By the time Pixie Rahe bought her property along Route 44 in the Abington section of Pomfret in 2000, the peace mural attached to one of the barns was in bad shape.
In big letters with child figures surrounding an image of Earth, it read, “THE FUTURE IS IN YOUR HANDS.”
The bottom of the mural, “PLEASE FREEZE THE ARMS RACE,” was already gone.
Rahe was intrigued – as were countless people who had passed that spot in the years the mural held forth on the barn. But it was too far gone for her to save.
The barn's former owners, Bob and Margaret Ikonen, had the mural installed in 1982, the year they were members of the Pomfret Freeze the Arms Race Referendum Committee – a town vote that passed, 86-23, according to a Courant story in 1995 about the barn.
Rahe later found a postcard of the mural, crediting the work to Judy Branfman and the Northeast Connecticut Freeze Campaign, which had an office in Putnam.
One day at a Putnam art and frame store, Rahe saw a large picture of the barn with the mural, made after the bottom panels were lost. The asking price: $200, about what she was earning per week as a bartender, during a difficult divorce. No way she could buy it.
She started for the door and the store manager gave it to her, free of charge. “I started crying,” said Rahe, who has since remarried, when I stopped by her house -- on one of several spurs along the route marked “Old Route 44.”
Now that picture hangs on her dining room wall. And so the peace mural worked its magic, not freezing the arms race but touching a life at a critical moment.
“You know how you just give up on life? Well, that woman just turned my faith around.”