Burma Shave

March 1, 2024 at 7:23 p.m.

...by Pat D'Amico

A good friend, a man of my generation, started this when he sent me an email about the delightful rhymes that the Burma Shave Company graced us with in our youth. They were on small red signs with white letters and were posted on the side of two-lane highways in most states. They consisted of 5 signs, about 100 feet apart. Each sign displayed 1 line of a 4-line poem and the 5th one advertised Burma Shave, a popular shave cream at the time. A little research told me that they appeared between 1925 and 1963. Most of the poems were witty reminders to drive safely and they always provided a good laugh or at least a chuckle.

This is an example from the email:

Burma Shave

As often happens, this inspired me to write a poem of my own. I read it to my son, a savvy 60-year-old, and he said, "What's Burma Shave?" I then texted my daughter and asked her if she had ever heard of Burma Shave. In a few minutes she answered, "Not until I Googled it."

In disbelief, I decided to do a survey among friends and neighbors in the same generation. The answers came back, "Nope, nope and nope!" After an explanation, one out of eleven queried remembered his parents laughing about roadside signs. Another vaguely remembered hearing about it.

It seems to me that this is a hunk of Americana that should not go by the wayside:


As I travel down the road of life,
There are signs along the way.
Some of them, I’ll disregard
And some of them will stay
Imbedded in my memory
With thoughts I want to save:
I loved the rhyme and reason
In the poems by Burma Shave.

This photo of Pat D’Amico, longtime contributor to Northwest Prime Time, was taken the day of her 70th high school reunion. “I kept my mom’s house in Bellingham and the renters are wonderful. My daughter snapped the picture while I was looking around with great pleasure,” says Pat.

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