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Twenty Questions: Wild Bill

wild bill and alouette

Wild Bill & Alouette

I met Wild Bill Higgins several years ago on a Southern California hashing road trip. He and his wife Alouette are mainstays of the Long Beach HHH and Orange County HHH, but their hashing history goes back much farther than that . . . 24 years, in fact. Let’s get to it, shall we?

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Wild Bill, where was your first hash?

Penang, Malaysia, some time in 1984.

How did you find out about it?

When working on Butterworth Air Base, Malaysia, I told my local secretary that I was a runner and would like to meet up with some local runners. She wrinkled her eyebrows and said, “Well, I know of kind of a running group . . .”

How did you get your hash name?

The last Yank running with the Penang Hash was named John Kennedy, and he was named “the Pres.” My name is Bill, and the only famous Yank the Malaysians knew was “Wild Bill.” My behavior had nothing to do with it!

Who taught you the most about hashing?

The Australians, who were also on Butterworth Air Base at the time.

Where was your first away hash?

Songkhla, Thailand. The Aussies chartered a bus and filled it full of themselves, Malaysians, and the odd Yank, German, and Swiss expat. For an office worker who’d never been out of the US before, this just blew me away – taking a bus trip full of an international collection of crazies I hardly even knew – and to Thailand! And yes, the trip was fantastic!

Where have you hashed?

All over Asia, Australia, the US, and Europe. When I worked on the Naval Air Station in Keflavik, Iceland, Alouette and I had to start a hash up there (Fire & Ice, 1996, now dead). First ever in Iceland. When we were working in Portugal, we were members of the Lisbon Hash. We also claim to have set the first ever in Nevada (Las Vegas, 1988), the first hash on the island of Santorini (on the way to Cyprus InterHash, 1996), and we just set the first hash ever on Easter Island (D-Day, 6 June 2008).

What do you most love about hashing?

The adventure, the camaraderie, and pure, honest fun. I’ve always loved running and beer drinking, and nobody combines the two anywhere near as good as we do!

What don’t you love about hashing?

The people who just don’t get it, yet keep showing up. And there are a lot of them.

What’s the best thing that ever happened to you at a hash?

At the conclusion of Long Beach Hash No. 227 on 29 April, 1989, a preacher conducted a very witty and hash-oriented (but perfectly legal) wedding ceremony, and Neva “Alouette” Ingersoll changed her call sign.

What’s the worst thing?

Hearing that a hashing buddy has passed away. It’s happened more than once.

Are there places you haven’t hashed, but would like to?

Antarctica – but I’m booked to go there, so it’s only a matter of time. I’d also love to see Eastern Europe and continue east from there – and if I visit it, I’m gonna hash it.

Are there places you wouldn’t like to hash?

San Diego and La Jolla. OK, OK – just kidding.

Have any of your attitudes toward hashing or hashers changed over the years?

Sure. I used to be out with the FRB’s, but after 24 years, I kinda like to have a couple of beers and cruise it. Also, I’ve formed the opinion that if you have the right twenty or thirty hashers there, you really don’t need the other eighty, or their kids, or their dogs. . . .

What are some of your favorite haring techniques?

LBH3 and OCH3 use “live” hares, and I like to have my section done and be into the piss inside of the first thirty minutes. With good planning and tight execution, it can be done.

Do you tell everyone you meet about the hash, or only people you think might become good hashers?

I am indeed selective who I invite. Hashing is certainly not for everyone, and I see no reason to waste everyone’s time and energy when it’s obviously not a fit.

The the hashes you founded. Can you tell us about them?

Fire & Ice HHH, Reykjavik, Iceland, 1996. When we worked in Iceland, the closest active hash was in Dublin, and we couldn’t afford to go to Ireland every time we needed to hash! So, over the winter of 1995, we planned to launch Iceland’s first hash in the spring. Old-timers Methuselah and Push Through and newbies Moon Shine and Hot Flash helped us with the arrangements. We asked our local contacts, Hagar the Horrible and Stor Bjor (Big Beer), when an auspicious date would be for the Inaugural Run. We were thinking of the first weekend in April, 1996. They responded by telling us it was foolish to consider starting a Viking (and therefore heathen) hash on a Christian holiday weekend (Easter), so we moved the date to the last weekend in March. It was temperate that day and we had a kick-ass Inaugural Run. The next weekend – when we had intended to do it – there was a horrific blizzard and they shut down the air base! (Note: we ran anyway, but Run No. 2 was a bastard!)

What do you consider your major contribution to hashing?

Alouette and I have been GMs of several hashes. She likes to work behind the scenes, doing the planning for special events – things like that. When she was GM of Long Beach, we had a special event – a campout, raft trip, formal ball – every month. We were always on the go. Now she has the most compulsively anal data base of any hash in the world! She has every weekly LBH3 newsletter since its inception in 1984, and can tell anybody how many runs they have, how many times they’ve hared, their approximate mileage, when they were named, and on and on and on. We also strive to make the new people feel welcome, and we honor the achievement of the experienced hashers by presenting them with run patches, hare patches, special gifts for 100 runs, 200 runs, etc.

Are there any core fundamentals you believe all hashes and hashers should embrace?

  1. Good trails (and therefore good hares) are what make a really good hash.
  2. The brewmeisters are the only critical position on the board. Everything else is just fluff.
  3. The whole idea is for everyone to have a good time.

Kegs or cans? Be honest.

Kegs are great, if properly taken care of. I am a confirmed keg-hanger.

What’s in your hashing future?

When we decided not to attend the InterHash in Chiangmai (because we were traveling some place we had never been), our friends came back and told us a lot of our international friends were asking about us. We have therefore decided to attend every one from now on, regardless of where it is. Other trips can wait, InterHash is only every two years, and there aren’t so many left that we can afford to skip one. As I see us all “maturing” and slowing down, we still embrace the concepts of Hashing and we’ll continue to do it as best we can for as long as we can.

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