The list's first exciting thread about barns

zodiac zodiac at
Sun Apr 28 17:33:55 MDT 1996

Sally writes:

>PS--A documentary on the history of barns was on TV the other night. There
>was a folklorist that was trying to determine the origins of why barns are
>painted red. He speculated that the idea came from farmers mixing iron
>filings into white paint in order to make it stronger. Old farmers explained
>that they used red paint because it was the cheapest available. Paint
>distributors claimed that red paint was cheaper because the farmers used so
>much of it they could get a volume discount. Go figure.

I've wondered about this at some point in my life, probably when travelling
through rural Ontario. I never found an answer in any books...

... But I remember noticing, several years later, a terribly Sun-bleached
sign in some local convenience store. These bleached out signs are all over
the city, forgotten in store windows. The last colors to fade seems to be
the red-based ones. And in some flash of heavy-eye-lidded,
major-seventh-chord, satori-splendour, I muttered: "Oh wow... that must be
why they paint barns red, too."

I've yet to track down Engels' study-notes on painting barns, however.


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