The Red Barn

New England settlers didn’t have enough money to paint their farms, so they found a cheap way to protect the wood on their barns, by mixing skimmed milk, lime, and red iron oxide to make a red, plastic-like coating.  This coating protected the wood and kept their barns warmer in the winter.  In 1867, manufacturers began preparing paint with chemical pigments.  Red became the most famous among farmers because it was the cheapest.  My sister got married on June 30, 1974 and my dad invited a good friend of mine Cliff Moorhead to the wedding and to show his gratitude, Cliff said that he would create a painting for my dad.  My dad gave Cliff a 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood and he asked Cliff if he could make a scenic painting of a red barn similar to what Dale Nichols was famous for painting.  If you desire, you can view some of Cliff’s work here:

The painting hung in our screenhouse, and I used to sleep under this painting every night.  I used to dream that the barn was Mickey Hart’s Barn, a place where I had heard became a clubhouse for the Grateful Dead and their crew.  From the Mars Hotel was the seventh studio album by the Grateful Dead had an illustration of a hotel set in a Martian landscape, but on the back cover of this album it showed an illustration by Mary Ann Mayer where the members of the Grateful Dead mutated into a selection of cartoon alien species while they were watching a little TV at the hotel.  I got this idea from being stoned every night and looking up at that painting where the Grateful Dead would be dressed as aliens, that they could have landed a flying saucer like spaceship in the field near this barn and that they were walking down the dirt road to jam at Mickey’s barn.

I gave Cliff some money to paint in the spaceship and the alien Grateful Dead band members walking into the barn and he did a great job on this, but unfortunately, I don’t have anything to show you what he did.  My dad liked to throw stuff out and he liked the painting much better before the Grateful Dead landed on it, so one day he gave it away.  I can try to delight you with this video of ‘China Doll’.

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Delight.

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