Hash House history and original rules (yes, rules)

A few recent emails to the H4 Yahoo group have revolved around the history of the Hash House and its origins. One email even included the original bylaws of the organization. Now, I know what you’re thinking — there are no rules in hashing. Oh but there were, back in the 1950s.

From an email forwarded by CIA:

This letter was addressed to the Kuala Lumpur HHH in 1958 by Cecil Lee, one of the co-founders of the Hash House Harriers. He was a regular harrier 1938-40, and after the war, 1946-51, then in Borneo for three years before returning to KL to finish his hashing 1954-57.

The Hash House Harriers were founded in a moment of post-prandial inspiration at the Selangor Club Chambers, about 1937/38, by the inmates, who included myself, E.J. Galvin, H.M. Doig, and AS Gispert. Gispert was the real founder — a man of great wit and charm, who was killed on Singapore Island in February 1942 whilst serving with the Argylls, having only just returned from leave in Australia to rejoin the volunteers. I am glad of this opportunity to salute his memory. He was a splendid fellow, and would be happy to know the Harriers are still going strong, and are as merry and bright as ever — or more so. Gispert was not an athlete, and stress was laid as much on the subsequent refreshment etc. as on the pure and austere running. It was non-competitive, and abounded in slow packs. Life was then conservative rather than competitive.

The name was a mock allusion to the institution that housed and fed us. Later “Torch” Bennett returned from leave, and produced order out of chaos — a bank account, balance sheet and some system. But we pride ourselves on being rather disorganised — or the minimum organization sufficed. The original joint masters were myself and “Horse” Thompson, still running somewhere — a past-master at short-cuts and the conservation of energy.

Celebrations were held in various places, and the first was in what is now the Legislative Council, then the Volunteer Mess. The oratory, I recall, was much the same as now.

Llew Davidson is an old member. Morris Edgar was one, but apart from Llew and John Wyatt-Smith, I do not think there are any more antediluvians still running. Philip Wickens was also one who kept us going post-war.

We started up again after the war due to Torch Bennett who discovered a Bank Balance and put in a claim for War Damage on one tin bath, and two dozen mugs, and possibly two old bags (not members). We started by a small run in reduced circumstances around the race-course then the horses were not much better.

The Emergency cramped our style but did not diminish our activities, and we were called in for information on various by-ways in Selangor, but our period of usefulness to MI5 was brief, and our information probably otiose. But the hares ran into two Bandits at Cheras, who were later copped.

An Irish accountant, Kennedy, drew up the Rules we had to register as a club, and he seems to have preserved the old traditions just as you do now.”

Selemat tinggal HHH

Cecil Lee
KUALA LUMPUR
October 24, 1958

Lee makes reference in the above letter to Kennedy the accountant, creator of the rules required to garner official club status for the Hash in 1950. According to Wikipedia:

After meeting for some months, they were informed by the Registrar of Societies that as a “group,” they would require a Constitution and an official name. A. S. Gispert suggested the name “Hash House Harriers” after the Selangor Club Annex, where the men were billeted, known as the “Hash House” for its notoriously monotonous food. Apart from the excitement of chasing the hare and finding the trail, harriers reaching the end of the trail would be rewarded with beer, ginger beer and cigarettes.

The Constitution of the Hash House Harriers is recorded on a club registration card dated 1950:

  • To promote physical fitness among our members
  • To get rid of weekend hangovers
  • To acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer
  • To persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel

An email from Parson’s Nose goes into futher detail regarding the “rules.” (Beware: copious amounts of legalese to follow.)

The common myth of hashdom is “there are no rules.” Some of you may be familiar with the objectives outlined in paragraph 3 (ed. note: see above), but here is the rest of the story. Way back in 1950 the Hon. Secretary of the KLH3 drafted the following, presumably as part of the KL city club registration process:
(from the INTERHASH ’98 INFOMAG)

EARLIEST RECORDED RULES OF THE HASH HOUSE HARRIERS
(Devised late one night circa 1950 by an Irish accountant, T.D. Kennedy, who was then On-sec for KLH3)

Basics
1. This Association shall be known as the Hash House Harriers.
2. Its place of meeting shall be at any club or premises in Kuala Lumpur at which permission to meet has been obtained, and its address for correspondence shall be at 633 Circular Road, Kuala Lumpur, until further notice.
3. Its objectives are:
(a) to promote physical fitness amongst its members
(b) to get rid of weekend hangovers
(c) to acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it with beer
(d) to persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel

Membership
4. Membership is open to all male persons who are interested in taking part in a weekly cross country paper chase.
5. A person wishing to join the Association submits his name and address to the Hon. Secretary and is thereafter considered to be a member until such time as he notifies his intention to resign or ceases to pay his subscriptions as they become due.

Entrance Fees, Subscriptions and Other Dues
6. No entrance fee is payable by new members.
7. Subscriptions are payable quarterly in advance at the rate of $12.00 per quarter or at such other rate as the committee may from time to time decide. New members joining during a quarter will pay proportionately for the period between the date of joining and the end of the quarter.
8. The Hon. Treasurer will notify all members as and when subscriptions become due. If a member falls in arrears with his subscriptions for more than three months, he shall be deemed to have resigned and will not be entitled to take part in any future activities of the Association. No legal action may be taken by the Association against a former member for non-payment of his debts, and any loss occasioned by failure of a member to pay his dues will be borne by the remaining members.

Management, General Meetings
9. The management of the society is vested in a General Meeting of the members presided over by the President. At least one quarter of the total membership of the Society must be present at a General meeting for its proceedings to be valid.
10. An Annual General Meeting will be held in February. At other times a general meeting must be called by the President on the request in writing of 10 or more members and may be called at any time by order of the committee.
11. At least two weeks notice will be given of an annual general meeting and of any other general meeting. The following points will be considered at the Annual General Meeting:
(a) The previous year’s accounts and the Report of the Committee.
(b) The election of office-bearers for the following year.
12. A Committee consisting of the following shall be elected at each annual general meeting:
A President
A Vice President (To be called the Jointmasters)
An Honorary Secretary and Treasurer
The members of the Committee shall have power to co-opt additional committee members or to elect a new President, Vice President or Hon. Secretary and Treasurer, in the event of the holder of these offices being unwilling or unable to serve.
13. Committee meetings shall be held at such times as may be considered desirable. At least seven days notice of such meetings will be given to committee members. At least one Joint Master and the Hon. Secretary and Treasurer must be present at a committee meeting for its proceeding to be valid.
14. The duty of the Committee is to organize and supervise the daily activities of the society and to make decisions on matters affecting its running when the general meeting is not sitting. It may not act contrary to the express wishes of the general meeting without prior reference to it, and always remains subordinate to the general meeting.

Office Bearers
15. The duties of the office bearers are as follows:
(a) The President shall act as Chairman at all general and committee meetings. He shall also represent the Society in its dealings with outside persons.
(b) The Vice President shall deputize for the President in the latter’s absence. It shall be the duty of the President and Vice President as Joint Masters to count the numbers of runners at the start of each meet and to ensure that all have returned to the starting point before the remainder have gone home. On the occasion of the “meet”, they will appoint two harriers to act as “hares” for the ensuing meet.
(c) The Hon. Secretary and Treasurer shall keep all books and records of the Association and shall be responsible for their correctness. He shall collect all monies due to the Association and shall disburse all monies payable by it. He will not keep more than $10.00 in the form of cash and any money collected by him on behalf of the Association shall be paid into the Association’s bank account. Cheques for withdrawal from the bank will be signed by the Hon. Treasurer. Full details of all receipts and payments will be recorded by him in a Cash Book, the entries being supported where possible by document and vouchers. It shall be the duty of the Hon. Secretary and Treasurer to notify members in advance of the date and starting place of each run.

Weekly Runs
16. Members who are appointed as “hares” for a meet will arrange to supply the necessary liquid refreshment and shall be entitled to recover from the Hon. Treasurer the cost of all liquid refreshment, and shall be entitled to recover from the Hon. Treasurer the cost of all drinks, cigarettes and ice consumed. “Hares” will be held responsible for bringing mugs, bottle openers, ice, cigarettes, beer, ginger beer, paper and haversacks to the starting place and will hand over the non-consumable stores to the “hares” for the following week’s run at the conclusion of the meet.
17. Reasonable gaps in the trail may be left by the “hares” and false trails may be laid at their discretion. Gaps and false trails must not exceed 50 yards in length and should be considerably less in belukar or difficult country. Scent should be sufficiently strong to enable hounds to spend most of the time in following it and not in wandering round in circles looking for odd scraps of paper.
18. “Hares’ are permitted to start 10 minutes before the time scheduled for the hounds to move off.

Audit
19. Two persons not members of the Committee will be elected as Hon. Auditors at each annual general meeting. They will be required to audit each year’s accounts and to present a report on them to the annual general meeting. They may be required by the President to audit the Society’s accounts for any period within their tenure of office at any date and to make a report to the committee.

Prohibitions
20. (a) Gaming and opium smoking at the meets and the introduction of females and bad characters on runs are prohibited.
(b) The funds of the society shall not be used to pay the fines of members who have been convicted in court.
(c) Neither the Society nor its members shall attempt to restrict or in any other manner interfere with trade or prices or engage in any Trade Union activities as defined in the Trade Union Enactment, 1940.
(d) The Society shall not hold any lottery, whether confined to it members or not, in the name of the Society or its office bearers, committees or members.

Amendments to Rules
21. No alterations or additions to the rules shall be made except at a general meeting, and they shall not come into force without the prior sanction of the Registrar of Societies.

Interpretations
22. In the event of any question or matter arising out of any point which is not expressly provided for in the rules, the committee shall have the power to use their own discretion.

Dissolution
23. In this Rule, a “member” shall mean anyone who is, in accordance with the Rules of Society, entitled to vote:
(a) The Society shall not be dissolved, except with the consent of not less than 3/5ths of the members of the Society expressed, either in person or by proxy at a general meeting convened for the purpose, or by postal vote.
(b) In the event of the Society being dissolved as provided above, all debts and liabilities legally incurred on behalf of the Society shall be fully discharged and the remaining funds will be distributed in such a manner as may be decided by the majority of the members at the general meeting convened for the purpose of dissolution.
(c) Notice of dissolution will be given within 14 days of the dissolution to the Registrar of Societies on Form A, signed by the Committee.

One Response to “Hash House history and original rules (yes, rules)”

  1. Just Tiffany Says:

    “opium smoking at the meets and the introduction of females and bad characters on runs are prohibited”

    That is too funny!