Burma-Shave was an American brand of brushless shaving cream, famous for its advertising gimmick of posting humorous rhyming poems on small, sequential highway billboard signs.
1940s Burma-Shave tube and box
Burma-Shave was introduced in 1925 by the Burma-Vita company, owned by Clinton Odell. The company's original product was a liniment made of ingredients described as coming "from the Malay Peninsula and Burma." Demand was sparse, and the company sought to expand sales by introducing a product with wider appeal.
The result was the famous Burma-Shave advertising sign program, and sales took off. At its peak, Burma-Shave was the second-highest selling brushless shaving cream in the United States. Sales declined in the 1950's, and in 1963 the company was sold to Phillip Morris. The signs were removed at that time. The brand decreased in visibility and eventually became the property of the American Safety Razor Company.
In 1997, the American Safety Razor Company reintroduced the Burma-Shave brand, including a nostalgic shaving soap and brush kit. In fact, the original Burma-Shave was a brushless shaving cream, and Burma-Shave's own roadside signs frequently ridiculed "Grandpa's old-fashioned shaving brush."
Set of signs promoting Burma-Shave, on U.S. Route 66.
Burma-Shave sign series appeared from 1925 to 1963 in most of the contiguous United States. The exceptions were New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada (deemed to have insufficient road traffic), and Massachusetts (eliminated due to that state's high land rentals and roadside foliage). Typically, six consecutive small signs would be posted along the edge of highways, spaced for sequential reading by passing motorists. The last sign was almost always the name of the product. The signs were originally produced in two color combinations: red-and-white and orange-and-black, though the latter was eliminated after a few years. A special white-on-blue set of signs was developed for South Dakota, which restricted the color red on roadside signs to official warning notices.
This use of the billboard was a successful advertising gimmick during the early years of the automobile, drawing attention and passers-by who were curious to discover the punchline. As the Interstate system expanded in the late 1950s and vehicle speeds increased, it became more difficult to attract motorists' attention with small signs. When the company was acquired by Phillip Morris, the signs were discontinued on advice of counsel.
Some of the signs, instead of directly advertising the shaving cream, featured public safety messages (usually about speeding).
Examples of Burma-Shave advertisements are at The House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Re-creations of Burma-Shave sign sets also appear on Arizona Highway 66, part of the original U.S. Route 66, between Seligman and Kingman, Arizona (though they weren't installed there by Burma-Shave during its original campaigns) and on Old U.S. Highway 30 near Ogden, Iowa. Another example is shown at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan.
The complete list of the 600 or so known sets of signs is listed in Sunday Drives and in the last part of The Verse by the Side of the Road. The content of the earliest signs is lost, but it is believed that the first recorded signs, for 1927 and soon after, are close to the originals. The first ones were prosaic advertisements. Generally the signs were printed with all capital letters. The style shown below is for readability:
Shave the modern way / No brush / No lather / No rub-in / Big tube 35 cents - Drug stores / Burma-Shave
As early as 1928, the writers were displaying a puckish sense of humor:
Takes the "H" out of shave / Makes it save / Saves complexion / Saves time and money / No brush - no lather / Burma-Shave
In 1929, the prosaic ads began to be replaced by actual verses on four signs, with the fifth sign merely a filler for the sixth:
Every shaver / Now can snore / Six more minutes / Than before / By using / Burma-Shave
Your shaving brush / Has had its day / So why not / Shave the modern way / With / Burma-Shave
Previously there were only two to four sets of signs per year. 1930 saw major growth in the company, and 19 sets of signs were produced. The writers recycled a previous joke. They continued to ridicule the "old" style of shaving. And they began to appeal to the wives as well:
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
In 1931, the writers began to reveal a "cringe factor" side to their creativity, which would increase over time:
No matter / How you slice it / It's still your face / Be humane / Use / Burma-Shave
In 1932, the company recognized the popularity of the signs with a self-referencing gimmick:
Free / Illustrated / Jingle book / In every / Package / Burma-Shave
A shave / That's real / No cuts to heal / A soothing / Velvet after-feel / Burma-Shave
Along with the usual jokes, a regional contest spawned several signs in 1933, held during football season:
Within this vale / Of toil / And sin / Your head grows bald / But not your chin - use / Burma-Shave
Hit 'em high / Hit 'em low / Follow your team / Over WCCO / And win a prize / Burma-Shave
In 1935, the first known appearance of a road safety message appeared, combined with a punning sales pitch:
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
A punning reference to another well-known drug store product 1936:
Riot at / Drug store / Calling all cars / 100 customers / 99 jars / Burma-Shave
Smith Brothers / Would look immense / If they'd just / Cough up 50 cents / For half pound jar / Burma-Shave
Free! Free! / A trip / To Mars / For 900 / Empty jars / Burma-Shave
Self-referencing signs continued in 1937, along with puns:
You've laughed / At our signs / For many a mile / Be a sport / Give us a trial / Burma-Shave
If harmony / Is what / You crave / Then get / A tuba / Burma-Shave
Another safety message from 1938:
Don't take a curve / at 60 per / we hate to lose / a customer / Burma-Shave
Safety messages began to increase in 1939, as these examples show. (The first of the three is a parody of Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.)
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
1939 also saw more puns for the product:
A peach / Looks good / With lots of fuzz / But man's no peach / And never wuz / Burma-Shave
I proposed / To Ida / Ida refused / Ida won my Ida / If Ida used / Burma-Shave
In 1939 and subsequent years, demise of the signs was foreshadowed, as busy roadways approaching larger cities featured shortened versions of the slogans on one, two, or three signs — the exact count is not recorded. The puns include a play on the Maxwell House Coffee slogan, standard puns, and yet another reference to the "H" joke:
Good to the last strop
Covers a multitude of chins
Takes the "H" out of shaving
1940 saw an early reference to the idea of a designated driver:
It's best for / One who hits / The bottle / To let another / Use the throttle / Burma-Shave
More safety slogans in 1941, along with ads:
Don't stick / Your elbow / Out so far / It might go home / In another car / Burma-Shave
At intersections / Look each way / A harp sounds nice / But it's / Hard to play / Burma-Shave
From / Bar / To car / To gates / Ajar / Burma-Shave
Broken romance / Stated fully / She went wild / When he / Went wooly / Burma Shave
Possibly the ultimate in self-referencing signs, leaving out the product name. This one also adorns the cover of the book:
If you / Don't know / Whose signs / These are / You can't have / Driven very far
The war years found the company recycling a lot of their old signs, with new ones mostly focusing on World War II "propaganda":
Let's make Hitler / And Hirohito / Feel as bad as / Old Benito / Buy War Bonds / Burma-Shave
Slap / The Jap / With / Iron / Scrap / Burma-Shave
Don't lose / Your head / To gain a minute / You need your head / Your brains are in it / Burma-Shave (repeated in 1963)
Car in ditch / Driver in tree / Moon was full / And so / Was he / Burma-Shave
I use it too / The bald man said / It keeps my face / Just like / My head / Burma-Shave
In Cupid's little / Bag of trix / Here's the one / That clix / With chix / Burma-Shave
He tried / To cross / As fast train neared / Death didn't draft him / He volunteered / Burma-Shave
My job is / Keeping faces clean / And nobody knows / De stubble / I've seen / Burma-Shave
Her chariot / Raced 80 per / They hauled away / What had / Ben Hur / Burma-Shave
Drinking drivers / Don't you know / Great bangs / From little / Binges grow? / Burma-Shave
Proper / Distance / To him was bunk / They pulled him out / Of some guy's trunk / Burma-Shave
Pedro / Walked / Back home, by golly / His bristly chin / Was hot-to-Molly / Burma-Shave (repeated in 1963)
The wolf / Is shaved / So neat and trim / Red Riding Hood / Is chasing him / Burma-Shave
Missin' / Kissin'? / Perhaps your thrush / Can't get thru / The underbrush — try / Burma-Shave
A chin / Where barbed wire / Bristles stand / Is bound to be / A no ma'ams land / Burma-Shave
Around / The curve / Lickety-split / Lovely car / Wasn't it? / Burma Shave
Dinah doesn't / Treat him right / But if he'd / Shave / Dyna-mite! / Burma-Shave
The big blue tube's / Just like Louise / You get / A thrill / From every squeeze / Burma-Shave
To change that / Shaving job / To joy / You gotta use / The real McCoy / Burma-Shave
The monkey took / One look at Jim / And threw the peanuts / Back at him / He needed / Burma-Shave
Slow down, Pa / Sakes alive / Ma missed signs / Four / And five / Burma Shave
1959's ads included perhaps the worst of the "cringe-worthy" safety slogans:
Said Farmer Brown / Who's bald / On top / Wish I could / Rotate the crop / Burma-Shave
This cooling shave / Will never fail / To stamp / Its user / First-class male / Burma-Shave
Don't / Try passing / On a slope / Unless you have / A periscope / Burma-Shave
If daisies / Are your / Favorite flower / Keep pushin' up those / Miles per hour / Burma-Shave
He lit a match / To check gas tank / That's why / They call him / Skinless Frank / Burma Shave
1960 saw the last group of original signs until 1963:
Henry the Eighth / Sure had / Trouble / Short term wives / Long term stubble / Burma-Shave
Ben / Met Anna / Made a hit / Neglected beard / Ben-Anna split / Burma-Shave
Dim your lights / Behind a car / Let folks see / How bright / You are / Burma-Shave
Angels / Who guard you / When you drive / Usually / Retire at 65 / Burma-Shave
1963 was the last year for the signs, most of which were repeats, including the final slogan, which had first appeared in 1953:
Our fortune / Is your / Shaven face / It's our best / Advertising space / Burma-Shave
One sign considered, but never used:
Listen birds / These signs cost / Money / So roost a while / But don't get funny / Burma-Shave
(year unknown) Here lies / Heaven's neophyte / signaled left / then turned right / Burma-Shave
Friday, July 30, 2010
You may need to watch it twice; once to watch the Burma shave signs change and once to catch all the pictures plus listening to the music of the Statler Brothers.
THIS IS REALLY GREAT.
This is for my 'older friends' because most folks under 50 would have no idea what I am talking about.. 'Too bad they missed it!'
Click Here For Video
Dance in the Rain
The following was sent to me by a good friend a few days ago. You may have seen it before. It’s still good to read again. May we all know what true love really is…
The Rain It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80's arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am.
I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.
While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor's appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer's Disease.
As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late.
He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now.
I was surprised, and asked him, 'And you still go every morning, even though she doesn't know who you are?'
He smiled as he patted my hand and said,
'She doesn't know me, but I still know who she is.'
I had to hold back tears as he left, I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought,
'That is the kind of love I want in my life.' True love is neither physical, nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.
The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.
'Life isn't about how to survive the storm, But how to dance in the rain.'
We are all getting Older. Tomorrow may be our turn. Enjoy life now - it has an expiration date!
The Barn Raising
Daddy's Little Helper
Out To Pasture
Country Memories Artist: Charles Freitag
Monday, July 26, 2010
Olive Ann Burns (July 17, 1924 – July 4, 1990) was an American writer from Georgia best known for her single completed novel, Cold Sassy Tree, published in 1984.
Olive Ann Burns was born in Banks County, Georgia. Her father was a farmer but was forced to sell his farm in 1931 during the Great Depression. The Burns family then moved to Commerce, Georgia. Burns attended Mercer University, where she wrote for the college magazine. Her sophomore year she transferred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she majored in journalism.
Burns worked for the Atlanta Journal and wrote under the pseudonym "Amy Larkin". She married Andy Sparks, a fellow journalist. In 1971 Burns began writing down family stories as dictated by her parents. In 1975 she was diagnosed with lymphoma and began to change the family stories into a novel that would later become Cold Sassy Tree. The novel was finally published eight years after it was begun, in 1984. Burns received so many letters pleading for a follow-up novel that she began writing Leaving Cold Sassy. Burns died of heart failure in 1990, at age 65, in a hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, before finishing the manuscript, and the uncompleted novel was published in 1992 along with her notes.
1. ^ Blau, Eleanor (July 6, 1990). "Olive Ann Burns, 65, an Author Whose Illness Inspired Her Book (obituary)". The New York Times. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
* Olive Ann Burns, in The New Georgia Encyclopedia
Cold Sassy Tree is a 1984 novel by Olive Ann Burns. Set in a fictional Georgia, United States, town called Cold Sassy (and based on the actual city Harmony Grove, now Commerce) during 1905-1906, it follows the life of Will Tweedy, and explores themes such as religion, death, and social taboos. The sequel to the novel is Leaving Cold Sassy, which was published after Burns' death.
On July 5, 1906, Enoch Rucker Blakeslee announces that he intends to marry Miss Love Simpson, a milliner at his store who is years younger than he. This news shocks his family, since his wife Mattie Lou died only three weeks earlier. Rucker’s daughters, Mary Willis and Loma, worry about what the gossips of Cold Sassy, Georgia, will think of their father’s impropriety.
Will Tweedy, Rucker’s 14-year-old grandson and the narrator of the novel, supports his grandfather’s marriage. Will thinks Miss Love is nice and pretty, even though she comes from Baltimore and therefore is practically a Yankee. Will thinks that Rucker needs someone to look after him now that Mattie Lou is gone. On the afternoon Rucker announces his engagement, Will sneaks off to go fishing in the country despite the fact that he is supposed to be in mourning for his grandmother. He walks across a high, narrow train trestle and nearly dies when a train speeds toward him. He survives by lying flat between the tracks so the train passes just overhead without touching him. Will becomes a sensation after his near-death experience, and the whole town comes to his house to ask him about the incident. Rucker shocks everyone by arriving with his new bride, Miss Love.
The people of Cold Sassy disapprove of Rucker’s hasty marriage, and rumors spread quickly in the small town. Will, however, spends a great deal of time at the Blakeslee house and becomes friends with Miss Love. Will likes her because of her candid opinions and open personality. He also has a little crush on her, often spying on her and thinking about her large breasts, which he says looked like puppies peeking over a fence. Will soon learns that the marriage is one of convenience and that Rucker and Miss Love sleep in separate rooms. That means no sex. Miss Love tells Will that she married Rucker only because he promised to deed her the house and furniture. For his part, Rucker married Miss Love to save on the cost of a housekeeper. One day, Clayton McAllister, Miss Love’s former fiancé from Texas, shows up and tries to persuade Miss Love to leave with him. He kisses her, but Miss Love sends him away contemptuously after kissing him.
Will and some of his friends make a trip into the country to pick up a horse for Miss Love, camping in the mountains along the way. When they return, Will and his father, Hoyt, try to convince Will’s mother, Mary Willis, to go on a trip to New York. Rucker has bought the tickets to New York so that Hoyt, who works for Rucker, can go to purchase new goods for the store. At first Mary Willis refuses to go because she is in mourning, but Will and Hoyt convince her that the trip will do her good. Right after Mary Willis changes her mind, Rucker decides to use the tickets himself to go to New York with Miss Love. Mary Willis is crushed, and her hatred of Miss Love increases. To take his and Mary Willis’ mind off the disappointment, Hoyt buys a brand new Cadillac and becomes the first owner of a car in Cold Sassy.
Rucker and Miss Love return from New York. They are now flirtatious and affectionate with each other, and Will wonders whether their marriage is becoming more legitimate. Rucker announces that he too has bought a car and intends to begin selling cars in Cold Sassy.
Lightfoot McLendon is a classmate of Will’s who lives in the impoverished section of Cold Sassy known as Mill Town. One day Will takes Lightfoot on a car ride to the cemetery, where he kisses her. A nosy neighbor sees the kiss and tells Will’s parents. Outraged at Will’s association with common people, Will’s parents forbid him to drive the Cadillac for two months. Will gets around his punishment by driving Rucker’s car. One Sunday, Will, Rucker, and Miss Love take a day trip into the country, where Will gives them driving lessons.
On the way back to Cold Sassy, as he tries to avoid a collision with a Ford wrecked in the middle of the road, Will crashes the car into a creek bed and damages the radiator. While they wait for a repair team to arrive, they stay with a family that lives nearby. That night, Will overhears Rucker tell Miss Love that he loves her and wants their marriage to be real. Miss Love declares that she cannot and that no man would want her if he knew her terrible secret.
Eventually, Miss Love and Rucker fall deeply in love. Will’s uncle, Camp Williams, commits suicide, which begins a dark period in Cold Sassy. Rucker hires Will’s worst enemy, Hosie Roach, to work at the store in Camp’s place. Because of his new income, Hosie can marry Will’s beloved Lightfoot. A pair of thieves rob and beat Rucker. Although he recovers from his injuries, Rucker catches pneumonia. As Rucker lies sick in bed, Will overhears him tell Miss Love that God provides strength and comfort to the faithful in times of trouble. Miss Love tells Will that although Rucker does not know it, she is pregnant with Rucker’s child. Rucker dies shortly after he falls ill, but his message of faith in God gives Will strength to cope. Though the town and Will’s family do not accept Miss Love, she knows that they will all accept her child, and plans on staying in Cold Sassy.
Film, TV or theatrical adaptations
* Carlisle Floyd wrote an opera based on the book.
* The novel was adapted into a TV movie in 1989, starring Faye Dunaway and Neil Patrick Harris.
Author Olive Ann Burns
Country United States
Genre(s) Historical novel
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
Publication date November 1984
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 391 pp (hardback edition)
ISBN ISBN 0-89919-309-9 (hardback edition)
OCLC Number 10780543
Dewey Decimal 813/.54 19
LC Classification PS3552.U73248 C6 1984
Followed by Leaving Cold Sassy
* Spark notes for Cold Sassy Tree
* Cold Sassy Tree at the Internet Movie Database