My mother has a wonderful life. Even if she doesn’t know it.
SALISBURY – The classic film “African Queen” hit American movie theaters the year I was born, 1951. The film tells the story of a strait-laced spinster missionary in the African Congo (played by Katherine Hepburn) and a gin-swilling tugboat captain (Humphrey Bogart) who team up to sabotage a Nazi warship anchored hundreds of miles downriver. The constantly bickering odd couple sneak past German fortifications and deadly rapids and eventually find themselves stuck in a mucky swamp. With the boat’s motor broken, Bogart must get in the water and physically pull the boat through the weeds. Climbing into the boat for a short break, he and Hepburn are horrified: he’s covered with leeches. As Hepburn powders and plucks off the parasites, Bogart utters one of my favorite lines in any film: “If there’s anything in the world I hate, it’s leeches! The little devils!” But it quickly becomes apparent that if Hepburn and Bogart are going to reach their goal, Bogart must climb back into the water and carry on. A shadow passes over his face – one of resignation, fatigue, duty, and love (because of course by now he and Hepburn have fallen in love), and he gets back into the fetid water.