This short prayer was given to the informant by a friend who had grown up in Los Angeles. The interviewee is currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah, but lived in Los Angeles for ten years. This is a prayer to find a parking spot in LA, only meant to be invoked in true desperation. She is of Latin American descent.
MM: Um, Okay. It is “Mary, Mary, full of grace, help me find a parking space” and it’s used to help you find a parking space, uh, when you are looking for street parking or in a car park, a crowded parking lot.
MM: Um, and, but you have to use it very sparingly. I can’t, you can’t just like at, for, you know, you have to have been looking for a minute before you can use it.
MM: Um, I first heard it from a friend who grew up in LA and she pulled it out after we’d been searching for parking for quite a while and she said she keeps it in her back pocket for absolute emergencies. We found a parking spot immediately and it has not failed me since, but again, only used in emergencies.
MM: Sparingly. Yes. Yes. And by emergency, I mean, you know, a Los Angeles emergency, which is there’s no valet.
Interviewer: Haha, yeah.
MM: Truly an emergency.
This is an example of folk speech, more specifically a prayer. I had heard this prayer from the interviewee some time ago and knew it would be perfect for the archive.
As any LA driver can attest, it can be extremely difficult to find parking on the streets of Los Angeles. One can find themselves driving around endlessly, and this prayer is meant to save them from the struggle. As the interviewee states, the prayer cannot be used in any situation. Instead, it can only be invoked at a time of desperation or emergency, when hope is nearly lost for finding a parking space. This maintains a certain significance to the prayer; if it does not work, the situation might not have been desperate enough.
This example of folk speech likely evolved through the converging influences of car culture and Catholicism on Los Angeles. This prayer is invoked almost in jest, rather than it being attached to any true religious belief. The informant, notably, does not have any ties to Catholicism. Still, the prayer mentions Mary, most likely the Virgin Mary, pointing to its roots in Catholic belief. This prayer is an excellent example of how folk belief evolves from the environment and culture it finds itself in.