People that time forgot: Panama

This image taken in the mid-80’s shows Clare Woodman Bears, better known as “Panama,” grating coconuts to make cooking oil.  

Grating coconuts for oil is almost a thing of the past. However, in some of the far districts and the Sister Islands, one can still find people who will make you a bottle of this healthy oil extracted from the kernel, or meat, of a coconut.  

In medical circles, coconut oil consumption had for a while been considered taboo, mostly due to it being nearly 90 percent saturated fat.  

However, it has recently been redeemed in a health-conscious world because, unlike hydrogenated oils, it is not processed or chemically treated, and therefore retains all of its healthy plant-based nutrients.  

For locals, a whiff of fish frying in coconut oil can produce a serious case of deja vu. Our noses have a way of sniffing out nostalgia.  

Panama passed away in 1986. 

This image is from the book “The People Time Forgot” by George Nowak available at the National Museum. All proceeds from the sales of this book underwrite Museum projects. 

Clare Woodman Bears, better known as ‘Panama,’ grates coconuts.  - Photo: George Nowak

Clare Woodman Bears, better known as ‘Panama,’ grates coconuts. – Photo: George Nowak
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