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August 26, 2013

Tilly the whale on the move Wednesday

Locals share memories of iconic but distressed sculpture


“He’s going to try to pick it up with a crane if it’s possible, put it on a flatbed and take it to his facility in Haverhill,” she said. “The plan is for him to fix her up over the winter and bring her back in the spring. He really stepped up to the plate on this one.”

All of these plans have been coordinated with the representative of the current property owner, she said, who is cooperating with the rescue measures.

Mystery resolved

After a recent Daily News story reported that before Salisbury Beach the whale sculpture may have begun its life at the former Adventure Land theme park in Newbury — where the state police barracks are currently located — a number of people contacted the paper to share their memories.

But it was Salisbury resident Chip Davis who clarified how this beloved icon of Salisbury Beach came to be. Davis, a former Salisbury police officer and current demolition expert, was one of the individuals who actually built the whale, first known as Pinkie, because of its paint color. The whale was built with Chip Davis’ help, primarily by his father Whitey Davis and Salisbury mason Howie MacDonald, Davis said. That happened not long after 1959, he said.

The late Jim Natowich, owner of Nat’s Fun Spot before Jack Goldman purchased it, commissioned the building of the whale, Davis said, for the cost of not much more than $300. Nat was a character, Davis said, and a veteran of World War II.

“He retired as a full bird colonel from the Army Air Corps,” Davis said. “He hung his uniform up right in his house.”

“Nat called my father — who used to do a lot of stuff at Salisbury Beach — and said he wanted something in the field over there. My father said, ‘How about a whale?’ It was built right there for Nat. That whale was never at Adventure Land.”

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