Whitesburg KY
Mostly clear
Mostly clear

The Christmas coconut

Every year while growing up in the 1940s at Marlowe, Graveyard Hollow and Blackey, my family got one coconut for Christmas.

A hole was punched in the top, the juice poured into a glass, and we each got a little sip. It didn’t last long with six of us drinking it. Then the coconut was broken open with a hammer, and it was divided evenly among us.

It had to be eaten right away. If you saved it until later, it soured. I never got all I wanted to eat. Not a scrap was left after we got through with our coconut.

After I left and married, we rarely had a coconut. We would buy a package of shredded coconut to use in dessert recipes.

In 1971, I was sent to the island of Gua, in the Pacific Ocean. It was a small island, 35 by 5 miles in size, and was covered from one end to the other with coconut palms, and banana trees. I thought I was in heaven!

My first day on the island, I caught the base bus to Tarague Beach. It was lined with coconut trees, and they were laying on the ground all over the place! No one was even picking them up!

I found a good, brown one and proceeded to take off the tough husk. I broke my knife blade on it, and it took me 45 minutes before I could get a bite of it. I sat there against a large piece of coral and ate the whole thing.

After being there a while, I met some of the natives, and they showed me how to take the husk off of a coconut in less than a minute with a sharp stake.

In the 15 months I was on that island, I ate all the coconut I would ever want in my life. The natives cooked with the juice and meat. The girls ran pieces of coconut through their black hair to make it shine. The husks were burned to cook their meals.

Coconut crabs were as large as a dishpan, and they had claws as big as my hand, and could husk and eat a coconut. But they had a good side, too; they were good to eat themselves.

The island was covered with banana trees, thousands of them, but that’s another story for later.

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