Let’s Bring Back the Friendship Train

Dear Reader:

When Doodle called to let me know that there was an article in the Post and Courier (Sunday newspaper)  remembering the 1948 Abraham Lincoln Friendship train…it brought back memories of the fictional children’s story I wrote about this incident several years ago.

I named the two sisters (main characters) in the story, Arrie and Evie…for mother and my aunt Eva. I placed the setting in Ames, Iowa…one of the actual stops along the train route from Los Angeles to New York.

The research for this relatively unknown historical event was so much fun and the historical society in Ames gave me a lot of wonderful information.

*Maybe this newspaper article’s appearance is a God Wink for me to go back and work on the story some more, because world hunger is as bad now or worse, in other locations around the world, as it was in Europe following World War II.

In 1948 the food, accumulated in over 200 boxcars crossed the farming fields and “bread basket” of the nation until finally leaving New York City and heading to France and Italy…Later France sent back a Gratitude Train (sometimes called the Merci train) to thank our country for their help. Jackson let me know that the South Carolina boxcar (from that original train) was still on exhibit in Columbia. So one day all the Ya’s went and found it.  It was located in an American Legion parking lot…looking kind of forlorn and forgotten.

Since last June, 2017 the Gratitude/Merci train has been moved to Bishopville, SC and placed in the Cotton Museum there. It has finally found a home…after years of futile searching for one.

This recent newspaper article today titled World hungers for new Friendship Train  (by William Lambers…historian and author of “Ending World Hunger”) noted that last Monday’s (Lincoln’s birthday) also marked the 70th anniversary of the 1948 Friendship Train named for him.

Lincoln once said that the United States should “do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” That sums up the purpose of the United States Food for Peace and other aid programs. For peace and freedom cannot be founded on empty stomachs..

In 1948 Americans fully understood this, which led to Lincoln’s Friendship Train but also much more. President Harry Truman and the Secretary of State George Marshall were leading the way on a massive European Recovery program. The Marshall Plan, as it was called, was also signed in 1948 and helped rebuild Europe. Food aid was essential for this plan to succeed. 

As we search for ways to find world peace today… stepping up to the plate to increase U.S. food aid programs to assist in fighting this on-going massive world hunger crisis is an idea based on successful programs in the past. (This includes the “Food for Peace programs and the McGovern-Dole global school lunch program.)

Food can write the peace today as it did after World War II with Abraham Lincoln’s Friendship Train.


This article reminds us that peace can be achieved through kindness and humane outreach programs without always resorting to more weapons and destruction for humanity.

So until tomorrow... Isn’t it wonderful what man can do when we pull together for peace, not war?

Below is the summation of the success of the Abraham Lincoln Friendship Train of 1948 in aiding Europe following WWII by the National Chairman. Great message.

This amazing endeavor is a glimpse into the very heart of America – a record of what American men, women and children did in true friendship to give hope and strength to the famine-driven peoples of Europe. No pleas, no urging, no promptings rallied these people to meet the cry of need.

United by the common bond of human sympathy they responded with a mighty volume of food and a priceless cargo of good will. This is in thanks to the hundreds and thousands and millions who joined to make possible the Friendship Train…to all who gave to the free people of France, whose children gave us our Statue of Liberty, and to the free people of Italy, whose Columbus found our shores.

( Harry M. Warner, National Chairman, American Friendship Food Train Committee.)


“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh



I did it…I went back to Tractor and Supply and got my Mister Lincoln red rose plant and planted it so I will always remember I planted it on Valentines Day preceding Presidents’ Day Weekend 2018.

My first pretty little delicate camellia bloom from Hollow Tree Nursery  planted a year ago…popped open yesterday. *And Harriett…thank you again for the day lilies…they are letting me know it is time to knock on the door above ground . “Bliss” is happy to see them again!

And finally here come my slow-growing daffodils…but they are coming.


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to Let’s Bring Back the Friendship Train

  1. bcparkison says:

    Mine too…daffodils that is, are coming up. I even saw a hillside beginning to bloom on the way to town this morning. Yea!


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