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Once Upon a Town

Once Upon a Town

Written by Bob Greene

Narrated by Fritz Weaver


Once Upon a Town

Written by Bob Greene

Narrated by Fritz Weaver

ratings:
4/5 (12 ratings)
Length:
6 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Oct 3, 2006
ISBN:
9780061172311
Format:
Audiobook

Description

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.

Publisher:
Released:
Oct 3, 2006
ISBN:
9780061172311
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

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.


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Reviews

What people think about Once Upon a Town

3.8
12 ratings / 12 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    5677 Once Upon a Town The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen, by Bob Greene (read 16 Feb 2020)This book, published in 2002, and written by a newspaper columnist who was born in 1947, tells of the canteen in North Platte, Nebraska which from December 1941 till April 1, 1946 met every troop train which came to North Platte,and offered free food and things to the servicemen on the trains. According to the book thousands of servicemen came through North Platte and they all went gaga over how kind the people at the canteen treated them. It is a schmaltzy book, repeating often the words of praise which the recipients of the generosity of the people who operated the canteen spoke of their benefactors, long after the war. One gets the idea of the goodness of the people and the gratitude of the servicemen long before the book ends. I was impressed by what the people of that area of Nebraska accomplished and at times found the book poignant. But I think a more restrained account might have more compelling.
  • (3/5)
    We all agreed the story was sweet, the pictures were the best part, and it gave us all (aged 63-77) a good insight into what our parents went through and how people coped in another area of the country- Nebraska. And it did fill in the list for my Fifty States Challenge - I needed a Nebraska book. Basically it's a reporter's story, told like a reporter (he was on NPR for years), After the 1st 25 pages, the story had been told. Read them, look at the pictures, and then go on to something else. 2 1/2 stars.
  • (2/5)
    The story brings the historical gem of the North Platte Canteen to light. However, the writing is mawkish and redundant. It's tough to make a whole book out of giving out free food and help to soldiers at the train station.
  • (3/5)
    This book is certainly interesting and it shares accounts I, and probably most people, have never heard before. However, even though each account is amazing and almost brings a tear to your eye, it gets a bit repetitive.
  • (4/5)
    This is the story of North Platte, Nebraska duing WWII. It will briing smiles to your face, along with a few tears. The town heard that a troop train filled with soldiers from Nebraska was due to stop for ten minutes at the North Platte station. A group of women got together and brought food, drink, and magazines to the station to meet the train. When they discovered the troop train carried soldiers from other states, they smilled and passed the food out anyway. The next day, someone wrote a letter suggesting that the residents meed every troop train, and the North Platte Canteen was born.
  • (5/5)
    The story of the Nebraska town that was at a railroad crossroads during World War II. The residents of that town and ultimately the surrounding area used their ration coupons and the food they produced in their gardens and farms to feed servicemen that were crisscrossing the country going either to or from the war. I picked up this title in the talking book version and listened to it on the way to visit my mother. My father, who had served in the Marines during WW II, had recently died and I could not ask him about this, but I am convinced that he must have travelled through here on his way from Pa. to Ca. to serve in the Pacific theater. It's not often that a book moves me to tears, but I just cried and cried listening to these stories. The generosity of the Nebraska residents moved me so much that I can partially understand how the servicemen felt getting food, cigarettes and playing cards at the North Platte Canteen. EVERYONE should hear this story.
  • (4/5)
    I'm a huge Bob Greene fan and this book about the North Platte Canteen during WWII really hits home right now. Greene travels to modern day North Platte to find out about the Canteen, where the folks from the town and surrounding towns used their rations to meet each train of soldiers being shipped out and offer them some home cooking, a birthday cake and more. They were met with love by women who could have been their mothers. People from all around donated massive amounts of food. The dichotomy with today's soldiers, flying high over the country alone makes this an even more moving tale. The people that Green tracks down, those who cooked, drove miles to deliver food on their assigned day, the soldiers who remember the miracle and joy of the North Platte Canteen to this day -- these are wonderful memories shared in a respectful and lovely book.
  • (4/5)
    This is a heartwarming story but it would have made a better article than a book. I found myself skipping parts and going directly to the quotes from people who were there. It got quite repetitive after a while. I wish my father was still alive so I could ask him if he went through North Platte during the war. I hope he did.
  • (5/5)
    This book is about the inspirational story of North Platte, Nebraska, a town that served as a brief haven for millions of World War II American soldiers. From Christmas Day 1941 until the end of the war, the residents welcomed every troop train with food, drink, magazines and words of encouragement. This was a brief moment of time that sustained these soldiers when they were away from their families performing their duty. And that they still remember and appreciate to this very day.
  • (5/5)
    I live in this area (70 miles away), and already knew some of the story. But this book brings it into focus in a special way. It truly was unprecedented: The ladies of the North Platte Canteen met EVERY train and fed EVERY soldier EVERY day for 5 years. You may call if fluff and hyperbole if you want to. I call it heroic, self-sacrificing, and amazing. My father, not even 20 years old yet, rode through there 3 times during his hitch.The framing story about modern day North Platte is interesting too. It is strange to see a town I take so for granted through an outsider's eyes. I gave a copy of this book to my 80-year-old father to read. He cried.
  • (2/5)
    This story is a very interesting, beautiful small piece of Americana. Unfortunately after about 75 pages it begins to get repetitive and dull.The fault doesn't lie with the event, but with Greene who doesn't tell the story very well. Most of the book is told through long narrations by soldiers and townspeople who were there. The author only interrupts to interject short phrases like, "She said she really liked helping the soldiers," before returning to another long series of uninterrupted quotes.He also veers into tangents that he manages to very loosely connect to the real story, but most of them are hollow and seem like he is just filling space. This would have worked as "Smithsonian Magazine" article, but there isn't enough to sustain interest through 250+ pages.Another thing that bothered me was the premise that this was somehow some magical thing that took place in "the good old days" and that these types of things never, ever, ever take place now. Murder and mayhem are not just 21st Century phenomena and true heartfelt charity was not reserved to World War II era Nebraska. We've always been this way; good and bad. Dump the dewey eyed hyperbole.
  • (3/5)
    A nice little read, I was given this book as a gift many years ago by a teacher who said my writing reminded her of Bob Greene. As nice a compliment I've received.This collection of stories were each heart-warming, if a little redundant when read as a collection. It certainly engaged in the usual mythologizing about the second World War and the so-called "Greatest Generation"- a collective trait of the American experience I particularly dislike.