The Friday Fillip

Corn today — instead of jamAs the Queen says, “The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday — but never jam to-day.” Of the common grain kind, and, so, corny, which the OED tells us is

Of such a type as appeals to country-folk; rustic or unsophisticated; tiresomely or ridiculously old-fashioned or sentimental; hackneyed, trite; inferior.

Can’t claim to be a country bloke, though I am less and less sophisticated with every passing year. But I do, I confess, have a “ridiculously…sentimental” streak that I have to guard against, particularly where nostalgia is concerned.

When I was young and my dad had a Hudson (you see what I mean?) we used to drive down U.S. highways, my head out into the wind like Fido, and watch things go by. Some of those were signs for Burma-Shave, an early brushless shaving cream. Spaced maybe 50 yards apart, four or five signs would feed you doggerel one line at a time — capped by the additional Burma-Shave punch line sign.

The hero
Was brave and strong
And willin’
She felt his chin–
Then wed the villain


If harmony
Is what
You crave
Then get
A tuba


These defined what corny was. Starting in 1927 with no fun at all…

Shave the modern way
No brush
No lather
No rub-in
Big tube 35 cents drug stores


…they quickly found their metier…

Does your husband
Grunt and grumble
Rant and rave
Shoot the brute some


Etcetera, for nearly forty years, the last set of signs appearing in 1963, having hewed remarkably true to the corn-pome:

The chick
He wed
Let out a whoop
Felt his chin and
Flew the coop


Read ’em all at the Burma-Shave Slogans site. And then compose your own ditties on the topic of…legal research, let’s say.

She worked
On line
QL and Lexis
No book in sight
Too bad — a text is


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