Saturday evening is “hamburgers.” This simply means that about 200 of the park residents gather in the social hall at 5:30 to eat hamburgers cooked on the outside grill, along with shredded lettuce, which, if you take a bottle of salad dressing, you can pile on your plate and call it “salad.” After burgers, at extra cost, one may get ice cream! Also, most Saturdays have “entertainment” after, so it is an exciting night out for oldsters such as ourselves. (That’s all background; so here’s the story.)
Seated next to us at our table were three “bachelor” types, that is, fellows whose wives had succumbed to death and who have not yet been tagged by a widow-lady. The gentleman sitting next to me was a very pleasant but unassuming individual whom I finally engaged in conversation. He is from Missouri, and lives at the end of our block. He told me of his early years when he worked in Connecticut, but, he said, he wanted to pursue “further” graduate work, so he returned to Missouri where he took his PhD at University of Missouri. I told him my sister had taken her PhD at Missouri and the conversation turned to areas of expertise. I asked what his field was and he replied, “poultry nutrition.” So now I fancy that I know a fellow who knows more about chicken feed than I do, notwithstanding that I raised a family on a paycheck that amounted to about that.
I have long believed that academia narrows fields of expertise to a fine point, and here is an excellent illustration of that fact. Someday, some university is going to narrow a study down to a vanishing-point, and the recipients of the degree offered will know everything about nothing!