Remember to Say “Thank You”

To many of us, Memorial Day has become a long holiday weekend that marks the beginning of the summer season.  But I hope at some point over the weekend, everyone will take time to think of the sacrifices our service men and women have made and continue to make so we can enjoy the freedoms we take for granted and remember loved ones who have left us.  This is an amazing true story that underscores the gratitude we need to remember to express to those who have served or who are serving.

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 strolled along the beach to his favorite pier.  Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp.  Ed walked out to the end of the pier where it seemed he almost had the world to himself.  The glow of the sun was a golden bronze now.  Everyone has gone except for a few joggers on the beach.  Standing out on the end of the pier, Ed was alone with his thoughts… and his bucket of shrimp.  Before long, however, he was no longer alone.  Up in the sky a thousand white dots came screeching and squawking, winging their way toward that lanky frame standing there on the end of the pier.

Dozens of seagulls enveloped him, their wings fluttering and flapping wildly.  Ed stood there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds.  As he did, if you listened closely, you could hear him say with a smile, “Thank you.  Thank you.”

In a few short minutes the bucket was empty, but Ed didn’t leave.  He stood there lost in thought, as though transported to another time and place.  When he finally turned around and began to walk back towards the beach, a few of the birds hopped along the pier with him until he reached the stairs, and then they flew away.  Then, old Ed quietly made 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” or to onlookers, he’s just another old codger, lost in his own weird world, feeding the seagulls a bucket full of shrimp.  Rituals can look either very strange or very empty.  They can seem altogether unimportant or even a lot of nonsense.

Most of them would probably have written Old Ed off… that’s too bad.  They’d do well to know him better.  His full name is Eddie Rickenbacker.  He was a famous hero in World War I, and then he served in WWII.  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 and thirst.  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 or even if they were alive.

Every day across America millions wondered and prayed that Eddie Rickenbacker might somehow be found alive.  The men adrift 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 on.  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 of it – a very slight meal for eight men.  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 walked to the end of the pier with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart full of gratitude.

Eddie Rickenbacker was the founder of Eastern Airlines.  Before WWI he was race car driver.  In WWI, he was a pilot and became America’s first ace.  In WWII, he was an instructor and military advisor who flew missions with the combat pilots.  Eddie Rickenbacker was a true American hero.  Please do not forget the trials and sacrifices that the brave men and women of our armed forces have endured for our freedom, and remember to simply say, “Thank you!”

This week I would like to feature recipes from a faithful reader, David Anderson, of Big Timber, Montana.  It just happens to be David’s birthday week, so a big shout out to him – especially since he helps his wife with keeping my county office clean.  The sour cream raisin pie recipe came from Helen Spilde, who was a well-known cook at the Grand Hotel in Big Timber many decades ago, and the Andama Bread recipe came from his mother.  David concocted and perfected the Primavera recipe.  Thanks, David!

Andama Bread

2 ½ C. flour

2 ½ t. salt

1 C. yellow corn meal

2 pkg yeast

1/4 C. softened margarine

Add 2 C. very hot water

1/2 C. molasses

Dissolve yeast in water.  Add margarine and molasses.  Add corn meal and salt.  Mix well and add flour one half cup at a time to total 2 ½ cups.  (Add up to one cup more flour if needed.)  Knead and let rise until double.  Form two loaves.  Let loaves rise until doubled and bake in greased loaf pan at 355 degrees for 35 minutes.

Shrimp, Crab, and Rice Primavera

1 ½ C. Bird’s Eye mixed vegetables (broccoli, green beans, onions, and red peppers)

1/4 C. water

1 ½ C. milk

3/4 lb. imitation crab meat

1/2 lb. frozen cooked shrimp

2 T. butter

1 t. garlic powder

3/4 t. basil

1 ½ C. Minute rice

1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese

Bring vegetables and water to boil in medium saucepan, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 3 minutes.  Add crab, shrimp, butter, garlic, and basil.  Bring to a full boil.  Stir in rice and cheese. Cover.  Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.

Sour Cream Raisin Pie

Scald 1 ½ C. milk and 1 C. cream together.  Set aside.

Mix well:

1 C. brown sugar

3 T. cornstarch

2 T flour

1/4 t. salt

3 egg yolks

1/4 C. butter

1 C. raisin that have been soaked in hot water

Add scalded milk and cream to raisin mixture and cook stirring constantly until thickened.  Pour into cooled, cooked crust.  Make meringue with the egg whites and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes until meringue is browned.


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