Riding across interstate highway #70 in Ohio and Indiana today was boring, and when riding a motorcycle, boring equals tiring, and tiring is not something you want happening early in the day.
To counter that boredom I started trying to think of ways the states could make these highways more pleasing to the eye. It’s not that farmland is not beautiful, it is, but when it comes at you for mile after mile, then after a very short time it all looks the same. What is needed is diversity, and, if not in the landscape then it is needed along the sides of the road or even on the road.
I first thought it would be a good idea to bring a few of the more talented graffiti artists from all the big northeastern cities and have them paint sections of the road. I realized that might not work when I remembered that a lot of those artists use the word “DIE” in their paintings and reading the word “Die” on the surface of the highway may not have a positive effect in reducing traffic fatalities.
I then remembered the road trips my parents took us on when I was a kid. They were short, maybe three or four hours from end to end, but they seemed long to me, and I know they were endless for my parents.
But they were not boring, and one of the reasons was that alongside the road you could read the Burma Shave ads. Strung along the road were little signs, each one with just a few words that in total added up to clever advertising slogans.
Sayings like, “Does your husband / Misbehave / Grunt and grumble / Rant and rave / Shoot the brute some / Burma-Shave.” My all time favorite was, “Free/Free/A trip to Mars/ For 900/Empty Jars/ Of Burma Shave.” I wanted my father to save up so I could get a trip to Mars but it was slow going since he did not use the stuff.
I was busy for a good hundred and fifty miles travel this morning making up a set of little rhymes that the advertisers could use. Things like: “At the next exit/ come and try/ an overcooked
burger/ with greasy fries/ McDonalds.”
Most of them were better, but Gather rightfully would not print them.
Anyway, I was pretty proud of myself until I passed into Illinois where within a few miles I saw a series of advertising signs along the road just like when I was a kid. I missed the first set but five miles later there was another one, which read: “Here’s a point/For you to Ponder/Let’s Give a Gun/ To a first Responder/GunsSaveLives.com.
Every five miles for fifty or more there was a new saying with the same website at the end. I was beginning to lose faith in my idea of beautifying the roads but then another series started which raised my hopes once again: “Gas prices too high/Caused by foreign oil/ Let’s use corn/ for Methanol.”
I’m starting to like the idea of the graffiti artists again.