Jim Furlong: Painted Memories

A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to a long postponed summer chore. We all have our own list of chores and someone to remind us of it. On my list was painting the deck on my little shed. During the winter I had purchased eight single litre tins of paint from a salvage store. 

Places like that are favourite haunts of mine. This one sells paint mixed from left over large tins of paint. The colour is marked on the lid with a little daub of whatever colour it is. They sell for about three bucks and are a fabulous value, but good luck getting the same colour again if you run short. 

Stopped Me Cold 

In a five gallon drum I put together six of the eight “brownish” tins. The seventh tin stopped me cold. It had a brownish daub on the lid to tell me the colour but it also had a plain label around the base of the can. It had no brand name of course, it was a tin of paint. In various spaces on the plain label there were spaces for information. It told me among other things that it was an oil paint. Oil paint is hard to get these days. The label also told me when that patch of paint had been mixed. The date was August 23, 1979!

That mix paint was nearly 40 years old! That might have been the end of the story, but my eyes kept being drawn to the label and the numbers which provided a direction arrow through the past. My sons weren’t born in 1979. God Almighty I wasn’t even married come to think of it. 

Memories are faded or certainly fading but I remember Pink Floyd released The Wall that year. That’s all that sticks out. I was at NTV. I had just started actually. 

In 1979 Margaret Thatcher became British Prime Minister… I don’t remember that as an event. I looked it up. Sony released the Walkman. It was pricey at $200 but it let you carry your own tunes around. Remember the Three Mile Island Nuclear Accident? That was a close call and that was 1979 as was the introduction of a board game that would do well. That game was Trivial Pursuit. Oh yes in the United States a new toy was introduced. 1979 welcomed…the Snowboard. Who would have thunk it. It’s an Olympic sport. 

Difficult to Explain

What is the lesson? Well it is one of the oldest lessons and that is that nothing stays the same. Time marches on; quickly. The tin of brownish paint with no name lives on. It was number seven in a box of eight cans of old mixed paint. 

I put it aside on a shelf. It has become part of a good story for anyone who visits my shed and it is also a reminder to me of something important that is difficult to explain. It is about time passages and lives lived and all part of a tin of mixed paint.

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