Old Guy and a Bucket of Shrimp.


Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
This comes from Olde Farte (Tom).. Thought it was worthy for posting....
Old Guy and a Bucket of Shrimp.
It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the sun resembled a giant orange and was starting to dip into the blue ocean.

Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier.. Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp. Ed walks out to the end of the pier, where it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is a golden bronze now.

Everybody's gone, except for a few joggers on the beach. Standing out on the end of the pier, Ed is alone with his thoughts...and his bucket of shrimp.

Before long, however, he is no longer alone. Up in the sky a thousand white dots come screeching and squawking, winging their way toward that lanky frame standing there on the end of the pier.

Before long, dozens of seagulls have enveloped him, their wings fluttering and flapping wildly. Ed stands there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds. As he does, if you listen closely, you can hear him say with a smile, 'Thank you. Thank you.'

In a few short minutes the bucket is empty. But Ed doesn't leave.

He stands there lost in thought, as though transported to another time and place.

When he finally turns around and begins to walk back toward the beach, a few of the birds hop along the pier with him until he gets to the stairs, and then they, too, fly away. And old Ed quietly makes his way down to the end of the beach and on home.

If you were sitting there on the pier with your fishing line in the water, Ed might seem like 'a funny old duck,' as my dad used to say. Or, 'a guy that's a sandwich shy of a picnic,' as my kids might say. To onlookers, he's just another old codger, lost in his own weird world, feeding the seagulls with a bucket full of shrimp.

To the onlooker, rituals can look either very strange or very empty. They can seem altogether unimportant ....maybe even a lot of nonsense.

Old folks often do strange things, at least in the eyes of Boomers and Busters.

Most of them would probably write Old Ed off, down there in Florida . That's too bad. They'd do well to know him better.

His full name: Eddie Rickenbacker. He was a famous hero back in World War II. On one of his flying missions across the Pacific, he and his seven-member crew went down. Miraculously, all of the men survived, crawled out of their plane, and climbed into a life raft.

Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated for days on the rough waters of the Pacific. They fought the sun. They fought sharks. Most of all, they fought hunger. By the eighth day their rations ran out. No food. No water. They were hundreds of miles from land and no one knew where they were.

They needed a miracle. That afternoon they had a simple devotional service and prayed for a miracle. They tried to nap Eddie leaned back and pulled his military cap over his nose. Time dragged. All he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft.

Suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap. It was a seagull!

Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, planning his next move. With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull, he managed to grab it and wring its neck.. He tore the feathers off, and he and his starving crew made a meal - a very slight meal for eight men - of it. Then they used the intestines for bait.. With it, they caught fish, which gave them food and more bait......and the cycle continued. With that simple survival technique, they were able to endure the rigors of the sea until they were found and rescued (after 24 days at sea...).

Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, but he never forgot the sacrifice of that first lifesaving seagull.. And he never stopped saying, 'Thank you.' That's why almost every Friday night he would walk to the end of the pier with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart full of gratitude.

Reference: (Max Lucado, In The Eye of the Storm, pp..221, 225-226)

PS: Eddie started Eastern Airlines. Died in 1973..

Kayak Jack

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
Okemos / East Lansing Michigan
Thanks, Yakus Aeronauticus. As a kid in kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades, Rickenbacker's story was told to us. We, as kids, knew that we were in a war. Dad's, uncles, cousins were going to war. Sometimes, the word came back.


Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2003
Jack.... When you was in kinder school... Your teachers name was uuuugh and your black board was a cave wall using charcoal sticks and rocks to draw with..

Yep... Many stories from that war will be lost forever as that "Greatest Generation" fades away. :(


Well-Known Member
Nice story, most of it even true. But, this was just a month out of the life of Rickenbacker.......he was a race car builder and driver, virtually owned the Indy 500 track, was very involved with Eastern Airlines , was a WWI ace and had the Congressional Medal of HOnor for some fancy flying and shooting one day, etc. I don't know for sure if he every fed the gulls........history shows he did fly like one.



Well-Known Member
Dec 24, 2009
Between keyboard and chair
A fine story, and if it's not true we'll just call it a parable.

Reminds me of Jimmy Buffett's "He Went to Paris".

Now he lives in the islands, fishes the pilin's
And drinks his Green Label each day
Writing his memoirs, losin' his hearin'
But he don't care what most people say

Through eighty-six years of perpetual motion
If he likes you he'll smile and he'll say
"Jimmy, some of it's magic, some of it's tragic
But I had a good life all the way"


Well-Known Member
Actually, it is true.
"He was sent on a tour of the Pacific Theater of Operations to review both living conditions and military operations, and also to deliver personally a secret message to General Douglas MacArthur from the President. After visiting several air and sea bases in Hawaii, Rickenbacker was a passenger in the B-17D Flying Fortress numbered 40-3089, which strayed hundreds of miles off course while on its way to a refueling stop on Canton Island in the Central Pacific Ocean. The B-17 was forced to "ditch" (to make an emergency landing on the water) in a remote and little-traveled part of the Central Pacific.

The failure in navigation has been ascribed to an out-of-adjustment celestial navigation instrument, an octant, that gave a systematic bias to all of its readingss. That octant reportedly had suffered a severe shock in a pre-takeoff mishap. This unnecesary ditching spurred on the development of improved navigational instruments and also better survival gear for the aircrewmen. The B-17's pilot-in-command, Captain William T Cherry, Jr., was forced to ditch his B-17 in the Pacific Ocean, rather close to Japanese-held islands, also. However, the Americans were never spotted by Japanese patrol planes, and they were to drift on the ocean for thousands of miles.

For 24 days, Rickenbacker, the Army captain Hans C. Adamson, his friend and business partner, and the rest of the crewmen drifted in life rafts at sea. Rickenbacker was still suffering somewhat from his earlier airplane crash, and Capt. Adamson sustained serious injuries during the ditching. The other crewmen in the B-17 were hurt to varying degrees. The crewmen's food supply ran out after three days. Then, on the eighth day, a seagull landed on Rickenbacker's head. He warily and cautiosly captured it, and then the survivors meticulously divided it into equalparts and used part of it for fishing bait. They lived on sporadic rain water that fell and similar food "miracles".

Rickenbacker assumed leadership, encouraging and browbeating the others to keep their spirits up. He encouraged them to turn to Christianity for solace using the Psalm 46. One crewman, Alexander Kaczmarczyk of the USAAF, died and was buried at sea. The U.S. Army Air Forces and the U.S. Navy's patrol planes planned to abandon the search for the lost B-17 crewmen after just over two weeks, but Rickenbacker's wife persuaded them to extend it another week. The services agreed to do so. Once again, the newspapers and radio broadcasts reported that Rickenbacker was dead."

As equally amazing is his rescuer's long taxi:
"A U.S. Navy patrol seaplane then spotted the survivors, and by landing on the open ocean, it rescued the survivors, who included Private John F. Bartek of the Army, on November 13, off the coast of Nukufetau near the Samoa Islands. All of the crewmen were suffering from exposure, sunburn, dehydration, and near-starvation. Due to his piloting and air-search skills, and his leadership role in the successful search-and-rescue missions to the Rickenbacker party, the Navy's Air Medal was awarded to Lieutenant William F. Eadie, USN. The citation accompanying this award reads as follows:

"For meritorious achievement while participating in an aerial flight as pilot of a scouting plane in search of the survivors of the Rickenbacker party on November 12, 1942. Discovering their tiny raft after a search of more than 10 hours, Lieutenant Eadie, knowing that every moment counted after 20 days of hunger and thirst which these men had endured, brought his plane down on the open sea near the raft. Placing the most severely injured man in the cockpit of his small plane, and lashing the others to the wings, he taxied toward his base 40 miles away, until given assistance by a passing ship. His courageous and skillful accomplishment of this dangerous mission was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."