In coastal towns for centuries, fishing boats have traditionally received blessings for safety and a good fishing season. In Northern California’s San Lorenzo Valley, where narrow roads wind beneath towering redwoods, pickup trucks are just as important to the families that live and work in the mountains. Dogs, dirt, straw, trash, tools, brush, lumber, furniture, motorcycles — all get carried under caps, in short beds and long beds. And they seem to last forever. Trucks from the early ’50s are a common sight, their big round headlights on rounded fenders, protected by sturdy rust-dotted chrome bumpers. Sharing the road wth them are the newer generations of pickups, the hemi behemoths with four doors, four-wheel drive, bedliners, air-conditioning, trailer hitches and voice-activated bluetooth. The Prius hybrids, old Volvo station wagons and nondescript white sedans always defer to the pickups on the mountain roads. In parking lots at the market, or the hardware store, retrievers can be seen sitting in the driver’s seat, waiting for their masters to return.
While the trucks seem to cruise on airfoils of invincibility, a little extra good luck, good wishes, even a good old-fashioned blesssing couldn’t hurt. After all, car repair costs can be catastrophic in paycheck-to-paycheck country.
That’s where Mike Freeman, a retired lawyer, got the idea: Ask his rector at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Ben Lomond to preside at a special event to bless trucks, especially old trucks. Mike uses his old truck to carry him to aid in search and rescue operations in the Santa Cruz mountains. Father Blaine Hammond, a new transplant to the San Lorenzo Valley from the southwest Washington coast, also happens to have an old truck. A kindred spirit. One who appreciates the value of a good blessing now and then. Not to mention the sense of community it can bring.
So on Saturday, June 24, all pickup trucks – especially old trucks – are invited to a blessing from Fr. Hammond in the parking lot of the historic redwood church.
The first annual Blessing of Old Pickups begins at 10:30 a.m. at 101 Riverside Avenue , Ben Lomond. Each truck will receive a blessing, prayers for safety and long (engine) life, as well as a blessing certificate. Oh, the event just happens to occur on St. Christopher’s Day.
While special attention will be paid to old pickups with six figures on their odometers, all trucks will be welcomed “without regard for make, model or denomination.”
The blessings will be followed by a community barbecue at the church at the corner of Glen Arbor and Riverside Avenue, featuring Corralitos sausages. There are no fees for the blessings, and the public also is invited to the barbecue, for which donations will be accepted.
At the barbecue awards will presented in several categories – the more beat-up the better – including one for the truck “Least Likely to Make It to Felton.” Orders will be taken for special commemorative rear-view mirror medals, hats and t-shirts.
Non-truck-owning spectators also are welcome. The event is likely to be over by noon. After all, it is Saturday, and there is work to be done.