Survival on Eggs
1949 On this day, a 79-year-old botanist, Dr. Melville Thurston Cook, his wife, and their pilot were rescued by an Air Force helicopter after a week in the Alaskan wilderness.
Cook reported they survived on 90 dozen eggs after their plane was forced down in the rugged Brooks Mountain range.
As luck would have it, one thousand eighty eggs were aboard the plane as cargo. Cook shared their ingenuity with the world, telling how they had not lacked for variety in their preparation of the eggs, enjoying fried eggs, boiled eggs, poached eggs, scrambled eggs, shirred eggs, and omelet.
Naturally, when he wasn't eating eggs, Dr. Cook collected specimens.
Dr. Cook, who would be 80 in September, and his wife had been vacationing in Alaska. In newspaper accounts, he said he never doubted the party would be saved. But the crash had impacted their priorities. Following the accident, Cook and his wife moved to be closer to their children. One of their four kids followed Cook's footsteps to become a plant pathologist, Dr. Harold T. Cook.
Before the accident, Cook was finishing up his career by working as a visiting part-time professor of plant pathology at Louisiana State University.
During his prime, Cook had gone botanizing with Nathaniel Lord Britton and Elizabeth Gertrude Britton in Puerto Rico. He had also worked with Henry Allan Gleason at the New York Botanical Garden - rubbing shoulders with botanical giants.