Sunday, November 27, 2005

Remember Burma Shave Signs?

Trains don't wander
All over the map
'Cause nobody sits
In the engineer's lap
Burma Shave

She kissed the hairbrush
By mistake
She thought it was
Her husband Jake
Use Burma Shave

For those who never saw the Burma shave signs, here is a quick lesson in our history of the 1930s and '40's. Before the Interstates, when everyone drove the old 2 lane roads, Burma Shave signs would be posted all over the countryside in farmers' fields. They were small red signs with white letters. Five signs, about 100 feet apart, each containing 1 line of a 4 line couplet and the obligatory 5th sign advertising Burma Shave, a popular shaving cream. Here are more of the actual signs:

DON'T LOSE YOUR HEAD
TO GAIN A MINUTE
YOU NEED YOUR HEAD
YOUR BRAINS ARE IN IT
Burma Shave

DROVE TOO LONG
DRIVER SNOOZING
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
IS NOT AMUSING
Burma Shave

BROTHER SPEEDER
LET'S REHEARSE
ALL TOGETHER
GOOD MORNING NURSE
Burma Shave

SPEED WAS HIGH
WEATHER WAS NOT
TIRES WERE THIN
X MARKS THE SPOT
Burma Shave

THE MIDNIGHT RIDE
OF PAUL FOR BEER
LED TO A WARMER
HEMISPHERE
Burma Shave

AROUND THE CURVE
LICKETY-SPLIT
ITS A BEAUTIFUL CAR
WASN'T IT?
Burma Shave

NO MATTER THE PRICE
NO MATTER HOW NEW
THE BEST SAFETY DEVICE
IN THE CAR IS YOU
Burma Shave

A GUY WHO DRIVES
A CAR WIDE OPEN
IS NOT THINKIN'
HE'S JUST HOPIN'
Burma Shave

AT INTERSECTIONS
LOOK EACH WAY
A HARP SOUNDS NICE
BUT ITS HARD TO PLAY
Burma Shave

BOTH HANDS ON THE WHEEL
EYES ON THE ROAD
THAT'S THE SKILLFUL DRIVER'S CODE
Burma Shave

THE ONE WHO DRIVES
WHEN HE'S BEEN DRINKING
DEPENDS ON THE CAR
TO DO HIS THINKING
Burma Shave

CAR IN DITCH
DRIVER IN TREE
THE MOON WAS FULL
AND SO WAS HE.
Burma Shave

PASSING SCHOOL ZONE
TAKE IT SLOW
LET OUR LITTLE
SHAVERS GROW
Burma Shave

Deadly thoughts
About lights that shine
If he won't dim his
Then I won't dim mine
Burma Shave

And the all time favorite:

Don't stick your arm
Out the window too far
It might go home
In another car
Burma Shave

Do these bring back memories?? If not, you are such a child. If they do, you're older than dirt, like me!

12 comments:

Marcia said...

I remember idiotic signs on interstate 55 in illinois in the past few years.

Whether cabin or castle
or geodesic dome
Homeland security
starts at home
guns save lives

It almost made me want to pull over and throw up in that farmer's yard....

Michele...

Kimberly said...

I'm old enough to know about Burma Shave signs, probably because my parents, who grew up in the '30's and '40's, talked about them. I love the couplets that were on them, particularly the ones advocating careful driving.

I'm here from Michele's.

WendyWings said...

That is such a coincidence I just finished reading a book called the Prizewinner of Defiance Ohio about a woman who used to win tons of contests in the 50's and she WROTE some of those slogans as entries to a contest LOL.

Michele sent me

Carmi said...

These bring back memories by proxy. I wasn't around then, but my father-in-law has been singing the jungles to me ever since I've known him.

Sometimes, I wish I could have experienced that time first-hand. I think I would have appreciated being there.

vicki said...

Well- they were almost obsolete by the time I came along :-) I loved them!

srp said...

I remember seeing some of the signs, many were badly degenerated. Old route 66 in Oklahoma and the two lane roads in Virginia. Didn't they paint commercial signs on the roofs of farmers barns along the roads? I vaguely remember a shaving cream can on one.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh MY..it sure does bring back memories...I haven't seen one of these signs for...Well, who knows!!! Wasn't that another time...? I remember driving cross ciuntry many moons ago, taking Route 66 almost the whole way...and it was this dinky road compared to NOW...And it had been expanded in certain parts of the country....Simpler times....

Peter said...

Hi Judy, well I'm old enough alright but we didn't have Burma Shave in Oz so I didn't know about them, but love 'em anyway.

Weary Hag said...

Judy... you MUST try to get your hands on this DVD set that is called "Classic TV commercials." Ed and I rented it a couple of weeks ago through Netflix.com (which is worthy of consideration by the way) ... and we had four hours of fun, fun, fun watching and reminiscing with all those old old black and white commercials.

I only vaguely remember Burma Shave commercials. Does that make me almost a kid? :)

Paul said...

I'm here a little late. But I remember Burma-Shave signs well. You quoted the one that was near our town ("...her husband Jake.")

On my other blog, http://douglasaz.blogspot.com/2004_09_09_douglasaz_archive.html, I've written a similar story.

Good post. And I'm really enjoying all your post cards.

Anonymous said...

How about this one from late 50s, nys: he lit a match to check the tank....that's why they call him skinless Frank

Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?