BURMA SHAVE (1 pg)
As the days of graduation from high school neared, it became more difficult than ever to go and sit there listening to a rehash of the essentials we had already learned. All they were accomplishing was filling our last days until graduation and our departure from their tender care.
On the way to school one of those late days, my buddy, Bert, and I both expressed the dread to enter school with the day being so clear and the sun so warm. However, I was the only one with a car, if we chose to go somewhere besides school and I was one whose mother was at home. She would see my car leave if we tried and trouble would be the result. So, we were afoot if we decided to skip school that day.
Well, worse things could happen. Perhaps, if we walked out of town and stuck out our thumbs, someone would offer us a ride. So considering, we decided to try for a day at Mount Hood, East of Gresham, Ore. our home town. It seemed that most who drove past us had other things on their minds or weren’t going far, so we continued walking and hoping. A person can’t walk that far & return in time to avoid real trouble at home for the late return, so a ride was essential. We could almost feel the snow as we talked about it and walked alongside the highway.
It appeared someone up ahead might be putting up a fence. He seemed, from what we could see, to be setting a post alongside the road. Then, as we neared, he could be seen to bolt a sign to the post. Nearer still, and we realized it was one in a series of Burma Shave signs. Since he was just stowing his tools back inside a van as we arrived, we asked him where he was going and if we could bum a ride. He said he was going to Mount Hood and, sure, we could ride along.
This was perfect. It would get us there in time for a day in the snow and still plenty of time to get back about the time school let out. What we hadn’t realized was that he would be planting new posts and signs along the way and expected our help in exchange for the ride. We managed to get to Mt. Hood about noon after having helped with many more signs along the way and, wouldn’t you know it, this just about gave us time to get back home in time if we could get lucky enough to hitch a straight-through ride with someone.
We had eaten the lunches we carried when he had eaten his own lunch, so there was nothing to do but stick out our thumbs and hope. After walking back toward home for nearly an hour, luck smiled on us and two ladies picked us up and offered a ride straight to Gresham. They let us off in the center of town and, by the time we walked nearly to the school, we heard the bells chime the end of day for classes. Bert went his way and I went mine. It had hardly turned out as hoped, but we had made it to Mt. Hood and back that day.
For months after ward, one of us would start a Burma Shave verse and, grinning, the other would complete it. It was an experience. We had learned that this fellow had always done and probably always would do this job, spending his entire life, single, alone, no home but motels, traveling nationwide, going around changing out Burma Shave verses on those signs. Hopefully, school had taught us enough that neither of us would need to do such as he to earn a living. Although school had been skipped, we had learned a valuable lesson that day. After that, we attended all of our classes with a greatly improved attitude until graduation from high school. After that, we really wanted to learn, not merely make good grades.
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