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Tag Archive: Baby Boomers

Aug 19

Remembering Burma Shave signs

“Farewell O verse, along the road. How sad to see, you’re out of mode,” — Burma Shave.

It is mid-August and that fact alone takes me back to my youth when almost everyone took a vacation in the month of August. School didn’t start until after Labor Day; baseball was over for the summer; and swimming lessons were completed.

Time to pack up the woody station wagon and head west.

From Missouri, we traveled the now-storied Route 66 with no idea that it was anything special at all, just another long, hot road to Grandma’s house in California.

In the 50s, my parents drove us kids cross-country every August in a car the size of a boat with only an AM radio and no air conditioning. As I recall, when we crossed the desert from Phoenix to San Diego, it was by night with bags of water tied to the car to cool the radiator.

I know some of you baby boomers will remember similar trips, and I will bet you remember Burma Shave signs that dotted the highways as well.

We read them with delight and anticipation on those trips, and when we spotted a row of red signs in the distance, everyone in the car came to full alert lest we miss one.

We read them out loud in unison:

“Use this cream a day or two. Then don’t call her. She’ll call you,” Burma Shave.

Or this one, “These signs we gladly dedicate to men who’ve had no date of late.”

By the time the mid 60’s arrived, the Burma Shave signs were about to complete nearly three decades of success.

Antique collectors say that in its prime Burma Shave displayed 7,000 of the bright red signs, usually at least five in a row, to entertain travelers heading west.

But I digress. Back to some Burma Shave jingles I love to remember.

“Past Schoolhouses, take it slow. Let the little shavers grow,” Burma Shave.
Or, “When the stork delivers a boy, our whole darn factory jumps for joy.”

Eventually, Burma Shave signs spread to almost every state with only Massachusetts receiving no signs at all. Too many trees might obstruct the view of signs there, I am told. A few other states had only a handful.

Besides serving as an ingenious advertising tool, Burma Shave signs also offered guidance on societal issues.

“Many a forest used to stand where a lighted match got out of hand,” Burma Shave. And this one, “If daisies are your favorite flower, keep pushin’ up those miles-per-hour.”

At the end of its glorious run in 1963, Burma Shave offered its final rhyme: “Farewell O verse, along the road. How sad to see, you’re out of mode,” Burma Shave.

If you have some favorite Burma Shave rhymes, drop me a note and let me know. I would love to remember those, too.

Aug 27

Medicare birthday alert—you are turning 65!

Letters advertising Medicare supplement insurance started to swamp our snail mailbox in the spring, just months before my husband would turn 65 in mid-August.

He did not want a birthday party, no gifts, no big deal made of his birthday; he certainly did not want to hear about Medicare.

Just let this milestone pass into oblivion, he insisted.

“I don’t want to be reminded of my birthday,” he reiterated, “It’s already bad enough that I am the speed limit on U.S. 50 Highway.”

Whether he wanted it or not, an avalanche of Medicare letters deluged upon us all saying the same thing.

“Birthday alert. Birthday alert! Have you signed up for Medicare?”

Technically speaking, signing up for Medicare is not mandatory, but good luck if you don’t.

We wondered what he should do? What Medicare “Part” should he take? Part A? Part B? Part D?

“There are just too many “Parts,” hubby said.

Eventually, he acquiesced to the relentless direct mail pressure and trekked down to the closest Social Security office to sign up.

In truth, Medicare is really quite simple, according to the government. Here is an explanation of an abridged version:

If you have either or both Part A and Part B, you will need a Part D, that is unless you have a group plan already. If you do not get on a plan when first eligible you can only get on a plan from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31 of each year with an effective date of Jan. 1. Then comes the penalty, 1% of the national average of all Part D plans for each month you are without it.

The penalties for Part B and Part D are permanent and will be added each month forever, so if you are eligible and delay it, that can add up to a lot of dollars.

Confused yet? We are, still.

And, to make a long story short, as the saying goes, the direct mail barrage did not stop long after hubby signed up for Medicare and a supplemental insurance plan.

Bored with too much information, he quit reading the mail and began throwing most of it in the trash, day after day.

To our surprise about two weeks after he enrolled, we received a 10×12 official-looking packet of information from hubby’s new supplemental insurance company. The letter referred to Part J insurance cards, his I.D. number, and how to use the Part J card.

You should have your Part J cards by now, the letter added.

“What is Part J?” I asked, completely unfamiliar with the term.

“I don’t know,” the spousal unit agreed. “Oh yeah, I remember now. Some insurance cards came the other day that said Part J on them, but I thought it was a joke. Some sort of con. How many Parts can there be, so I threw them away.”

I think we might be starting over.

Jun 04

The Beatles are back, this time in a video game

“If there had been no Beatles, no one would have had the imagination to invent such a story.” – Derrick Taylor, from his book, “Fifty Years Adrift”.

No one could invent The Beatles, true enough, but someone could reinvent them. And they have.

Baby boomers and Beatle-lovers take note. The Beatles are back!

This time, however, they will be mesmerizing our grandkids through the marvels of video game technology, psychedelic imagery and amazing graphics, according to online reporter Matt Greenop who saw a media preview of the game recently in Los Angeles.

Might be a good time for grandparents to learn about joysticks if we want to play the game with the kiddos. Here is why.

In September, a new Xbox 360 video game will be released under the Microsoft title of “Beatles: Rock Band.” Personally, I cannot wait even though I have no clue how to turn on the player or operate it once the game starts. Since it is about The Beatles, I will learn.

Excitement and frenzy are sure to follow once the game is officially released.

In no time at all, a new generation of kids will come to adore John, Paul, George, and Ringo and fall under their spell just like we boomers did in the 60s.

There is one problem, however. I am guessing that Generation Z (modern children born from somewhere in the second half of the 1990s to the present) do not know much about The Beatles.

Therefore, I called my nine-year-old grandson Halen to test my theory.

“So, Halen,” I began, “Have you ever heard of The Beatles?”

“I think so, now and then,” he answered in a cautious and suspecting tone.

I continued, “What are they?”

“A band,” he answered tentatively wondering what Grandma was up to now.

More questions from me ensued, “What kind of music do they play and do you know any of their songs?”

For example, how about these, I offered, “I wanna hold your hand. Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m sixty-four? We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine.”

After that rendition, which I sang rather than spoke, I heard nothing on his end of the phone but silence.

At last, Halen replied, “Yunno Grandma, I think we have a bad connection on this phone. Why don’t I call you back later? Mom!!!”

Click.

Do you wanna know a secret?

Soon, The Beatles will take America by storm once again just like they did 45 years ago when the Fab Four performed live on the Ed Sullivan Show and captured 30 % of the country’s viewers, 73 million people!

You know what I mean, back when we were just seventeen?

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