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.