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..........( Includes 644 signs in 35 files, cf )

Sign from Burma Shave Slogans

Title from The Fifties Web

 

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Can from Eisner Museum
The two primary sources for these thirty-five web pages are
     Burma Shave Slogans on 9/3/2005
     at: http://www.sff.net/people/teaston/burma.htm
and
     Tom's Webpage on 9/3/2005
     At: http://angelarch.brinkster.net/tluthman/burmashave.asp

Way back in 1925 young Allan Odell pitched this great sales idea to his father, Clifford. Use small, wooden roadside signs to pitch their 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 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 pure fun. And some good old-fashioned down home wisdom, much of it obtained from contests.
 


       Shavers from Mamarocks
At the height of their popularity there were 7,000 Burma-Shave signs stretching across America. The familiar white on red signs, grouped by four, fives and sixes, were as much a part of a family trip as irritating your kid brother in the back seat of the car. You'd read first one, then another, anticipating the punch line on number five and the familiar Burma-Shave on the sixth.

The signs cheered us during the Depression and the dark days of World War II. But things

          Sign from Burma Shave Slogans

began to change in the late Fifties. Cars got faster and super- highways got built to accomodate them. The fun little signs were being replaced by huge, unsightly billboards. 

By 1963 they were all gone. As befits such an important part of American culture, one set is preserved by the Smithsonian Institution. You can read it to the left here.


From 1927 until 1963, the Burma-Shave shaving cream company used six or so small signs each with a phrase on it, which formed a poem as you drove by them.  A simple form as elegant as a Haiku, it became a road game to read them as you passed by slowly.
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Separator from Mamarocks

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