Shaving – The rhymes, the signs, the review of times [Rider’s Library]
Runners of a certain age – myself included – may remember seeing them. It was those inconspicuous but often amusing little signs in sets of six along the roads that always ended with the sign jostling for the “no brush” shaving cream called Burma-Shave. They are now only seen as novelty displays or by collectors. However, from 1926 to 1963, it is estimated that as many as 700 of the talkative jingles – called “verses” by the company – appeared on as many as 42,000 individual Burma-Shave boards across the United States and even around the world. whole in places like as far away as Antarctica – set up as a gag by US Navy sailors.A few years ago while cruising Country Road M near Boscobel, one of the best country roads in southern Wisconsin, I was amazed to come across a series of signs replicating those classic Burma- Shave! I hadn’t seen the nifty series set-up in years, so I made a mental note of where I saw them. Fast forward to April 2022. Among some used books on sale, I spotted Burma-Shave – Rhymes, Signs, Tenses by Bill Vossler. It occurred to me that perhaps the history of Burma-Shave and the existence of a few current examples could be fun to learn the background of unusual sites to look for on your next motorcycle tour.So, I stopped where I saw these current Burma-Shave signs. To my surprise, owner Al Hendrick is a huge motorcycle enthusiast with a motorcycle collection that included a Royal Enfield Continental GT cafe racer, a Sunbeam S8, a vintage WWII Triumph single, a Honda CT90, a Triumph Bonneville T100 modern and retro. , and many others. He is also a member of the British Biker Cooperative and owns a copy of the book Burma-Shave! the Burma-Shave signage campaign. keep it clicked Ultimate motorcycling for a potential future look at some of Hendrick’s unique machines. “My wife and I have traveled old Route 66 many times, and there are still sets of Burma-Shave signs along that route,” he explained. “My panels are installed the same separation distance as the originals, 100 feet from panel to panel.” According to Vossler’s book, the verse used by Hendrick’s panels is verse #77, which reads:Does not stick
He could come home
In another car
Burma-ShavingDue to lack of space along the route, Hendrick stitched together the first two lines of the verse on the first sign to read “Don’t stick your elbow out”, giving the set five signs instead of six. Otherwise, the display is true to the original concept of Burma-Shave.Vossler relates that the Burma-Vita company was founded by Robert Odell in 1925 in Minneapolis, producing Burma-Vita, a liniment, not shaving cream. By 1926, the company had developed the Burma-Shave brushless shaving cream, but few sales. At that time, Robert Odell’s son, Clinton, and Clinton’s sons, Allan and Leonard, were running the company and working to save it. of insolvency. It was then that Allan Odell noticed a series of small signs along an Illinois highway between Aurora and Joliet promoting a gas station. He was inspired by the concept. In late 1926, using used boards purchased from a Minneapolis wrecking company, a dozen signs were installed along Interstates 65 and 61 in Minnesota. Although the first few verses weren’t written to rhyme, the signs worked. In January 1927, the company got its first repeat orders from roadside outlets with the signs. Sales went from next to nothing to $68,000 that year. In 1929, the company shifted to using catchy, rhyming, and very brief messages on signs. As another unique twist to the story, the company looked to the public for inspiration. In 1930, the society held its first national jingle contest for “open road bards”. That year, more than 700 registrations were registered. A dozen were chosen, each winning a prize of $100. Eventually, as the scope and scale of the operation grew, so did the applications, eventually reaching over 65,000 with an average of 20 selected per year. Prizes have increased to $1,000 each. Everything has an end, and in 1963 changing times, high costs, shrinking market share and competition spelled the death knell for Burma-Shave and its serial signs. The company was sold to Phillip Morris and by 1977 Burma products had disappeared from the market. from the lives of people who loved the signs, they disappeared. People could talk about their loss all they wanted, but in the end, they have to deal with it. It was one more indignity of modern life that they had to take on the chin. “If you see a set of Burma-Shave signs there, write to us and let us know. And, since many of the original verses of the Burma-Shave sign focused not only on the product, but on other topics such as road safety, we cannot end this article without sharing one of them, verse 72:Don’t take
At 60 for
We hate to lose
Burma-ShavingBurma-Shave rhymes, signs, times Fast factsBurma-Shave rhymes, signs, times Price: $10 MSRP Note from the Jumper’s Library to readers: Many of the books featured may be out of print and some may be hard to find. That might be half the fun. The Internet should make research relatively easy. However, none of the books currently scheduled for possible retro-review for Rider’s Library section were found with the help of the internet. They have all been found in bookstores, second-hand bookstores, antique stores, motorcycle shops, garage sales, and anywhere second-hand books are discovered.