ONCE UPON A TIME, a merchant opened a bakery in a very old town. All around him were rather plain looking shops that made him yawn.
So the shopkeeper, who baked delicious pastries and cakes and breads, painted his bakery a bright green. It was a happy color that made him smile.
But not everyone in the village liked the green paint. Offensive, they called it. Too bright, they said. Ugly, they thought.
He heard the angry whispers.
One day, as he was pulling a tray of besos from the oven, men dressed in golden robes came with their official papers. “By edict of the magistrate, you must hereby repaint your bakery,” the proclamation read.
The baker did not want to change the beautiful green color. But he felt he must. He was, after all, not one of them.
“You must not follow this decree,” several merchants advised him.
“You must rebel,” the peasants urged.
But the lowly merchant kept quiet. He did not want to fight.
And so, one day when the humble baker was pulling a tray of gallinas from the oven, a painter came with his brushes and his cans of drab green paint. He brushed the paint across the bright green walls.
Then the golden-robed men returned. They stood outside the bakery. Just right, they agreed. A lovely color, they concurred. Beautiful, they exclaimed.
Inside the bakery, the lowly baker watched as he punched a ball of bread dough.
THE ABOVE STORY is a fictionalized version of a real-life issue that arose in Faribault recently regarding the Los 3 Reyes Bakery. Some business owners objected to the bakery’s bright green exterior, deeming it inappropriate for the historic downtown.
Last Thursday, the bakery was repainted a subtler, almost gray, green. The aforementioned business owners paid for the project because bakery owner Mariano Perez could not afford to repaint the building.
In speaking twice with Mariano, I believe that he may have felt pressured into repainting his bakery. Because of language barriers, he may not have fully understood that he had not broken any laws, ordinances or historic district guidelines.
He told me on Saturday that “the committee” presented him with paint color choices, the new hue among them. Then the painter showed up without informing him.
Mariano added that he received strong customer support for the bright green exterior and experienced increased business due to the color controversy.
This Latino business owner seems to harbor no resentment toward those who found the bright green color objectionable. Rather, he maintains a positive attitude.
Though the building exterior has dimmed, inside the bakery remains as bright and cheery as pre-repaint days. Nothing, it seems, can dim Mariano’s smile and upbeat spirit.
For more background, read my previous posts, “A controversy over color in downtown Faribault” (Sept. 30) and “Inside the colorful Los 3 Reyes Bakery” (Oct. 6).
What’s your take on this story? Please share your thoughts.
© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling