Serial signageAlong Interstate 70, western Kansas

Roadside attraction signs sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I’ve driven across Kansas enough times that these signs (which are repeated several times along the road, reminiscent of Wall Drug ads) have become like old friends. I haven’t yet succumbed to the temptation to pay six bucks to see any five-legged steers, but that’s okay—that’s not why I like these so much. They remind me vaguely of another, long-extinct slice of Americana—one that I’d dearly love to be able to go back in time to sketch. So since I can’t see them myself, I’ll write my own:

Wish I’d have seen
With mine own eye
Those roadside ads
Of days gone by:
Burma Shave.

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Comments (3)

  1. Jo Reimer

    I DID see the old Burma Shave signs. I clearly remember my brother and I competing to be the first to see a series of signs and read them aloud to our parents when we went on car trips across the south and southwest. There were lots along Route 66 but also along ordinary highways. I suspect they were a rather cheap way to advertise and weren’t tampered with because everyone liked them. Yep, I wish I had been drawing then so I’d have my own record.

    1. Chandler O'Leary Post author

      That is so great, Jo! I know that some of the original Burma Shave signs are now in the Smithsonian (and the one time I was there I didn’t think to look for them), and I think there might even be a few in museum-type places along Route 66 still. I’ll be driving the whole length of Route 66 in 2015, so we’ll see what we find… Thank you for sharing your experience! It must have been great to see the signs in person.

  2. Judy Breedlove

    I was born and raised in Glendale, California. Saw those Burma Shave signs many times traveling along Highway 1 North. They were always so fun to read. Wish they were still there. You have to be “old” like me to remember them. I’m so enjoying your sketches. I just started sketching with Danny Gregory on his online classes call Sketchbook Klass…learning a lot. And, I’m just “gobbling” up all your wonderful sketches.

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