• Once Upon a Town

  • The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen
  • By: Bob Greene
  • Narrated by: Fritz Weaver
  • Length: 6 hrs and 5 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (109 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 12,000, was open from 5 a.m. until the last troop train of the day pulled away after midnight. By war's end it 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.

©2002 John Deadline Enterprises, Inc. (P)2002 HarperCollins Publishers
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"Greene's skill makes this homage not just a time capsule but a work that will strike a resonating chord in those seeking to remember the generosity and selflessness of many when faced with adversity and peril." (Publisher's Weekly)

What listeners say about Once Upon a Town

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Long Tale of a Truly Inspiring Short Tale

Wonderful story and memories. It seemed that Bob Greene was using a lot of "filler" to make a longer book of what should have been a short and sweet compilation of memories of the incredible North Platte Canteen (Nebraska) effort in WWI. These volunteers met EVERY troop train from 1941 on, and gave free food and friendship to MILLIONS of service people.

I didn't need to know about the airport or the museum. But I did get misty-eyed listening to a few of the "greatest generation's" comments on this unique show of support to the troops.

As one of the first audible.com subscribers, I was disappointed in the reader. He did not have the crisp delineation of characters that I expect.

I enjoyed it, but wouldn't suggest it. I think it is a book best read, not listened to.

4 people found this helpful

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Amazing book!

Amazing book, during our difficult time now with this virus. I needed to listen to something that was uplifting. listen to this book gives me a lot of hope that we could come together as a nation and defeat this virus. Just like a small town did years ago to support our troops and bring hope. If they could do that in North Platte during WWII with only 1,200 people imagine what we all could do as a country.

1 person found this helpful

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How a small town helped win the war

Where does Once Upon a Town rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

It is a wonderful story.

What did you like best about this story?

I love the concept of how this town turned a mistake into an event that touched the souls of so many of the men going off into an uncertain future

2 people found this helpful

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Once upon a Town

I loved everything about this book. The story, the narration! It made me sad that the civility of that era is almost gone. It was so remarkable to know that for over five years there was this wonderful community of giving people, their resources and their time. I am sure there were great rewards for their generosity.

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Veterans must read.

As a veteran, I am proud of North Platte. I had family that lived near here, but were not aware of the history. I wish they did so they could have shared with us.

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Great story, not well written, but The story must be sold!

This is the story of people gathering together selflessly to do good. Not as well written as it could have been, but a story that must be told and must be heard. Don’t miss it.

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Blah

Interesting story but probably more appropriate as an article in a magazine instead of forcing it into a book.

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Amazing act of love!

A friend recommended this book. She was a small girl during WW II but my dad was a navigator (human GPS) in the Army Air Corps. This beautiful story puts so much into perspective about what was behind the home front scene when caring Americans were at their very best during the war. The unspoken question hanging in the air is “Could we ever rise to the challenge like this again?” I don’t know but this story could teach us how.
Fine narration as well-expressive, weighty, but not too sentimental. I HIGHLY recommend!

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Fantastic read!

I grew up in rural Nebraska and this book describes our community very well. A lovely, true story that is a balm to read in these times if cruel words flung across the air waves. Thank you, Bob Greene! And thank you Audible for this recording. ❤️

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Really Enjoyed!

I really enjoyed this book after a friend at church read an article about the town to our Sunday School. Dec 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor tore apart our nation in just a short amount of time. Dec 25, 1941 the residents of North Platte, Nebraska and other towns slowly started putting it together. One person had an idea and it reached 6 million people. Many towns in the US today are being pulled apart not by an attack by an outside enemy but from an internal enemy. Indeed, our whole country is. Back in 1941 times were simple and people were closer and the solution here was simple but required massive organization. Interested? Check this book out.