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Entries in Mae West (2)


Away in the Menger – Rough Riders Apply at the Bar

By Bennett Owen

Credit: Whalt

For any Wise Man following the Lone Star westward, chances are they’ve spent the night at the Menger in San Antonio, the oldest hotel west of the Mississippi.

Credit: Menger Hotel

Founded by a German immigrant beer brewer in 1859, less than 23 years after the battle of the Alamo, it began as a boarding house but soon gained a reputation for its fine dining, including snapper soup made from turtles caught in the San Antonio river.

Credit: Photograph by Thomas D. Mcavoy for the October 12, 1959 edition of “Life” magazine © Time Inc.

By the late 1880s the Menger was one of the nation’s finest hotels. Its bar was outfitted with solid cherry wood, French mirrors and gold-plated spittoons…good enough for Teddy Roosevelt in 1898 when he recruited his famous Rough Riders to fight in the Spanish American war.

Credit: Roosevelt Rough Riders

The hotel also hosted Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee (we assume not at the same time!), as well as luminaries such as, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean,  Lilly Langtry, Mae West, Babe Ruth, Oscar Wilde and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

History lovers tend to enjoy staying at the Menger while newlyweds might find the paper-thin walls … um … thin.  

Credit: Kathey Straach/Special Contributor 

The residence also has a reputation as one of the most haunted hotels in the United States, so those late-night clunking noises keeping you awake may not necessarily be the noisy next-door neighbor…


Saving Face – Burma Shave 

by Bennett Owen

Photo courtesy of mlhradio

As I recall there were three sets of Burma Shave signs out on old highway 91 between Dillon, Montana and Idaho Falls…a stretch of roughly 140 miles surrounded by mountains and sagebrush.  One was about jackrabbits having to pack their own lunch and the other warned motorists to be careful of Mormon crickets, but the one I remember best was printed in white lettering on six red signs that read:

When passing
Please drive slow
Let the little
Shavers grow
 - Burma Shave

We’ll be resurrecting a few of our favorite Burma Shave Ditties over the next few weeks as our Monday morning engine starter.  The story behind the famous red signs is quite amazing… a company and its product wholly dependent on one simple but ingenious advertising ploy.  Read about it here.

And in the meantime, here’s the Burma Shave premier on My-West:

This cream
Makes the
Gardener’s daughter
Plant her tu-lips
Where she oughter…
 - Burma Shave


These signs
Are not
For laughs alone
The face they save
May be your own
 - Burma Shave

And really, who can resist?  Send us one of your own! Here’s one of ours: