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Mr. Jackson: The Interview

When I started this interview project, I never imagined that the iconoclastic Mr. Jackson would consent to sit still for one. But you never know until you ask, so I did, and to my great surprise Mr. Jackson agreed to talk. Or, actually, write, since the Half-Mind travel budget is nonexistent.

There may be a few of you out there in Hashland who have not heard of Mr. Jackson, but I am certain every one of you has heard of the Rumson Hash House Harriers, the “Hell’s Angels of Hashing.” Here are a few of those notorious thugs, preparing to pillage the New Jersey countryside (Mr. Jackson is 2nd from right):

mr jackson second from right

Without further ado, I present Mr. Jackson: The Interview:

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Flying Booger,

After endless days of pondering how best to respond to your request – actually I forgot about it for awhile and just found my printout – I will give it a try.

I’m going to ignore most of your interview questions (Charlie Rose’s job is safe) and just use them sparingly. In truth, I’ve seen job applications with more interesting questions.

I am Gilbert Jackson (aka Mr. Jackson), named myself, 73 years old, living in Summit, New Jersey, USA.

Although I have lived in Summit for 26 years and Summit has one of the few hashes in NJ, I drive 40-60 miles every Saturday morning to hash with the Rumson Hash at 10:17am. I have been hashing with Rumson since founding it, with Keith Kanaga, in May 1978.

In that year I was living in Rumson and met Keith Kanaga who had just moved to Rumson from a tour in Kuala Lumpur. We were both runners and he told me of this wondrous club that got you out of the house to drink beer, with a pretense of healthy, outdoor sport. I was 43 at the time and am now convinced that hashing saved me from dying prematurely of ennui. Keith knew all about hashing, but had no friends. I knew nothing of hashing, but had friends. It was a perfect marriage, and its child was the Rumson Hash.

Our first hash had five hashers, if you include some guy and his 10-year-old daughter. Not an auspicious start, but by the fifth hash we had two dozen. Our existence spread like wildfire, to just about every alcoholic in our small community – go drinking on Saturday morning with the wife’s blessing, it was a gift from above. I hasten to add that not all of us were problem drinkers, but the core group was and I have stories of our first five years that would fill books. The drunken escapades of our early years could not continue. One of the truths of getting sober is that you must first “bottom out” and many of our early members did that, left us and went to the AA Chapter at the Stone Church. It was almost like a career path, Rumson Hash to AA. In retrospect we were providing a community service.

This is probably a good time to mention Rumson’s all-male, bimbo-free status. We have been such since our founding, as were many of the hashes at that time. It works for us and we have no plans to change it. We have been fending off attacks from sex-crazed bimbos over the years, but we remain firm.

To the modern hasher, Rumson is hardly a hash. We don’t sing, do circles, do down-downs, wear red dresses. We use simple trail marks, no falses unless the hare is trapped, no 1. 2. 3. stuff, just enough length and complexity to get us dirty, tired and often bleeding. We have a beer at the end, go to a bar, order pitchers of Bud, put $5 on the bar and if we want food, we buy it ourselves. We have many cigar smokers, so we try to find an outside table. All very simple and a good time.

Cornballer taught me the most about hashing.

Worst things that happened to me hashing was when my wife looked out our window to see Cause for Blindness sliding naked at 1AM into my pool. That was my last Hash Pool Party. And the time the Rumson guys dropped a dead horse onto my driveway. I have told this story dozens of times at Interhashes and will not get into it now.

Have not hashed outside of the Americas with one exception. I was on holiday with my wife in Australia and hashed with the Cairns Hash (one of the insipid Family Hashes). There were Aborigines in the hash that knew of the Rumson Hash. True story! I think the reports of some of our Interhash skits and a few Rumson shirts made it there.

My attitude to hashing has changed little over the years, but hashing certainly has (family hashes, stroller-friendly hashes, bike hashes, alcohol-free hashes). I think there are too many hashes and hashers. I think hashing used to take a certain unconventional type of person, irreverent but generous of spirit, a type that is less represented in many of the newer hashers. For many it is a dating club, with rumors, gossip and breakups.

That said, I love hashing. Most of my best friends are hashers and I hope to die on trail. I have also vowed that I will never again wear a dress at a hash.

Rumson’s YouTube video probably better describes the Rumson Hash than this does. Producing that video, by the way, is one of my proudest moments (the other is founding the Rumson HHH)!

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