I am taking a break from worries about COVID, politics and social justice for this week. After read a hard to believe story about the sale of one pigeon I decided to share a little tale from my life.
Cousins. As a child I was close to my first cousins. My brother and I shared the joy of holidays and family visits with them.
As we aged, we drifted apart. We knew what the other was doing, but the closeness faded. In recent years we have rediscovered each other and visit several times a year. We often get together in the community in which one of us lives.
When it came time for all of us to gather with my cousin in Edmond, Oklahoma, I knew two sites I wanted to be sure to see.
Oklahoma City Memorial. First the was the site of the Murrah Building bombing by Tim McVay. My cousin’s husband was one of the first to arrive on the scene after the terrible bombing. He helped with triage until they started bringing children out of the preschool. He is a Marine Corp veteran, but he could not handle the sight of the dead children.
We went to the memorial and it was a very moving experience. I recommend it for everyone.
The Wild West. The second site was the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. We went and enjoyed the art and exhibits. If you have an interest in Western art the site is particularly worth your time. Our roots are West and we enjoyed the museum.
Surprising Suggestion When we discussed what else to do, I mentioned I had Googled museums in the area and discovered the National Pigeon Museum and National Library, which is near the Cowboy Museum. I suggested we visit it.
After everyone picked themselves up from the floor from laughter and my brother recovered from his near heart attack, they said – no way!! They could not imagine a pigeon museum being interesting.
After we finished the Cowboy Museum, we had some extra time before lunch. To my surprise, my cousin suggested we visit the Pigeon Museum. I am convinced they planned this in the hopes they could tease me unmercifully for years to come.
Their plan backfired. We went and to everyone’s surprise (including me), it was a worthwhile small adventure. The museum is free and a 30 minute to one-hour experience. The first exhibit is a live exhibit of the variety of beautiful birds. I assumed all pigeons were gray and lived near park benches or building ledges. I had no idea of the range of color and plumage.
Inside, we learned the pigeon is in the dove family. I was intrigued to read stories of the importance of the carrier pigeon in warfare before the development of modern communication systems.
I was surprised to learn how important the pigeon was to the development of one of the wealthiest families in the world, the Rothschild family.
Napoleon lost to the British at Waterloo. Nathan Rothchild had a courier send the news to him by carrier pigeon. It arrived before anyone knew what really happened. When he learned the French had lost, he spread the rumor that the British had lost. It triggered a big sell-off in the market. Everyone dumped their stocks and bonds, which he then purchased at bargain rates. When the truth was learned, he became a very, very rich man.
I was also surprised to learn the breadth of interest in pigeons. There are over 15,000 registered lofts in America. Think about that — 15,000 thousand registered pigeon coops. I do not know anyone who has pigeon raising for a hobby.
The interest is world-wide. I was astonished to learn a race with a one-million-dollar prize is held annually in South Africa.
Pigeon racing must be huge in China. I read a Chinese man paid 1.9 million dollars for a Belgian racing pigeon. Reading about the purchase is what awakened my memories of our time with the Pigeon Museum.
Here I am worried amid COVID, a presidential race, our governance, poverty and social justice issues, while someone is paying almost two million dollars for a bird. Go figure!
I hope I gave you a pleasant break from all the seriousness we face.
Have a good week.