S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com BURMA-SHAVE SIGNS Page keywords = Burma Shave Burma-Shave sign road side cultur language art literat

Updated:   12 Jan 2014;  13:05 ET
[Page created 20 Jan 2003; converted 27 Jan 2014
    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]

URL:  http://sbiii.com/burmashv.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/burmashv.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher



note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.


S. Berliner, III's

sbiii.com

BURMA-SHAVE SIGNS
Page

(or, more properly, the jingles/couplets thereupon)

This page is basically unindexed (except for the alphabetization); scroll away!


Who remembers the old Burma-Shave signs that used to line the roads?

They started out in 1925 as a teen-ager's (Allan Odell's) idea for his dad's (Clinton Odell's) shaving cream business, were tried out, succeeded wildly, and have become an indelible (for the nonce, anyway) part of American pop culture.

This list started on my Culture page (so-called) with a bunch courtesy of an old HO-scale set from Seeley Finishing Touches (now a part of Walther's, the big model railroad supplier), but then I added more and more.

Separation from the "Culture" page was occasioned by the receipt of an e-mail (possibly spam) with a long list, most of which did NOT duplicate my list.

First of all, we must address the question of whether the company and product name was hyphenated:

"BURMA SHAVE"

or

"BURMA-SHAVE"!

I can't be 100% sure; old sign sets SEEM to all have the hyphen, but there is also a very a good chance that BOTH are correct); natheless, I have adopted the convention with the hyphen - BURMA-SHAVE.

DISCLAIMER - I can NOT vouch for the authenticity of every single verse shown herein.  The verses are in the public domain but not all are necessarily originals.

All along, I was amazed at how many jingles/couplets there were that were NOT in the book, published many years ago, about the signs; my copy is squirreled away somewhere, so I can not readily give its provenance.  The book may well be "The Verse by the Side of the Road", by Frank Rowsome, Jr. (reprinted in 1990).

There was also a set of special two-liners ca. 1939.

Next (19 Jan 2003), I did a Google search and came up with some 1,000 sites with jingles, some with huge collections of 'em (some by date)!

Now, I think I'll alphabetize them by the opening letters (just to be different and, perhaps, to make them more accessible, as I get around tuit (I couldn't care less when they were issued, other than that some are most-topically of the World War II era, such as the second of my two favorites, which follow).

THE BEARDED DEVIL
IS FORCED TO DWELL
IN THE ONLY PLACE
WHERE THEY DON'T SELL
BURMA-SHAVE!

LITTLE BO PEEP
HAS LOST HER JEEP
IT STRUCK A TRUCK
WHEN SHE FELL ASLEEP
BURMA-SHAVE!

Two at the very end are my own idiocy, but the two preceding here are real; I well remember them, but couldn't find them in any collections.  Now, they appear all over but - from my site or elsewhere?

LETTER KEYS:

(A) (B) (C) (D) (E) (F) (G) (H) (I) (J) (K) (L) (M)
(N) (O) (P) (Q) (R) (S) (T) (U) (V) (W) (X) (Y) (Z)

[In the following list, I have deliberately omitted the terminal line, "BURMA-SHAVE" to save memory,
except where the line is an integral part of the jingle.]

{Clearly, my ability to force columns leaves a bit to be desired!}


  - A -

A GUY WHO DRIVES
A CAR WIDE OPEN
IS NOT THINKIN'
HE'S JUST HOPIN'

A MAN WHO DRIVES
WHEN HE IS DRUNK
SHOULD HAUL HIS
COFFIN IN HIS TRUNK

APPROACHED
A CROSSING
WITHOUT LOOKING
WHO WILL EAT
HIS WIDOWS COOKING?

AROUND THE CURVE
LICKETY--SPLIT
IT'S A BEAUTIFUL CAR
WASN'T IT?

AT INTERSECTIONS
LOOK EACH WAY
A HARP SOUNDS NICE
BUT ITS HARD TO PLAY


  - B -

BOTH HANDS ON THE WHEEL
EYES ON THE ROAD
THAT'S THE SKILLFUL
DRIVER'S CODE

BROTHER SPEEDERS
LET'S REHEARSE
ALL TOGETHER
GOOD MORNING NURSE


  - C -

CAUTIOUS RIDER
TO HER RECKLESS DEAR
LET'S HAVE LESS BULL
AND LOTS MORE STEER


  - D -

DOESN’T
KISS YOU
LIKE SHE USEDTER?
PERHAPS SHE’S SEEN
A SMOOTHER ROOSTER!

DON'T LOSE YOUR HEAD
TO GAIN A MINUTE
YOU NEED YOUR HEAD
YOUR BRAINS ARE IN IT

DRIVE LIKE
A RAILROAD ENGINEER
TAKE IT EASY
WHEN THE ROAD'S
NOT CLEAR

DRIVE
WITH CARE
BE ALIVE
WHEN YOU ARRIVE.

DROVE TOO LONG
DRIVER SNOOZING
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
IS NOT AMUSING



  - E -

EVERY SHEBA
WANTS A SHEIK
STRONG OF MUSCLE
SMOOTH OF CHEEK


  - F -
{none listed herein to date}


  - G -

GUYS WHOSE EYES
ARE IN
THEIR BACKS
GET HALOS CROSSING
RAILROAD TRACKS


  - H -

HE HAD THE RING
HE HAD THE FLAT
{BUT} SHE FELT HIS CHIN
AND THAT WAS THAT
Bob Griffin remembered this one from his childhood ca. 1952     (oh, yeah; it came back to me - (14 Nov 2007)):

HE LIT A MATCH
TO CHECK HIS TANK
THAT'S WHY
THEY CALL HIM
SKINLESS FRANK

HENRY THE EIGHTH
SURE HAD
TROUBLE
SHORT TERM WIVES
LONG TERM STUBBLE

HE SAW
THE TRAIN
AND TRIED TO DUCK IT
KICKED FIRST THE GAS
AND THEN THE BUCKET

HE TRIED TO CROSS
AS FAST TRAIN NEARED
DEATH DIDN'T DRAFT
HIM
HE VOLUNTEERED

  - I -
{none listed herein to date}

  - J -
{none listed herein to date}

  - K -
{none listed herein to date}

  - L -

LITTLE BO PEEP
HAS LOST HER JEEP
IT STRUCK A TRUCK
WHEN SHE FELL ASLEEP


  - M -

MISSIN’
KISSIN’?
PERHAPS YOUR THRUSH
CAN’T GET THRU
THE UNDERBRUSH — TRY
BURMA SHAVE


  - N -

NO MATTER THE PRICE
NO MATTER HOW NEW
THE BEST SAFETY DEVICE
IN THE CAR IS YOU


  - O -
{none listed herein to date}

  - P -

PASSING CARS
WHEN YOU CAN'T SEE
MAY GET YOU A GLIMPSE
OF ETERNITY

PASSING SCHOOL ZONE
TAKE IT SLOW
LET OUR LITTLE
SHAVERS GROW

PAST
SCHOOLHOUSES
TAKE IT SLOW
LET THE LITTLE
SHAVERS GROW

PITY ALL
THE
MIGHTY CAESARS
THEY PULLED
EACH
WHISKER OUT
WITH TWEEZERS


  - Q -
{none listed herein to date}

  - R -

REMEMBER THIS
IF YOU'D BE
SPARED TRAINS DON'T
WHISTLE BECAUSE
THEY'RE SCARED


  - S -

SAID JULIET
TO ROMEO
IF YOU WON’T SHAVE
GO HOMEO

SHAVING BRUSHES
YOU'LL SOON SEE 'EM
ON A SHELF
IN SOME MUSEUM

SHE KISSED
THE HAIRBRUSH
  BY MISTAKE *
SHE THOUGHT IT WAS
HER HUSBAND JAKE

SLOW DOWN, PA
SAKES ALIVE
MA MISSED SIGNS
FOUR/ AND FIVE
{claimed to be the very
 last one, in 1955}

SPEED WAS HIGH
WEATHER WAS HOT
TIRES WERE THIN
X MARKS THE SPOT

SPRING
HAS SPRUNG
THE GRASS HAS RIZ
WHERE LAST YEARS
CARELESS DRIVERS IS

  - T -

THE ANSWER TO
A MAIDENS
PRAYER
IS NOT A CHIN
OF STUBBY HAIR

THE BEARDED DEVIL
IS FORCED TO DWELL
IN THE ONLY PLACE
WHERE THEY DON'T SELL
BURMA-SHAVE!

THE HOBO
LETS HIS
WHISKERS SPROUT
ITS TRAINS - NOT GIRLS
THAT HE TAKES OUT

THE MIDNIGHT RIDE
OF PAUL FOR BEER
LED TO A WARMER
HEMISPHERE

THE ONE WHO DRIVES WHEN
HE'S BEEN DRINKING
DEPENDS ON YOU
TO DO HIS THINKING

THE OTHER WOMAN
IN HIS LIFE
SAID “GO BACK HOME
AND SCRATCH YOUR WIFE"
{supposedly proposed, but rejected}

TO GET
AWAY FROM
HAIRY APES
LADIES JUMP
FROM FIRE ESCAPES

TRAIN APPROACHING
WHISTLE SQUEALING
PAUSE!
AVOID THAT
RUNDOWN FEELING!

TRAINS DON'T
WANDER
ALL OVER THE MAP
FOR NO ONE
SITS ON
THE ENGINEER'S LAP

TRAIN WRECKS FEW
REASON CLEAR
FIREMAN
NEVER HUGS
ENGINEER


  - U -
{none listed herein to date}

  - V -
{none listed herein to date}


nbsp; - W -
WE KNOW HOW MUCH YOU LOVE THAT GAL BUT USE BOTH HANDS FOR DRIVING, PAL WE’RE WIDELY READ AND OFTEN QUOTED BUT IT’S SHAVES NOT SIGNS FOR WHICH WE’RE NOTED {One of the more famous ones:} WITHIN THIS VALE OF TOIL AND SIN YOUR HEAD GROWS BALD BUT NOT YOUR CHIN — USE BURMA SHAVE {Also claimed to be in the Smithsonian Institution - see below!}   - X - {none listed herein to date}   - Y - {none listed herein to date}   - Z - {none listed herein to date}

* - the line was missing; I thought it should read "FOR GOODNESS' SAKE!"
    but was disabused by a dear RR friend on 15 Jul 2001.

LETTER KEYS:

(A) (B) (C) (D) (E) (F) (G) (H) (I) (J) (K) (L) (M)
(N) (O) (P) (Q) (R) (S) (T) (U) (V) (W) (X) (Y) (Z)

[In the preceding list, I deliberately omitted the terminal line, "BURMA-SHAVE" to save memory,
except where the line is an integral part of the jingle.]

I don't know about some of these!

I have the unmitigated gall to offer these two:

I INVENTED
BURMA-SHAVE
WHEN I WAS A ROMAN
GALLEY SLAVE

THESE SIGNS ALONG
THE ROAD YOU SEE
ARE BROUGHT TO YOU
BY S. B., THREE

Each line represents a single sign, and the last was always "BURMA-SHAVE".

At the Illinois Railroad Museum, Aug 1999, I found this gem:

STATISTICS
PROVE
THAT FOLKS
NEAR
AND FAR   {actual format on sign!}
WHO DRIVE
LIKE CRAZY
..ARE!

and at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, also Aug 1999, this:

PITY ALL
THE
MIGHTY CAESARS
THEY PULLED
EACH
WHISKER OUT
WITH TWEEZERS

And this in 19 Sep 2000 from a fellow Long Island Motor Parkway Panelist; I'd completely forgotten it:

IN THIS VALE
OF TOIL AND SIN
YOUR HEAD GROWS BALD
BUT NOT YOUR CHIN

The SMITHSONIAN Magazine for August 2000, Page 120, "Signs of the Times", offers this one I'd also forgotten:

DINAH DOESN'T
TREAT HIM RIGHT
BUT IF HE'D SHAVE
DINAH MIGHT

Supposedly, the Smithsonian Institution preserves one intact set:

SHAVING BRUSHES
YOU'LL SOON SEE 'EM
ON A SHELF
IN SOME MUSEUM
BURMA-SHAVE!

but see "WITHIN THIS VALE", above.


One of the best of the many, many Burma-Shave sites is on Candace Rich's Fifties Web.

Others are Barrett's FMS Computer Training site, where I saw the old sign, and

Dan Gookin's Burma Shave Slogans site.

Stay tuned!


LEGACY

  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

See Copyright Notice on primary home page.



U.S.Flag U.S.Flag

THUMBS UP!

THUMBS UP!  -  Support your local police, fire, and emergency personnel!


Contact S. Berliner, III

(Junk and unsigned e-mail and blind telephone messages will NOT be answered)


© Copyright S. Berliner, III - 2003, 2007, 2014  - all rights reserved.


Return to Top of Page