VOM Rotary Club 9/15/2018

Oakmont Rotary Club

Bogey and Bacall

  • John Brodey

The other night my wife and I turned on the TV and managed to catch the first of a Bogart and Bacall double feature. “To Have and Have Not”, from 1944, was her first film ever. It is loosely based on the Hemingway novel of the same name albeit with customary Hollywood liberties taken to make it a roguish romantic tale toning down its’ more serious message of principles, politics and causes. You may remember Bogey as Harry Morgan, itinerate captain of a charter fishing boat plying the waters of the Caribbean out of Martinique. Bacall plays ‘Slim’ a mysterious woman about whom all that’s known is that she has been on the run. As they meet for the first time, he asks her how old she is and she replies, 22 (mindblowing as she was actually only 19). Captain Harry believes in only two things; the ocean and money. As it turns out with WWII raging, the local constabulary are aligned with the Vichy government and are helping the Nazi’s smoke out members of the resistance tasked with rescuing one of their leaders imprisoned on Devil’s Island. Naturally, they appeal to Harry’s noble side (which doesn’t exist) to help them complete the mission. He’s having none of it, all he can see are the odds and futility. They are determined but lack the expertise. As they keep pressing him he tells them they are crazy. What if they fail or die trying? The mission’s leader tells them, it doesn’t matter in the big picture. The cause is more important than any one man or woman. If they fail, others will take their place and the work will continue. What does that have to do with the VOM Rotary Club? Well, it made me reflect on how we will survive the loss of a leader. Some of you know Caroline Keller. She is a past president of our club, a member of the board, ex-chairperson of the Youth and Community Services committees. A fearless advocate for so many of our projects, she led the charge to create the garden at the Sierra Youth Center. And when county budgets threatened to shutter the facility she fought valiantly, though ultimately in vain, to preserve its’ future. Additionally, she prevailed in pressing the case for troubled young girls to be afforded the same non- incarceration option that is available to boys. She’s never wavered when the path to reaching these goals was unclear and difficult. She has done so with calm, determination and grace. She has shared her passion in a way that has made us all more caring and committed. She and husband George will be leaving Oakmont and our club to relocate in the East Bay near family. She leaves a huge hole and we will miss her desperately, but we will honor her service by making sure there will be others to take up the cause and carry it to success. More will follow. Just like in the movies.

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