Signs Point to Nostalgia


The following article appeared in Reminisce Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 1, January/February 1997, page 64.

All Signs Point to Nostalgia

A New Jersey historian says Reminisce/Burma-Shave signs are like history-in-the-making.


“I remember reading Burma-Shave signs as a small child,” says Dorothy Best of Vincentown, New Jersey. “That was really how I learned to spell. “Mother copied down the catchy verses as we rode by in the car. At home, she taught me how to spell them.” Today, Dorothy adds, the set of Reminisce/Burma Shave* style signs recently erected in Vincentown do more than evoke such fun memories–they recall this community’s rich history, too. And Dorothy should know, because she’s the local historian. “Having Vincentown chosen as the only site in New Jersey to host a set of Reminisce/Burma-Shave style signs is a positive thing,” Dorothy says. “We enjoyed having Burma-Shave signs here years ago, and folks today associate our new signs with them. “We chose Jack Allen’s farm as the perfect site to place the signs. Whenever passerbys see Jack ouside, they stop to tell him how much they appreciate the signs.”

The Signs “Fit In”

Jack helped bring this bit of nostalgia back to Vincentown after reading of our unique contest in the pages of Reminisce. He contacted Dorothy and suggested the town historian nominate their community to host the only such set of signs in New Jersey. She did, and today they’re making memories. For those of you who may be reading about our unique sign contest for the first time, here’s a bit of background. Several issues ago, we presented a story about Allan Odell, the creator of Burma-Shave signs. During the 1920s, he came up with the idea to use sequential rhyming signs as a way to promote his mugless, brushless shaving cream. Allan erected these signs all across the country in sets of five. The first four spelled out a snappy verse, and the last sign in the series said “Burma-Shave”. Thinking it would be fun to bring back this familiar slice of Americana, we announced our plan to erect one set of such signs in each state–but with a twist. The last sign in our series would read “Reminisce Magazine”. We invited readers to nominate their hometowns as ideal sites in their states. Hundreds answered by getting approval of local town officials and expressing their community’s interest.

Rhyming Readers Write

Others sent clever original rhymes to appear on the signs. Many of those rhymes can be found on the 45 sets of signs already sent to cities in 45 different states. Travelers entering Vincentown are likely to smile when they read the rhyme on successive signs there: Today’s Kids..Sure Missed a Treat…No Moonlight Rides…In a Rumble Seat…Reminisce Magazine. Dorothy says folks are traveling from all over the state to take a firsthand look at Vincentown’s attractive new signs. Your community could be next! If you live in Connecticut, Massachusetts or Rhode Island, let local town officials know about the signs and nominate your town as the newest site. We welcome nominations from small to mid-sized towns and suggest that two-lane, non-interstate highways be chosen for sign placement. Send your nominations to “Bring Back Burma-Shave”, Reminisce, 5927 Memory Lane, Greendale WI 53129. Before planning a trip to see the signs in Vincentown, we encourage readers to contact the mayor’s office or chamber of commerce to check on their exact location. “People will get a kick out of them,” Dorothy says. “Young kids especially enjoy them once they learn the history of the famous advertising campaign. “I’m already hearing positive comments from people who make a special trip to the library where I work to relate memories brought back by the signs.”

*Burma-Shave is a registered trademark of the American Safety Razor Company.


Reminisce/Burma-Shave Style Signs Have Been Shipped to These Towns:

Alabama-Hartford; Alaska-Delta Junction; Arizona-Peach Springs; Arkansas-Heber Springs; California-Burney; Colorado-Meeker; Delaware-Milford; Florida-Ruskin; Georgia-Social Circle; Illinois-Sublette; Indiana-Ligonier; Iowa-Mount Ayr; Kansas-Seneca; Kentucky-Benton; Louisiana-Minden; Maine-Canton; Maryland-Gaithersburg; Michigan-Croswell; Minnesota-Hayward; Mississippi-Duck Hill; Missouri-Rolla; Montana-Dillon; Nebraska-Schuyler; Nevada-Pahrump; New Hampshire-Boscawen; New Jersey-Vincentown; New Mexico-Orogrande; New York-Arkport; North Carolina-Pink Hill; North Dakota-Williston; Ohio-Delphos; Oklahoma-Healdton; Oregon-Bly; Pennsylvania-Corry; South Carolina-Heath Springs; South Dakota-Sisseton; Tennessee-Tellico Plains; Texas-Mt. Vernon; Utah-Panguitch; Vermont-Hyde Park; Virginia-Bridgewater; Washington-Toppenish; West Virginia-Davis; Wisconsin-Owen; Wyoming-Newcastle.