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As It Was: Gold Hill Craft Business Offers Free Coconut

In March 1965, the owner of Novelcraft Plastics in Gold Hill, Ore., Lew Trickey, ordered 3,500 pounds of coconuts from San Francisco said to be “fresh from the tropics.”  Trickey wanted the coconut husks for his craft business.

Trickey had to get rid of the fresh coconut meat before it spoiled, so he advertised it for free.  People had to figure out for themselves how to remove and store it.  Trickey was quoted as saying encouragingly, “the meat keeps well and freezes well.”

The Medford Mail Tribune ran a story with the headline “Coconut Meat Free at Rogue River Craft Shop Monday,” and a local TV station broadcast the unusual event.  Sure enough, people came.  A man cut the husks in half with a band saw for women and girls to gouge the meat from the shells.

The TV news clip shows a little girl happily chewing on thick white coconut chunks.

It’s not clear whether Trickey succeeded in hollowing out all 3,500 pounds of coconuts, but the restored TV news clip can be seen at the Southern Oregon Historical Society library in Medford, Ore.

Source: “Free Coconut Meat." SOHS.org, edited by Pat Harper, Southern Oregon Historical Society [Medford, Ore.], www.sohs.org. Accessed 9 July 2018. Path: sohs.org; research; photos index; coconut husks.   

Sharon Bywater of Ashland, Oregon grew up in Southern California. She taught English literature and writing at Syracuse University in New York, where she also wrote and edited adult literacy books and published freelance articles in local media. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked as an international telecommunications policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has Master’s degrees in English and Communications Management.