This publication is devoted to the memory of road trips of long ago. Long before folks drove on concrete superhighways, and visited concrete theme parks, Mom & Dad would load the kids in the family car, and head for places unknown. We would see sights we had never seen before. Strange plants and animals not found in our home state. Mountains, and oceans; rivers and caves. We'd stand on the very spot where the Pilgrims landed; we'd walk into the actual childhood home of Tom Sawyer, and explore the cave where he and Becky Thatcher were lost for days. We observed Congress making laws; and bums sleeping off hangovers just blocks away from the Empire State Building.
It wasn't a theme park; it was the real America. For entertainment, we'd take turns selecting a free tumbler from the glass case between the gas pumps; a premium for buying at this station. (Our kitchen cupboard had no two glasses that matched, but we could tell you the city and state where each was from.) For exercise, we'd hike in state parks. For entertainment in the car, we'd watch for the next set of Burma-Shave signs. Did you know that very often, there would be one rhyme on the posts for westbound motorists, and a different jingle on the same posts for eastbound traffic? One child had the easy job; reading the jingle which was printed in the correct order:
You'll Soon See 'Um
Down The Road
In Some Museum
The trick was for one child to read the signs out of the rear window, memorize them, and reverse them so they made sense:
Let The Little
Take It Slow
In School Zones
No matter where in the country we traveled, the Burma-Shave signs were there. And the steel diners, and the Dog & Suds root beer stands. In the southeast, we'd look for the "See Rock City" barns. So that we could remember the trip many years later, we'd pose for Dad's camera.
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Before the theme parks, were the roadside attractions. Many could be called tacky, even back then. Some were Mom & Pop stores, selling hand-made rugs, or Indian arrowheads, or rare rocks they had found. Others where entire communities would try to take your bucks: "Ride the ducks - Wisconsin Dells".
If cabins ever had air conditioning, we never found them. The only cooling on those July nights would be the breeze through the open windows. We'd be lulled to sleep with the whirring of truck tires on the pavement. And you know what? We had just as much fun as kids of today, as they visit the theme parks and stay in luxury hotels!
In this publication we try to relive those days. Did you know that many of those old roads still exist? In fact, with most of the traffic and big trucks diverted to the Interstate highways, those old roads can be fun to explore. You won't see the real America on the freeways and tollroads. All you will see is the taillights of the big trucks as they whiz by! Please join us. -L.E.
(The Burma-Shave name and logo are registered trademarks of American Safety Razor.)