Who Wrote Those Ads?

Sometimes my mind travels back to unexpected places. That happened this morning when I found myself silently rehearsing old Burma Shave jingles in my mind. For young travelers in the days before interstates and high-speed travel, Burma Shave’s unique marketing campaign competed with the Alphabet Game for “best way to make young travelers stop whining.”

By way of information for the younger generation, Burma Shave was the first brushless shaving cream. The signature promotion for this product consisted of a series of six small billboards spaced at equal distances along roadsides. Some of the signs had to do with shaving, but many did not. Sign number five was always the punch line, and the last of the six signs gave the name of the shaving cream. A cruel prank played by teenagers was to steal sign number five. This produced many frustrated travelers.

Burma Shave ad writers designed copy in a way that made the product being promoted “stick in one’s mind.”  For me, the ones still in my mind are the signs I read often or that were read to me by my big bro before I could read them myself. The following two jingles sometimes come, unbidden, to my mind.

                                    Don’t stick
                                    Your elbow
                                    Out too far
                                    It might go home
                                    In another car
                                    Burma Shave

                                    Dead right
                                    As he sped along
                                    But he was just as dead
                                    As if he’d been wrong
                                    Burma Shave

And one about whiskers:

                                    Many a wolf
                                    Is never let in
                                    Because of the hair
                                    On his
                                    Burma Shave

The writers of these jingles remain unrecognized, but the advertising was both clever and effective. Even as a young child I got the meanings.

In the modern world of advertising, sometimes messages, and even products, are presented in such vague terms and images that all meaning is obscured. No recent advertisement I’ve viewed on television ever replays in my mind.

Maybe advertising executives need to consider more effective means of conveying their messages in order to create better brand recognition. However, I fear that skillful or amusing might be too much ask in the current laugh track environment of television. Carol Burnett and Bob Newhart delivered clever and funny lines. I fail to find the humor in bad language, ridicule, crudeness, or sexual innuendos. Even slightly humorous would be refreshing.

Okay, so this is another soap box post!  Oh well! What can I say? It’s Monday.

This sign for sale on Bonanza


Will eBooks Reign?

Are some of your favorite books pictured here? The titles include classics such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mocking Bird, and A Tale of Two Cities. 

With relationship to the surrounding buildings, these “books” appear to involve a great job of photo editing. However, that is not the case. In Kansas City, Missouri, this “Community Bookshelf” is the façade of the downtown Kansas City Public Library parking structure. The “books” are approximately 25 feet high and 9 feet wide. Kudos, Kansas City Public Library Board of Trustees, for providing these “books” for passersby to view each day.

Many people predict that printed books will disappear, sooner rather than later. Some support for this came with the most recent quarterly statement from my publisher in which eBook downloads accounted for the majority of Child of Desire sales. However, I was encouraged this week when our great-granddaughter, Sophia, cried because her Mommy would not allow her to have a book with her in the bathtub. She and our other great-grandchildren love books and bedtime stories.  Maybe this new generation will save the printed book. We can only hope!  

Sophia Alexandra Fuller, one of our little readers.

Information Source: KCPL website
Library picture from Wordpress
Reading Picture from Megan Donovan Fuller


Story Settings

Many elements are important if readers are to become absorbed in a story. Being able to visualize the setting where a story takes place is just one of those elements.

In Child of Desire, I used some settings with which I am very familiar since I have been to those places. Of course, because the story took place in the early 1900’s, my first-hand knowledge did not include the time period. That I needed to research.

The following scene from Child of Desire occurs on the swinging bridge that stretches across the Clinch River in Scott County, Virginia. (The name of the river was not provided in the story.)

     “A single line of people stretched from the hill above the narrow swinging bridge, across the bridge, and to the grassy knoll above the schoolhouse. Every head was turned downward toward the river, every eye stared at the muddy, swirling water, and every face was somber. Amanda slowed to a walk and looked questioningly to her neighbors and friends. No one spoke.
     The bridge swayed slowly from side to side with the movement of the crowd. The swollen river below roared and surged outside its banks.
     In the center of the bridge, Mrs. Lawrence, Sam, and Mark stood clustered together. Sam held his mother in a tight embrace, and her head lay on his chest just below his shoulder. Her face was pale and tear-stained. Mark stood back from the railing and gripped his mother’s coat sleeve with one hand while he held the back of his neck with the other. He sobbed pitifully, and his shoulders shuddered as though he had suddenly been seized by a chill. Sam, standing a full head taller than Mark, reached around his mother intermittently to stroke Mark’s hair.”

Below is a picture of this swinging bridge with family members, Coleen Powers Walker, Johnathan Walker, and Jennifer Walker, as they bravely crossed to the other side. The picture was taken during our 1988 family reunion in Southwest Virginia.

This swinging bridge existed in the early 1900’s, the period in which Child of Desire takes place, and it is still there. Over the years the bridge has been reinforced and rebuilt to ensure the safety of those who cross.


Only Girls Giggle

I was watching one of our local newscasts on a weekend evening. Weekends are when “wannabes” fill in for our very competent newscasters.

How it started, I have no idea, but three men, the newscaster, the sportscaster, and the weatherman started to giggle. All seemingly lacked any emotional control whatsoever. When the camera changed its focus from the group to the newscaster, he attempted to report on a serious local story. The story was about a man whose wife died in a Catholic hospital while she was seven months pregnant with twins. The man had filed a lawsuit against the hospital for negligence because the medical staff did not attempt to save his sons. The hospital’s defense was (and still is) that a fetus is not legally a person until it is born. Not a story in the midst of which the newscaster should be giggling. 

Finally, gaining some control, the young man continued the story by pointing out the inappropriateness of the hospital’s defense with relationship to the teachings of the Catholic Church. By way of explanation, he informed the listening audience that the Catholic Church believes “life begins at contraception”.

Really?  They all still have their positions at the TV station.