Greene, Bob Once Upon a Town

ISBN 13: 9780060097394

Once Upon a Town

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9780060097394: Once Upon a Town

During World War II, American soldiers from every city and walk of life 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, magazines, and friendly conversation during a stopover that lasted only a few minutes. It provided homesick military personnel with the encouragement they needed to help them through the difficult times ahead. Every day of the war, the Canteen -- staffed and funded entirely by local volunteers from the community of twelve thousand -- was open from 5 a.m. until the last troop train of the day pulled away after midnight. By war's end they provided welcoming words, friendship, and baskets of food to more than six million GIs.

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.

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Review:

Millions of American soldiers, many of whom had never left their hometowns before, crossed the nation by rail during the years of World War II on their way to training camps and distant theaters of battle. In a little town in Nebraska, countless thousands of them met with extraordinary hospitality--the "miracle" of veteran journalist Bob Greene's title. "The best America there ever was. Or at least, whatever might be left of it." So Greene writes of North Platte, now a quiet town along the interstate, its main street all but dead. It was a quiet town then, too, at the outbreak of the war, but still a hive of activity as its citizens gathered to provide, at their own expense, coffee, sandwiches, books, playing cards, and time to the scared young men who rolled through by the trainload, "telling them that their country cared about them." Greene's pages are full of the voices of those who were there, soldiers and townspeople alike, who took part in what amounted to small acts of heroism, given the shortages and rationing of the time. Greene, generous in his praise if rather disheartened by the modern world, against which he contrasts the past, turns in a remarkable account of the home front. It deserves the widest audience. ---Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Bob Greene is a syndicated columnist for the Chicago Tribune. As a magazine writer, he has been lead columnist for Life and Esquire; as a broadcast journalist, he has served as contributing correspondent for ABC News Nightline. His news commentaries can be seen on television superstation WGN. His bestselling books include Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War; Be True to Your School;Hang Time: Days and Dreams with Michael Jordan; Good Morning Merry Sunshine; and, with his sister, D.G. Fulford, To Our Children's Children: Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come. His first novel, All Summer Long, has been published in a paperback edition.

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