America’s entrance into World War II brought about a mass mobilization of service men and women crisscrossing the country on their way to training facilities and embarkation points. Many of these people had never been far from home. Fresh out of school, they faced uncertain futures at unknown destinations. War fronts are dangerous places, and they had to realize not everyone would be returning home.
Civilians mobilized as well. Volunteers met trains carrying 600 to 800 troops with smiles of welcome and baskets filled with food during the brief moments the trains paused at the railroad station. They offered sandwiches, pies, cookies, cakes, coffee, milk, magazines, newspapers, writing paper, and sundry items. All free and all donated by residents in the surrounding region.
My friend Ron Hopley remembers “on the train to Norfolk we stopped in Columbus, Ohio, and there women handed cookies to all of us sailors on the train. I thought that was very nice and have never forgotten them.”