Reproduced here with permission of the North Platte Telegraph.  

North Platte Telegraph Editorial Published Sunday, August 31, 2003

Keith Blackledge YOUR TOWN AND MINE

Keith Blackledge
Keith Blackledge was editor of The Telegraph for 25 years before his retirement in 1992.

It's a little confusing to have two Canteen-related fund drives going at once, but I think we can handle it. Having more to do than anyone thought possible never stopped the original Canteen volunteers.

The Lincoln County Historical Society had been planning a drive to raise $6,000 to renovate the museum's Canteen display. About the time that got started, a campaign to raise $30,000 as part of a $140,000 Nebraska ETV documentary on the Canteen was announced.

The projects complement each other. The museum collection is important to the television documentary, and the documentary will be an excellent addition to the new Canteen display at the museum. Deciding if one has priority over the other is like the argument over whether the chicken or the egg came first.

The solution is to resolve to do them both as quickly as possible.

Donations for the museum display can be mailed to the Lincoln County Historical Society Museum, 2403 N. Buffalo Bill Ave., North Platte, NE 69101. Checks should be made to the Lincoln County Historical Society with a notation that they are for the Canteen display.

Pledges or donations for "The Canteen Spirit" ETV documentary can be mailed to the Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation, P.O. Box 1321, North Platte, NE 69103. Pledge forms are available at the foundation office, 120 N. Dewey, at the North Platte/Lincoln County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 219 S. Dewey, and the North Platte Area Chamber of Commerce, 502 S. Dewey. Checks should be made to Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation Lincoln County Historical Society Fund.

Pledge cards offer Canteen-related categories. A $5 donation puts you at the cup of coffee level; $10 represents a contribution of hardboiled eggs; $25 a plate of cookies; send $50 and you've contributed a bunch of donuts; $100 plenty of sandwiches. You can be recognized at the fried chicken level for $500 and at the birthday cake level for $1,000. All gifts are income-tax deductible.

If the ETV donations come in over the $30,000 needed, the extra dollars will go toward the museum display. Everybody is a winner.

Nebraska ETV will take the World War II Canteen story into the next generation of viewers, and the next generation of storytelling technology. It will be filmed for high-definition, digital television. The museum will receive a 45-minute video loop of interviews to add to its exhibit and full videotape and transcripts for archival use. Edited interviews will be placed on the NebraskaStudies.org web site for videostreaming on demand to any user worldwide. The documentary will be broadcast on the Nebraska ETV Network and offered to PBS stations nationwide. We will get a premiere event some time next year.

Could we buy any better advertising for our town at any price?

The present Canteen display was created in 1986. Wayne Griffin wrote the grant application to the Nebraska Humanities Council that got it started. Geraldine Young and Jerry Hollen spent a lot of time putting the exhibit together. Don Snoddy of the Union Pacific Museum provided the pictures.

But time and traffic wear on such things. The pictures are beginning to look tired and worn. The museum's new director, Chad Boehlke, has designed a project that will make the Canteen display more viewer-friendly and give it better focus within the museum.

He will describe that plan for4 anyone interested at a public' forum Sept. 11 at 1 p.m. at the museum.

It's interesting how one thing leads to another. The museum exhibit and collection of clippings and letters helped Bob Greene in his research for the best-selling book: "Once Upon A Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen," which in turn helped generate enthusiasm for the ETV documentary as well as other media attention.

Greene's book also prompted the Omaha Community Playhouse to write a musical for its Nebraska Theatre Caravan. The musical, "Stories from the: North Platte Canteen" will tour the state, including a visit to our town Sept. 25 with (tentatively) a special matinee Sept. 27.

The North Platte Telegraph
621 N. Chestnut, PO Box 370, North Platte, Ne 69103-0370;
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