Have you ever seen someone walk down the street, absorbed in their smartphone. They text, they read texts, they surf the web. They are totally absorbed in the virtual world, totally ignoring the real world all around them.

Have you ever noticed how few children you see riding their bikes or walking down the street. Oh, sure, they are involved in school athletics or little league but they aren't hanging out together. Or, if they do hang out together, adults wonder if the police should be called.

I attended a dinner in Lafayette sponsored by an investment company one night.

One of the slides on the screen was a drawing of a modern ranch home.

"This is a modern home," our host said. "What is missing?"

"A TV antenna," I answered, to chuckles from the guests in the room.

"Well, that too," our host said. "What is missing is a front porch. Most modern homes do not have front porches."

He made the point that our sense of community has pretty much gone by the way side. We don't even have front porches where neighbors can visit on warm summer nights.

He was right.

I don't need to tell you we used play ball in back yards (there were no vacant lots where I lived.) One winter the neighbors' kids flooded their front yard for an ice skating rink. Yes, we rode bikes together and went exploring other neighborhoods.

One summer, three of us built soap box racers. We nailed wooden crates to the top of 2-by4s that had a roller skate separated and the front wheels nailed to the front end and the rear wheels nailed to the back end of the 2-by-4. After some heavy duty trash talk for weeks we raced each other down a two block stretch of Grant Street.

Last Saturday night I attended the Ripley Township Fire Department Bean Dinner in Alamo.

Ivan Brown kept everyone laughing with his witticisms and the fire station community room was filled with people who came to support their fire department.

Volunteer fire departments are an important part of all our communities, no matter how small is the community they serve.

As usual, the writer in me observed everything going on. I identified everyone I knew. I can tell you exactly what we ate (in addition to soup beans, of course.)

As I said, everyone was having a good time.

A very good friend of mine had a big grin on his face as he visited with this person and that person. I have not seen Bob smile like that in years.

I had finished my soup beans, deviled egg and cottage cheese. I was working on turtle pie when one of our county candidates came over and sat down next to me for a moment.

"I went to school over there in the Alamo school," he said. "I come back and I see the same faces. They are getting older but they are the same people."

"We're all getting older," I said, remembering I first drove into Alamo 39 years ago. "And there are fewer people."

Then I thought about it. Community. We're losing a sense of community.

Amazon has not only replaced the local book store but it is replacing the local IGA.

Did you know if you get Amazon Prime you can get free shipping and order all your toiletries from the same online company where you buy DVDs and books?

What you cannot get is a chance to visit with your neighbors or to eat a piece of homemade pie. (Yes, 53 pounds lighter my blood sugar is regulated and I can eat pie and ice cream again ... in moderation.)

Kids cannot learn to get along with one another because there are always adults about, supervising them, every minute of the day. Guess what, adults did not learn how to get along with others when they were children and as a result our service calls to police have increased many fold.

Check the police blotter. Jones and Smith call the police because Jones' grass clippings blew onto Smith's property. That's not much of an exaggeration.

Not long ago, the talk in the office turned to religion. The comment was made that some churches avoid personal contact through services on the internet. We used to think it was odd that churches offered services in drive-in movie lots. Now, people can avoid contact by going to church on the internet.

I am concerned about our loss of community, folks. How can we pledge allegiance to the UNITED States of America when we no longer spend any time together?

Frank Phillips is a reporter for The Paper of Montgomery County. He can often be seen in public, not looking at his phone while he walks down the street.