One of my warm and fuzzy memories of childhood is riding in our family car with plastic Jesus on the dashboard.
In 1955, Father Gregory Bezy, founded the Sacred Heart Auto League after he lost his niece and nephew in a car accident. His intention was to encourage Catholics to drive mindfully and prayerfully
A small statue of Jesus was designed with a magnet in the base since vehicle dashboards at that time were made of metal. The statues were mailed to millions of people in an effort to get them to join the “apostolate of prayerful, careful, and reparative driving”. Excess contributions were used to support Sacred Heart missions in Mississippi.
Plastic dashboard Jesus rode on auto dashboards across the U.S. through the 50’s and 60’s. In 1967, Paul Newman sang a variant of the folk song “Plastic Jesus” in the movie ‘Cool Hand Luke’ and enshrined plastic dashboard Jesus in pop culture.
“I don't care if it rains or freezes
Long as I got my Plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car.”
In the late 60’s the Auto League’s symbol was changed to a Sacred Heart Dashboard Medal.
Now in the 21st Century perhaps motivated by nostalgia or perhaps by caring, I wanted one! As a spouse caregiver and a parent of a soon to be 20 year old, “driving” is a major part of any day. Encouragement to drive “mindfully, carefully and prayerfully” cannot hurt.
Google searching quickly found two modern alternatives …
“Dashboard Jesus” $4.50 (+3.92 shipping) plastic Jesus figure sits atop a metal spring with an adhesive base.
“Buddy Christ” Dashboard Statue $14.95 (+7.45 shipping). Fans of Kevin Smith movies will recognize “Buddy Christ” from his movie ‘Dogma’.
NOT so easy to find … however, my quest was finally successful!!!
Sacred Heart Auto League Commemorative Statue of the original 4.5” plastic dashboard Jesus (from the 1950's- 60's) for a suggested donation of $10. (NO shipping charges) Revenue supports the Sacred Heart Southern Missions.
“Despite technological advances, there is still significant loss of life from car accidents: About 40,000 people die every year in the United States. … The death toll is expected to nearly double by 2020. A much higher number of accidents result in injury or permanent disability.” Wikipedia
“Despite technological advances …”??? Well, then maybe a reminder to pray when turning that ignition key is not such a nostalgic idea? <grin>
Caregivingly Yours, J Patrick Leer
non-caregiver musings: www.lairofcachalot.blogspot.com