Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen (Paperback)
In search of "the best America there ever was," bestselling author and award-winning journalist 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.
During World War II, American soldiers from every city and walk of life rolled through North Platte, Nebraska, 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.
Every day of the year, every day of the war, the Canteen—staffed and funded entirely by local volunteers—was open from five a.m. until the last troop train of the day pulled away after midnight. Astonishingly, this remote plains community of only 12,000 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 soldiers who once passed through, Bob Greene tells a classic, lost-in-the-mists-of-time American story of a grateful country honoring its brave and dedicated sons.
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.
“…the quintessential American story…” — Aaron Brown, from NewsNight with Aaron Brown, CNN
“This pleasantly modest and meaningful account of life on the homefront deserves the widest audience.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Greene reflects on his travels in the region, chronicling its citizens using the intimate style of his syndicated column.” — Publishers Weekly
“… I salute the author for preserving this story of another time in another America.” — Herbert Mitgang, Chicago Tribune
“Greene is a virtuoso of the things that bring journalism alive.” — Tom Wolfe
“Lovely...inspiring...uplifting...I was moved to tears, and you will be, too.” — Ann Landers
“This is a great story of love, country and uncalled-for service in a time of national crisis.” — Greg Moody, Rocky Mountain News
“... a glimpse into rural Nebraska culture, norms and practices long since vanished.” — Joe Duggan, Lincoln Journal Star
“A tale of small-town generosity in a time of war.” — Omaha World-Herald
“A lively, affectionate look at small town America …this…meaningful account of life on the homefront deserves the widest audience.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Once again, Bob Greene has shown us why he is one of the best storytellers of contemporary times.” — Tampa Tribune
“Greene [is] one of the great contemporary chroniclers of American life.” — Orlando Sentinel
“Charming…a portrait of the can-do spirit at work.” — Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Poignant and heartfelt.” — Journal Star, Lincoln, NB
“This is a great story of love, country and uncalled-for service in a time of national crisis.” — Rocky Mountain News