Oh, I wish I had an Oscar Meyer Weiner (Mobile!)

Bonnie Godas

I’m sure a lot of you have had a boyfriend or a best pal that loved to go to those auto shows. You agreed to go along reluctantly just to keep the peace. The cars, though, are gorgeous and you find yourself (hoping that no one is looking) staring at a new Lamborghini or silver Vette with your mouth hanging open.

But it’s okay. These cars are amazing and it’s unfortunate that you never get the chance to meet the designers of these incredible vehicles. But I did get a chance this week to look at some beautiful drawings by Harry Bentley Bradley, automotive designer, that were featured in the lobby at Children’s Hospital. And there is a reason why these drawings are here.

Bradley, who is Massachusetts born and bred, has been an art lover and enthusiast of beautiful cars since he was a little kid. When he started taking classes at the Museum of Fine Arts at age six, he experienced a true realization of his love to draw. “What I recall most about those classes was the magic,” Bradley explains. “My whole world opened up.”

Unfortunately things changed drastically when he contracted Polio in 1949 at the age of fourteen. Bradley spent seven months at Children’s Hospital where he was taught to live as a paraplegic. He did not give up drawing, however, and continued to sketch his favorite thing: automobiles. Even while he was at the hospital, the nurses would wheel him down to a window to get a good view of passing cars so he could draw them.

There are eighteen illustrations by Bentley with everything from futuristic trucks, Chevy Corvettes, space age dump trucks designed for Tonka Toys, and a Chevy Vega designed for the famous singer and Rat-Pack member Sammy Davis Jr. that featured a Rolls Royce Grill. There is also a drawing of a mechanical man that is made up strictly of auto parts. Bentley’s love for cars never went away and continued throughout his life to be one of the most outstanding illustrators and designers in his field. His drawings are unique and inspiring as well as entertaining. The Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile is one his famous creations. Also, he was contracted by Mattel to design the first sixteen Hot Wheel toy cars in production and after forty years, the miniature cars are still going strong.

Bradley has published two books -one features his biography and illustrations and the other is a coloring book. These books are available for purchase and all proceeds will go to Art for Kool Kidz, an organization that is committed to providing programs for children with physical and emotional problems who, together, learn and grow with each other in a very positive way.

It is so refreshing to see someone like Harry Bentley Bradley who remembers the wonderful care that Children’s Hospital gave him almost seventy years ago and is giving back to those who need it and who I’m sure appreciate it so much.