Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Dennison Depot welcomes guests to its train car museum.

Dennison Depot welcomes guests to its museum located inside train cars.

Every day is Veterans Day at Dreamsville, USA. At Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, veterans are welcome at no cost every day of the year.

Treating our soldiers, sailors and marines in a special way began here way back during WWI. Dennison just happened to be halfway between Pittsburgh and Columbus on the Pennsylvania Railroad, so the train needed to stop here for refueling. That gave opportunity for the Red Cross to open a canteen to give food and cheer to the servicemen on board. A little eight year old girl, Lucille, helped her mother bring food to the troops. From April to October in 1919, over 136,000 servicemen were served.

This picture from the WWII Canteen stop shows the GIs receiving food and cheer.

This picture from the WWII Canteen stop shows the GIs receiving food and cheer.

This shows the same restored area today.

This shows the same restored area today.

Things moved up a gear during WWII, when that grown up Lucille proposed the idea for the Dennison Servicemen’s Canteen, which the Salvation Army then operated as the trains rushed in. The canteen served  all the GIs when the train stopped. Her idea inspired other cities across the country to set up canteens for points of cheer along the way. This Dennison Servicemen’s Canteen served over 1.3 million servicemen during WWII.

When the conductor called, “Dennison, next stop”, young men in all branches of the service put on their coats, combed their hair, and straightened their hats. The friendly, smiling girls meeting them reminded them of their moms, sisters, and girlfriends..and there was free food. A dream come true! Thus the name Dreamsville, USA.

Some were away from home for the first time so the stop greatly touched their lives. When the train stopped 600-800 young men would step off and get in line for a lunch bag, handshake, and warm smile.

This display inside the museum depicts life at that time.

This display inside the museum depicts life at that time.

At the Dennison Depot from 1942-1946, four thousand volunteers helped with the canteen. Farmers donated crops from their gardens and orchards, while women baked cookies even though sugar was scarce. A little bit from a lot of people made a big difference.

It didn’t matter what time of the day or night the train arrived, women in white uniforms waited to give the servicemen a touch of home. 24/7, these volunteers served a cup of hot coffee and a lunch bag that included things like fruit, bologna or cheese sandwiches, eggs, doughnuts or cookies.

When the people of Dennison restored this site, they saved a national treasure. Today this is the only remaining canteen site that reflects this WWII heritage.

Lucille's menu tells the story and lists some special GI sandwiches.

Lucille’s menu tells the story and lists some special GI sandwiches.

Have lunch at the station’s friendly diner called Lucille’s, in honor of the WWII founder, and veterans even get a free piece of pie. While eating a Boogie Woogie Bacon Cheeseburger or a Gunner Hot Dog, listen to music of the 40s in the midst of a room filled with posters from the war era. Their menu states:

Lucille knew that a hot cup of coffee and a smile would make a world of difference to the servicemen passing through Dennison. We hope our coffee and smiles make your day just as special.

Dennison Depot Museum is located in Dennison, Ohio  not far from I-77.  Take exit 81, 36 East, to the Dennison exit. Turn right on Second Street and continue on Second Street until you reach the tracks. Turn left on Center Street and after two blocks you will see the museum. Parking is on the left side of the street.

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Comments on: "Always Veterans Day at Dreamsville, USA" (9)

  1. Your post made me smile. What a wonderful legacy they have preserved.

    • Glad I could brighten your day. Those GIs certainly put on a happy face when they stopped at the station and saw the enthusiasm for their arrival. How nice that would have been.

  2. Fantastic, Bev!! It is great to know a place like this exists!! Thank you.

  3. Aunt Beverly, I LOVED this story. Keep up the awesome posttings.

  4. Kandi Roche said:

    Thank Goodness for lovely memories during a span of time when everyone’s heart felt cut out as one watched a beloved member of the family or a dear dear friend ” leave to go overseas”. Thank you all who gave so much time.

    • The ladies at the canteens were certainly dedicated to giving the troops a little touch of home. They did little things to brighten their journey.

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