In May 1944, after several weeks of planning, a group of ladies whose sons or daughters were serving in the Armed Forces, and desiring to do something for the servicemen passing through Marceline on regular or troop trains banded together under the name of Marceline Community Canteen under the leadership of Mrs. Martha Erdman. Any person wishing to assist in serving the food or supplying some were most welcome. The canteen ladies and men would meet the train and serve drinks, sandwiches, cookies and whatever they would have to the servicemen.
In July a building was acquired and placed north of the Santa Fe station. The War Dads bought a new-ready-built brooder house and painted and screened it.
When the Fourth of July came the canteen was ready to serve the servicemen and a total of 376 were served fried chicken and all the trimmings along with 25 gallons of lemonade and 12 gallons iced tea. It was truly a “homecooked meal just like Mom’s” for all of them.
At Christmas time a total of 280 men and women were served a full meal of baked chicken and dressing. Most of the service personnel served that day seemed to be returning to camps rather than to their homes so it was a sober group of boys and girls on the trains. However, many of the persons helping serve the food were parents of boys overseas. “And,” as several of the workers explained it, “We felt so much nearer our own boys by bringing cheer to other boys in uniform.”
Many clubs and organizations helped in this worthy project as well as people from all over the community and rural areas. In the period of May 1944 to December 1944, a total of 56,842 servicemen and women were served by the canteen. A total of $1,176.06 cash donations were made to the canteen.
The Marceline Community Canteen received many letters of thanks from those service people served as well as from some of the mothers of the men and women.