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Catalog Number 7144-44
Title Drawing, Cambrian Fair, Watercolor
Object Name Drawing
Description Yellow backed drawing of fair scene with game of skill, bottles, dolls and exotic dancer in red skirt and multicolored shawl. Yellow tent and green tree shading scene. Crowd of onlookers indicated by outline of numerous heads. Inscriptions: "UN COIN DE LA FOIRE DE CAMBRAI"[A CORNER OF THE CAMBRAI FAIR] "Jeannine Lemaire."
Material Paper, paint [watercolor]
Place of Origin France
Length (in) 13
Width (in) 10
Other Name Drawing, Cambrian Fair
History Object came to Nebraska with the French Gratitude or Merci Train.

World War II brought devastation to France. In 1947 Washington, D.C., columnist Drew Pearson initiated a friendship train, funded entirely through personal donations, which provided $40 million worth of supplies to help France recover. To show their appreciation French citizens gathered forty-nine boxcars, decorated with plaques representing the forty provinces of France, and filled them with gifts for Americans. This "Gratitude Train" or "Merci Train" arrived in New York City in February 1949, with a boxcar designated for each state (the District of Columbia and the territory of Hawaii shared a boxcar).

Nebraska's boxcar arrived on February 13, 1949. The Nebraska State Historical Society distributed the gifts it contained to public and private organizations throughout the state. Gifts designated for Nebraska's Catholic communities were divided among St. Mary's Cathedral High School in Lincoln, St. Cecilia's Cathedral High School in Omaha, and St. Mary's Cathedral High School in Grand Island. The Nebraska State Historical Society retained some 250 items, many of which are included in this exhibit.

Thirty-nine of the forty-nine Merci Train boxcars were placed in public locations and survive today. Nebraska's boxcar was turned over to the 40 et 8, an organization founded by American veterans of World War I. Unfortunately the boxcar fell into disrepair, was moved to the state fairgrounds, and eventually sold for scrap.
Credit line French Friendship Train, Paris, France
Collection French Friendship Train