(Apologies to Ed Rush; George Cromarty and Ernie Marrs )
My passion for automobiles and driving approaches the ardency of my faith. I do not think it sacrilege, therefore, to occasionally combine these passions in prose or poetry. The fact that I am here to write it, to me, is proof that faith abides, as I have had far more than my share of “mishaps” both on four wheels, and on two. I offer my version of this favorite old “ditty” as a humble expression of my belief that a faith properly acknowledged is complimentary to, not exclusive of, our interests; passions or avocations.
I recently uncovered this ancient statuette in a small box I have carried with me for decades in the trunk or saddle bag of every vehicle I have regularly driven or ridden during that time. It is at least as old as I am, as I can recollect its’ position on the dash of every vehicle my father drove as I progressed from infancy to college-age.
I remember it on the the dash of the ’52 Plymouth; the ’53 and ’55 Chevrolets; the ’57 Buick; the ’62 Dodge Dart; the ’65 Mercury Monterey; the ’69 Ford Country Sedan wagon and even the ’73 Olds Cutlass coupe. I lost track of it after college, both because I no longer was a regular passenger in my fathers’ cars and, because the metallic expanses of the dashboards of yesteryear steadily shrunk with the mandate of safety-promoting vinyl padding….. there was no longer a metal surface upon which her magnet could obtain a purchase.
It may have been a result of cleaning out his last vehicle after his death, or the clearing out of his garage, that it came into my possession along with the old pen-knives; small screwdrivers; inoperable lighters and obsolete fuses which occupied the small tin box with her.
Now that I have resurrected her from her sarcophagus of tin, I honor the Spirit which she exudes by restoring her place on the ‘mantle’ of my conveyance, as thanks for the protection she has afforded me through the years, however hidden from sight she may have been.
And now, back to that “ditty” In the fifties, Ernie Marrs wrote what then, used to be regarded as an example of a “novelty” song. Those of you who grew up in the fifties and sixties may recollect its’ refrain:
“I don’t care if it’s dark and scary,
Long as I have ‘Magnetic Mary’
Ridin’ on the dashboard of my car
Through my trials and tribulations,
And my travels through the nations,
With Magnetic Mary I’ll go far.”
(For a feel of the melody, refer to the the “Cool Hand Luke” clip below)
Through the years, there have been many iterations; addenda; and modifications to the verse. I regard it not as a copyright to infringe or steal, but more as a snippet of Americana which is part of the “public domain”.
Here goes nothin’:
Like my Dad, I used to ‘tipple’
It’s a miracle I’m not a cripple
Mary always seemed to see me through
Wrecks uncounted I’ve survived
Beat odds no bookie could contrive
‘Cause Mary kept my soul in her purview.
Driving privileges suspended,
Countless rides smashed and upended,
Cops would scratch their heads and talk of “luck”
I’d just smile and brush the glass off
Pocket tickets they would tear off
Made sure she didn’t leave with the tow truck.
As time went on she’d ride with me
And I got more maturity
There still were ‘no-fault’ mishaps I endured
Guilty parties who had hit me
Even those who drove cheap ” hoop-dee’s
Were always, due to Her Grace, well-insured.
Now she rides a place of honor,
Though I have placed no ‘velcro’ on her,
Her perch is regal and her hold is firm,
For on this vinyl cold and dead
She rides a small metallic sled
And physics helps her keep me ‘tween the berms.
‘Check Engine’ lights no longer vex me,
‘Blind spots’ in my mirrors, no worry,
When horns blare and ‘birds’ flip; she doesn’t mind
Speeders passing she don’t see
She just keeps her eyes on me
And every other thing that lies behind.
With her halo chipped and faded
And her raiment pale and tainted
She’s a portrait of a Holy ‘Dorian Gray’
Keeping yet her demure smile
She’s absorbed my troubled miles….
Magnetic Mary for me shows the way
I’m gentle now with steering input
No panic stops, and I don’t ‘leadfoot’
To do so would disturb her sacred place
Atop my dashboard she is charmin’
And I no longer need my ‘Garmin’
‘GPS’ is in the Grace of Mary’s face.
Now my license is pristine
I owe it to this figurine
I even get much better mileage now
It’s comforting, serene and pleasant
That her glow, (once iridescent)
Assures me that my safety is her vow.