better to be leaving than arriving

This advertisement appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 1961 and was reported in Time

FATHER CROWLEY’S LOSS IS YOUR GAIN. 1961 Mercedes-Benz 1905L, air-conditioned. This car is only 3 months old. Save $1,350.

image found here

The Rev. Richard Anthony Crowley, 51, has been reassigned by his bishop to a parish in Springfield, Ill., where a Roman Catholic priest might look a bit out of place in a $6,850, 105-m.p.h. white sports car with green leather upholstery. Last week the Vegas crowd threw Father Crowley a farewell party in the town’s flying saucer-shaped Convention Center.

Las Vegas convention centre (1959) found here

It began at 9 p.m. with an hour-long cocktail party and ended at 3:30 a.m., with the crowd singing God Bless America. In between, while klieg lights stabbed the desert sky, 9,000 guests milled and drank and watched an assortment of 64 entertainers ranging from acrobats and show girls to Stand-Up Comics Shecky Greene and Myron Cohen. The guest of honor, slight, grey-haired and merry as a grig, shook hands, soft-shoed with a bowler hat and sang Harrigan, That’s Me.

Myron Cohen and Phil Spector found here

Father Crowley won his popularity by ministering to show people and by strenuous relief work for the migrant farm workers who abound around Las Vegas. But what won him fame is the Mass that for the past three years he has been holding at 4:30 a.m. for around 500 show people, croupiers and early-bird tourists of the 24-hour town. Crowley held it each Sunday in the Stardust Hotel, which features the “Lido de Paris 1961 Revue,” with 13 bare-breasted girls. Such a broadminded willingness to bring religion to The Strip won him much gratitude: Wilbur Clark, owner of the Desert Inn Hotel, donated a $185,000 site near The Strip for a Catholic church, and an anonymous benefactor gave Father Crowley his Mercedes-Benz.

image found here

Yet does any man of God, though his intentions are good and his boons indisputable, have to seek sinners quite so flamboyantly? Nevada’s Catholic Bishop Robert J. Dwyer gave his answer when he advised Catholics to boycott places of such “filthy and immoral” entertainment. Crowley took it in his stride. Comparing last week’s sendoff “bash” with the modest welcoming reception planned for his successor, he ruefully noted: “It is evidently much better to be leaving Las Vegas than to be coming here.”

cartoon found here

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39 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ is the title of John O’Brien’s one and only book. Semi-autobiographical I think. Very sad, very powerful. The movie with Nicholas Cage and Elizabeth Shue is excellent too. Have you seen it Nursie?

  2. Those lovelies give new meaning to the word pentagon

  3. LOL

  4. I thought priests didn’t own anything? Of course, I also thought they were celibate too.

    • I also used to think they didn’t drink alcohol

  5. Good for him.
    Anyone who can pull something like that off deserves my respect. lol

  6. One way of pulling a crowd, I guess?

    • Pulling a crowd… they do that after the wine and biscuits or before?

      • Boom boom

  7. Always the same in life – you’re just getting settled in nicely and then they move you!

  8. Speaking as a Catholic, this puts my back up. Where the HELL did the Bishop get the nerve to advise a boycott??

    The priest went where the sinners were. Idiot Bishop…

    Oh, and shame about the car. It sure is a beaut, ain’t it??

    • Are you a practicing catholic Aggie?

      • I practice it, but find it being too political as of late. And just to be clear, the only offense I took was with the idiot bishop 😀

  9. Oft that’s not the case!
    I’d rather arrive than leave.
    Sometimes anyway!

    • If it’s a holiday… then yes. Arriving is better than leaving. But if it’s a party….. not my cup of tea

  10. We could do with more priests like that, enjoying whatever life has to offer instead of ranting and raving about the “immorality” of innocent pleasures.

  11. That’s one way to get converts. I’m betting his congregation was mostly male though.

  12. I can’t help but think of the song “Mr. Crowley”…
    which of course reminds me of Ozzy Osbourne…
    bringing to mind headless doves.
    Which really has nothing to do with your post, N.M.
    I had good intentions, though.

    • I like your segue….

  13. did he provide whisky for communion? “Shots to cleanse you of your sins! And prepare you for the next round of sinning!”

    • You’ve missed your calling daisyfae.

  14. I think we need to ask ourselves “What would Jesus do?”

    I for one think he would have approved.

  15. wonder if the car survives and if the owner knows its legacy.

    • Zsa Zsa has it in her garage

  16. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a picture of Phil Spector having normal-looking hair… and having not killed anyone either.

    • I love that photo!

    • I was wondering if Phil Spector EVER had ‘normal’ hair.

  17. Is it such a stretch to bring religion to Vegas? When the roulette wheel starts spinning, isn’t that when a lot of people start praying for the first time?

  18. I don’t usually admire cars, but that is a beautiful car.

    • Me too. My only requirement of a car is that it gets me from home to work reliably. But if someone gave me a shiny white retro merc like that one, I’d be all over it

  19. Did you see the current price tag? What a good investment it would have been – pity I was pre driving age in 1961 and my weekly pocket money only sixpence

  20. TWJWD.

    That’s What Jesus Would Do

    • Exactly. Um… what would he do again?

  21. Word on the street is that Crowley’s next in line for beatification. Soon as they’re done with John Paul II. Unfortunately, he’ll need to croak first.

    I’ve been to Disney World, so who needs Vegas?

  22. I’d be happy to have the car…

  23. I like this man’s style!

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