As the demands of the war grew so did the sacrifices of the American people. Rationing and price controls of basic items were instituted and managed by the Office of Price Administration. Citizens were given ration books that included stamps that allowed you to buy limited amounts of things like sugar, coffee, gasoline, shoes, tires, and more. Even under these limitations, the North Platte Canteen continued to grow.
Volunteers donated their extra stamps to the canteen so that the items needed could be purchased. Children gave up their birthday cakes so that the sugar could be used to make cakes for the soldiers. Gas rations were pooled so that groups of women could make it in from distant towns or farms. The extra farm produce was saved for the canteen by farm families instead of selling it. Even a local boy, Gene Slattery, auctioned his shirt off at the local livestock sale barn every week. By doing this and working odd jobs, he was able to raise $2,000 for the canteen.
As the war became an all out effort, troop trains began to pour into North Platte. As many as twenty-four trains a day stopped in the city, giving thousands of troops a chance to experience the canteen on a daily basis. All of this activity meant that a continual stream of volunteers was required to meet this increasing need.
From 1941 until the canteen closed, 55,000 volunteers from 125 different towns, some 200 miles away, gave both food and time to make sure not one of these trains were missed and that each soldier was fed. At any time of the day or night, soldiers were able to escape the war for a short 10 or 15 minutes as they stepped into the canteen and were met by mothers, sisters, and sweethearts. North Platte’s war industry was not munitions, airplanes, or tanks; it was raising morale and every volunteer knew it.
Posted on Tue, July 31, 2012
by Lincoln County Historical Museum