The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


June 3, 2012

Jumbo legend

Great Lakes sailor who had a legendary appetite enjoyed hobo amenities at Conneaut


A light breakfast

Boyer devoted an entire chapter, “Please Pass the Pancakes,” to this sailor. According to his interviews with captains, stewards and other firemen who fed and worked with fireman Lynch, his typical breakfast would consist of:

  •  20 to 30 pancakes;
  •  a dozen eggs;
  •  a pound or more of bacon;
  •  stack of toast;
  •  a gallon of coffee.

His noon and evening meals were even more ambitious. In the early 1920s, while Lynch was working on the Pere Marquete No. 19, a Lake Michigan car ferry, a mate decided to see just how much food it would take to fill the colossal gut of Jumbo Lynch. The cook, Gordon Hagadone, prepared an entire pork loin and cut it into 24 chops. Lynch ate every one of them, along with two bowls of vegetables, three loaves of bread and a peck of potatoes, mashed.

“Even then he sort of looked around, wistfully, as if hoping more would be coming,” Hagadone told Boyer. “He had downed as much as six or seven ordinary men.”

Hagadone also witnessed Jumbo traumatize a traveling salesman.

“There was this tavern at Mitchell and Kinnickinnic Streets, where the sailors used to hang around between jobs,” Hagadone told Boyer. “Jumbo was there, hungry and broke as usual, when this salesman came in to talk to the proprietor. Well, Jumbo sidles up to the salesman and hits him up for some change. The salesman, thinking that he wanted it for a drink, says no, but that if he was hungry he would take him to the nearby restaurant and fill him up. Brother, he didn’t know what was coming. We did, and some of us went along to watch.

“In those days you could buy a chicken dinner, complete with the dumplings, vegetables and the works, for thirty-five cents. The poor guy just stood there speechless while Jumbo dug in, but when the bill had reached five dollars he cut him off. The salesman was so impressed that he arranged to meet Jumbo at the same place the next Sunday for a repeat performance, saying that he wanted to bring some friends along to watch, that they wouldn’t believe him otherwise.”

Boyer quoted a marine supply company operator from Buffalo who recalled delivering a bushel of apples to the steamer Herbert F. Black. Jumbo decided to sample one of the apples and continued to sample them until the entire bushel was gone. About that time the dinner bell rang, and Jumbo reported to the galley, where he downed enough food for five men.

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