Some reminiscences of days gone by

As a kid, do you remember travelling in the U.S. by car and getting all excited about trying the American breakfast cereals that we would see advertised on U.S. TV, but which were, at that time, not always available in Canada? We were thrilled about actually eating Cheerios for the first time. Well, things were simpler back then. A lot simpler.

The other novel thing on the U.S. road was seeing the wide array of  Burma Shave signs dotting the American countryside? Do you recall any of those silly little verses? 

They were small red signs with white letters. Five signs, about 100 feet apart, each containing one line of a four line couplet, and, of course, the obligatory fifth sign advertising Burma Shave, a popular U.S. shaving cream.

Here are a few of the actual signs:


Don’t loose your head

To gain a minute

You need your head

Your brains are in it

— Burma Shave


Drove too long

Driver snoozing

What happened next

is not amusing

— Burma Shave


Brother speeder

Let’s rehearse

All together

Good morning nurse

— Burma Shave


Speed was high

Weather was not

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

— Burma Shave


No matter the price

No matter how new

The best safetydevice

In the car is you

— Burma Shave


A guy who drives

A car open wide

Is not thinkin’

He’s just hoping

— Burma Shave


At intersections

Look each way

A harp sounds nice

But it’s hard to play

— Burma Shave


Both hands on the wheel

Eyes on the road

That’s the skillful

Driver’s code

— Burma Shave


The one who drives when

He’s been drinking

Depends on you

To do his thinking

— Burma Shave


Car in ditch

Driver in tree

The moon was full

And so was he

— Burma Shave


Passing school zone

Take it slow

Let our little

Shavers grow

— Burma Shave


Also under the heading “nostalgia,” consider these reminiscences of days gone by:

• Back around the early 1950s, the North American population was about 170 million. And yet, you knew more people then, and knew them better.

• The average annual salary was under $3,000, but our parents could put some of it away for a rainy day and still live a decent life.

• A loaf of bread cost about 15-cents, but it was safe for a five-year-old to rollerskate to the store and buy one.      

• TV was in black and white. “Prime-Time” meant I Love Lucy, Ozzie and Harriet, Gunsmoke, Father Knows Best, and Lassie. And hardly anyone had heard of ratings.

• We didn’t have air-conditioning, so the windows stayed up and half a dozen mothers ran outside when you fell off your bike.

• The only hazardous material you knew about was a patch of thorns in the bush at the corner.

• You loved to climb into a fresh bed because sheets were dried on the clothesline.

• People generally lived in the same hometown with their relatives, so childcare meant grandparents or aunts and uncles.

• Parents were respected and their rules were law. Children didn’t talk back.

• Your dad knew how to adjust everybody's carburetor and the dad next door knew how to adjust all the TV knobs.

• Your grandma grew beans in the back yard and maybe even chickens behind the barn.

• And just when you were about to do something really bad, chances were you’d run into your high school coach, or the nosy old lady from up the street, or your little sister’s piano teacher, or  somebody from church, all of whom knew your parents’ phone number and your first name.

Those were the days of Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, Sky King, Little Lulu comics, Howdy Doody and The Peanut Gallery, The Lone Ranger, The Shadow Knows, Roy and Dale, Trigger and Buttermilk, Pat Brady and Nellie Belle.

These were the days when you’d hear a lawn mower on Saturday morning, but it would be a reel-type, because rotary mowers hadn't been invented. Summers were filled with bike rides, playing cowboys, hide and seek, fishing in that local stream, kick-the-can, Simon says, baseball games, and learning to play golf. There were amateur shows at the local theatre before the Saturday matinee, lemonade stands, bowling, visits to the pool and  Kool-Aid.

Almost seems like yesterday, eh? Almost.