In his latest movie, “Gran Torino,” Clint Eastwood advises a young man of foreign extraction that you can fix anything around the house with duct tape. Well, actually you can fix anything around the house with duct tape — and a can of WD-40.
We almost missed the obituary two weeks ago of John S. Barry, the man who gave us WD-40, the ubiquitous spray found in about 80 percent of American homes with at least 2000 uses – including preventing squirrels from climbing into birdhouses, lubricating tuba valves, cleaning ostrich eggs and freeing tongues stuck to frozen metal.
The product was actually invented by the Rocket Chemical Company in 1953 for the aerospace industry. Barry took over the company in 1969 and proceeded to make WD-40 a household word. He spruced up the packaging, sent 10,000 free samples every month to soldiers in Vietnam to keep their weapons dry, and pushed to get WD-40 in supermarkets, of all places.
John D. Barry, a true marketing genius, was 84 when he died.