The Union Pacific steamer billowed clouds of smoke as down the rails it raced!
Young soldiers aboard the crowded train contemplated the dire fates they faced.
Melancholy thoughts of hearth and home this Christmas Day were hard to bear.
The mournful wail of the engine's whistle added to their loneliness and despair.
The troop train provided very little conveniences for the miserable men.
No showers, a potbellied stove for heat and a tasteless meal now and then.
Little sleep was had since there were no berths or fancy Pullman cars.
Even a nap in their seats was fitful due to the coaches rocking jars!
Ah, but there was good news ahead for these young men on the way to war!
The sergeant announced, "We're stoppin' at North Platte, Nebraska! Ain't very far!
The kind ladies of North Platte is waitin' to greet youse on this Christmas Day!
Now, watch yer language, comb yer hair and shine yer shoes wid'out delay!"
The ladies of North Platte met every train passing through since the war began!
From the bounty of their farms they provided food for each and every man!
Ladies from miles about brought fried chicken, candy, apple pies and cakes,
Even popcorn balls with addresses of girls wrapped therein, for heaven's sakes!
Each train stopped for twenty minutes or so to take on more water and coal,
But those precious moments lifted the morale of the men which was the ladies goal!
They met as many as thirty-two trains a day serving nearly six million guys!
Decades later those men, now old vets, recall North Platte with teary eyes!
Robert L. Hinshaw, CMSgt, USAF, Retired
(c) All Rights Reserved
This poem is based on a true event that happened during World War II. For a detailed and heart-warming story about the ladies of North Platte, Nebraska who undertook this very patriotic and monumental task, read, "Once Upon A Town" by Bob Greene - should be available in your local library.