The Saturday after Thanksgiving I went to the Faircount Pigeon Show. This is more like a livestock show or dog show than a racing competition—a whole other sect of pigeon appreciation.

I arrived at Warsaw Park in Ansonia, Connecticut, which looked like a VFW Hall. At the door they were asking $3 for admission, but since my mom and I are female, we got in free. The woman at the table said, “There aren’t enough ladies in this sport.” We walked through the doors and saw rows of tables with metal cages stacked on top of one another. Inside of each cage there was a bird.

Some of the birds were for sale and some were just there to be admired. During judging the birds were taken from their small cages and thrown together in a larger well-lit cage. The judge would pluck one out to inspect it individually. I was impressed by one of the judges who talked to the pigeons in their own language… He was, you could say, fluent in the language of “Coo.”

There were all kinds of fancy birds!

I talked to a man that educates people about pigeons by visiting schools and stuff. I also talked to a woman who was selling fancy pigeon memorabilia. She had old issues of pigeon magazines, as well as pigeon post cards and cigarette cards. I bought two post cards from her that had been sent from Pennsylvania to Boston in 1904. I suspect they went through New York City on Boston Post Road, but I’ll have to learn more about the postal routes of 1904 to be sure.

There was a pigeon auction too. The first few pigeons didn’t fetch much money, maybe $20 or $30. Then, later on there were birds going for $400. I recorded the sound of this.

I wasn’t sure how I would use the information that I got during the pigeon show. My main goal for going was to meet people so that I could feel more comfortable interviewing later on. I was reluctant to interview people at the show, (it would have been poor recording conditions anyway) because, well, as mentioned before, I am kind of an outsider to the sport. Now, if I were to go back though, I’d feel much more comfortable with the guys. As my mom pointed out, “They all have daughters. They know how to talk to girls.”

Anyway, I have since figured out how I’m going to use the pigeon show in my argument. I took a friend to the pigeon show as well as my mom who thinks I’m a little crazy for this pigeon project. He, like other people, thinks they are “rats with wings” (thanks a lot Woody Allen). So I’m going to juxtapose this pigeon show, where people appreciate the beauty of pigeons with a historical narrative of how pigeons got their bad name.

I’ll start with the general history of pigeons as communicators… then I’ll talk about the role that pigeons played in finance. (Scott Pobiner wanted to hear this. Oh, and by the way, Rothschild used pigeons to start a rumor that Napoleon had defeated the British at Waterloo, which caused government debt to “crash” )

Then I’ll refer to this article from the NY Times July 1, 1935. According to the article “the birds in that section of the financial community enjoyed special privileges… They ate chicken feed instead of the common peanut.” But then, “four weeks ago this upper stratum of pigeon society was entirely disrupted when orders were given in the buildings at 15 and 24 Broad Street” and surrounding buildings that feeding was prohibited! I learned about this story from Courtney Humphries’s Superdove: How the Pigeon Took Manhattan … And the World. I think it will be a good historical point to mark the turn from pigeon love to pigeon hate.

At the end of this story I’ll ask, “What do you think of pigeons? Do you have any pigeon stories of your own?” That way I’ll be ready for when the crowd sourcing part of the URT site is ready.