Chapter 8 – Moving Date Set
The morning of July 20, 1970, was set as “moving day”. It looked like all obstacles had been removed and that the giant undertaking would proceed according to schedule.
Then came a jolt that was not anticipated.
Three days before the moving date the committee was served with a legal injunction to prevent the relocation of the Elephant! The Atlantic Beach Corporation claimed that the presence of the giant Lucy would deflate values of property owned by this corporation adjacent to the new site. A hearing was scheduled for exactly one day after the 30-day deadline on the moving. The movers had already installed wood cribbing under the Elephant’s body, raised it with special house jacks, fastened to huge I beams placed on special dollies.
The committee made a desperate appeal to Atlantic County Judge Benjamin Rimm, who agreed to hold an unprecedented Saturday morning hearing in the County Courtroom. After listening to arguments from both sides, Judge Rimm dissolved the injunction and ruled in favor of the Save Lucy Committee. There was little time for rejoicing and celebrating because preparations that had been halted had to be resumed at a fevered pace. Workmen labored ’round the clock Saturday night and Sunday, finally announcing everything was in readiness.
On Monday, July 20, 1970, everyone was assembled at the Lucy site by 7 A.M. Last-minute inspection showed all was well and ready for the “go ahead” signal, when — a heavy fog rolled in!
There was frantic checking with the weather bureau as workmen, the news media and the committee stood about drinking coffee. The weather had been predicted for perfect conditions just the day before. At 9 A.M. a welcome breeze sprung up and the fog started to clear to the cheers and relief of all present. A few minutes after nine the foreman shouted “Let ‘er roll”, blew his whistle and one of the strangest processions ever witnessed in New Jersey began.
A small yellow pickup began pulling the giant Elephant in a half circle toward the curb on Cedar Grove Avenue. The massive structure creaked and groaned as it was eased over the curb and turned on toward Atlantic Avenue. The small truck leading the slow march was dwarfed by Lucy’s size and brought forth comments from spectators, “does it have the power to tow this six-story, 90-ton structure?
The answer was it had!
Squads of police, car lights flashing, stood by as Atlantic City Electric Company and New Jersey Bell Telephone Company linemen dropped power lines to allow the giant to pass safely. Cable Company linemen also cleared their lines, while the proud Save Lucy Committee and thousands of spectators cheered and applauded. Albert Ranalli, a partner in the firm of Mullen and Ranalli of Mount Holly, N.J. was overall director of the project. Spectators said he was a combination of suspense and silent prayer. He told reporters: “This is the most unusual moving job we have ever been asked to perform or, for that matter, vision. The only thing that could equal it would be to move the Sphinx from the Valley of the Nile.”
Mayor Bloom of Margate, City Commissioners, and officials of other municipalities attended the moving. Bloom’s comment was: “You had to see it to believe it. For a lady ninety years old it is marvelous that she could stand such a rigorous ordeal.”
TV crews from all the major networks filmed the slow but majestic march, while newspaper cameras clicked to capture the scene for posterity. It took approximately seven hours before Lucy was safely tied down in her new location.
It was a tired but happy crew and committee that finally decided to call it a day. There was much celebrating at both private and public parties.