Looking for the Signs

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Photo by greyerbaby on Morguefile.com

When I was fairly young–a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away–we would often drive through the rural areas of Oklahoma in our trips to various destinations. These rides were fairly boring, with little to alleviate this feeling except books, games of “I Spy,” and occasionally AM radio when there was reception.

Sometimes, though, I would see a relic from the relatively recent past. Burma Shave signs still stood along the sides of rural roads at that time although the company had quit placing new advertisements back in the 1960’s. I don’t ever remember seeing Burma Shave in the stores, but I grew to love their quirky signs.

These serial advertisements that grew out of the desire to lessen drivers’ boredom–along with spread the word about the product–certainly livened up the trips during my own childhood. I eagerly looked for these small signs and would yell out the jingle to my parents. The final sign, the one with the product placement for Burma Shave, was screamed out as if it were some sort of punchline for the witty sayings.

Although I have traveled the back roads in the Midwest for years since then, I haven’t seen Burma Shave signs in years. Even with our endless electronic entertainment, our current rides through the countryside seem a little vacant of creativity and fun. Perhaps we’re missing something with our constant supply of movies and email.

I can see now that those Burma Shave signs found along rural roads were exciting discoveries and so more appreciated. Too, each group was different and provided a different message and some fun. Those periods of quiet in between the discoveries made those small bits of entertainment sweet.

How much do we think about the endless stream of Facebook or Twitter? Is there time to think and appreciate what we see? Or does it all feed a need for more?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I do know I miss those signs. Burma Shave signs will most likely not be remembered for long, but they are a cherished memory for those of us who loved them.

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