Toco came from Clyde Shepherd, a developer who was the man behind the shopping center. He built airbases in Brazil in World War II, where he learned the word from an Indian cook, who would say it to him. Toco, he found out, means something like, “have better luck than you think you’ll have.” So when he built the shopping center, he named it Toco Hill, combining the phrase and an actual hill that once stood on the land.
Shepherd’s son Clyde confirmed that story when I spoke to him last week. The area around the shopping center became known as Toco Hills in the years after it was built.
“It shocked my dad that it ended up on maps,” his son said last week.