What Is Hashing, Anyway?
It ain't about drugs, bucko - although we're screwed up just the same...
The Hash House Harrier roots extend back to the old English schoolboy game of "Hares and Hounds," in which some players, called "hounds," chase others, called "hares," who have left a trail of paper scraps along their route across fields, hedges, streams, bogs, and hills. One of the earliest Hares and Hounds events on record was the "Crick Run" at Rugby School in Warwickshire, England, first held in 1837. Hare and Hounds as an adult sport began in the fall of 1867 with a group of London oarsmen who wanted to keep fit during the winter. Also called "Paper Chasing" or the "Paper Chase," the game became very popular after its introduction on Wimbledon Common in 1868 by the Thames Hare and Hounds. Early clubs called themselves "Hare and Hounds" or simply "Harriers."
THE HASH IS BORN
A.S.I., "G" Gispert (1903-1942)
The Hash House Harriers as we know it today was founded in Malaya (now Malaysia) by Albert Stephen Ignatius Gispert, an English chartered accountant. It was sometime during 1937 when Gispert (or simply "G" as he was known to his friends) acquired a taste for the paper chase with the Springgit Harriers in Malacca (also in Malaya). Shortly after being transferred by his accounting firm to Kuala Lumpur he gathered together a number of fellow expatriate businessmen to form a harrier group. The first run was held in in December 1938 and the founding members included Cecil H. Lee, Frederick "Horse" Thomson, Eric Galvin, H.M. Doig, and Ronald "Torch" Bennet. The group's name came about primarily because local authorities required legal registration of the club. While the "Kuala Lumpur Harriers" would have appeared a logical choice, "G" decided instead to use the nickname for the Selangor Club where a number of the local harriers both lived and took their meals. It seems that due to its lackluster food, the dining room was commonly referred to as the "Hash House."
The philosophy of the original Hash House Harriers from the 1938 charter:
The Original "Hash House," Kuala Lumpur, circa 1938
MODERN HARRIERS - Tittys and beer...
Hashing in Kuala Lumpur was suspended during the World War II occupation by Japanese forces, but then reestablished after peace returned. It wasn't too long before the hash began slowly spreading around the world. Former members of the original Hash House Harriers started a hash in 1947 near Milan, Italy, but it wasn't until 1962 that the next group was formed in Singapore. The Singapore Hash was gradually followed by others until in 1973 there were approximately 35 hashes in 14 countries.
Subsequently, the hash began spreading like wildfire and the number of hashes soon climbed into the hundreds by the early 1980s. Today there are thousands of active hashes in over 180 countries, including over 500 in the United States.
To read how Atlanta's founders f*cked up this seemingly simple concept, read on.
First Timer Advice
Well congratulations! You're ready to try your first hash.
We've all been there before, so here are some simple tips to help you prepare for your first hash. You should be in decent shape - if you can't WALK at least five miles you need to get in shape before trying a hash. These can be pretty exhausting to the unprepared! Always bring a gym bag with a change of clothes - warm DRY shoes and DRY socks are worth their weight in gold after a couple of November river crossings. Sweats, gloves, sandals etc. - these are all gonna be your buddy and/or pal, dependent upon the weather. Not to worry, we always have a bag car that will bring your gear to the ending spot. Expect an outdoor ending - although we sometimes head inside a warm bar - only silly folk expect things to go their way.
Oh, in the summer, bring rubbing alcohol to get rid of poison ivy. Also bring a small towel to apply it without making a mess. In the winter, sweats and/or tights will be your pal. But don't wear new running shoes. Trust us. If you don't believe us, just read the next paragraph....
DO NOT HASH IN NEW RUNNING SHOES - if you do, you'll be chugging a beer out of them.
Speaking of which, after your 1st and, if you come back, your 5th hash(es), you can expect to take part in the down-down ceremony. Here you'll be introduced to the pack, we'll sing a raunchy song to ya, and then you'll be expected to chug a 12 ounce beer. You can take as long as you like, but if that cup parts from your lips before you finish your beer, it gets dumped over your head. Ya got that? OVER YOUR HEAD. That means you go home smelling like a brewery.
Don't wear road r*cing tee shirts and expect us to be impressed - you're just asking for a down-down.
Expect profanity - lots of it. We all have to be nice and polite at work - this is when we make fun of one another and fart in each other's general direction. If this sort of behavior disgusts or offends you, tough titty - we ain't changin'.
Expect to get muddy, cut by briars and understand that you can get hurt doing this. Bones will get broken, ankles will get sprained, fingers get dislocated all of the time and egos can get bruised. If you get hurt, it is your own damn fault, but we'll do everything we can to help each other out.
A typical hash trail has us shuffling off at 2PM, hashing a 4-6 mile trail for between 75 to 120 minutes. Then we socialize over beer and munchies as the stragglers come in. About an hour later the down-downs begin, and can take up to an hour to complete. Then it is back to the cars and on to an optional post hash meal called an "On-On". If you do all of this, you could be home after 8PM. Skip the On-On, and you could be home as early as 6PM.
If you're new to Atlanta hashing you may have some questions about our hash, and how we do things.
Here are the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions to help you get started.
Q. When does AH4 hash?
A. Every Saturday at 1:30PM, except for special events.
Q. I only have Internet Access at work - do you guys have a phone number?
A. Yes, Mr. 21stCentury, we have a phone number - it is (770) 455-6952 (69, 52 weeks a year is how Barf Bag remembers it. He's what we like to call "clever".)
Q. What does it cost to hash with AH4?
A. We charge everyone $7.00 per hash except for Virgin hashers, who get in for free unless it is a special event. We charge a big ol' pile of money for some events, such as Camp Hedon, but it is worth is. (So says our Accountant, Arthur Anderson)
Q. How long are your trails? What kind of terrain can I expect?
A. Our trails are generally 4-6 Miles in length, and roughly 75% of them take advantage of woodsy, non-road, terrain. Alas, you may get a blacktop death-march from some less-inspired hares, but thankfully those are the exception and not the rule.
Q. But how will I know where the trail is?
A. LUUUCCYY! You got some 'splainin' to do! If yer lucky, we'll do "chalk-talk" and show ya all the marks...but you might want to do some studying ahead of time. Check out our Trail Marks.
Q. What should I bring with me?
A. Always bring a gym bag with a change of clothes - warm DRY shoes and socks are worth their weight in gold, especially after a couple of November river crossings. Sweats, gloves, sandals, etc. will make you a happy sort, dependant upon the weather. The bag car will bring your gear to the ending spot. Bring some rubbing alcohol to get rid of poison ivy. Also bring a small towel to apply it without making a mess. Sandals in the summer are nice to let them stanky feet breath, and hopefully not stink too much. If you have one of those cool camping chairs, you can bring that too, if you're so inclined.
Q. What is the crowd like?
A. A mixed bunch - we draw folks from their late teens to their early 70's. Folks come from all backgrounds, and we have many differing political viewpoints. For the most part, this is a rowdy group usually numbering from 30-45 people. Expect profanity - lots of it. We all have to be nice and polite at work - this is when we make fun of one another and fart in each other's general direction. If this sort of behavior disgusts or offends you, tough titty - we ain't changin'.
Q. When can I tell my husband/wife I'll be home?
A. Heck, we say bring them along, but if you have to go it alone, a typical hash trail has us shuffling off at 2PM, hashing a 4-6 mile trail for between 75 to 120 minutes. Then we socialize over beer and munchies as the stragglers come in. About an hour later the down-downs begin, and can take up to an hour to complete. Then it is back to the cars and on to an optional post hash meal called an "On-On". If you do all of this, you could be home after 8PM. Skip the On-On, and you could be home as early as 6PM.
Q. What is a Down-Down? What is the Down-Down ceremony?
A. If you do something stoopid, like show up at a hash for the first time, wear new shoes, call someone by their nerd name, or have sex with your dog, you're likely to have to do a down-down as penance. Essentially, this means you have to chug a beer while we sing a song. Don't worry, we won't sing "Feelings". Whatever you do during a down-down, NEVER wear a hat, and NEVER take the cup away from your mouth until you're finished, even if we start singing Christmas Carols. If you do, the rest of your beer goes over your head. Try to explain this to the cops, why don'tcha?
Q. What is the deal with the stooopid names? What's wrong with real names?
A. Uh, that's a good question... Have you ever seen Dragnet? The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Yeah, that's it. Honestly, the dopey names have been around since the dawn of the hash way back in 1938. We guess it is so people with famous parents don't have to be worried about embarrassing them. Just ask Newt Gingrich's kid, "Not My Fault". Suffice it to say, that after hash number five, we will name you something stooopid, so we suggest having some semblance of a personality unless you want to be called "Maytag Repairman" or something equally dull. We're still looking for "Rodeo Sex", so if you ride a horse, be warned....
Q. What is Shiggy?
A. Shiggy is our word for the slop and muck that we may hash through on a trail. For example if you are hashing in a muddy construction site, that mud is "shiggy". Shiggy can also include thick bushes, swamps, streams, sewers, etc. In a nutshell, shiggy is pretty much anything that you'd normally avoid on a regular "run". (This doesn't include the "Magnificent Seven", but we'd like to think it should.)
Q. Who/What are the Magnificent Seven?
A. A group of guys who tend to hit on any female - living or dead. We won't name them here, but trust us, if you are of the female persuasion, you'll pretty much figure out who they are on your first hash or so... They are harmless - just say no, unless you wanna, well, you know - that might freak 'em out... At any moment, their number could blossom until we refer to as the "Dirty Dozen"... And then we have the Mag-Lites, who wanna-be Mag-Seven...