By Abe Villarreal

Every now and then you notice that times have changed. That you are living in a different generation than that of your parents, or teachers, or people that came before you. A different generation than the one you entered at birth. I noticed it when I realized that no one keeps pigeons anymore.

Pigeons in backyards, in homemade coops. People used to have pigeons. Not just farmers but everyday people. My grandparents had pigeons. I wonder why they did. The birds are messy. They need to be taken care of, and every now and then they get out. Sometimes, the dog gets to them which never ends with a happy ending.

It used to be ordinary for ordinary people to have pigeons. Even after the end of the agrarian society, after the industrial revolution, after World War II, after cellular phones, people still had a few pigeons, in coops, in the back yard. Not anymore.

People don't have spaces, either. Big empty spaces with almost nothing in them from where they start to where they end. In the Southwest, we have spaces, but they don't belong to anyone, which is a good thing.

People don't want to own empty spaces. Whatever we buy, we fill it up with something. Our generation likes stuff. We don't feel comfortable with emptiness.

Another sign of the changing times is that people don't have change anymore. Coin change. I stood behind an older woman at the meat market last week. I had my tortillas, salsa, limes, and cheese – the necessities. Ready to checkout with debit card in hand. She was counting her pennies. She had nickels and quarters, too. She reached into her coin purse that she found at the bottom of a larger purse. Counting them one by one, she was happy to get rid of the change she saved just for that moment.

I have to admit that it tested my patience. That's another thing our generation doesn't have. Patience.
Pigeons, spaces, and coins. We don't have them anymore, and when we did have them, they meant something to someone. When generational change happens, we leave certain values behind. Maybe we mean to, and maybe we don't. Still, it happens.

What will the next generation wonder about what we valued during our time? What of our generation will they choose to leave behind? Computers, phones, headphones. I don't know. Sometimes, it's hard to know what's important to you until you turn back and see that it's gone. Sometimes, the next generation determines that what we once held dear is no longer valued. No longer needed.

Like pigeons.

Abe Villarreal writes about the traditions, people, and culture of America. He can be reached at

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