Thursday, April 3, 2008
A Little Piece of Americana
It was in 1925, before the age of popular electronic media that a man came up with an interesting advertising idea. Place road signs across America that came in small phrases as one passed by, making a humorous rhyme, followed by the name of the product that sponsored the signs. Thus the legend of Burma Shave was born. Sales multiplied dramatically.
Those who have traveled across the backwoods highways of America no doubt have seen them, although younger generations may not be aware of this piece of our social history. It harkens back to the days of our grandfathers and great grandfathers, when times seemed simpler, when our government represented us, and it was a good thing to be a patriot. As one passed these signs in the family car (for those who owned them, as a greater and greater percentage of households were able to afford investing in one,) one would read small alliterative quips, often engaging the imagination by filling in the unspoken parts of these little jingles, of a fashion. Here is an example:
A Man, a Miss
A Car, a Curve
He Kissed the Miss
And Missed the Curve
The idea of a man's amorous overtures causing a disaster, with the car flying over an embankment is quite humorous, but also endearing in the way it is presented. To me, it is reminiscent of the folksy setting of the Andy Griffith Show, with its old time values and sly, dry humor.
This is a part of our national identity, of an age that is slowly fading into history, along with the people who lived in these times. We would be wise while looking to the future, to examine our past, that the wisdom of understanding our heritage not be lost.