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Bordighera H3: a Second Opinion

Most hashers know the accepted history of the early days of hashing, how the first H3 club was established in Kuala Lumpur in 1938, went inactive during WWII, reformed in 1946, and eventually began to give birth to other chapters. For as long as I’ve been hashing (I started in 1988), hash historians believed Mother’s first child was Bordighera H3, founded in Italy in 1947 by a pre-war KL hasher named Gus Mackey, and that the second child was Singapore H3, founded in 1962 by a post-war KL hasher named Ian Cumming.

Until recently this was the accepted version of hash history. Magic Hughes, who back in the day was the acknowledged world hash historian, believed it, or at least accepted it as being true. Later, when hashers like Zippy and me started putting hash history on line, we passed along the same version of events. You can see the same history on Wikipedia.

British hasher Amnesia has been claiming for a couple of years now that the Bordighera H3 story is a hoax. I initially resisted Amnesia’s arguments. To be honest, I thought he had an axe to grind and wasn’t being completely objective. But now he has published his research, and I am convinced: it didn’t happen the way we were told.

Click here to read a PDF file of Amnesia’s report on his investigation of Gus Mackey and Bordighera H3.

I had heard some of Amnesia’s points before, and dismissed them. This time around, however, he offers strong evidence that Gus Mackey did not exist — and if you take Gus Mackey out of the picture, the entire story crumbles.

Gus Mackey doesn’t appear in pre-war Mother Hash records; the British military never heard of him; no one with that name was ever a POW in Italy; stories of him settling in Bordighera after the war are hearsay (as are the stories of of Mackey’s Italian wife, Anna Marie); neither husband nor wife appear in Bordighera or Milan municipal records. The 1940s are not ancient times; the British and the Italians keep records.

Ian Cumming, on the other hand, does definitely exist, and I am proud to have met him.

I say it’s time to revise “official” versions of early hash history to give pride of place to Ian Cumming and the Singapore Hash House Harriers, Mother’s first child.

Note: None of this is to say we will ever get hash history exactly right: some time back, an old-timer claimed to have run with an established Hash House Harriers chapter during a temporary work assignment in the Solomon Islands — in 1957! I wrote about it on this blog. If the story is true, it would significantly change hash history. I said at the time that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Mother had some undocumented babies between the time it reformed in KL in 1946 and the time Ian Cumming started Singapore in 1962. After WWII, not all the original members returned to KL. Some of them no doubt wound up in other parts of the British Empire, and who knows whether or not some of them started small hashes here and there?

I guess what I’m saying is that while I’m now certain the Bordighera story is a hoax, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that during the decade and a half between 1946 and 1962 other chapters didn’t briefly exist in various far-flung parts of the world.

That’s my story (for now) and I’m sticking with it (ditto).

© 2013, Flying Booger. All rights reserved.

About Flying Booger  Hash House Harrier, man about town.


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