The other night, my wife and I had supper at a table in the dining room of our local continuing care retirement community, described in its website as “Serving Older Adults in the Quaker Tradition.” Around the table were retirees with sterling memories of having starred. Peyton, on my left, the son of a famous missionary in China, had led Episcopal seminaries all over the world; John Gunn, emeritus economics professor at Washington & Lee University, still asks the sharpest liberal-leaning questions at lectures on the W&L campus; Harrison Kinney, on my right, was a “Talk of the Town” writer at the New Yorker until John Updike took his office in the 1950s; Jo McMurtry, next to him, is retired from the University of Richmond’s English Department. … Also at the table was my wife’s mother, herself respectably accomplished with a degree in economics from Cambridge University and a pioneering government career starting in the Navy WAVES and in Occupied Japan. She has recently moved from Florida to this idyllic old folks home beside the Blue Ridge. My wife and I visit a lot, but last night it was because I was giving an after-dinner lecture, “When Journalism Was an Honorable Profession.” (The title was merely a set up for my opening line: “Honorable? Hell, it’s never even been a profession.”)
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