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Once Upon a Town: 07/11/07

Once Upon a Town

Once Upon a Town is another gem of a book I got through BookCrossing. It is a the result of Bob Greene's travels to North Platte, Nebraska to interview residents about the Canteen that ran from December 25, 1941 until April 1, 1946 and provided meals for more than six million service men. It isn't just a memoir of a the town's hey day, but an account of the town's withering since the last passenger train arrived in 1971.

Although the site of the Canteen (the Union Pacific station) was torn down in 1973 when Union Pacific turned the train yard into the largest transfer station for freight traffic, Greene was able to find enough people to tell the Canteen's story in an interesting and heartfelt way.

The book was published in 2002 and ends a bit on a down note, predicting the death of North Platte. Perhaps his book and his story on NPR helped turned things around, but a quick Google search shows a vibrant online presence and a huge number of hotels and local events.

Some sites of interest:

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