|It's the Pitts|
|Written by Lee Pitts|
Trouble in store
One of my most vivid memories as a kid were the trips we made from California to Missouri to visit relatives. My favorite part of those trips was reading the Burma Shave ads by the side of the road. For you youngsters, these ads consisted of five or six signs spaced so they were like chapters in a book. For example: “If Hugging/ On Highways/ Is Your Sport/ Trade in Your Car/ For A Davenport/ Burma Shave.” Such ads helped Burma Shave compete with “The Big Soapers,” Colgate and Palmolive.
The part of the trip through Arizona and New Mexico was kinda boring because, for some reason, there were no Burma Shave signs. The biggest threat to the Burma Shave signs weren’t teenagers who stole them, or hunters who shot at them. Nope, the biggest threat were horses who found them to be excellent back scratchers.
Before Lady Bird Johnson tried to eradicate them from America’s landscape, billboards were everywhere, and they provided a nice income stream for ranchers and farmers who owned land adjacent to busy roads. Farmers got as much as $25 per year for a set of signs from Burma Shave on their property! Wow! I leased a ranch where the income from one billboard was more than the rent I paid to run 100 cows.
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