By Bob Huber
Last year I wrote a column about that extinct advertising phenomenon called Burma-Shave signs — you know, those little red rhymes by the side of the road that quipped, “Peanut on a railroad track, heart all a flutter. Round the bend came No.10 — Toot, toot, peanut butter.”
Well, I opened a box of Pandoras with that column. Phones rang and post offices ran out of stamps. Everyone had a favorite and couldn’t wait to show me.
So I began writing them down, and here at the Society for Redundancy we found that the Burma-Shave company had more than 600 renditions of this advertising poetry. And you thought Shakespeare was prolific.
Burma-Shave research showed women liked ones about a smoother shave, while men liked rhymes about backseat drivers. So to brighten your day, sit back, get nostalgic, and let me show you some of my favorites:
• If you don’t know whose signs these are, you can’t have driven very far.
• Ben met Anna, made a hit, neglected beard, Ben-Anna split.
• Statistics prove near and far that folks who drive crazy, are.
• Don’t leave safety to chance. That’s why belts come with pants.
• Cattle crossing means go slow. That old bull is some cow’s beau.
• Substitutes can let you down quicker than a strapless gown.
• Dinah doesn’t treat him right, but if he’d shave, Dinah-might.
• The safest rule, no ifs or buts, just drive like everyone is nuts.
l• Brave hero was strong and willin,’ but she felt his chin and wed the villain.
• These signs are not for laughs alone. The face they save may be your own.
• If Crusoe had kept his chin more tidy, he might have found a Lady Friday.
• The wolf is shaved so neat and trim, Red Riding Hood is chasing him.
• A beard that’s rough and overgrown is like a chaperone.
• Spring has sprung, the grass has riz where last year’s careless driver is.
• Train wrecks few, reason clear — fireman never hugs engineer.
• Although insured, remember, kiddo, they don’t pay you. They pay your widow.
• Train approaching, whistle squealing. Stop. Avoid that rundown feeling.
• Burma-Shave was such a boon, they passed the bride and kissed the groom.
• When super shaved remember, Pard, you’ll still get slapped, but not so hard.
• On curves ahead remember, Honey, that rabbit’s foot didn’t save the bunny.
• When frisky with whiskey, don’t drive. It’s risky.
• The midnight ride of Paul for beer led to a warmer hemisphere.
• I’ve read these signs since just a kid. Now that I shave, I’m glad I did.
• It’s not how fast or slow you drive. The question is how you arrive.
• At school zones heed instructions. Protect our little tax deductions.
• Within this vale of toil and sin your head grows bald, but not your chin.
• When the stork delivers a boy, our whole darn factory jumps for joy.
• Don’t lose your head to gain a minute. You need a head. Your brains are in it.
• Brother speeders, let’s rehearse. All together, “Good morning, nurse.”
• Approached a crossing without looking. Wonder who’ll eat his widow’s cooking?
• At crossings look each way. A harp sounds nice but it’s hard to play.
• Remember this and you’ll be spared. Trains don’t whistle because they’re scared.
• College cutie, pigskin hero. Bristly kiss. Hero, zero.
• At crossings don’t trust to luck. The other car may be a truck.
• Passing schools, take it slow. Let our little shavers grow.
• Don’t take a curve at 60 per. We hate to lose a customer.
• Whiskers long made Samson strong, but Samson’s gal, she done him wrong.
• He had a ring, he had a flat, but she felt his chin, and that was that.
• My job is keeping faces clean. Nobody knows the stubble I’ve seen.
• Listen, birds, these signs cost money. Roost a while, but don’t get funny.
Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales. He can be contacted at 356-3674.