Reproduced here with permission of the North Platte Telegraph.  

September 12, 2003

By Dick Reynolds
The North Platte Telegraph

No one was more interested in the plans for revamping the Canteen display at the Lincoln County Historical Museum at 2403 N. Buffalo than Doris Dotson of North Platte.

Dotson said she has a long-standing interest in the Canteen.

“I reopened the Canteen in 1973. It was open a week, closed and the building was torn down,” she said. “I used the original room.”

There was music from the 1940s.

“It was really nice,” Dotson said.

All that remains of the Canteen site today is a plaque hardly noticed in a small park behind a vacant former grocery store.

“The Canteen never really ended,” Museum Curator Chadwick Boehlke said, “It still goes on today, it is just in a different format. The train station is long gone but the memory of the Canteen is very much still alive.”
When the museum closes for the year Sept. 29, work will start the next day on revamping the canteen display. The cost of the renovation is about $6,000 for materials with work provided by volunteers.

Renovations should take about six months with the new display ready for the next tourist season.

About 6,000 people visit the display every year during the tourist season.

One of the key elements in the renovation is telling the story of how World War II started.

“There are a lot of people who don’t really know how it started and that is part of the legacy,” Boehlke said.
The revamping will mean a larger display area with more artifacts and information available for the public.

One special item of interest is a day-date book telling who worked at the Canteen from the day it opened until the day it closed April 15, 1946.

Another artifact is the financial ledger with hand-written entries.

“Every penny that came in and every penny that went out is here,” he said showing the book to the audience. “It gives people an idea of where a lot of the money and donations came from.”

Other groups involved in the Canteen will be featured such as “The Navy Mothers,” “Monday Officers of the Day,” “Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary.” and other volunteers.

There are numerous photographs that will help tell the story and Boehlke said the photos are all labeled so the people are identified.

So far the museum has raised about $1,700 of the needed amount and all money contributed is tax deductible through the facility’s non-profit 501c3 status.

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