Governor Dave Heineman signed a proclamation on January 16, 2014 honoring 2014 One Book One Nebraska: Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen by Bob Greene. People across Nebraska are encouraged to read this story of how North Platte, Nebraska, a plains community of only 12,000 people, came together during World War II to provide welcoming words, friendship, and baskets of food and treats to more than six million GIs by the time the war ended. Award-winning journalist Bob Greene is a CNN contributor and a New York Times bestselling author who originally set out to write Once Upon a Town because, as he says on the book’s first page, he was looking for “…the best America there ever was.” He found it in North Platte, on the site of the old Canteen down by the railroad tracks. In this nonfiction story, Greene discovers the echoes of a love story between a country and its young people. During World War II, American soldiers from every city and walk of life rolled through North Platte on troop trains en route to their ultimate destinations in Europe and the Pacific. This small town, wanting to offer warmth and support to the servicemen and women, 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 5:00 a.m. until the last troop train of the day pulled away after midnight. Once Upon a Town tells the story of how this plains community and the surrounding towns stepped up to boost the morale of more than six million GIs by the time the war ended.
Libraries across Nebraska will join other literary and cultural organizations in planning book discussions, activities, and events to encourage Nebraskans to read and discuss this book. The Rock County Public Library has one copy of Once Upon a Town and will be receiving multiple copies around March 12. Overdrive has two copies of the e-book and one copy in audio format. This book has been selected for the April adult book discussion to be held at Rock County Public library. Anyone may join this discussion by simply stopping by your library to pick up a copy of the book.
The One Book One Nebraska reading program is entering its tenth year and is sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska Library Association, Nebraska Library Commission, and Humanities Nebraska. Updates and Nebraska activity listings can be found at http://onebook.nebraska.gov and posted on http://www.facebook.com/onebookonenebraska.