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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki 1966 Florida Tiki Theft & Unknown Carver Identified
1966 Florida Tiki Theft & Unknown Carver Identified
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 17, 2006
Posts: 646
From: Taboo Island, USA
Posted: 2009-06-05 10:06 pm   Permalink

I found out why Tiki De-evolution happened in Florida - everyone was stealing the tikis!

Found these great articles:

March 24, 1966 - Tallahassee

"Stolen Sea God Replicas Found by Roadside - The people who so laboriously carted off two carved replicas of South Sea island heads decided yesterday they didn't want them after all. The 300 pound, 7 foot heads carved from palm tree trunks were abandoned by the roadside. They were snitched with much backbreaking digging from the entrance at the Panacea Mineral Springs last weekend. The heads were replicas of the legendary South Sea god, Tiki, and were out of the tough wood by a restaurant owner as a hobby. Tucked into the mouth of one head was a note which said, 'Tiki Panacea is a good guy,' and a note in the mouth of the other head 'Love and kisses to Panacea.' The Panacea Chamber of Commerce trucked the heads home and was making plans to plant them again at the entrance to the public park."

July 9, 1966 - Clearwater

"Idol Replica is Stolen From Motel - It's summertime and the natives are restless... at least that's what Joseph Noaker, manager of the Rix Motel on Clearwater Beach might believe. He reported to police a 5 foot high wooden Tiki weighing from 75 to 100 pounds was taken from his third floor balcony at the motel sometime early yesterday morning. He said the Tiki, wood carved figures from palm trees and symbolic of Tahitian gods, was an original carving by Manuel Lopez of Clearwater. Noaker said the culprits must have climbed three flights of stairs and jumped onto his balcony where the carving resembling a female islander was taken. Another Tiki, weighing 200-500 pounds sitting on the ground at the motel was not disturbed. But, Noaker said, some of his guests reported they saw some boys eyeing the big one."

August 4, 1966 - Clearwater

"The Tiki Takers Triumph Twice - The Tiki Robbers have struck again. J. J. Noaker, owner of the Rix Motel at 355 Gulfview Blvd. on Clearwater Beach, reported to police yesterday his 200 pound Tiki statue was stolen tuesday night. That's the second one he's lost in a month. On July 9 a five foot high wooden Tiki weighing about 100 pounds was taken from Noaker's third floor balcony. He said the culprits must have climbed three flights of stairs and jumped onto the balcony where the carving, resembling a female Tahitian Islander, was stationed. But he doubted they'd tackle that one. He said its about seven feet tall and weighs from 200-300 pounds, depending on how much moisture it has absorbed. The Tiki stolen Tuesday night is an upside down palm tree, with the face carved into the trunk and the root system serving as hair, mounted on a big brass pedestal. He underestimated the Tiki robbers. They struck sometime between 10pm Tuesday and 8 am yesterday. They even took the brass pedestal. Noaker said the Tiki was created by Manuel Lopez of Clearwater, and he valued it at $200. He's mad about his two Tikis and other recent vandalism and thefts at beach motels this summer. 'The only thing they're not running off with are the guests,' he said.

This last article had a picture of one of the tikis, but it was just a dark mess and you couldn't make anything out.

The great thing is that these tell of another unknown carver, Manuel Lopez. Lopez was a bartender for the Pelican Restaurant in Clearwater, and has been an artist since 1959. He had tended bar at the Pelican from 1944 through the 1970s. He carved the restaurants logo, which was a Pelican made from a piece of driftwood. There are a few other articles about Lopez, but they show that he got into found object sculptures, and didn't seem to do anything else with carving or tiki. He was 57 in 1973, which would put him at 93 now, so he's probably not around anymore. The one interesting thing is that the Pelican was very close to Heilman's Beachcomber - wonder if that had any influence on his carving?


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11594
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2009-06-06 05:30 am   Permalink

Wonder if those Tikis ever made it back to the entrance of Panacea Mineral Springs....

Doubt that there's any trace of them left there, the park itself is gone:

In a late 1990s project, students from Wakulla High School cleared the site, erected a sign, and built picnic tables to encourage local use. They have also conducted research on the site, which was a city park in the 1960s and 1970s before falling into neglect.
One can walk the site and locate the various springs and restored structures.

The town is named for the springs. Before students began their restoration, the site was so overgrown that even established residents (those who moved to Panacea after the park closed in the 1970s) did not know it was there. With precise directions in hand JF drove by it several times before seeing the way in. The nearest spring (one in the slough) is less than 30 feet from U.S. 98.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 27, 2009
Posts: 176
From: Clearwater, FL
Posted: 2009-06-06 10:34 am   Permalink

I was born in 1970.....that's my alibi

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