And the Rum-Runners

Being born in New Jersey, my first decade was spent living near the Jersey shore. It took less than an hour to drive down to the shore. We would often spend a week or two down at the shore every summer. When raising my children, we also went to the shore. I loved the Jersey Shore. Either as a child or as a parent of children, going to the beach, restaurants, boardwalks, fishing, and amusement parks were all fun.

One of the places that I went as a child and took my children was to see Lucy at Margate City, which is just south of Atlantic City. This is Lucy. You can imagine the wide-eyed excitement in a child's face when Lucy came into site. A child's eyes were as large as Lucy's.


Lucy the Elephant

Lucy is a six-story tall pachyderm that has entertained children since it was built in 1888. Interestingly, some real estate developer thought that it would attract people to this area resulting in sales of land. Whether or not the developer made any money in real estate due to Lucy, I don't know. Surely, the children of vacationers during the past century and a quarter were delighted by walking around inside the elephant.

There is also a raging debate regarding the name of Lucy. Both sexes of the African elephants have tusks. However, only the males of the Asian elephants have tusks. If you look at Lucy, she looks like an Asian elephant. On her back, she has a large saddle in the form of a box in which riders used. That box on her back looks Asian. Nonetheless, I contend that Lucy was misnamed for some reason.

Now, that is the backstory, which anyone familiar with the Jersey Shore would know. Nevertheless, many people believe Lucy had a purpose beyond entertaining children. Some believe that during Prohibition from 1920-1933, Lucy might have used her eyes to signal rum-runners. Boats like this one would sail along the coast with large cargos of booze. It is believed that boats could carry up to $200,000 of booze per trip.

RA rum-runner's ship

The rum-runners would bring in their cargo in ships along the coast. Initially, they smuggled rum into the country, hence the term, rum-runners, quickly developed. Some believe that Lucy was used as a signaling device. It was a more recent version of Paul Revere and the lights at Old North Church. In this case, the signal told the bootleggers when to come ashore with their cargo of booze. If the rum-runners saw green lights in Lucy's eyes, it meant that it was a good time to unload their cargo. If red lights beamed from her eyes, the Prohibition Agents were present.

Additionally, many people believe that Lucy was in cahoots with the rum-runners and would signal them when it was all-clear to come ashore. Perhaps, that is why they intentionally misnamed Lucy. All the rum-runners were males. Therefore, Lucy, being a female name, meant that the elephant was not involved in the smuggling of booze during Prohibition.