They dotted roads/from coast to coast Burma Shave signs/entertained the most By Bob Karolevitz I agreed with the late Charles Kuralt when he wrote: "Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything."
When Phyllis and I take trips by car, we try to stay on our map's blue and gray lines as much as possible.
We don't get where we're going very fast, but it's our way of enjoying the country.
It gets us into little towns, too; and we like to stop for refreshment breaks in the local cafes where all heads turn from their coffee when strangers walk in the door.
We got to talking about the way auto travel has changed in recent years, and somehow the subject of Burma Shave signs came up.
Even if they existed today, you'd never see them as you whiz by on the Interstate.
For those of you too young to remember them, they were small signs spaced a few yards apart along the road, carrying a funny or provocative verse and ending up with a mention of the then popular shaving cream.
Here, for nostalgia's sake, are some of them:
Within this vale/of toil and sin,
Your head grows bald; but not your chin.
Drinking drivers/nothing worse,
Put the quart/before the hearse.
Dinah doesn't/treat him right,
But if he shaves/Dinah might.
Don't stick your elbow/out too far;
It might go home/in another car.
With glamour girls/you'll never click,
Bewhiskered like/a Bolshevik.
Her chariot raced/at eighty per.
They hauled away/what had Ben Hur.
Every day/we do our part
To make your face/a work of art.
Ben met Anna/made a hit.
Neglected beard/Ben-Anna split.
The whale put Jonah/down the hatch,
But coughed him up/because he scratched.
Beneath this stone/lies Elmer Gush,
Tickled to death/by his shaving brush.
Past school houses/take it slow.
Let the little/shavers grow.
He played a sax/had no B.O.,
But his whiskers scratched/so she let him go.
When you're frisky/from whiskey,
Don't drive/cuz it's risky.
Oh, there are lots more. There is even a Burma Shave video available with a couple hundred signs.
For those of us old enough to remember seeing them along the road, though, they made pre-Interstate travel interesting and fun.
Today, however, those Burma Shave verses are just one more relic lost in the name of progress.