Road Signs

Friday, January 23, 2015

Today I am grateful I grew up in the days of small, readable road signs and billboards.  A lot of people thought they marred the landscape but I’ve always gotten a kick out of them.  I’m a lover of catchy phrasing.

When I was a kid my family took a huge road trip from Wisconsin to Yellowstone Park.  For miles and miles and miles we saw signs for Wall Drug, South Dakota.  The ads were so intriguing that my mom insisted that we take a side trip to see this amazing place.  Hah!  It was about the size of any 5&10 in any town in America.  Lesson learned.  Great advertising!  Sucked us right in.  Mr. ”We-Gotta-Make-Good-Time,” my dad, was not happy.

And who of my generation doesn’t remember the Burma Shave signs?

“If you dislike/Big traffic fines/Slow down/ Till you/Can read this sign/Burma Shave” Gotta love them.  And roadside billboards were huge, with a picture of something or someone and a few lines advertising for whatever.  Probably Marlborough’s. . .with that hunk of a man on the horse, or Camels with that odd looking creature.  You noticed them.  You could read them and you didn’t run off the road doing so.

Now we have highways plastered with gargantuan digital movie screens, looping one inane, complicated ad after another.  We are so conditioned to watch screens (phones, TV’s, computers, I-pads) that I’m surprised there haven’t been pile-ups with people slamming on their brakes so they don’t miss the next ad.  It’s coming.  Wait for it.

When did we reach the point where we needed to be constantly entertained, 24/7? And why?  I hate TV’s in restaurants.  I guess if it’s a sports bar I can tolerate them, but in family restaurants or even better restaurants, come on!  I can watch TV at home and I don’t have to be locked in to what YOU put on it.  Still, my eye is drawn to it even if I fight the urge.  I’m Pavlov’s Mary.  Totally conditioned.

And now we are entertained on the highway by behemoth TV screens because driving 75 miles an hour with some idiot two inches from your back bumper and another moron speeding up from behind switching lanes like Mario Andretti at the Indi 500, isn’t entertaining enough.

I suppose that’s “progress”.  Maybe my grandpa griped about Burma Shave signs.  I can just hear him.  “Nah, ya!  Whacha need signs on da road for?  If I wanna see ads I’ll read the gol-durn newspaper!”  Still, I’m glad I grew up in the era before digital, when road signs were readable and TV’s were only in living rooms!BurmaShaveSigns_Route66

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