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No Burma Shave Here!

We drove through Holland Patent on a gloomy winter day last week. We passed by the “Window King” R.A. Dudrak and these delightful signs brightened the day!

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HAHA! I liked that last sign. It alludes to the old Burma Shave road signs, popular in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s when Americans hit the roads in droves. It was a time of great optimism and prosperity. The road trip was king.

Burma Shave was a shaving cream, manufactured by the Burma-Vita company. Sales for the cream were less than enthusiastic, so the company started an advertising campaign that later entered the annals of American culture. They placed signs with brief snippets of limericks along roadways. At first the signs were pure advertisements, such as these:

A shave
That’s real
No cuts to heal
A soothing
Velvet after-feel
-Burma-Shave

You’ve laughed
At our signs
For many a mile
Be a sport
Give us a trial
-Burma-Shave

Later, the signs became little stories or humorous admonitions against speeding and driving drunk. Always, the last sign said simply “Burma Shave.”

Hardly a driver
Is now alive
Who passed
On hills
At 75
-Burma-Shave

Past
Schoolhouses
Take it slow
Let the little
Shavers grow
-Burma-Shave

If daisies
Are your
Favorite flower
Keep pushin’ up those
Miles per hour
-Burma-Shave

The actual shaving cream was never as popular as the company’s advertising campaign. Sales declined and Burma-Shave was sold to Philip Morris in 1963. The company pulled the ads and thus ended another quirky icon in American road trip travel history. A shame.

But there are a few of us who still remember Burma Shave! It was nice to see that the Window King of Holland Patent remembered.

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About the Author

I've been traveling throughout New York State since I got the travel bug after touring the Herkimer Home on a school field trip as a youngster. We've been blogging about our travels since 2006 and have visited over half of New York's 62 counties so far.

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