It was four years ago this month that the hubs and I tied the knot on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was the most beautiful day EVER!! Following the cermony on the steps of the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, we were wisked away by a beautiful boat for a few minutes of ‘us’ time as were we carried over to the reception site! We arrived at the marina, where the reception was being held, joyfully perched on the bow of the boat! And when the reception was over… our sendoff was high in the sky!! We parasailed into the sunset, wedding dress and all!! It was truly the happiest day of my life!!
Ever since that day, the hubs and I always try to spend our anniversary on the water! Some way, somehow, we always find our way to the coast. This year, we skipped town for a little Gulf Coast road trip! I had never been to the Gulf Coast. We spent a few days in Biloxi, Mississippi before hitting the Big Easy! I have to say, of the two, Biloxi was my absolute favorite! Such a sweet town… with a rich history… and lots ‘o shrimp!!
It took us back to the day we got married, strolling through the marina, checking out all the shrimp boats. There’s just something about those old boats and all those shrimp signs. If you’ve never been to Biloxi… boy howdy! Those shrimp are BIG!!!! On our anniversary, we got to go out on a shrimp boat and learned all about the shrimpin’ business. It’s amazing how a story can’t be told without acknowledging the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and what it did to this beautiful town.
We walked through that marina several times during our stay in Biloxi. Each time we passed this one particular boat that I just couldn’t stop studying. It looked like it hadn’t been moved in decades. Aboard the boat, tucked behind an old metal box was this old shrimp sign.
I asked everyone I saw if they knew who owned that boat. I wanted to chat with them about that sign. I mean, how cool would it be to have that shrimp sign hanging in my kitchen. But alas, no one knew how to contact the owner. We enjoyed the rest of our stay and were headed out of town, when something told me to ride to the marina one last time. So we did. I got out of the car and walked around looking for the owner, but nothing. Defeated, I got back in the car and we pulled away. Just as we were about to pull out of the parking lot… a man… a man walked onto that boat!! The hubs whipped the car back over like he had spotted an old dresser on the side of the road!! And I ran over to the man…
He must have thought I was absolutely out of my mind. I started by telling him that I had been looking for him for the past few days. Puzzled, he simply said, ‘oh, ok, well I’m all out of shrimp for the day.’ No sir. It wasn’t shrimp that I wanted… I wanted that old shrimp sign. I went on to tell him how I loved the shrimp sign he had and I would love to buy it from him. He chuckled and said, ‘that ‘ol thing?’ Why yes! He said, ‘I painted that old thing years ago. It’s just a piece of plywood, hun.’ I know but it’s beautiful and I feel like it tells the story of Biloxi.
I went on to tell him where we were from and a little about us. We ended up chatting for quite some time. He told me the story of his ‘lil shrimp boat and it went a little something like this…
Her name is Linda K and she’s nearly 90 years old… built in 1928. She’s the oldest boat in Biloxi!! Four generations of shrimpers have worked aboard this ‘lil boat. Back when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the waves got so high that a boat crashed into the side of Linda K, crushing one side. If that weren’t devastating enough, the owners home was destroyed!! The only place he had to go was on Linda K. After making some repairs, he was able to tilt the boat on its side to keep it from sinking and managed to live on the little shrimp boat for 45 weeks! That ‘ol shrimp sign?? He used it to cover the hatch to keep water out. It survived the storm.
I almost couldn’t bare to ask again, if he’d sell me the sign. But I didn’t have to. He said he hated to take my money. But it’s been a slow shrimp season, so if I really wanted it, he’d sell it to me. I couldn’t believe it. It truly made my day and is the absolute best souvenier I have ever brought home from a vacation!
What a story of triumph over tragedy and a reminder to never give up!! If this man can live on a shrimp boat for 45 weeks after losing nearly everything to his name. I think we can all make it through what we think is a ‘bad day’. And if that’s not beauty stemming from Rusted Roots… well, I don’t know what is!!