A Hardy Hand Shake
By: Robert “Okie Bob” Layton
Aviation Ordnanceman Chief [AOC] Robert Hardy. Well known thru out the F8 Crusader community as the go-to guy for keeping the four 20 MM colt machine guns up and running. Crusader Pilots appreciated his Gun bore sighting capabilities for they believed it gave them that extra edge when it came time for the annual air to air gunnery qualifications.
Hailing from Tuleta Texas, Bob had that unfettered country rowdiness Texans are noted for. Bob was also an “A number 1” liberty hound he had a flair for gambling and could start a card game at a drop of a hat.
Along about 1975 I was in VF-194 Onboard The USS Oriskany. At the time Bob and I were both First Class Petty Officers. I was running Power Plants shop and Bob the Ordnance shack. As I said Bob had that penchant to bet and could think up just about anything to wager on.
I was sitting outside of a Sari Sari store one day in Subic City Philippines with Bob. He was waiting for some of his Ordie Buddies to show up and have a drink. A street vendor pushing a cart came by selling mangos.
Bob calls him over “Hey buddy what are you selling?”
“Mangos” he replied
“How many you got?” Bob inquired
“I got many,” he said
“No I need to know exactly how many you have,” Bob said
“I got many” he again replied
“I tell you what, I’ll give you 20 pesos If you count them” Bob proposed
“For 20 pesos I count them for you, captain” the vendor said
After the vendor made the count Bob had another request
“Hey Buddy I’ll pay you another 20 pesos if you come back in one hour” He offered
“Ok I come back”
“Just one more thing don’t sell any between now and then, you understand!”
“Ok Buddy I come back in one hour”
Bob sits back down and waits for the arrival of his shipmates.
It wasn’t long when about a dozen young Ordnancemen show up. They all sit down around a big table and start drinking San Magoo. After about 4 or 5 beers the street vendor comes pushing his cart down the street toward us. Bob had been shaking a dice cup playing ship, captain, crew for 1 peso Ante 12-peso pot when the vendor gets close.
Bob “Hey fellows y’all got too much of my money I quit”
“Oh come on old man we just too good for ya!” they all bragged
Bob gave me a quick glance— the hook was set!
Bob points to the Mango cart slowly making its way toward us
“I’ll tell you what, I bet 20 pesos I can guess within saaaay — plus or minus 20– how many Mangos are on that vendor’s cart”
The young sailors were all eager to take the old salts money.
Wanting to show like they really knew something about making bets.
They counter-proposed “How about within 5”
Bob smirks “You got to be shitting me, even I’m not that good, how about 10”
“We’ll take that bet”
Bob throws out two one hundred peso bills on the table ten sailors cover the bet.
Turning to me “Hey Okie can you loan me some Pees so I can cover all the bets”
“Sure how much you need, ” I ask
“Oh 40 more will do it”
The bets were quickly covered.
Bob gets up walks across the street over to the cart acts like he is sizing it up. He haggles out few numbers. Then calls out the number the vendor had given him just an hour prior not being exact but off a couple.
Bob request to me “Hey Okie since you don’t have a dog in this race how about having the vendor to count the number of mangos”
I jump up and go over to the Vender slip him 20 more pesos as previously agreed. He counts the mangos.
The vendor announces the number; I validate the count.
Bob wins the bet within the 10 limit!
The young sailors are duly Stunned!
Bob scoops up the pesos on the table.
He hands me back my 60 keeps his 220 and proceeded to spend the rest of the winnings on drinks for all the sailors. They never knew what hit em and we never told!
Bob had one bet I have never seen anyone else perform. He would get into public place and go up to a woman and with one hand touch her boob. Using a young naïve sailor as his mark He would set the bet up like this.
“He, I bet you a round of beer I can go up to that woman over there and shake hands with her Tit?”
“Oh yeah prove it”
As we would watch from a distance, Bob would go up to the woman and shake her boob just like a handshake! He always got away with it! Frigging unbelievable.
I asked Bob how he did it? He said it was all in the eye contact. He said never look down at the tit. Get up close invade the space maintain eye contact and always cup the breast from under, fingers on the bottom thumb on top.
He said if you touch with the fingers on top and thumb under and looked at the Tit it was like groping. Hell, it was all fondling to me!
He would always ask some stupid question like “Don’t I know you? your names Betty!” after a quick No he would say “Oh I’m sorry” and quickly depart.
I have seen him do this countless times and never get any repercussions. He did it to young and old alike, big and small chested.
Sometimes the woman would gasp but never pull back or knock his hand away. And never did I see any woman yell or be outraged! I did, however, see smiles and sometimes heads nod up and down to the rhythm of his handshake.
In today’s PC world Bob would more than likely get slapped, pepper sprayed, maced, shot, then sued.
They just don’t make sailors like Bob Hardy anymore.
AOC Robert S Hardy 1938-1997 Fair winds and falling seas.