Show me a sign!

Burma Shave

Okay,  you  X and Ys won’t have any idea what this is about, but the older generation kids used to delight in reading Burma Shave signs along the highway.

Way back in 1925, young Allan Odell pitched this great sales idea to his father, Clinton.  Use small, wooden roadside signs to pitch the product, Burma-Shave, a brushless shaving cream.  Dad wasn’t wild about the idea, but eventually gave Allan $200 to give it a try. It didn’t take long for sales to soar.  Soon Allan and his brother Leonard were putting up signs all over the dang place.  At first the signs were pure sales pitch, but as the years passed they found their sense of humor extending to safety tips and providing pure fun along with some good old-fashioned down home wisdom.

At their height of popularity, there were 7,000 Burma-Shave signs stretching across America.  The familiar white on red signs, placed individually one after the other, were as much a part of a family trip as irritating your kid brother in the back seat of the car.  The signs brought humor during the Depression and the dark days of World War II.

As befits an American culture, one set is preserved by the Smithsonian Institution.  It reads,  “Shaving brushes – you’ll soon see ‘em – On a shelf – In some museum – Burma-Shave.”

The next generation counted VW Bugs instead.

If you are curious or just want to take a trip down memory lane, you can find 100 of their old sayings on or perhaps create your own …

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