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Sunday, June 7, 2015

90 BRILLIANT BURMA SHAVE SIGNS




Poetry can be very moving. It can also be poetry in motion—literally. The best examples of that are the old Burma-Shave signs from the mid-20th century. I’m too young to have seen any in person, but I would have loved them while cruising along a blue highway in a house on wheels—in part for the smile, but also for the writing skills.

Here’s a brief history: In the 1920s, a fellow named Alan Odell was selling Burma-Shave, a shaving cream produced by his father.  He came up with an idea: He posted a series of signs (usually four or five) set about 100 feet apart, that were welcome eye-openers for weary drivers. The first signs arose on rural highways in Minnesota, and those didn’t even rhyme. Eventually, there were some 7,000 sets of signs in 45 states, punny little verses that touted the shaving product, of course, but often also romance and safe driving. For example:


Given that I shave once a week, I may not agree with the premise. But I applaud the playful sense of humor. Burma-Shave never advertised on radio or TV. And eventually, the company’s famous signs fell victim to the emergence of the Interstate Highway System (sign placement was calibrated to achieve maximum effect at about 35 miles per hour). When Philip Morris purchased Burma-Shave in 1963, the new owners put an end to the sign campaign.

So a half-century later, and after a bit of research, we at the Why Not 100 would like to pay homage to the roadside laughs and the scribes who created them by offering our 90 favorite Burma-Shave sequences, beyond the first one above:

2. HEAVEN’S LATEST
NEOPHYTE
SIGNALED LEFT
THEN TURNED RIGHT

3. IS HE LONESOME
OR JUST BLIND –
THE GUY WHO DRIVES
SO CLOSE BEHIND?

4. CANDIDATE SAYS
CAMPAIGN CONFUSING
BABIES KISS ME
SINCE I’VE BEEN USING

5. THE BEARDED DEVIL
IS FORCED TO DWELL
IN THE ONLY PLACE
WHERE THEY DON’T SELL

6. MY JOB IS
KEEPING FACES CLEAN
AND NOBODY KNOWS
DE STUBBLE I’VE SEEN

7. PRICKLY PEARS
ARE PICKED FOR PICKLES
BUT NO PEACH PICKS
A FACE THAT PRICKLES

8. SAID FARMER BROWN
WHO’S BALD ON TOP
WISH I COULD
ROTATE THE CROP

9. DIPLOMACY IS
TO DO AND SAY
THE NASTIEST THINGS
IN THE NICEST WAY

10. HER CHARIOT RACED
AT EIGHTY PER
THEY HAULED AWAY
WHAT HAD BEN HUR

11. THIS CREAM MAKES
THE GARDENER’S DAUGHTER
PLANT HER TU-LIPS
WHERE SHE OUGHTER

12. A NUT AT THE WHEEL
A PEACH ON HIS RIGHT
A CURVE IN THE ROAD
FRUIT SALAD THAT NIGHT

13. CATTLE CROSSING
PLEASE DRIVE SLOW
THAT OLD BULL
IS SOME COW’S BEAU



14. SHE EYED HIS BEARD
AND SAID, “NO DICE
THE WEDDING’S OFF
I’LL COOK THE RICE”

15. SOAP MAY DO
FOR LADS WITH FUZZ
BUT SIR, YOU AIN’T
HE KID YOU WUZ

16. CAUTIOUS RIDER
TO HER RECKLESS DEAR
LET’S HAVE LESS BULL
AND LOTS MORE STEER

17. SPECIAL SEATS
RESERVED IN HADE
FOR WHISKERED GUYS
WHO SCRATCH THEIR LADIES

18. THE HERO WAS BRAVE
AND STRONG AND WILLIN’
SHE FELT HIS CHIN
THEN WED THE VILLAIN

19. SLOW DOWN, PA
SAKES ALIVE
MA MISSED SIGNS
FOUR AND FIVE

20. THE BEARDED LADY
TRIED A JAR
SHE’S NOW
A FAMOUS MOVIE STAR

21. IF YOU THINK
SHE LIKES YOUR BRISTLES
WALK BARE-FOOTED
THROUGH SOME THISTLES

22. DOESN’T KISS YOU
LIKE SHE USEDTER?
PERHAPS SHE’S SEEN
A SMOOTHER ROOSTER

23. THE OTHER WOMAN
IN HIS LIFE
SAID “GO BACK HOME
AND SCRATCH YOUR WIFE.”

24. HE HAD THE RING
HE HAD THE FLAT
BUT SHE FELT HIS CHIN
AND THAT WAS THAT

25. BEFORE I TRIED IT
THE KISSES I MISSED
BUT AFTERWARD-BOY!
THE MISSES I KISSED

26. PEDRO WALKED
BACK HOME BY GOLLY
HIS BRISTLY CHIN
WAS HOT-TO-MOLLY

27. USE THIS CREAM
A DAY OR TWO
THEN DON’T CALL HER
SHE’LL CALL YOU

28. THE POOREST GUY
IN THE HUMAN RACE
CAN HAVE A
MILLION DOLLAR FACE


29. HENRY VIII
SURE HAD TROUBLE
SHORT TERM WIVES
LONG TERM STUBBLE

30. DON’T STICK YOUR ELBOW
OUT TOO FAR
OR IT MAY GO HOME
IN ANOTHER CAR

31. SUBSTITUTES
ARE LIKE A GIRDLE
THEY FIND SOME JOBS
THEY JUST CAN’T HURDLE

32. SUBSTITUTES
CAN LET YOU DOWN
QUICKER THAN
A STRAPLESS GOWN

33. PAST SCHOOLHOUSES
TAKE IT SLOW
LET THE LITTLE
SHAVERS GROW

34. THE PLACE TO PASS
ON CURVES YOU KNOW
IS ONLY AT
A BEAUTY SHOW

35. IF YOUR PEACH
KEEPS OUT OF REACH
BETTER PRACTICE
WHAT WE PREACH

36. BURMA-SHAVE
WAS SUCH A BOOM
THEY PASSED THE BRIDE
AND KISSED THE GROOM

37. TO KISS A MUG
THAT’S LIKE A CACTUS
TAKES MORE NERVE
THAN IT DOES PRACTICE

38. ALTHOUGH INSURED
REMEMBER, KIDDO
THEY DON’T PAY YOU
THEY PAY YOUR WIDOW

39. TRAIN APPROACHING
WHISTLE SQUEALING
PAUSE! AVOID THAT
RUNDOWN FEELING

40. SPRING HAS SPRUNG
THE GRASS HAS RIZ
WHERE LAST YEAR’S 
CARELESS DRIVER IS

41. PROPER DISTANCE
TO HIM WAS BUNK
THEY PULLED HIM OUT
OF SOME GUY’S TRUNK

42. MY CHEEK SAYS SHE
IS SMOOTH AS SATIN
HA! HA! SAY SHE
THAT’S MINE YOUR PATTIN’

43. UNLESS YOUR FACE
IS STINGER FREE
YOU BETTER LET
YOUR HONEY BE



44. A BEARD THAT’S ROUGH
AND OVERGROWN
IS BETTER THAN
A CHAPERONE

45. THE HOBO LET HIS
WHISKERS SPROUT
IT’S TRAINS—NOT GIRLS
THAT HE TAKES OUT

46. DINAH DOESN’T
TREAT HIM RIGHT
BUT IF HE’D SHAVE
DINAH-MITE!

47. ON CURVES AHEAD
REMEMBER, SONNY
THAT RABBIT’S FOOT
DIDN’T SAVE THE BUNNY

48. TO KISS A MUG
THAT’S LIKE A CACTUS
TAKES MORE NERVE
THAN IT DOES PRACTICE

49. THE ANSWER TO
A MAIDEN PRAYER
IS NOT A CHIN
OF STUBBY HAIR

50. I KNOW HE’S A WOLF
SAID RIDING HOOD
BUT GRANDMA DEAR
HE SMELLS SO GOOD

51. A CHIN WHERE
BARBED WIRE BRISTLES STAND
IS BOUND TO BE
A NO MA’AMS LAND

52. TO STEAL A KISS
HE HAD THE KNACK
BUT LACKED THE CHEEK
TO GET ONE BACK

53. IT GAVE MACDONALD
THAT NEEDED CHARM
HELLO HOLLYWOOD
GOOD-BY FARM

54. AROUND THE CURVE
LICKETY-SPLIT
IT’S A BEAUTIFUL CAR
WASN’T IT?

55. WE CAN’T PROVIDE YOU
WITH A DATE
BUT WE DO SUPPLY
THE BEST DARN BAIT

56. SUBSTITUTES
CAN DO MORE HARM
THAN CITY FELLERS
ON A FARM

57. THE ONE WHO DRIVES WHEN
HE’S BEEN DRINKING
DEPENDS ON YOU
TO DO HIS THINKING

58. VIOLETS ARE BLUE
ROSES ARE PINK
ON GRAVES OF THOSE
WHO DRIVE AND DRINK

59. HE TRIED TO CROSS
AS FAST TRAIN NEARED
DEATH DIDN’T DRAFT HIM
HE VOLUNTEERED

60. “NO, NO,” SHE SAID
TO HER BRISTLY BEAU
I’D RATHER EAT
THE MISTLETOE

61. IF ANYTHING
WILL PLEASE YOUR JILL
A LITTLE JACK
FOR THIS JAR WILL

62. THE BIG BLUE TUBE’S
JUST LIKE LOUISE
YOU GET A THRILL
FROM EVERY SQUEEZE

63. ANGELS WHO GUARD YOU
WHEN YOU DRIVE
USUALLY RETIRE
AT SIXTY-FIVE

64. THE MONKEY TOOK
ONE LOOK AT JIM
AND THREW THE PEANUTS
BACK AT HIM

65. THE DRAFTEE TRIED
A TUBE AND PURRED
WELL WHADDYA KNOW
I’VE BEEN DEFURRED

66. THIS COOLING SHAVE
WILL NEVER FAIL
TO STAMP ITS USER
FIRST CLASS MALE

67. MEN WITH WHISKERS
‘NEATH THEIR NOSES
OUGHTA HAVE TO KISS
LIKE ESKIMOSES

68. PASSING CARS
WHEN YOU CAN’T SEE
MAY GET YOU A GLIMPSE
OF ETERNITY

69. IF DAISIES ARE
YOUR FAVORITE FLOWER
KEEP PUSHIN’ UP
THOSE MILES-PER-HOUR

70. HE LIT A MATCH
TO CHECK GAS TANK
THAT’S WHY THEY CALL HIM
SKINLESS FRANK

71. THIRTY DAYS
HATH SEPTEMBER
APRIL, JUNE,
AND THE SPEED OFFENDER

72. DIM YOUR LIGHTS
BEHIND A CAR
LET FOLKS SEE
HOW BRIGHT YOU ARE

73. BEN MET ANNA
MADE A HIT
NEGLECTED BEARD
BEN-ANNA SPLIT


74. HE PLAYED THE SAX
HE HAD NO B.O.
BUT HIS WHISKERS SCRATCHED
SO SHE LET HIM GO

75. YOU CAN DRIVE
A MILE A MINUTE
BUT THERE IS NO
FUTURE IN IT

76. IF HUGGING ON HIGHWAYS
IS YOUR SPORT
TRADE IN YOUR CAR
FOR A DAVENPORT

77. THIS SHAVE IS LIKE
A PARACHUTE
THERE ISN’T ANY
SUBSTITUTE

78. IF YOU MUST TEST
HER PUCKER PAINT
BE SURE TO DRIVE
WHERE TRAFFIC AIN’T

79. I’D HEARD IT PRAISED
BY DRUG STORE CLERKS
I TRIED THE STUFF
HOT DOG! IT WORKS

80. WITHIN THIS VALE
OF TOIL AND SIN
YOUR HEAD GROWS BALD
BUT NOT YOUR CHIN

81. FROM NEW YORK TOWN
TO PUMPKIN HOLLER
IT’S HALF A POUND
FOR HALF A DOLLAR

82. SAID JULIET
TO ROMEO
IF YOU DON’T SHAVE
GO HOMEO

83. SHAVING BRUSHES
YOU’LL SOON SEE ‘EM
ON A SHELF
IN SOME MUSEUM

84. IF HARMONY
IS WHAT YOU CRAVE
THEN GET A TUBA
BURMA-SHAVE

85. IF YOU DON’T KNOW
WHOSE SIGNS THESE ARE
YOU HAVEN’T DRIVEN
VERY FAR

86. WE’RE WIDELY READ
AND OFTEN QUOTED
BUT IT’S SHAVES NOT SIGNS
FOR WHICH WE’RE NOTED

87. THESE SIGNS ARE NOT
FOR LAUGHS ALONE
THE FACE THEY SAVE
MAY BE YOUR OWN

88. DON’T TAKE A CURVE
AT 60 PER
WE’D HATE TO LOSE
A CUSTOMER

89. WE KNOW HOW MUCH
YOU LOVE THAT GAL
BUT USE BOTH HANDS
FOR DRIVING, PAL

90. FAREWELL O VERSE
ALONG THE ROAD
HOW SAD TO SEE
YOU’RE OUT OF MODE



2 comments:

  1. Facebook says can't share because of abusive content ... wtf?

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    Replies
    1. Guess the signs are more hard-edged than we thought... I just posted on my FB page (Brad Herzog) -- try sharing from there

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