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Founder of Eastern Airlines

He was born in Columbus, Ohio, 1890, the third of eight children. At eleven he quit school to help with the family expenses, and got his first full-time job at $3.50 per week. At fifteen he got interested in automobiles and went to work in a garage at $4.50 a week. He knew he would never get anywhere without more schooling, so he subscribed to a correspondence home study course on automobiles. Night after night, following long days at the garage, he worked at the kitchen table by the light of the kerosene lamp. His next step was already planned in his mind—a job with Frayer-Miller Automobile Company of Columbus.

One day when he felt ready, he walked into the plant. Lee Frayer was bent over the hood of a car. The boy waited. Finally, Frayer noticed him. “Well,” he said, “what do you want?” “I just thought I’d tell you I’m coming to work here tomorrow morning,” the boy replied. “Oh! Who hired you?” “Nobody yet, but I’ll be on the job in the morning. If I’m not worth anything, you can fire me.”

Early the next morning the young man returned to the garage. Frayer was not yet there. Noticing that the floor was thick with metal shavings and accumulated dirt and grease, the boy got a broom and shovel and set to work cleaning the place. The rest of the boy’s future was predictable. He went on to a national reputation as a racing car driver and automotive expert. In World War I he was America’s leading flying ace. Later he founded Eastern Airlines. His name—Eddie Rickenbacker.

Bits and Pieces, December, 1989, pp. 22ff