I was reading the posting at YHRT about the folks who recently set eating records in the Crescent City, and I was reminded of a story told to me by a good friend. I'll tell it to you in his words. My friend is from Bayou duLarge, in deep south Louisiana, near Houma. About a quarter mile south of the house where he grew up there is a big pile of oyster shells in the road, blocking it from further traffic. South of that is marsh, or gulf. In Charlie's words:
"I was just eighteen, in the Air Force, and hadn't been much farther than Houma, and I was assigned to a Prime Beef squadron, and we went to Viet Nam. After I had been there a while, they loaded us on a plane, along with a bulldozer and we took off, flying west. We landed in the jungle, hard on the coast of the South China Sea, on a little dirt strip. They told us to start expanding the runway and the plane would be back in four hours with more equipment and men. The plane took off, left us there, and I didn't know where in the hell I was.
"Well, four hours came and went. No plane. It was starting to get dark, and I was hungry, and tired, and dirty, and I wandered out to the beach dragging my kit bag with me. I sat on the shore of that sea and started thinking about home, and I got real damn homesick.
"The water was crystal clear, and the tide was going out, and as I sat there looking at the water, I realized that the beach was gravel, and that I could see in the water a pretty good distance. And I saw oysters. Big ole oysters. Oysters by the thousand, by the hundred thousand.
"So, I dug around in my kit bag for my knife and a bottle of Tabasco that I took everywhere, and I walked into the water and started pulling oysters off the bottom. I'd shuck it, eat it, and throw the shell back, then pull another one out.
"My boss came down to the water. 'Charlie, what in the hell are you doing?' I didn't even answer him, just slurped another oyster. He hollered at the guys and they came down to the water, and I had to show the guys how to shuck oysters. We slept on the beach that night and the plane came the next day with the other equipment.
"I ate oysters off that beach for six months, before they loaded us up and sent us somewhere else."