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Yawn . . . More HHHistory

This is an older post, back on top with a fresh comment from Stu “The Colonel” Lloyd, author of “Hare of the Dog,” who is working on an updated edition for the Mother Hash 80th, later this year. For the latest wrinkle in the saga of the Bordighera H3, scroll to the end of this post. — Flying Booger, 14 May 2018

Sometimes nothing happens on the hash list; sometimes it erupts.  Such an eruption occurred today, in the wake of yesterday’s hash history post from Hazukashii (see my previous entry).  Outraged hash historians weighed in on inaccuracies that have found their way into the Wikipedia Hash House Harriers entry, driving  Hazukashii, normally a mild-mannered person, to call Wikipedia a “cesspool.”

Damn, everybody, when did we get so squeamish and picky about hash history?  Y’all are startin’ to sound like me!

As readers of this blog may remember, I reviewed the Wikipedia Hash House Harriers entry a few months back and thought it was basically sound.  That doesn’t mean it’s 100% correct, but what bit of printed or online hash history is?  Still, parts of today’s hash list discussion sounded to me as if I might be to blame for some of this inaccurate Wikipedia information, so I did some research.

The issue in question is which hash was the second hash after Kuala Lumpur.  Most hashers believe it was Singapore H3, founded in 1962 by Ian Cumming, who had previously hashed with Kuala Lumpur H3.  But most hashers also have at least heard that a Kuala Lumpur hasher named Gus McKay (or McKey) started a hash in Italy in 1947.  That hash was called the Bordighera H3, and the fact of its existence has never been in dispute.  Somehow, though, Bordighera H3, which according to the Hash Genealogy Project ran regularly from its founding in 1947 to early 1961, has gotten lost in the general hash consciousness.  I am partially at fault for that.

Here’s how the Wikipedia Hash House Harriers entry has evolved, at least the part that deals with the early post-WWII growth of hashing.  Since the original Wikipedia entry came from an article I wrote for a Honolulu running magazine back in 1995, I’ll start with it.

This is the paragraph about post-war hashing that appeared in my original hashing article from Jun 1995 (taken from the Internet Archive as it appeared on the Half-Mind Catalog in Jun 1998):

Hashing died out during World War II (Japanese occupying forces being notoriously anti-fun) but picked up in the post-war years, spreading through the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand, then exploding in popularity in the mid-70s. Today there are thousands of Hash House Harrier clubs in all parts of the world, with newsletters, directories, and regional and world hashing conventions.

The first Wikipedia Hash House Harriers entry was my article, quoted word for word. The same paragraph appears in the original Wikipedia entry, dated 26 Sep 2003, posted by an anonymous contributor  (I don’t know who it was, other than that it wasn’t me):

Hashing died out during World War II (Japanese occupying forces being notoriously anti-fun) but picked up in the post-war years, spreading through the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand, then exploding in popularity in the mid-70s. Today there are thousands of Hash House Harrier clubs in all parts of the world, with newsletters, directories, and even regional and world hashing conventions.

On 9 Mar 2006, a second anonymous contributor modified it:

Hashing died out during World War II, but picked up again in the post-war years, spreading through the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as Europe and North America. This absence of hashing continued until 1962, when Ian Cumming founded the 2nd kennel in Singapore (The Royal Italian Bordighera Hash was begun in the late ’40s, but died by the late ’50s. It was later resurrected by members of the Milan H3). Hashing really exploded in popularity in the mid-1970s.

On 16 Mar 2006, someone calling himself “SteveRwanda” changed it to:

Hashing died out during World War II, and despite a brief revival in the late 1940s in the form of the The Royal Italian Bordighera Hash, failed to take off again seriously until 1962, when Ian Cumming founded the 2nd kennel in Singapore. From then on, the phenomenon started to grow, spreading through the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as Europe and North America. Hashing really exploded in popularity in the mid-1970s.

On 10 Apr 2006, a third anonymous contributor changed it to:

Hashing died out during World War II after the Japanese invasion of Malayisa, but started again shortly after the war, when the original protagonists, minus “G” who had been killed in the Japanese invasion of Singapore, re-assembled in Kuala Lumpur. Apart from a “one off” chapter, formed in the Italian Riviera, (now the Royal Italian Bordighera Hash), hashing didn’t take off until 1962, when Ian Cumming founded the 2nd kennel in Singapore. From then on, the phenomenon started to grow, spreading through the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as Europe and North America. Hashing really exploded in popularity in the mid-1970s.

And here’s how it reads today, 3 Jan 2010, modified by who knows how many contributors, named and unnamed:

Hashing died out during World War II after the invasion of Malaya, but was re-started after the war by most of the original group, minus A. S. Gispert, who was killed in the Japanese invasion of Singapore.

Apart from a “one-off” chapter formed on the Italian Riviera, growth of Hashing remained small until 1962, when Ian Cumming founded the second kennel, in Singapore. The idea then spread through the Far East, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and North America, booming in popularity during the mid-1970s.

My conclusions:

I was wrong in the first place to ignore the Bordighera H3 by leaving Italy out of my paragraph about the post-war growth of hashing. But like many hashers, I had the idea that Bordighera H3 never amounted to much and that Singapore H3 was the “real” second hash.  In my article, I didn’t mention Bordighera. To be fair, I didn’t mention Singapore either.

Someone posted my article, without attribution, to Wikipedia in September 2003.  Over time, various contributors added to the post-war hash growth paragraph, specifically mentioning both Bordighera and Singapore. Apparently no one had the correct history of Bordighera: it went from being described as a hash that died in the 50s (actually it lasted until 1961) to a “one-off” hash.

Two points:

  • Bordighera H3 was the second hash, founded in 1947. It died in 1961, making the third hash, Singapore H3 (founded in 1962 and still running), the second oldest hash still running. That may be too fine a distinction for some hashers, and may well be the source of all this confusion.
  • Bordighera H3 was never called anything other than that. The various editors who worked on this part of the Wikipedia HHH entry are mistaken in calling it the “Royal Italian Bordighera Hash” — between the time Bordighera H3 died in 1961 and the founding of Milan H3 in 1990, there was no hash in the area. Milan H3 eventually became Milan & Bordighera H3, then the Royal Milan & Bordighera H3 — you can see more about that below the fold.

I’m doing what I can to correct this. I edited my original hashing article. The paragraph in question now says:

Hashing died during World War II (Japanese occupying forces being notoriously opposed to civilian fun) but came back to life in the post-war years. In time, hashing spread outward from Kuala Lumpur. Today there are thousands of Hash House Harrier clubs in all parts of the world, complete with newsletters, directories, and regional and world hashing conventions.

Now . . . who has the balls to rewrite this section of the Wikipedia article and incur the wrath of hash historians everywhere?

Below the fold: the real scoop on the Bordighera H3, courtesy of a Swiss hasher who has run with Royal Milan & Bordighera H3 many times.
Gus McKey (not McKay, as Bill Panton has it) returned from KL in 1947 and put on a hash or two in Milan. He then moved to Bordighera and founded the Bordighera H3.  Gus kept Bordighera H3 going until January 1961. Bordighera H3 did not survive Gus McKey’s death.

In 1990 Bwana moved from Mombassa to Milan and founded Milan H3.  After a short period the Milan hashers discovered the history of Gus McKey’s Bordighera H3, and renamed their hash the Milan & Bordighera H3.

At one point a member of the Italian royalty ran MBH3 — no, I don’t know who — and it has since been known as Royal Milan & Bordighera H3. RMBH3 is still active today.

Update (2/21/12): I just heard a claim that the story of Gus Mackey and the 1947 founding of the Bordighera H3 is false, made up out of whole cloth by some hashers at a later date, and then, inexplicably, accepted by one and all — including Tumbling Bill Panton, who lists the 1947 founding date of the Bordighera H3 in the official H3 genealogy. The source of this claim doesn’t provide names or dates and as it stands it’s impossible to verify anything, one way or the other. I merely note the claim, and recommend we take everything we hear about hash history with a grain of salt. — Flying Booger

© 2018, Flying Booger. All rights reserved.


About Flying Booger  Hash House Harrier, man about town.


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5 comments to Yawn . . . More HHHistory

  • Hi FB,

    Wow, what a wild goose chase the Bordighera H3 hashtory is! This had my pulse racing till I read your final update (2/21/12).

    I’m setting about doing a special update of “Hare of the Dog” for the Mother Hash 80th later this year, so rounding up any new knowledge and developments in Hashdom. I’d flagged this as one possible rabbithole to explore.

    Cheers and ONON!

  • Stu, let me know if you find a definitive answer to the saga of Bordighera H3!

  • Sister Maria

    The single greatest effort of recorded hash history was extensively researched, written, and published by Tim “Magic” Hughes.
    Magic sent me a copy of his book and I read it in the early 90′s. I presume you have a copy.
    What does his book say about all this?

  • As I recall, all editions of Magic’s World HHH Handbook reported Bordighera H3 as the second hash, est. 1947. I also got a look at Magic’s HHH genealogy chart at the Tasmania InterHash, and it showed the same thing. But that was then.

    I just checked the Hash Heritage Foundation’s genealogy page (thehashhouse.org), where Singapore H3 is listed as the second kennel, founded in 1962. Their genealogy is an updated version of Magic’s original.

    On thehashhouse.org’s page for Royal Milan & Bordighera H3 (https://www.thehashhouse.org/index.php?r=chapters%2Ftree&target=Royal+Milan+%26+Bordighera+H3), founding date is shown as 1960.

    I would say that by now the vote is in, and that no one any longer believes the story about Bordighera H3 being founded in 1947.

  • Just realized thehashhouse.org shows Bordighera H3′s founding year as 1960, whereas Singapore H3′s documented and proven founding year was 1962. So even if you discount the 1947 story, there’s still some room for doubt, and in addition I once posted about a possible short-lived KL offshoot in the Solomon Islands, reportedly hashing as early as 1957!

    Here’s the link: http://pwoodford.net/hashblog/?p=3937

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