Bob & Bev Layton My two best friends in San Diego County are Bob and Beverly Layton,
whom my late wife Elaine and I met in 1975 when they ran a neighborhood
electronics store called Carlbad Stereo. We've had lots of wonderful times
together and I have some truly amazing stories about the Laytons. However,
two of the stories on this page are about Beverly and her first husband, Larry
(who, sadly, died of a heart attack a week short of his 50th birthday).

Cecil - The Mule Who Loved Poison Oak
Cecil the Mule     For reasons I won't take time to explain now, Beverly and Larry decided to buy a nudist park in East San Diego County.
    However, they soon discovered that the stream running through their park had several patches of poison oak along its banks (obviously not ideal hiking grounds for people wearing little more than sunglasses).
    Larry and Beverly were hoping to find an easy way to get rid of the poison oak. That's when one of their guests said she'd heard of a local mule that was reputed to eat the stuff.
    "You're kidding," replied my friends. "A mule that eats poison oak?"
    "That's what I heard," said the guest. "He's owned by a farmer a few miles down the road. Why don't you go down and check it out for yourselves?"
    "We will," they said. And they did.
    "It's true," the farmer told my friends. "He loves the stuff - can't get enough of it. And he appears to be totally immune to it. I've never had a problem with him. Been eating it for years."
    "Wow!" was about all my wide-eyed friends could say. Then they asked how many mules like this he had.
    "Just Cecil," replied the farmer. "The others won't go near the stuff."
    Well, to make a long story short, my friends offered to buy Cecil, negotiated a price and had him delivered to their camp.
    As soon as he arrived, they tethered Cecil with a rope long enough to give him access to the fresh water in the stream and to all the poison oak a mule could possibly want.
    They left him there overnight and came back the following morning to see how much poison oak had been eaten. But, to their dismay, it appeared that none had been consumed, and Cecil was acting a little restless - like maybe he was hungry.
    Well, Larry and Bev took turns checking on Cecil throughout the day and finally concluded that he hadn't touched the poisonous weed and that he was definitely acting like a hungry mule. So they went back to the farmer and told him about this.
    "I see," said the farmer. "So did you pick some of the poison oak and offer it to him?"
    "Excuse me?" Larry and Bev asked in unison. "Are you saying we're expected to pick the stuff and hand it to him?"
    "Well, sure," replied the farmer. "That's the only way he'll eat it."
    Then he added, "Oh - did I forget to mention that?"
Bob 'Duke' Layton
     Bob is one who has yet to come to terms with the world of computers and email, although his wife Beverly has gotten pretty comfortable with it. Thus Bev wasnít too surprised when she found a hand-scribbled note Bob had left her before going to bed early one evening.
    "Please tell Bill I need my wench back and that Iíll be out to see him this Saturday."
    "Surely he doesnít mean wench," thought Bev as she began an email to Bobís brother Bill. So she wrote, "Hi, Bill. Bob says to tell you he needs his wrench back and that heíll see you on Saturday."
    Checking her mail about an hour later, Bev found this reply: "Tell Bob I donít know which wrench he wants, but if heíll tell me Iíll just send it to him. He doesnít need to drive 400 miles to pick up a wrench."
     The following morning Bobís first question to Bev was, "Did you find my message for Bill?"
    "Yes, I did," she replied, "and he says if youíll tell him which one heíll send it to you."
    "Which one? Heíll send it?" asked Bob with a puzzled look. "There is only one and no way could he send anything that big. Did he mean heíll bring it to me?"
    "Well, read his email for yourself," replied Bev, pointing to the computer.
    "Never mind," Bob said, reflecting his general attitude toward having anything to do with a computer. "Iíll just call him."
    Well, Bev knew he wouldnít call until later that day, since Bill would be at work teaching school. So she sent him another email. "Bob says itís too big to send, so heíll come out and get it."
    Later that afternoon Bev found a reply from Bill, saying he was totally puzzled and agreed that Bob had better call him.
    By now Bob was convinced that his wife and his brother were both crazy - so he did call Bill. Hereís what he said:
    "Hey, little brother - thanks for offering to send my winch - but you know it's too big to send. It takes two men and a boy just to mount it on my Jeep."
Pouring Cement into Their Houseboat
    When Beverly met her first husband Larry, shortly after the end of WWII, he was a commercial fisherman. Beverly was quick to learn how to be Larry's first mate - both in their marriage and on his boat.
    Beyond that, Larry and Bev got the idea that their living expenses would be less if they lived on a houseboat, and wished they could find one they could afford. Well, nothing they found was within their budget, but they came up with a very creative idea.
    They learned that war-surplus LCVs (landing craft vehicles) were practically being given away by the US Navy, and decided that they could convert one into a houseboat. (LCVs were the "flat-nosed" wooden boats that were used to land troops, vehicles and weapons on enemy-held beaches in WWII.)
    Well, they bought one and got it into dry-dock, where they began turning it into a very serviceable dwelling. However, one problem persisted no matter how they tried to overcome it; the boat was not level in the water. The bow was three or four feet higher than the stern, meaning the deck/floor of their house always slanted at an uncomfortable angle.
    But Larry had a solution. All they had to do, he said, was pour some cement into the bow to achieve the proper balance. Well, somehow they got their houseboat into a nearby river and maneuvered it to location under a small bridge. Then they had a contractor park his cement mixer on the bridge and run a long hose through a hatch into the boat's bow.
    The plan was for Larry to be below deck with a shovel with which to spread the cement as it flowed into the hull.
    Beverly would be on the river bank, far enough away that she had a good view of the boat as the cement would begin to level it. At the proper time she would signal the contractor to stop pouring.
    Seems like a reasonable idea - but guess what happened...
    It didn't take all that much cement to get the boat leveled and Beverly was surprised at how quickly the moment for her to signal the contractor arrived. So she began yelling and waving. But the cement guy was not looking in her direction and the noise of the mixer kept him from hearing her. So he just keeps pouring.
    Well, Larry can't really judge the boat's angle from where he is, so he keeps spreading the concrete. Now Beverly is running toward the contractor as fast as she can, yelling and waving all the way.
    By this time Larry realizes something's gone drastically wrong, and goes topside to see what's happening. Well, the cement guy is totally oblivious to Larry and Beverly's yelling and keeps right on pouring.
    At this point Larry can see that Bev will make contact with the day-dreamer sooner than he could, so he dashes below to see what can be done with the excess cement. At first he thought he could redistribute it so as to keep the boat level, but quickly realized this would be an impossibility. So he grabs his shovel and begins to chop a hole in the boat's hull. Then he starts frantically shoveling cement through the hole as fast as he can.
    Well, Beverly finally reaches the contractor, the pouring stops, and the boat is listing foreword to the point where water will soon be coming through the hole in the hull. As for Larry, he keeps shoveling as fast as he can, in hopes of keeping the boat from sinking.
    As for how all this turned out, I couldn't remember - and had to phone Bev to ask her. When she first told me this story I was laughing so hard at the images it conjured up that I couldn't remember whether she said boat was saved or not. Anyway - yes, they were able to save the boat and did, in fact, convert it into a very comfortable houseboat.

Other Bob & Bev Stories:

Bev's "Moral Dilemma"     Bob & the 1993 Superbowl Game Between the "Cowboys & the Bulls"

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