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The Birth of the Harriets of Penang

Time marches on and unless it is documented somewhere and sometime in the pages of history, we will never remember how this group of Amazons who are now well known as the Hash House Harriets of Penang came into being.
As the only surviving founder member, it is only appropriate that I should record how they were founded.
A group of Penang Hashmen went to Ipoh for a celebration mix run sometime in November 1970. It was at this run that we met the Harriets of Ipoh and arranged for them to come up to Penang to help the ladies of Penang form a chapter of their own. As I recall, they could only do so during the first term of school holidays as many of their Harriets were school teachers.
And so it came to pass that it must have been sometime in April 1971 that a bus load of Ipoh Harriets came for the inauguration run at the White House, Tanjung Bungah. By sheer coincidence it was also the site of my first run on 5th January 1970, a day in my life I shall never forget because since then I have enjoyed more than 21 years of hashing.
The site of the inauguration run was called the White House because on a small slope above the parking area in front of Loh Boon Siew’s seaside bungalow at Tanjung Bungah was a timber shed with the words “White House” painted on the side wall. The shed could still be standing there, but no longer visible from the road as the area is now overgrown.
The names of the Ipoh Harriets are gone from my memory but I know of a few who are now still running with the Ipoh Harriets. The only name I remember as one of the founder members was Sarah Morgan, wife of Charles Morgan.
Sarah was one character difficult to find. As a housewife with two children, she not only found time for hashing but also attended tuition classes at a local College and passed her Form Six with flying colours. At one house party when she was a little high on beer, she did a baretop dance much to the embarrassment of the ladies present, but had Hashmen goo-goo eyed, urging her on to proceed downwards. Such a happening is indelible memories of hashing days long gone by. How can you forget such a gila character!
At the inauguration run, there were only a few Penang Hashmen present, because at that time the feeling of keeping Hash for men only was very strong and there were many machos around.
Most of the ladies present for the first run were wives of Aussie Hashmen and only a handful of locals. But ever since that day, the Harriets have grown in strength until today. To them I say shaabas i.e. congratulations and keep it up.
On! On!
Nick Superturd
former G.M. Hash House Harriers Penang
The History of the Hash
Hash House was the nickname given for its institution food to the Selangor Club Chambers where resided a number of bachelors and other separated from their wives (long separations being an inevitable facet of colonial life at that time). The idea of Harriers chasing paper was not new to Malaya, there had been such clubs in Kuala Lumpur and Johore Baru which became extinct about 1934, and other. So the Hash House Harriers was not a new idea but was a show with a completely novel name.
The principal Dramatics Personae were: A.S. Gispert (“G”), Cecil Lee “Horse” Thomson, “Torch” Bennett and later Phillip Wickens and a fairly small supporting cast. Members on the books was rarely over 50 up until 1966, and often much less (directly after World War 2, after Malayan independence in 1957 and again 1965) and Hash became an endangered species.
The story really starts in 1937-8 when Gispert formed Springgit Harriers in Malacca, gentle weekly runs basically run on Hash rules. Gispert moved to Kuala Lumpur and after discussions with Torch Bennett, who was given the credit for actually getting the whole show off the ground. Torch Bennett technically was not a founder member as he was on leave at the time, but upon returning introduced the first necessary minimum organisation - a bank account and a balance sheet. Phillip Wickens helped H3 going immediately post war. The first runs incidentally were on Fridays not Mondays.
Sadly Gispert had only a short time with his extraordinary creation, being killed in 1942 and Philip Wickens died in London in April 1981.
With the arrival of the Japanese in 1941, Hash slipped into oblivion for nearly 12 months. A precarious existence and Hash History was 1948/51 as their activities were illegal in terms of the curfew imposed on areas surrounding Kuala Lumpur. The second Hash Chapter was founded in Singapore in 1962, followed by Kuching in 1963, Brunei, Kota Kinabalu, Penang and Ipoh in 1964. Perth was the first outside Singapore and Malaysian in 1967. In 1973 the total was only 35 clubs and so the subsequent explosion has been really spectacular. The present official International list totals over 300 clubs in 60 different countries and al continents except Antarctica
The first attempt at an Interhash was Kuala Lumpur’s 1000th run in 1966. The fist official Interhash was in Hong Kong in 1978 with approximately 1.000 runners.
Author unknown