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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

IF YOU DON'T KNOW/ WHOSE SIGNS THESE ARE/ YOU HAVEN'T DRIVEN/ VERY FAR!


If you were born after 1963, as most of you were, you're probably not familiar with Burma Shave signs.  We older folks people of a certain age enjoyed them on trips in our dad's car at a time when gas pumps looked like this:

And it wasn't unusual to find a place to stop that looked like this:


The article below is from Wikipedia.  I'll let it explain them to you:

Burma-Shave sign series first appeared on U.S. Highway 65 near Lakeville, Minnesota in 1926, and remained a major advertising component until 1963 in most of the contiguous United States. The first series read: Cheer up, face - the war is over! Burma-Shave. The exceptions were New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada (deemed to have insufficient road traffic), and Massachusetts (eliminated due to that state's high land rentals and roadside foliage). Typically, six consecutive small signs would be posted along the edge of highways, spaced for sequential reading by passing motorists. The last sign was almost always the name of the product. The signs were originally produced in two color combinations: red-and-white and orange-and-black, though the latter was eliminated after a few years. A special white-on-blue set of signs was developed for South Dakota, which restricted the color red on roadside signs to official warning notices.
This use of a series of small signs, each of which bore part of a commercial message, was a successful approach to highway advertising during the early years of highway travel, drawing the attention of passing motorists who were curious to learn the punchline. As the Interstate system expanded in the late 1950's and vehicle speeds increased, it became more difficult to attract motorists' attention with small signs. When the company was acquired by Phillip Morris, the signs were discontinued on advice of counsel. 
1963 was the last year for the signs, most of which were repeats, including the final slogan, which had first appeared in 1953:
·     OUR FORTUNE / IS YOUR / SHAVEN FACE / IT'S OUR BEST / ADVERTISING SPACE / BURMA-SHAVE

Special promotional messages:

·        FREE OFFER! FREE OFFER! / RIP A FENDER OFF YOUR CAR / MAIL IT IN / FOR A HALF-POUND JAR / BURMA-SHAVE
A large number of fenders were received by the company, which made good on its promise.
·        FREE — FREE / A TRIP TO MARS / FOR 900 / EMPTY JARS / BURMA-SHAVE
One respondent, Arlyss French, who was the owner of a Red Owl grocery store, did submit 900 empty jars; the company replied: "If a trip to Mars / you earn / remember, friend / there's no return." The company, on the recommendation of Red Owl's publicity team, sent him on vacation to the town of Moers (often pronounced "Mars" by foreigners) in Germany



·      DOES YOUR HUSBAND / MISBEHAVE / GRUNT AND GRUMBLE / RANT AND RAVE / SHOOT THE BRUTE SOME / BURMA-SHAVE

In 1931, the writers began to reveal a "cringe factor" side to their creativity, which would increase over time:
·        NO MATTER / HOW YOU SLICE IT / IT'S STILL YOUR FACE / BE HUMANE / USE / BURMA-SHAVE

In 1932, the company recognized the popularity of the signs with a self-referencing gimmick:
·         FREE / ILLUSTRATED / JINGLE BOOK / IN EVERY / PACKAGE / BURMA-SHAVE
·       A SHAVE / THAT'S REAL / NO CUTS TO HEAL / A SOOTHING / VELVET AFTER-FEEL / BURMA-SHAVE

In 1935, the first known appearance of a road safety message appeared, combined with a punning sales pitch:
·      TRAIN APPROACHING / WHISTLE SQUEALING / STOP / AVOID THAT RUN-DOWN FEELING / BURMA-SHAVE

·        KEEP WELL / TO THE RIGHT / OF THE ONCOMING CAR / GET YOUR CLOSE SHAVES / FROM THE HALF POUND JAR / BURMA-SHAVE

Safety messages began to increase in 1939, as these examples show. (The first of the four is a parody of "Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.)
·         HARDLY A DRIVER / IS NOW ALIVE / WHO PASSED / ON HILLS / AT 75 / BURMA-SHAVE

·         PAST / SCHOOLHOUSES / TAKE IT SLOW / LET THE LITTLE / SHAVERS GROW / BURMA-SHAVE

·       IF YOU DISLIKE / BIG TRAFFIC FINES / SLOW DOWN / TILL YOU / CAN READ THESE SIGNS / BURMA-SHAVE


·         DON'T TAKE / A CURVE / AT 60 PER. / WE HATE TO LOSE / A CUSTOMER / BURMA-SHAVE

The lyrics:

         Way down yonder by the forks of the branch
The old sow whistled and the little pigs danced
Burma Shave, Burma, Burma, Burma Shave
I bet I’ve seen a million rows
Of them little red poles and its signs up and down the line
Come on come on one more time

        Yonder goes Willie, he’s passin’ on a hill

He don’t dress nice but he drives fit to kill
Burma Shave, Burma, Burma, Burma Shave
I bet I’ve seen a million rows
Of them little red poles and its signs up and down the line
Giddy up giddy up tally ho

         Well my pappy ain’t smart he ain’t good at quizzin’

But one thing he knows is how to keep mama his’n
Burma Shave, Burma, Burma, Burma Shave
I bet I’ve seen a million rows
Of them little red poles and its signs up and down the line
Come on, come on one more time

       Roses are red and violets are blue you chase me and so am I

Burma Shave, Burma, Burma, Burma Shave
I bet I’ve seen a million rows
Of them little red poles and its signs up and down the line
Come on, come on

Two of the books written on the subject:


Signs & replicas I found online:
















These were funny enough,
so just a few cartoons today:





It's been said/ or is it a rumor/ that you like/ my sense of humor?----fishducky

 




21 comments:

  1. Clever. And fun. They would have made long car trips better too. Despite being born before 1963 I don't remember any ads like it and suspect Burma Shave never made it over here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know if they were in Oz or not, but they ended in 1963, which is when you & my youngest son began!!

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  2. I do remember seeing them on trips and laughing; they were not common in our neck of the woods, but we had heard of the signs.

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  3. Burma shave was never in Australia, I don't think we even had aerosol shave creams until later. We had sticks of Palmolive shave soap, which were put into a shaving mug then a lather was worked up by swishing a wet shaving brush on the soap, then the lather was transferred to the face with the brush. You probably know all this already.
    I love your sense of humour.

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    Replies
    1. My dad used to use a shaving brush & mug--& thank you!!

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  4. I didn't realize the signs started in Minnesota! No wonder we saw them all the time growing up. I remember my dad got such a kick out of them. He loved puns and silly humor (HeeHaw fan). I remember the slow reveal of several of these--LOL!

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    Replies
    1. Do you remember how frustrating it was when one was missing?

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    2. Now that you mention it--the only time I remember one sign being missing was once or twice when it was the last one, so that didn't matter. I think it was becoming popular to steal the Burma Shave sign.

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  5. We traveled a lot so they were a highlight of our trips. If I was sleeping, a brother or two would poke me awake so I didn't miss it. Totally remember "HARDLY A DRIVER / IS NOW ALIVE / WHO PASSED / ON HILLS / AT 75 / BURMA-SHAVE."

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    Replies
    1. Now we drive too fast to be able to read them--pity!!

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  6. When we drove on trips with our children, we recalled the Burma Shave signs and sang a song about them. It wasn't the Roger Miller song. I don't remember the words, but two of them must have been Burma Shave.

    Love,
    Janie

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    Replies
    1. I don't know any other Burma Shave song!!

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  7. I was born in 1952 and while I've heard of Burma Shave I can't recall seeing a sign.

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    Replies
    1. You've led a very sheltered life, Stephen!!

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  8. My father in law used a cut throat and soap most of his life.
    Funny name to call shaving cream.
    Merle....................

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never heard of a razor being called a cut throat but it makes sense!!

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  9. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I remember when barn roofs were a spot for ads as well.

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    Replies
    1. I've always been a city girl, but I've seen pictures of those!!

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Your comments make my day, which shows you how boring my life has become.