Taking one or two years of science was a requirement at the college. Biology was famous for the piglet we all had to dissect. We did this in the lab in groups of two and most of us became quite fond of our dead piglet fetuses in their formaldehyde solution in their next-to-last resting places, little plastic bags. Part of the fun, I must confess was watching the reactions of the squeamish. The lecture sections were considerably more boring, and didn’t teach as much as the “hands on” experience in the lab.
Geology was great because of what it taught about geologic time, the evolution of the physical world as well as the origin and types of rocks. While some of this information was interesting in its own right, it has come to be particularly useful in discussions with Creationists. Field trips to various geologic features to identify rocks in nature were particularly enjoyable, and I will never forget scrambling for olivine on the Palisades in New Jersey. Learning about rocks and their origins made any walk in a park even a greater pleasure than it had been. Although I was much more interested in reading “La Celestina” (by Fernando de Rojas), my science education was not wasted. For me, it was a fresh, new way of seeing the world.
While it is difficult to impossible to remember everything I learned at college, it sometimes became amazingly useful and practical. The purpose of the following little anecdote is to show the quality of the education I was getting all across the board.
We had to take (yes, there were requirements) some sort of health-related course. While taking this course we were shown the movie “Thank You, Dr. Laurent.” I believe Jean Gabin played the starring role, but I can’t be sure. I can’t even find a reference to this movie in Wikipedia. It was an advocacy film about the benefits of natural childbirth, particularly the Lamaze Method. The movie was a biopic of Dr. Lamaze, renamed for this purpose “Dr. Laurent”, and the development of his ideas. It made quite an impression on me. I was convinced. Years later, after I’d married my first wife (after nearly fifty years, I’m still married to her), while she was pregnant with our son, we jointly decided that the Lamaze Method was the way to go for the delivery. She was also convinced. She didn’t want to be “absent” during one of the most important moments of her life.
I must have seen “Dr. Laurent” around 1958, and by 1965, in all of New York there was only one hospital (Beth Israel) that allowed natural childbirth. There was also only one doctor (coincidentally, years earlier he had delivered my then brother-in-law) who would use the Lamaze Method, Dr. Benjamin Segal, and he allowed me to be one of the first fathers in New York to be moderately useful at the birth of our son. The story would be incomplete if I didn’t mention the fact that I was able to pay partially for my son’s birth by donating a couple of pints of blood to the hospital’s blood bank.