Many people danced with me as I researched, thought through, wrestled with,
and wrote this book. I know things looked diff erently from all of your many
sides. I appreciate your time, enthusiasm, patience, push- backs, good humor,
support, hospitality, readings, and reality checks. I don’t claim to speak for you,
but I couldn’t have spoken without you.
My fi rst debt of gratitude goes to the people who shared their memories of
the Hollywood Canteen and of Los Angeles during World War II. I wish I could
have included all of your stories, but please know that my moves in this book
are shaped by conversations with all of you and I am deeply grateful. I hope I
have left room for your footsteps. Sadly, I note that nearly everyone interviewed
for this book is now deceased. I also thank your families and friends for sharing
your time with me.
Families and friends of former Canteen- goers connected me with loved ones
and helped to facilitate interviews. I would not have found the range of people
I was able to speak with if you hadn’t come forward, off ered to help, vouched
for me, and negotiated the pa ram e ters of the dance in such caring ways (don’t
call her before noon; if he can’t hear you over the phone, send him a cassette, etc.).
Many people came forward, but I especially thank Clora Bryant, Josh Curtis,
Mary Letterii, Margaret Nevarez, Catherine Ramirez, Rick Ruvolo, Julie Dawn
Smith, Ian Walters, Kim Warren, Valerie Yaros, and Elisa Foster.
I benefi ted from generous material support for research, travel, and writ-
ing time for this project, including a National Endowment for the Humani-
ties “We the People” Fellowship in 2010, a Haynes Foundation Grant from the
Historical Society of Southern California, a Beveridge Research Grant from
the American Historical Association, and several rounds of generous sup-
port from the Faculty General Research Fund from the University of Kansas.
Ac know ledg ments