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Verse by the Side of the Road: The Story of the Burma-Shave Signs and Jingles (Plume) Paperback – September 1, 1979
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Top Customer Reviews
Author Frank Rowsome, Jr. tells the story of the campaign's creation and life, and provides a listing of all signs from the first in1927 ("Shave the modern way / No Brush / No Lather / No Rub-in / Big Tube 35-c Drug Stores / Burma Shave") through their last in 1963 ("Our Fortune / Is Your / Shaven Face / It's Our Best / Advertising Space / Burma-Shave"). In between is an amazingly clever collection of poems, including contest winners, shorter signs for smaller displays, spin-off tooth powder and lotion jingles, and regional ads.
Great reading for those remembering the signs as well as those who just want to get a smile from some great advertising - one of the USA's most underappreciated art forms.
I was always intrigued by those signs, so when I saw the book advertised for the first time, it was a must-have for me. I cherished owning a complete set of the verses, most of which I'd never seen.
The book is well-written in that it has a lot of historical fact, loads of humor, and the story-telling holds your interest to the last page. One of those "can't put it down" types.
Somewhere in my travels, I've lost my copy and have mourned it's loss. Thanks to Internet, I will once again have my own cherished copy of "Verse by the Side of the Road."
How delightful those signs were as we went on Sunday drives with Mom and Dad. Here is not only the complete history of the company but also ALL of the rhymes.
In about seventy engaging and well-written pages, Frank Rowsome, Jr. tells the story of the Burma-Vita Company, its effort to develop a brushless shave cream, and then its novel and serendipitously successful marketing campaign - installing sets of six red-and-white signs along roadsides, the first five of which usually rhymed in some fashion and the last of which proclaimed BURMA-SHAVE. In their thirty-six years (1927 to 1963), the BURMA-SHAVE signs became a classic of Americana. Other advertisers aped the formula, but as the public drove past their last sign they invariably substituted "Burma-Shave" for the name of the imitator's product.
The story behind the product and the merchandising campaign is heart-warming: from its start as a family business; to Fidelia, the secretary who kept track of all the sign locations in America and all the leases with farmers and all the routes for the crews going around maintaining and rotating the signs; to the board of directors meetings to choose the next year's roster of slogans. One highlight is Arliss French, a manager of a supermarket who responded to the jingle "Free-Free / A Trip / To Mars / For 900 / Empty Jars" by collecting empty Burma-Shave jars from his customers and then presenting 900 of them to the Burma-Vita Company.Read more ›
There were a few things that you were guaranteed to see wherever you went. Advertisements for Wall Drug, in Wall, SD (which, sad to say, once we got there in 1962 was a bit of a disappointment after all the hype), Harold's Club in Reno, and, above all, Burma Shave signs. Every several miles or so, especially out in the country, one was guaranteed to see those five or six placards that stretched for maybe a tenth of a mile or so and always ended with the words "Burma Shave." And, if one wasn't the driver, one could look back at the signs facing the opposite direction and read those too as one passed.
Twelve years ago my daughter came upon "The Verse by the Side of the Road" in a bookstore and bought it for me for Father's Day. She knew I'd love it, since I had taught her some of the jingles that I had memorized as a youth. (That was one of the neat things about the signs. The rhymes were almost always memorable.) I began reading that afternoon and couldn't put it down. By evening I had read every word and had had a wonderful walk down memory lane.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nostalgic for me because I remember the Burma Shave signs from when I was 10-14. I came to this country when I was ten and moved to Colorado with my family. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Farley X Wilbur
Grandpa loved these sayings. Bought it for Dad when Grandpa passed.Published 10 months ago by Kindle Customer