Meet Mr. Burma Shave

Story and photo by Derek Doeffinger

You have to drive by each sign in this sequence because the punch line is featured last. They’re the work of 86-year-old Ron Bennett, the retired farmer who has installed them along Strong Road in Bloomfield for almost 15 years. Some are corny, some are pithy, and a few are instructive, but they’re all entertaining. Just like Ron.

“Derek, some of these are the words from the original signs,” he explains, “but sometimes I write my own.” He was born shortly after the first advertising messages for the brushless shaving-cream appeared along roads in Minnesota.

Traditionally there were six signs in a sequence, but Ron often uses more, especially if he wrote the saying. He changes them regularly; choosing from his stock of more than 100. They’re handmade – Ron stencils the letter outlines and then fills them in with paint and a brush. He loads them and their posts on his ATV, and heads out to assemble them on location with a shovel and pry bar.

Ron has farmed since he was a kid, and became famous for garlic. His tips for garlic growing were even featured in a 1991 article in The New York Times.

Now he’s known as the Burma Shave sign guy.