AUSTIN, Texas—Toys, a saber and a wedding dress from France — all gifts to the American people for sending relief supplies after World War II — are among items on display Feb. 12 through June 30 at the Texas Memorial Museum (TMM) on The University of Texas at Austin campus.
The exhibit marks the 50th anniversary of the French Gratitude Train, a 49-car train filled with gifts from the people of France. The gifts, many of them personal items from French citizens, were sent as thanks for American relief efforts for France and Italy after World War II.
The train included one boxcar full of gifts for each of the then-48 states plus one to be shared between Washington, D.C., and the territory of Hawaii. TMM is one of several museums in Texas that share the contents of the boxcar presented to the Lone Star State. Other items in the boxcar were sent to specific Texans.
The actual boxcar is on display at 2201 West 1st St .(just south of Lake Austin Blvd. at Loop 1). The boxcar is cared for by the 40 & 8 Society, a division of the American Legion. The society, named for the standard French boxcars of World War I and World War II which carried 40 men or eight horses, is sponsoring several 50th anniversary events as well.
The Texas Memorial Museum is located at 2400 Trinity St. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free.
For further information from the 40 & 8 Society, contact Dave Knutson (512)613-5394. For further information from the Texas Memorial Museum, contact Brent Lyles, (512) 471-1604.