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Murray to receive ‘Our Iowa’ Burma-Shave sign

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 2:50 p.m. CDT

MURRAY — “Hardly a driver ... is now alive ... who passed ... on hills ... at 75.”

This line is from a roadside Burma-Shave jingle and used by one of the editors of “Our Iowa” magazine.

The magazine’s staff announced a program to it’s 85,000 subscribers that offers posting a single set of signs in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. The magazine’s readers were urged to nominate their town and provide reasons why it would be the best site for a sign.

Murray representatives put together an application with the thought the sign could be a tourist attraction and bring more customer traffic to the town. It is also sponsored by Murray Lions Club.

“Our Iowa” staff selected Murray as the winner for Clarke County.

The set of signs has arrived and will soon be erected along county-road R-15, north of Highway 34 and south of Murray.

Murray representatives had the opportunity to chose their sign’s jingle from a list of original Burma-Shave rhymes supplied. The jingle for each county will be different.

Murray representatives chose, “Drive ... With Care ... Be Alive ... When You Arrive.”

The last sign in the set carries the “Our Iowa” logo, which is the sponsor of the program.

The exact location of all the signs will be noted in future issues of “Our Iowa” magazine.

Burma-Shave roadside signs with rhymes were started in 1925 by Allan Odell. He borrowed $200 from his father, who owned the Burma-Vita Company.

Odell had the idea to promote his family’s brushless shaving cream business. He wrote the original jingles himself and erected the first set of signs in Minnesota along U.S. Highway 65 near Albert Lea.

For almost four decades, the signs dotted the American countryside. At one time, there were 7,000 sets of Burma-Shave signs in 45 states. Many of the signs promoted safe driving.

As highways and interstates improved with time, the signs were viewed by many as a blur.

“Our Iowa’s” selection of the new sites for the signs was first based on the proposed location. The preferable site was along a route where there is a lot of traffic, but near a town where traffic would be slower.

Another factor was the community’s commitment to maintaining the site. “Our Iowa” staff is selecting a “secret subscriber” in each county to regularly check on the set of signs to report how they are being maintained.

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