Space Observer
November 22, 1995

ON-ON!


ON-ON!

THE SPACE OBSERVER [Note 1]
Wednesday, Nov. 22, 1995
By Staff Sgt. Elton Price
Public Affairs

Hashers hit the trails in search of fun, camaraderie and most importantly, the Down-Down

On-On. You've heard of trash talk -- well that's hash talk. Hash House Harriers that is.

The hashers are a social club with a running problem -- though, that's not quite how they phrase it [Note 2]. And On-On is what they do before the Down-Down.

No, no -- they don't say everything twice. But they probably have about twice as much fun as anyone else every other Saturday of the month.

If you're confused, that's OK -- so are most of the hashers, especially during one of their hashes. But that's what makes the whole thing so much fun.

It all started long, long, ago, in a place far away.

In the 1930's, some British civil servants and businessmen living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, frequented a local eatery which they called the “Hash House” for its unimaginative, monotonous food.

According to one legend, “Horse” Thompson, one of the founding fathers of the Hash House Harriers, had been introduced to an early form of hashing in the early 1930's. In its earliest form, runners would chase a paper trail laid by a lead runner, or hare.

Legend has it that “Horse”, who received his nickname for his size and strength, related his experiences with the paper chase to some friends at the Hash House late one evening. The Hash House was about to close, and Horse suggested the he should introduce them to the game that night.

He bought as much beer as he could carry and a sack of flour. The moon was full that night and Horse reasoned that his buddies should be able to follow a trail of flour in the moonlight. He put the beer and flour in a knapsack, told his friends to give him a 10-15 minute head start and took off, leaving a trail of flour.

When his friends finally caught up to him, they had a good laugh and said they really must do it again. The rest, as they say, is history [Note 3].

Over the years, the hash grew in popularity, and members started to disperse to the four corners of the earth. The second hash chapter was founded in Singapore in 1962 [Note 4], followed by one in Kuching in 1963, and Brunei, Kota Kinabalu and Ipoh in 1964. A chapter which opened in Perth, Austrailia, in 1967 was the first outside the Malaysian Islands.

Today there are more than 1,100 chapters in 135 countries around the world [Note 5]. The most important of these, at least according to local hashers, is the Pikes Peak Hash House Harriers and Harriettes, better known as the P2H4.

Through the years, many Hash traditions have come and gone and each local Hash seems to have its own way of doing things. But certain things remain constant.

Hares lay the trails, usually in flour, and hounds follow. Hares often lay false trails to try to throw the hounds off the track. However, the trails are marked so the hounds can tell after they've followed a false trail so far, and that it is false. The goal is for the hares to make the trails as challenging as possible without completely throwing the hounds off the trail. The goal for the hounds is two-fold -- first and foremost is to find the Down-Down. The Down-Down being where all the Hashers gather after the run for refreshment and songs. The hounds second goal is to snare the hare. If a hound snare a hare, the hare has to tell where the Down-Down is -- thus making it a shorter trip to the Down-Down [Note 6].

After five hashes, the group rewards new hashers with their very own hash name. Typically, they try to work something about the person into the name, but as with most things related to the hash, there really are no rules.

Hashers with the P2H4 have such colorful names as Silver Moon (one of the founding members who was names for his hair color), Zippy, Barnacle Bob and Snow Queen [Note 7].

According to Shawn Todd, the P2H4 hashmaster [Note 8] and an instructor at the Airmen Leadership School here, all it takes to be a good hasher is a sense of irreverence and a desire to have a good time.

About 30 hashers, several of them military members, proved the point this past Saturday.

Adorned with whistles, hash T-shirts and other hash attire, they gathered in the parking lot of the shopping center at Fillmore and Nevada. After taking a few minutes to explain the rules [sic.], the motley crew took off. Within a few more minutes, On-On ran out as the group found the first traces of flour and the hash began in earnest.

Before it was over, the hashers would go over a river and through the woods (and other assorted under brush), but no where near grandmother's house. They did however stop at one point for a song break, and at another for a refreshment break [Note 9] before finally reaching the Down-Down.

According to Todd, it was a pretty typical hash -- everyone got some exercise and everyone had a good time. And Todd should know. He's been hashing for six years now. He and his wife Kim, another instructor at the ALS, went so far as to have a hash wedding.

Although the hashers are called hounds and hares, the story of the tortoise and the hare probably better suits them. Though a few do run, most walk or jog at a leisurely pace. And if a hasher does have the unfortunate honor of finishing first, he or she is serenaded with a disparaging song at the Down-Down and forced to carry a 10-pound chain with them at the next hash.

Though the regular hash is every other Saturday, the hashers typically look for any other excuse to get together. They routinely have specialty hashes, such as one during every full moon and one every so often only for the women [Note 10].

Though nothing says a hash can't cover the same route twice, most hares seek to lay a new, fresh adventure for each hash. Todd says the group has hashed in such places as Divide, Manitou Springs, Pueblo, Castle Rock and Black Forest.

“We even ran through the Broadmoor (Hotel) one time, and the Antlers (Doubletree Hotel) another,” he said. “This past June, we had a weekend hash for our 200th hash. We camped out and hashed near Cripple Creek.”

So, whether it's for the exercise, the camaraderie or the scenery, Todd says new hashers are always welcome. One word of advice -- if you go, make sure you know the hash name of the person who invited you, and more importantly, even if you have some relatively new shoes to break in, bring the old, comfortable ones instead -- you'll need them [Note 11].

IF YOU GO

Time, date and place: Call the Hare Line, 719-576-0331.

Cost: $5, covers refreshments.

On-On!

(Photos: Hare “Oxymoron” giving the chalk talk, and Hash Horn “Caveman” blowing)

-----------------

Notes by ZiPpY the Cyberpimp, Sexual Intellectual (friggin' know it all), Pikes Peak H4.

Note 1 - The Space Observer is the base paper of Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

Note 2 - The reporter delicately skirts the subject of beer at the hash. The US military has been actively “deglamorizing” alcoholic beverages since the mid 1980s.

Note 3 - Methinks that some literary license was taken with this “legend”.

Note 4 - The second hash is actually the Royal Bordighera Hash which started soon after the Second World War in Italy and died in the fifties. It was revived by the Milan chapter in the 1980's.

Note 5 - These statistics are circa 1990 and come from the “Mother Hash” in Kuala Lumpur. The number of hashes now (late 1995) has most certainly increased. For instance in 1990 there were five hash groups in Colorado. Today there are ten.

Note 6 - Most P2H4 hare are “dead”. On the occasional “live” hare hash, if the hare is caught, the one who catches simply becomes a co-hare from that point. The caught hare may be depatnsed for a brief time also.

Note 7 - These were about the only names that were printable in a politically correct military publication. And Silver Moon actually got his name because he needs little urging to drop trousers and expose his moon, but he does have silver hair.

Note 8 - P2H4 Grand Master Shawn Todd's hash name is “Yanks It”.

Note 9 - Beer check.

Note 10 - The Half Mind Half Moon H3 hashes one evening a month without regard to the phase of the moon. The wimmin only Colorado PMS H3 hashes on the 28th of each month.

Note 11 - A nicely done warning not to wear new shoes without mention of the new shoe Down-Down.

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