Thomas and Norma MacDonald and their "Rockefeller dime." Photo by Jacque Estes

Search for “Rockefeller dime” finds Ormond Beach history

Alex Walsh asked if anyone still had one of John D. Rockefeller’s famous dimes. The answer was “yes” and so much more.
By: 
Jun. 26, 2017

John D. Rockefeller was known for many things. He founded Standard Oil, the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University. He owned The Casements in Ormond Beach, where he died on May 23, 1937.

He was also known locally for having a pocket full of dimes which he handed out to individuals for a variety of reasons.

When Norma MacDonald read Alex Walsh’s article, “Got any spare change?" printed in the Ormond Beach Observer, asking if anyone still had one of those dimes, she went one better.

MacDonald has a “Rockefeller” dime and a copy of a newspaper showing Rockefeller giving her brother-in-law, Bill MacDonald, “golf lessons” in 1925. Bill was a toddling 2-year-old at the time. 

The 1925 dime hasn’t traveled far since it was given to Bill at the Oceanside Golf Course on North Halifax Drive. Now it is encased in a Lucite coin holder and attached to the framed newspaper clipping in Norma MacDonald's home not far from the same golf course.

“It was hung in Billy’s Tap Room when they owned it, I am sure,” she said. “In 1925 MacDonald Sr. bought the property on Granada that became Billy’s Tap Room. In 1932, with prohibition ending, Billy Sr. opened Billy's Tap Room and Grill.”

The family moved into an apartment on the second floor of the building. In 1939 Billy MacDonald Sr. was asked by Mr. Thornton, a Realtor, to make an offer on a house up for sale by the Estate of Mrs. Stout. He made an offer of $2,500 and the house that locals know as the MacDonald House was his. 

Billy MacDonald Sr. came to the area to work at the Ormond Hotel in the fall of 1922 and loved to play golf. Norma MacDonald said the family probably lived on the hotel grounds.

Why a 2-year-old was on the golf course that day with Rockefeller isn’t clear.

“I have no idea how the picture came to be,” Norma MacDonald said. “Probably a cute little boy, an old man, a dime, mutual love of golf, and Mr. Rockefeller’s personal photographer.”