Tuesday, January 17, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: January 17

January 17, 1994 – Allan Odell died on this date of “old age”1 at his home in Edina, Minn.; he was 90 years old. Odell and his younger brother Leonard wrote some 7,000 Burma Shave poems beginning in 1925 in rural Minn. The poems were put on “a series of small wooden signs spaced 100 feet apart, each carrying one line of a rhyme. The rhymes were by turns genial, flippant, cynical or absurd and loaded with puns, and each pointed toward a snappy payoff line that ended with the name of the product.”1 The company, Burma Vita Inc., which produced Burma Shave, was run by their father.

Burma Shave Signs2 

“The first signs were erected in Minnesota along U.S. 61 near Red Wing and U.S. 65 near Albert Lea. Mr. Odell's wife, Grace, [said] that "within a year, repeat orders were coming in for Burma Shave from druggists serving people who traveled those roads.

“Drivers tooling along at 35 miles an hour on the narrow black-top roads of the 1930's and 40's were delighted with the Burma Shave signs, and the advertising campaign quickly became a commercial success. At the peak of the campaign, in the early 1950's, there were 7,000 sets of signs in 45 states.”1




If you are interested in finding out more about your family history in Minnesota, I specialize in researching  genealogical and historical records in Minn. and western Wis., including:
census records,  birth records,  death certificates, obits, grave site photos, ship passenger lists, marriage records and declarations of intent/naturalization records.  I will visit locations to research local history and county records, as well as take photos. Quick turnaround on MNHS records. Both short searches and family history reports available.

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