"God Bless, and Save America"
Identified WW II USO Canteens
As America mobilized, the United Service Organizations, USO, was formed in partial response to the need for providing Canteen services for the troops. This was 1940, preceding the United States entry into World War II. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt solicited six private organizations-the YMCA, YWCA, National Catholic Community Service, the National Jewish Welfare Board, the Traveler’s Aid Association and the Salvation Army. Their task was to find some way to meet on-leave recreation needs for the members of the Armed Forces. They focused on the spiritual, religious, educational and welfare needs of men and women in the Armed Forces.
The six organizations formed a joint entity and the USO, was incorporated in February 4, 1941. One place they set up recreation and food facilities was in the railroad stations of larger towns. For troops on layover between trains, such locations were satisfactory. The first one was opened at Cleveland, Ohio, February 4, 1941 at the Terminal Tower. Facilities at the Terminal Tower were not ready for occupancy on that date so the USO opened in a bus station at the corner of 9th and Superior Avenues for a few weeks. This chapter of the USO was founded by Lucy Pierce and Harvey Firestone Jr.
The national USO organization was temporarily disbanded from 1947 to 1951. It has operated continuously ever since.
The USO (United Service Organization) sanctioned and operated a number of lounges in larger railroad stations and terminals during WW II. The list below covers many of those facilities and is courtesy of the USO unless highlighted in blue.
These canteens are separate from community oriented canteens and Red Cross canteens.
Denver - at Denver Union Station
Wilmington - at PRR station, not listed on national USO list
Washington DC - at Washington Union Terminal
Fort Wayne - at PRR station, not listed on national USO list
Indianapolis - at Indianapolis Union Station, plus two other sites, not listed on national USO list
Richmond - at PRR station
Terre Haute - at joint PRR/NYC Union Station
Council Bluffs - at C&NW station, not listed on national USO list
Oelwein - at CGW station, not listed on national USO list
Louisville - at L & N station
Battle Creek - not listed on national USO list
Detroit - at PRR station
Grand Rapids - at PRR station, not listed on national USO list
Newark - at PRR station
Trenton - at PRR station, not listed on national USO list
New York City - at PRR Penn Station and Grand Central Station (?)
Cincinnati - at Cincinnati Union Terminal
Cleveland - at Terminal Tower FIRST ONE OPENED IN THE UNITED STATES February 4, 1941.
Columbus - at Columbus Union Depot
Dayton - at Dayton Union Station
Toledo - at Toledo Terminal Station
Harrisburg - at PRR station
Philadelphia (2) - at Broad Street station and 30th Street station
Pittsburgh - next to PRR station
York - at PRR station, not listed on national USO list
Roanoke - at N & W station
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