Day 38

I’ve seen a few of these

May 3rd, 2010

And I'm glad I finally took the time to read about them.


  1. Jason Eppink says:

    As a strong opponent of public advertising, I nonetheless find much of this story endearing. Perhaps it’s because old advertisements frequently get a pass, since their immediate audience-influencing intent has been diffused (defused?) now that the copy is old and quaint and the aesthetics of the ad are irrelevant to the (often no longer existing) consumer product being advertised (Burma Shave, anyone?).

    But I also appreciate the material way these transactions helped farmers. Which is odd, because when NYC bodega owners are paid to host street-level billboards (illegally), I vehemently oppose those relationships. But how is the money exchanged in one of the street-level billboard transactions any different from receiving a free barn-preserving paint job? Perhaps it’s because the physical execution is much more directly symbiotic and less abstract?

    Imagine if NYC struck a deal like this for the repainting of its bridges!

    • Barbara Kiviat says:

      I think you’re right about the original intent being diffused/defused. That would explain why my grandmother’s old Hepburn-style cigarette holder is a cherished object and not a symbol of a filthy habit that kills people. I think something else might be at play, though, too. It’s easier to give objects– or ads, or situations, or behaviors– a pass when they are not directly of our own little world. You are looking at a diorama of Ohio, not walking down the street surrounded by it.

  2. Thomas says:

    Interesting. Rather see a painted barn than a billboard any day.

    This was another one that was pretty easy to spot via street view. Your map marker was spot on.
    Unfortunately your route itself is not on street view but this barn was on the main highway you crossed — that road was available. BUT, as that highway crosses your route one can see down the long, straight, and lonely road you are currently walking down.

  3. Brad says:

    Does anyone remember the Randy Travis song, Storms of Life?

    “An old Mail Pouch Tobacco Sign
    Fading on the barn
    Brings back sweet memories
    of Momma’s Farm.”

    Growing up in MS, I never really knew what Randy was singing about until I took a trip to Ohio with an army buddy one weekend. We drove past one of these Mail Pouch Barns and everything clicked for me.

    Great pictures, dude!! I found your site later in your journey, and I’m just now going back and catching up on all of the days I missed. You really should consider putting all of these pictures in a book once you’re done. And don’t forget to include all of your commentary. Some of your comments really crack me up.


  4. Yeosaph Ferguson says:

    A Mail Pouch Tobacco Sign! Always warms my heart to see one, reminds me of my youth and my roots in Central Pa.

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