On the boats

I wasn’t going to write about birthdays for a while. It seems like I have mentioned quite a few in the weeks past. But here it is, August 18, and the birthday list throws out two big whoppers on the very same day.

Shelley Winters. (1920 – 2006)


Meriwether Lewis (1774 – 1809)

What is not to like about these two? Of course, Meriwether is the better half of Lewis and Clark. The grand explorers of the territory of the Louisiana Purchase and the great Northwest. He had many talents, but I think he was a bit quirky, too. At least, that is the notion I get, from the biographies I’ve read.

But their journey to the west coast was remarkable. They took boats, and such, all along the Missouri River. Their expedition was more than arduous. I’d call it nearly impossible. But they made it. And back again. However, during the sojourn, Lewis got shot. In the butt. Yes, he and one of his lackeys were on the shores of the Missouri, hunting elk one day. The guy he took with him, couldn’t see very well. Near-sighted. He thought Lewis was an elk, and he popped him one. Right in the hind quarter. That’s my biggest memory of the trip. The 500-page biographies and I come away with that story. Lewis. Shot in the butt.

Of course, his manner of death is always of question. He died by gunshot there too. It was either murder or suicide, and is still widely disputed today. My money is on murder. If I were a betting woman.

Enough about Lewis. How about Winters? Good old Shelley Winters. She had a long and illustrious career as an actress. For five decades, she was in the thick of Hollywood. She appeared in a boat-load of films, and won two Academy Awards — for The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) and A Patch of Blue (1965). She also got nominated for two more.

But what do I remember her for? The Poseidon Adventure, in 1972. I loved that movie when it came out. I was all of eight-years-old. I bet I’ve seen it a dozen times. Old Shirley, there. Capsized with the rest of them on their very big boat — on Ocean Liner of mass proportions. Chandeliers are upside down and on the “floors” everywhere. They have to be daring and brave, as they try to make their way to the surface. Climbing, scaling, shimmying, and shaking.

But there is Shirley. Maybe eight or ten people were in their precarious and tenuous group. But she was the oldest, and the fattest, and in the worst shape.

Oh. I won’t spoil it for you. If they live or die. It’s not the Titanic, for crying out loud. You’ll have to stream this one, if you want to know.

I will say, however, that she does NOT get shot in the butt.

So there you have it.

Two famous birthday on boats. Lewis and Winters.
Float on you two. Float on.


“Life is an experiment in which you may fail or succeed. Explore more, expect least.”
― Santosh Kalwar


“The struggles we endure today will be the ‘good old days’ we laugh about tomorrow.”
― Aaron Lauritsen


“There are a lot of mysterious things about boats, such as why anyone would get on one voluntarily.” 
 — P. J. O’Rourke