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Toledo chosen as site for new set of Burma-Shave type signs

October 23, 2010
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald
TOLEDO CHRONICLE -Carolyn Dolezal, in her role as coordinator of the Tama-Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce, has now added “post hole digger” to her resume.

With her husband, Jeff Dolezal the couple was busy last Tuesday night with a special project - installing a set of Burma-Shave type signs along the Amwood frontage of U.S. 30 on the city’s west side.

Toledo has been chosen as the sole site in Tama County for a set of Burma-Shave type signs.


Our Iowa Magazine

AMES-. Hardly a driver ... is now alive ... who passed ... on hills - - - at 75.That roadside Bunna-Shave jingle is vividly remembered by one of the editors of Our Iowa magazine. "It added a bit of fun to each drive as everyone in the car read the sequence of signs aloud," he says. "I always wished someone would bring those signs back."

After some thought, the staff of the magazine decided, "Who better to do that than us?"

With that, they announced the program to its 60,000 subscribers, offering to post a single set of the humorous signs in each county. Readers were urged to nominate their town, and provide reasons why it would be the best site.

Representatives of Toledo hurriedly put together an application, recognizing that having the county's only set of signs could become a tourist attraction and bring more customer traffic for dining and shopping.

After some consideration by the Our Iowa staff, Toledo was selected as the winner for Tama County!

The set of signs has arrived, and will soon be erected along highway 30 west. Local representatives had the opportunity to choose the jingle from a long list of original Burma-Shave rhymes that were supplied, and they chose this: Don't leave safety... to mere chance ... that's why belts are ... sold with pants. The last sign will carry the Our Iowa logo as the sponsor of the program.

Coming to a Highway Near You

As the singular sets of signs begin appearing in other counties across the state (the jingle for each county will be different, making the rhyme in each of Iowa's 99 counties an exclusive"), their exact location will be noted in future issues of the magazine, which should add a little fun to drives across Iowa.

The background of the Burma-Shave signs is almost as interesting as their teasing jingles. The roadside rhymes were started by Allan Odell in 1925, with $200 he borrowed from his father, who owned the Burma-Vita Company.

Young Allan came up with the idea--a unique way to promote the family's brushless shaving cream. At first his father was hesitant about this "new fangled advertising idea". But, reluctant to discourage an ambitious son, he went along with it. And the rest is history.

Odell wrote the original jingles himself, and personally erected the first set of signs in southern Minnesota along U.S. 65 near Albert Lea.

The signs quickly caught the attention of drivers-and buyers. The idea not only worked, it became an American institution.

Each set of rhyming lines was broken into short snippets and placed on sequential signs that could be read up to 50 mph. The last line always said, "Burma-Shave", in its flourished logo. The lighthearted jingles added a smile and a lift to driving trips.

Article Photos

A set of these signs can be viewed on the Amwood Homes fronjtage on U.S. 30 on Toledo's west side.
Chronicle/John Speer



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