Monday, March 4, 2013

The Most Famous Coconut

When you get close to a subject, you often grow an attachment, sometimes to the most unusual aspects or items. During my research of the Kennedys, I became fascinated withe the Coconut. Now we're not just talking any old nut here...While serving in the Navy, Lt. Kennedy was skipper of the PT109. Long story short, JFK wasn't 'minding the store' properly; his boat was seared in two by a Japanese destroyer. Surprisingly, only a couple crew members died; JFK and the rest of the men managed to swim to a deserted island roughly 3 miles away. Lt. Kennedy's saving grace? He swam that distance while clenching the strap of another crew member's life jacket; he 'towed' the man to the island (pretty impressive). Two natives happen by in a canoe. Jack springs into action by carving a message into a coconut shell and has the islanders deliver it to a nearby post. The coconut message led to all the men being resuced shortly thereafter. But that wasn't all. Papa Joe stepped in and later insisted that his brave, heroic son deserved recognition for what he'd done--while critics blamed Kennedy for the entire incident, said men were lolling around, sleeping, not tending to their duties. Guess who won that battle? Papa Joe: JFK was awarded a medal for his actions. (So much for the short version....)

JFK had the coconut shell made into a paperweight. It sat on his desk, right along with his his scrimshaw.

But the ultimate fate of the coconut shell? Well, I didn't know for certain. Did someone eventually toss it? Was it in the White House Museum? All of my research told me that it was 'gone' or unaccounted for. Imagine my surprise--my glee!--when I found it! Encased with other Kennedy-items, it found a home, a resting place in the JFK Library and Museum. Not only did I find it, but I also got to see it in person!

Will post the picture separate.


1 comment:

  1. Check out a picture of the Coconut here: