Monday, July 11, 2005


If you’re really old, you may remember the days when Burma-Shave signs festooned the rural roadsides of America.

Between 1927 and 1963, Burma-Shave used to advertise their shaving cream by placing signs along the road. As you drove along, you would read one sign after another, with the signs combining to form a clever verse culminating in the words “Burma-Shave.” An example:

If you neglect
Your face each day
This is all
We have to say

The signs came down in 1963, the victim of those new-fangled freeways and modern highway speeds, but plenty of folks remember them fondly. There were over 600 different Burma-Shave jingles, most of them remarkably clever, all of them little windows into the pop culture of the day:

Kiss you
Like she useter?
Perhaps she's seen
A smoother rooster!!

And some are just plain pun-tastic:

My job is
Keeping faces clean
And nobody knows
De stubble
I’ve seen

Quite a few had a safety theme, appropriate for the two-lane environment:

Altho insured
Remember, kiddo
They don’t pay you
They pay
Your widow

But here’s one that never appeared on any roadside, my own contribution to this Great American Icon of Days Gone By:

Burma-Shave Jingle
Postscript: Even though Burma-Shave signs per se have vanished, the term “Burma-Shave” is now used to refer to that style of roadside advertising sign. So, for example, an advertising director may place an order for 200 plug anything from politicos to pot roast. Crazy, innit?

No comments: