Abe Observes

abe villarrealAbe Villarreal is the Assistant Dean of Student Support and Civic Engagement at Western New Mexico University. When not on campus, he enjoys writing about his observations on marketing, life, people and American traditions.

By Abe Villarreal

Every time I think of a classic movie, I think of families at the dinner table. Mom walks in from the kitchen and dad arrives from work. It is a common scene in those black and white movies where families always include two or three kids and a dog.

This scene is familiar to many movies of the 1940s and 50s. Its familiar because it used to happen all the time in real life. Today, getting together for a family dinner seems to only happen for special occasions like family reunions or big birthday celebrations.

By Abe Villarreal

I carry a little penny with a cutout cross in my pocket. Yes, it’s a shiny penny, and right through the middle is the cutout shape of a Christian cross.

When I recently showed it to a friend, the first question she asked me was, “Isn’t that against the law?” I shrugged my shoulders, not understanding what she was asking. Apparently, according to Title 18, Chapter 17 of the U.S. Code, it is a punishable crime to deface coins and currency.

My friend was missing the point. I shared the penny with her because it makes me happy. Everything about it makes me happy. It reminds me of my Sunday mornings with Julio and George, the two breakfast buddies I get to sit with each weekend at The Drifter.

By Abe Villarreal

In the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Jim Carrey plays the role of Joel, a troubled man filled with grief over a woman he can barely remember. He tries to remember her, but his memories are quickly fading. Joel, and many others in his community, had a medical procedure done to erase the memories of loved ones, including former pets.

Imagine that? Being able to completely erase something for which you never want to think of again. The movie makes a convincing case that people are happier not thinking of something or someone that might make them cry.

By Abe Villarreal

We live in the most connected time in history. In an instant, we can find out what is happening almost anywhere in the world. But do we know each other, as people, now more than ever?

The relationships that matter most, the ones that change our lives, are those that we create in the community in which we live. Our neighbors and work friends can make a difference when we need them. But do we really know who these people are or what they mean to us?

By Abe Villarreal

It seems harder and harder to find people with a passion for doing something amazing. When I speak to college students, they tell me that they are taking classes because that’s what it says to do in their degree plans. They are working towards something; they just don’t know it yet.

Older people love to share stories about good things they once did, somewhere, during sometime with someone. They don’t always remember the details but what they share makes them smile. What they don’t know is what they are doing tomorrow.

By Abe Villarreal

Last Sunday, during Sunday School, the four-year-olds in the room were asked what they were thankful for during this special time of family and festivities. They each thought long and hard before giving their answers, and most of them expressed thankfulness for far more than friends and family.

I often think of how sayings like “friends and family” or “thoughts and prayers” have become throwaway phrases. What we want to say to each other does more for ourselves than to those for who intend it. This isn’t true for four-year-olds.

By Abe Villarreal

The Clover Grill may be located at one end of the historic and frenzied French Quarter in New Orleans, but through and through it is quintessentially small town American.

Close your eyes and think of the diners of yesteryear. The kind you could see Mickey and Judy sitting at, enjoying a strawberry malt while listening to their favorite Bing Crosby tune playing on the jukebox. The Clover Grill feels like that kind of place, but not exactly.

By Abe Villarreal

My hometown friend Tony passed away. I didn’t know it until I read it in the paper this week. For some reason, this one hurts more than usual. Tony and I had a connection that you only get from people who come from your same hometown.

We didn’t grow up together, and he’s 21 years my senior. A few years ago, I met him when I started volunteering each Saturday at the Silver City Gospel Mission. The first time I saw him, he was having some incredible back pains and walked with a large stick.

Live from Silver City

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