An Old Guy and a Bucket of Shrimp

An aunt sent this story to me today. I enjoyed it and thought you would too. I haven’t verified the accuracy of the story. I often find value in stories whether they are true or not. This one falls into that category to me which is why I haven’t checked it out—-along with a large dose of laziness and busy-ness.


Aspire to inspire before you expire!

An 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 who’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.

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 life-saving 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.

About russtowne

I'm awed by the beauty of nature and the power of love and gratitude. Some of my favorite sensory experiences include waves crashing on rocky shores, waterways in ancient redwood and fern-filled forests, and rain. My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren. I manage a wealth management firm that I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of approximately 60 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children.
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25 Responses to An Old Guy and a Bucket of Shrimp

  1. mimijk says:

    And this is the true definition of karma…it all comes around, doesn’t it? What a terrific story Russ, regardless of its veracity…

  2. beebeesworld says:

    What a great story-makes ya want to keep tryin when everything is scream to give it yo…nice work beebeesworld

      • russtowne says:

        I think you lost me a bit with these two comments, but I think one was a compliment and the other an expression of gratitude so thank you for them! (Sometimes I can’t even figure out what I just wrote so don’t let my confusion throw you!)


        • beebeesworld says:


          • russtowne says:

            I figured that is what happened. My comments tend to be filled with typos. Posts too, but at least I can edit them if I catch my mistakes later. No worries. Your comments brought a smile to my face. It looked like you were thanking yourself for your own earlier comment, Yes, your first comment was good, but gee whiz! (KIDDING!) Your comments are welcome even when I’m not wise enough to understand them. Hopefully your evening and tomorrow both go better than your today! I find that people who have a hard life often either choose to harden their heart or share it with others. Thank you for sharing your heart with others!

  3. boomiebol says:

    Wow amazing story on gratitude and remembrance.

  4. russtowne says:

    Indeed it is. I’m grateful that my aunt sent it to me. Thank you for your feedback, Boomie.


  5. camsgranny says:

    Wow, I so enjoyed that. Thank you for posting!

  6. camsgranny says:

    Reblogged this on camsgranny and commented:
    My blogging friend Russ, posted this tonite, and it hit me, so I asked him if I could share it, and he said yes. So to my friends and followers, check out his page, it’s awesome…..

  7. terry1954 says:

    that was the most beautiful story i have read in some time. a man still repaying nature for saving his life. just beautiful……..thank u so much for sharing with me

  8. Jo-Anne says:

    What a great story and yes Karma is a bitch………..

  9. billgncs says:

    I read that book as a youngster. It was a compelling read. I remember them sharing every morsel, and I also remember that some of the men were ready to give up, and he felt that if they hated him they would fight to try to outlive him. What a leader.

    • russtowne says:

      Wow. Your comments reminded me of a non-fiction audio book I recently finished about Loius Zamporini (sp?). I believe it was called “Unbroken”. It is an amazing story and I highly recommend it. He was an Olympian on the team with Jesse Owens, was on track to be the first man to break the four-miunte mile, was shot down during WWII, was adrift in a very small raft in the Pacific and shattered the record for longest time at sea in that situatuon and survivng, then was captured by the Japanese, and what they did to him was heart-breaking, and still he survived. It is an awesome, awe-inspiring book.


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