One of Many Harding Remembrances

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One of Many Harding Remembrances

Harding was in the Mountain Room late one evening, as was his custom, and he was in his usual state of inebriation. When the Room closed he and a few friends staggered out and moved sinuously toward Camp 4.

The group broke up as they headed for their respective tents. Harding, being considerably more drunk than the others, was staggering in the general direction of his tent, but lost his balance, stumbled, and crashed headlong onto a small two-man tent. He fell across it and totally collapsed it as the occupants within began screaming and swearing. The male half of the occupancy came scrambling and cursing out of the tent, “You drunken son-of-a-bitch, what the f**k are you doing? I’m going to kill you, you bastard!”

Harding, taken somewhat aback, blinked, stumbled a little bit backward, stood straight up, sucked in a chest full of air, and replied, “You can’t kill me, you as#@&%e, I’m famous!”

Needless to say, he lived through it.

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Harding

In 1955 I was one of several rent-paying climbers inhabiting “Toad Hall” (1715 Dwight Way, Berkeley). Someone brought in a paperback written by Al Coppel, a prominent sports car competitor of the day. Setting was the annual Pebble Beach road race. Time was the evening before the big race. Plot line involved the favorites to win getting howling drunk, pursuing each other around Monterey County at speeds up to 120 mph, musical beds, even some fisticuffs. While most of us considered it a “good read,” one frequent visitor to Toad Hall regarded it as if it were “Advice for the Novice Driver,” by Juan Manuel Fangio, with scenarios to be emulated. Actual title of the book, of course, was “Hero Driver.”