, Newburyport, MA

Local News

August 26, 2013

Tilly the whale on the move Wednesday

Locals share memories of iconic but distressed sculpture


The whale’s skeleton is made up on 2-by-4s and 2-by-6s, with chicken wire wrapped around them, Davis said. After that, MacDonald used stucco and a trowel to form the body, one section at a time. Nat got the best when he hired MacDonald as the mason, Davis added.

“I was inside the whale with a piece of cardboard,” Davis said. “Howie would trowel the stucco on an area and I’d hold the cardboard against it until it started to set. Then we’d move on to another section. You wouldn’t believe how hot it was inside that whale.”

Davis isn’t surprised the tail eventually broke off the whale, because getting it to stay up without cracking was tricky. As for its original pink color, Davis said it was the result of a combination of paints that Natowich had on hand at the time.

Rosemary Thuotte verifies Davis’ time line.

“I remember that whale being built in Salisbury in the late ’50s, early ’60s,” Thuotte wrote. “My aunt had a cottage nearby and every time we drove past, my parents would point out the progress on the whale. In the early stages it was difficult to determine exactly what it was going to be. I was quite young, but I’ve always had an affection for that guy, and always look for it every time I pass that way.”

Anne Leger wrote that she remembers the sculpture lovingly as a small child in the 1960s.

“Back then its eyes lit up, one was blue and one was white,” Leger wrote. “I couldn’t wait to see the whale each time my family would drive by it on the way to and from the beach. I would love to see it restored and find a new home so it could bring smiles to the faces of children, just like it did so many years ago.”

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