parent's generation rather than my own, I was definitely inspired to be more aware of the fact that a little bit done well can bring blessings to those around you who are in need. It was inspiring to read about how so many people in this small town pulled together to make a big difference and a lasting impression on thousands of American soldiers who passed through the area, coming and going to serve in the war. The citizens of North Platte should be proud of this accounting.
Once upon a time in America, people were nice to each other, even people they didn't know.
Some of the reviewers didn't like this book. I guess they were never in the service and away from home for long periods of time. Maybe some of these reviewers are the kind of people you sit down next to at a bus stop, or in a waiting room somewhere and, when you try to strike up a conversation, they ignore you as they don't know you and they never will. I guess they are just too busy with themselves.
I was away in the service for four years, overseas or 3,000 miles away on a different coast. I treasured the experience when I was invited to a home for Thanksgiving, Easter, or even just any weekend.
This book wasn't so much about the town as it was about the thousands of servicemen who remembered the kindness of the people in the town. And still remember them 50 years later.
My mother is Australian, and her mother ran a boarding house in Sydney before and during WW II. On the boards at the service centers was a sign telling American servicemen that one day a week the house was open to them with home cooked food and a real home to rest in for a few hours. Not only did the men write letters thanking my grandmother, but their mothers in the United States also wrote her.
I can't give this book to my mother to read, as she remembers too many American submariners who visited every time their subs came off patrol, and too many times when they didn't come back and the sub was reported lost.
If we were all like the people of North Platte, the world would be a much happier place.
I loved this book! It was so inspirational and heartwarming to read about how this town gave so generously to mllions of service men heading to war; I loved how the entire town united together to accomplish such a great thing. And the troops were so touched by the kindness they received; so many of them remembered their few minutes in the town for all their lives. It really boosted morale and made an impact. I also found the book bittersweet, for it shows how small-town America is slowly disappearing. It was a simpler time back then. This book made me wish I could have been born a few decades earlier so I could have experienced it.
This was a lovely read about the support a single town gave to our soldiers in WWII. It gave a glimpse into the goodness within the human spirit and all that is good about the USA. Not a lieterary giant but a reall feel good book.
I had heard family stories about this canteen, and was so glad to find this book to learn the whole story. This is a glimpse of a vanished time, when performing acts of kindness was a way of life. The incredible hard work and dedication of the townspeople and the gratitude of the passengers is heartwarming.
I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't get into it at all. Maybe it will just have to be one of those I pick up again at a later point in my life and then I'll be able to read more than 50 pages.
I had heard about this town, and wanted to know more about it. I found Mr. Greene's book informative and interesting. This town and its neighboring area of Nebraska fed over 6 million service men as they went through North Platte during WW11. The interviews of the people who fed them are as touching as those who enjoyed their hospitality. I was impressed with the fact that families would use their stamps they had to use to buy staples like sugar to bake cakes and cookies rather than use them for them selves. Things like this showed how the home front did all they could to support the war effort. Mr. Greene has insured this time, place, support, and love will not be forgotten.
"Once Upon a Town" is a book that badly needed to be written. I heard the story about the North Platte Canteen. This canteen, organized in a little town in Nebraska, made a point of serving food and drink at no charge to every serviceman and servicewoman who passed through town on troop trains during World War II (1941-1945).
Soldiers and sailors all over the country spoke in awe about the wonderful food and treatment they got from the townspeople of North Platte, Nebraska. Many soldiers struck up penpal correspondence with townspeople they met. A number of women in the North Platte area ended up marrying soldiers when they returned from the war.
Bob Greene takes a "Studs Terkel approach" to this subject and much of the book consists of narratives of older people who were present at the time. One thing that really stands out is the unbelievable effort that the people in North Platte (and surrounding areas) made to run the canteen. Only a few thousand people lived in the area. Yet, millions of soldiers passed through the town. Nevertheless, very soldier was served food and drink. Many people contributed their ration coupons, personal savings, and a huge amount of unpaid labor to see that the canteen was always running. These people will forever remain in the hearts of the soldiers and sailors who received their warm hospitality
Greene also relates the changes that have come to North Platte since the war. Sadly, many have not been for the good. A town that used to see 32 passenger trains a day pass through it, now sees none at all. The railroad station and area where the canteen operated was torn down by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1973. All that remains is a small historical marker commemorating the canteen. It strikes me that North Platte has suffered the way many small towns in America have. Agriculture has declined. Industry and technology tends to base itself in large urban areas.
This is a "feel good" book. As I read this, I was reminded of the adage that when it comes to saving our world all of us must "think globally and act locally". This is precisely what the people of North Platte, Nebraska did during World War II. Any serviceman who passed through there will tell you that it made an enormo
North Platte, Nebraska, Christmas day 1941 to the end of World War II. a miracle happened. The tiny town, wanting to offer the servicemen warmth and support, transformed its modest railroad depot into the North Platte Canteen - a place whre soldiers could enjoy coffee, music, home-cooked food, magazines, and convival, friendly conversations during a stopover that lasted only a few minutes.
I also really tried to like this book. But besides suffering a shortage of material, the author's style is not particularly engaging. The story dragged along with small snippets of history of the canteen interspersed with large amounts of what North Platte is like today. This would be fine if it was a book about current day North Platte, but it is supposed to be about the canteen.
All in all, a disappointment.
From the back cover: "During World War II, American soldiers from every city rolled through North Platte, Nebraska on troop trains, en route to Europe and the Pacific. The tiny town transformed its modest railroad depot into the North Platte Canteen- a place where soldiers could enjoy coffee, music, home-cooked food, and friendly conversation during a stopover that lasted only a few minutes."