Burma Shave

 
 

Burma Shave

Way back in 1925 young Allan Odell pitched this great advertising idea to his dad, Clifford. He suggested to use small, wooden roadside signs to sell their product, Burma-Shave, a brushless shaving cream. Dad wasn't wild about the idea but eventually gave Allan $200 to give it a try.

Didn't take long for sales to soar. Soon Allan and his brother Leonard were putting up signs all over the dang place. At first the signs were pure sales pitch but as the years passed they found their sense of humor extending to safety tips and pure fun. And some good old-fashioned down home wisdom.

At their height of popularity there were 7,000 Burma-Shave signs stretching across America. The familiar white on red signs, grouped by four, fives and sixes, were as much a part of a family trip as irritating your kid brother in the back seat of the car. You'd read first one, then another, anticpating the punch line on number five and the familiar Burma-Shave on the sixth.

The signs cheered us during the Depression and the dark days of World War II. But things began to change in the late Fifties. Cars got faster and superhighways got built to accomodate them. The fun little signs were being replaced by huge, unsightly billboards.

By 1963 they were all gone. As befits such an important part of American culture, one set is preserved by the Smithsonian Institution. It reads:

Shaving brushes
You'll soon see 'em
On a shelf
In some museum
Burma-Shave

Like haiku....

Here are a few that are worth remembering.

These
signs
We gladly
Dedicate
To men who've had
No date of late
Burma-Shave

He
lit a match
To check gas tank
That's why
They call him
Skinless frank
Burma-Shave

When
passing
Through school zones
Please drive
Slow.
Let's let our
Little shavers
Grow.
Burma Shave

To
steal
A kiss
He had the knack
But lacked the cheek
To get one back
Burma-Shave

She put
A bullet
Thru his hat
But he's had
Closer shaves than
that
Burma-Shave

It gave
McDonald
That needed charm
Hello Hollywood
Good-by farm
Burma-Shave

"No, no,"
She said
To her bristly beau
"I'd rather
Eat the mistletoe"
Burma-Shave

These
signs
Are not
For laughs alone
The face they save
May be your own
Burma-Shave

No use Knowing
How to pick 'em
If your half-shaved
Whiskers stick 'em
Burma-Shave

She eyed
His beard
And said no dice
The wedding's off--
I'll COOK the rice
Burma-Shave

Henry VIII
Sure Had Trouble
Short Term Wives
Long Term Stubble
Burma Shave

When
Super-shaved
Remember, pard
You'll still get
slapped
But not so hard

I'd heard it praised
By drug store clerks
I tried the stuff
Hot dog!
It works
Burma-Shave

My
job is
Keeping faces clean
And nobody knows
De stubble
I've seen
Burma-Shave

On
curves ahead
Remember, sonny
That rabbit's foot
Didn't save
The bunny
Burma-Shave

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