By Alonzo Weston ~ St. Joseph News-Press
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Jon Carr remembered a time growing up when it seemed everyone in St. Joseph raised pigeons. It was practically a way of life.
"When I was a kid, a lot of East Side people had pigeons," Carr said. "We used to ride all over town and look at all the pigeons people had."
Now semiretired, Carr has taken up raising pigeons again. Only this time he calls them pure white racing homers.
And he and his daughter-in-law Beth Carr have recently started a partnership called Beth's Wedding Doves.
The duo train and display white doves for release at weddings, funerals and other special occasions. It is an aesthetic service for those who want a special and memorable touch for their events, said Carr.
"When you see it it's just awe-inspiring," she said.
The idea for a dove release business began almost a year ago when Carr was surfing the Internet looking for information on his boyhood hobby of raising pigeons.
He works part-time as a teacher's aide at Skaith School. And he needed something else to fill his days.
"I was looking around in the Internet and I stumbled onto these dove releases," Carr said.
He noticed that the dove release businesses were mostly concentrated on the East and West coasts. He found only a few in Missouri. However, he found none in northwest Missouri.
That prompted Carr to call his daughter-in-law with the idea of starting a business together.
"All I wanted to do was raise birds and I said, 'can we do business if I train the birds and you handle the weddings and all that stuff?"' Carr said.
Beth Carr had lost her job as a flight attendant when Vanguard Airlines ceased operations two years earlier. So she saw it as the perfect opportunity to work and stay home with her two children.
Her husband, Dave Carr, works at Wire Rope Corp. of America.
"I thought about that and I said, 'maybe I was meant to work with things that fly,"' she said.
So Carr sent off and got his first birds, nine of them, in March. By June they where ready for their first outing, a fund-raising walk.
Recently they recently did a wedding in Oregon, Mo.
"Oregon's about 35 miles from here. An hour after they let them go I was sitting here on the deck and they dropped in," Carr said.
Currently the business has 22 doves. Carr said they would like to have about 100 and are now breeding their own.
He also said that people could rest assured their birds are well taken care of. They take special precautions for their care by limiting them to a 50- to 75-mile radius around St. Joseph.