Burma Shave Summer

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Summer is the time of travel for most people who have the leisure time or means. When I was young, we didn’t travel muchm but when we did it was always a road trip. We all piled in the old Ford and as we got a block away my mom always forgot something and we’d go back. No kidding! This didn’t make my dad happy but back we must go and then we were finally off. We were usually headed for my gramma’s in Illinois or my other gramma’s in Ohio. One special time we drove all the way to Los Angeles to visit my aunt and uncle. We used old route 66. It was just a highway then and there wasn’t anything special about it.

We loved going on road trips. I still do to this day. In Illinois we would head over to our cousin’s farm where we got to mess around in the yard and play under the gigantic elm trees doing whatever a child could dream up. We’d hop on the pony and ride pell mell through the corn fields. At night we’d have a big dinner under the shady trees and out would come all the amazing dishes that Illinois farmers can make. Twice cooked chicken, potato salad, baked beans, jello salad, coleslaw and miles of homemade pies. All washed down with homemade lemonade. All American and the best there is.

In Ohio there was boating on Mosquito Lake or roaming the deep dark creek bottom in the woods behind my aunt and uncle’s house. There was also the huge barn to explore on Gramma’s farm and the pond where frogs and crawdaddies lived submerged in the pond weeds. We youngsters could spend hours in the row boat waiting for a frog or crawdaddy to pop up its head. They always escaped but that didn’t stop us from trying to catch them. There were also the land crab houses in the ditches by the roads. Little mud pillars. We didn’t have a clue what was making them. We thought it all utterly fascinating.

One of the things we loved most about the drive was the excitement of coming upon the string of Burma Shave signs that eventually would appear.

Sign courtesy spydersden.wordpress.com

Burma-Shave was introduced in 1925 by a company owned by Clinton Odell. The company’s original product was a liniment made of ingredients described as having come “from the Malay Peninsula and Burma.” Since this product didn’t take off the company sought to expand sales by introducing a product with wider appeal.

Burma-Shave was a brand of brushless shaving cream. At its peak, Burma-Shave was the second-highest-selling shaving cream in the United States. Sales declined in the 1950s, and in 1963 the company was sold to Philip Morris. Some of the signs were removed but not all and that’s how we came to know about Burma Shave.

In case you’re out and about and nearby, examples of Burma-Shave signs are in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and on part of the original Route 66 between Ash Fork, Arizona, and Kingman, Arizona, and on Old U.S. Highway 30 near Ogden, Iowa, which is west of Boone. The old Lincoln Highway, Highway 30, runs right smack dab through the middle of my old home town of Marshalltown.

Here are some Burma Shave jingles that I particularly like:

Every shaver / Now can snore / Six more minutes / Than before / Burma-Shave

Your shaving brush / Has had its day / So why not / Shave the modern way / Burma-Shave

Cheer up face / The war is past / The “H” is out / Of shave / At last / Burma-Shave

Shaving brushes / You’ll soon see ’em / On the shelf / In some / Museum / Burma-Shave

Does your husband / Misbehave / Grunt and grumble / Rant and rave / Shoot the brute some / Burma-Shave

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

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

If you / Don’t know / Whose signs / These are / You can’t have / Driven very far