I miss roadside Burma Shave signs. Humorous rhyming jingles, placed one line at a time on each of seven orange signs spaced several yards behind one another, advertised Burma Shave along major highways when a major highway contained only two lanes. We youngsters, always  included (whether we wanted to or not) in the weekend leisurely family drives, often tired of the license plate game. Fewer cars travelled at slower speeds. The sight of orange signs ahead broke the monotony of open space and always perked us up. We knew a chuckle or laugh awaited.

In today’s stop-and-go, bumper-to-bumper traffic or speeding on eight-lane freeways, chuckles or laughs join yesteryear’s Burma Shave signs.

The child in me still looks for roadside humor. Here are some I’d like to share:

Sign Flowers for Mothers DayUnless Mom likes to fish, why gift her with a can of worms?

Fog Line at Sweeney Ridge, San Bruno, California
Sweeney Ridge, San Bruno, California

Entering Tsunami Hazard Zone, Northern California and Oregon, Pacific coastline
Not humorous, but it caught my attention.
Northern California and Oregon, Pacific coastline

Speed Limit Sign - Borax Visitor Center, Boron, CaliforniaBorax Visitor Center, Boron, California

Sign outside Ironwood Correctional Facility, Riverside County, California
Ironwood Correctional Facility, Riverside County, California

Sign Reads: Park off Pavement-Sea Level - Death Valley, California
Death Valley, California

My favorite is not pictured because these are posted on private property by a rancher who granted us permission to cross his land on condition that we not stop except to open and close his gates. Placed several feet behind one another, like Burma Shave signs of yesteryear, the first sign posted BEWARE, the second, DOG BITES, the third, MAN SHOOTS, and the final, YOU ARE NOW IN RANGE with circles around the word NOW as if it were an archery target.

Read all 600 of the original Burma Shave jingles in The Verse by the Side of the Road by Frank Rowsome, Jr.



About Lynne Schaefer

Lynne Schaefer has written two newspaper columns ("The Schussboomer" about skiing in California, and "Notes from Lynne's Journal" about Oregon wildlife); travel and garden articles for regional magazines copy for DVD tours of the High Desert Museum and the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, both in Bend, Oregon. She has published three non-fiction books, A Traveler's Guide to Historic California, Christmas Trivia Quiz, and His Daughter's Remembrance.
This entry was posted in Human Interest, Travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to SIGNS OF THE TIMES

  1. Heather H says:

    I remember Burma Shave signs! Thanks for that reminiscence. That rancher’s series of signs is great.


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