Once Upon a Time

The story of the North Platt Canteen shows the generosity that can be brought out during a horrible time of war. It shows that a community can come together out of the goodness of their own hearts for the sake of other people. The town came together, not to make a profit, but rather to send of their soldiers happy. One light that stood out to me was when the author was discussing that some of these boys had accepted the fact that they might never come back. The book portrayed the dangers of training explaining that people were regularly killed before they even went to war! 

The gender image that the book displays was interesting to me. it shows women as nurturers, they felt a duty to take care of the men before they went of to war. I thought it was interesting to see the dating dynamic during this time. Most of the good men went off to fight and those who didn’t weren’t desirable. If a man didn’t go to war it meant that there was something wrong with him either mentally or physically. Being a lesbian became somewhat popular during this time due to the lack of men as well as rush weddings. The rush weddings resulted in bye babies, dear Johns, and dysfunctional marriages. 

The story of the North Platt canteen was unique, but not as unique as i originally thought. apparently there were many towns along the railways that did things like this for the departing soldiers. However the North Platt canteen was unique in size and also in location. It was sad to hear the author’s description of what is left behind. the canteen itself isn’t even there anymore, there is only a plaque of what used to be. the town is off the freeway and is ignored and the train station is no longer popular. 

The book overall is a good story and easy to read, it is captivating to those who aren’t interested in the history alone. However it was written by a journalist, not a historian and portrayed a lot of oral history. The people who told their stories though out the book have a positive view and often leave out the hard times and negative views, so the history cannot be considered exactly accurate. The book really portrayed a lot of emotion and was able to keep my interest from beginning to end. 


About caitlineichlin

History major at California State University San Marcos and aspiring high school history teacher.
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