A History of the NY Hash (Westchester and CT)

The History of the New York Hash

By Ian Cumming

The New York Hash was `disorganized’ in 1978. Chuck and Barbara Woodhouse had recently returned from a tour of duty with State Street Bank in Singapore, where they had run with the Harriettes, closely allied to the SH3, an all-male Hash. Closely allied means the GMs slept together on a regular basis. They were determined to continue Hashing and contacted Ian Cumming, sometime founder and running-dog of the SH3 and they planned the first New York run.

The First Run

For convenience this started from the Woodhouse home. Charley laid the trail the day before marked with paper strips and paper plates on the ground. It snowed 8 to 10 inches in the night and we immediately recognized that there were conditions under which Hashing worked better in the tropics than in our climate. With the cunning of a fox, Charley re-laid the trail starting at the end using paper plates pinned on trees. This ruse was most effective for the first hundred yards, but after that marks were superfluous; the pack followed the backwards footprints in an outright race for the beer.

The briefing for the run contained a primitive verbal disclaimer, which we subsequently expanded and in its basic form is still used whenever newcomers or out-of-towners are present. This first pack of twenty-five or so was well mixed, with a smattering of children and only one Hasher with previous experience. One hound was never seen again after the first check – we don’t even remember her name. Three or four are currently still running 25 years later, namely Dot and Paul Janis, Peter Callaway and Ian Cumming. We also see Bill Falter at AGMs and the like.

From Weekend Starts…

During the first 18 months of operation runs were sporadic in timing, usually two weeks or more apart, always on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. This type of scheduling was instrumental in forging a limited group into a family-oriented, barbecue fed, close-knit bunch of partv-happy slow-drinking semiathletes, but not a Hash in its truest therapeutic sense.

…To Monday Nights

This changed in 1980 when a few of us, including the Kyles, Janises and Wilder decided to set up a weekly Monday run regardless of whether there had been a Hash during the prior weekend. This of course created a schism and regrettably the weekend scene gradually waned and is reconstituted now only in other `daugbter’ Hashes covering the Hudson Valley and Fairfield Connecticut areas.

In the early times of night operations, a seven o’clock start meant that nearly a third of our runs began in the dark, and half of them ended that way. We quickly learned about the ever-present "Ambient Light" that infuses the Metropolitan and Suburban atmosphere; on moonless and especially overcast nights this allows surprisingly long vision even in the woods. Visibility in snow is of course enhanced. But bright moonlight and flash-lights don’t improve night vision, if anything they cause confusion and instant night blindness. We had an unwritten rule that anybody can bring along a flashlight but they must leave the batteries with the Hare.

The first venues were all in Croton-on-Hudson or North Salem. With the arrival of Larry Jones regular runs in New York City were scheduled and at one point every fourth run took place on city streets. However before long the continuous turnover of City Hashers weakened their resolve and eventually there was no one left to Hare and Hashing in Gotham went into hibernation until its revival under Lee Carlson a few years later.

A Singing Hash

Singing is an emotional experience. The early base of regulars from the North Salem quadrant happened to have one thing in common; they all sang in the St James Church choir – Callaway, the Kyles, John McCorkle, Dave Lawrence, Hall Gibson, Frank Collin and Ian Cumming. One of the features of this choir, directed by none other than Spencer Welch, whose memorial window lights up the south wall of the church, was and still is an easy-going attitude towards singing, full of unrehearsed surprises and lots of "winging it", listening to other singers to try to find out what the hell was coming down. The best singing is not a raucous rendering of `The Monks’ or `The Doggies’ – but a late night octet sprawled around a beer-flooded table tuning in on `The Weaver’ or `There was a little Bird’ or `O See dem Ducks’ or `Twas a Cold Winter’s Evenin’. That isn’t to say that the other stuff doesn’t have merit. The important part is that everybody sings. The cacophony of the tone deaf is absorbed into magnificently spread chords so intricate that any note will fit in. That is everybody but those convinced that lewd songs have no place in the Hash, they drive away the shy and unpresumptuous. Let `em go, I say.

A Traditional Hash

Being of Mainstream descent through KL and Singapore our traditions are conservative. There is a fixed day and time for runs, rarely a live Hare except in emergencies, no nicknames, no circle or other beer-time consuming ceremonies, other than full participation in singing. At variance with the Old School we have always been coed, all officers except HonSec and GM change annually, there are no dues and nearly all starts are at railroad stations (called `depots’ in N’York-Talk). The rationale behind this is related to the low IQ of NY Hashers and their inability to read maps or follow written directions.

As time progressed we tended to place greater emphasis on the trail being good for the pack and not just fun for the Hare. We don’t encourage Hares to run their own trails and rarely resort to search and rescue. The trail must stand on its own merit. We believe that the result is, given good territory (there are 300 miles of kept horse-trail in North Salem alone) and the need to get off black-top, NYH3 trails are about as good as they get anywhere.

Nuts in May

To promote the onset of "regular" runs in the 70’s we devised the "Nuts in May" program. The name came from the nursery rhyme (what else?) that went:

Here we go gathering nuts in May,
Nuts in May, nuts in May,
Here we go gathering nuts in May,
On a cold and frosty morning.

– Sufficiently meaningless and lacking in innuendo and political correctness to be true N’York Hash Talk. The Plan was to start every Monday run in May from the same location, Golden’s Bridge. The last run in May is generally a Tuesday run because the last Monday is Memorial day and we don’t run on Holidays. This is a flash-back to Singapore tradition and relates to one Harry Ryer, a somewhat insider’s joke.

A wealth of literature built up over the years postulating how the village came to have its name. Even Nuts in May became bowdlerized into "Knutsen Mayer" – but the tradition lasted 24 years (so far). It was originally a Hash celebration of the clocks changing to Summer Time, providing an extra hour of daylight after 7 pm. Now, Summertime starts four weeks earlier but its still not the same thing – it still gets dark before the pack gets in.

There is usually an upsurge in attendance partly due to the relief from pounding sore feet on blacktop in the dark and the freedom of lightweight clothing, woodsy trails and open fields and cemeteries, the glistening lure of stretched Spandex – to say nothing of the pull of poison ivy and deer ticks.

The Annual General Meeting

New York Hash having been born in midwinter has all its AGMs in February. As a direct result the two great features of this event are brevity (our early AGMs were held outdoors) and a tendency to select absent officers.

The first AGM with the ONON at one of the sleazy bars subsequently razed was conducted with half the pack still lost in deep snow. The Hare, Bob (now Mayor) Elliott had laid a circular trail with no indication as to where it ended. The missing hounds were rewarded with promotion but no reduction in Hash Cash.

The next AGM was at the Falters, and the next ten or so were in Ward Pound Ridge or close by in North Salem. The fifth AGM featured a promised busload of New York City Hash but they never showed up and instead Lee Carlson, founder and JM of the NYCH3 arrived late, missed the briefing and rapidly disappeared into the snow drifts of Outer Westchester. Someone had seen him on the trail and his car was at the start, but we never noticed his absence until the temperature dropped from 45° to 10° F. in the space of a couple of hours. A heroic rescue operation was mounted involving the police in two states and stoic volunteers with extra rations of beer were deputized and despatched. It turns out that Carlson was lurking 50 yards away waiting to see if he was really missed. For the next ten years all subsequent AGMs were subtitled "Lee Carlson Memorial Run" just to ensure that he would never attend. It worked and all the Big Apple crowd loved to come safe in the knowledge that his absence is guaranteed. We recognized that the extreme cold of these outdoor events had a negative effect, so after five years of frost bitten fingers (Bill Winters once plunged his hands into a tub of steaming rice to thaw them out) we changed the venue to end up at Mildew Mansion, home of Rayn and Dave Lawrence, with a cavernous baronial hall and a six foot wide fireplace. The weather has been mild ever since, so that worked.

The last event at Mildew Mansion was shortly before David’s demise. He actually passed away in a hospital bed set up outside his library where a few days before a rousing band had been set up to absorb the energy of the rocking Hashers. A fitting tribute to a grand friend, wordsmith and leader of the Hash lieder for so many years. As a token of our esteem we conduct a "Keg on a Sled" run on the Sunday following the AGM. A visiting Hasher is appointed Hare with instructions to move slowly a few yards, then declare a beer check at which appropriate singing starts up, and so on until until the keg kicks.

AGM locations changed to include other large houses, such as Beth Scarborough’s and the Connors, interspersed with more expensive celebrations at the converted train station at Valhalla, complete with band. The disadvantage of the high cost of such endeavors is a distinct negative. Perhaps the worst example was the AGM at Mount Snow, where if all costs were included, transportation, accomodation, lift tickets and a weekend’s beer half a year of Hashing budget was used up

Special Events

Other invitational runs were staged, remarkably the 100th, care of Bobs Fletcher and Brown, sponsored by Big Barrel Australian beer. A short-lived romance; Pete Callaway spat out his first mouthful with the expletive "Piss! " They also ran the 200th with a huge pig burnt on the outside, bloodraw on the inside. At some landmark run out of the Goat Farm, the Kyle residence, we ran out of draft beer. There was of course plenty of back-up Black Label in cans, but the Rumson crowd turned nasty and asked for directions to the nearest bar. Regrettably someone had the bad grace to tell them how to get to Birds of a Feather, a gay bar in town. We never did bear from anyone how they got on. The 369th in conjunction with the Fairfield 100th was at Dave Cattles office, a converted farm estate in Armonk, a great setting complete with an unfiltered pool, croquet and horseshoes. We pinned Big Bird from Rhode Island to the ground with croquet hoops, put a kielbasi in his flies and invited the Hatch dogs over for a snack. The 500th was an epic with many out-of -towners at Goose-Summer Down. Steve Smith rigged an enormous Marquee and Cash Jones had his boy-scout troop erect a tent city in the orchard. We also introduced the famous N’York Warm Tubs, solar heated, lunar cooled. The gourmet menu included Beered Chicken and Surf and Turf a-la-Jan Andersen, and Teri’s Indonesian Rijstaffel.

In a more professional vein we conducted the 650th at the Taconic Outdoor Education Center with hot and cold running water, cabins and a lodge with catered food. This was marred by a misunderstanding by the camp director as to what constituted a reasonable amount of noise and the true meaning of curfew. At one stage we sent our lifeguard over to talk to their lifeguard, but she still wouldn’t permit midnight skinny-dipping. It sure wasn’t Pittsburgh or Hogtown. We were fortunate enough to have an able facilitator in the person of Don Scarborough who introduced us to the Casperkill hunting club, of which he was a member and officer. It came to his notice that during the summer months, when hunting is at a standstill, the club’s premises were somewhat neglected, and not benefiting from usage, particularly over the 4th of July. At the same time Walt Thompson had made a business contact with a newly opened Brew-pub in Hyde Park, NY whose opening night was July 3rd. Amazing how things can come together when you need them. The result was an astonishing congregation of Hashers from all over the Northeast, the consumption of more beer in one evening at that pub than any since. This was followed by a weekend of sun and shade, flowing micro brews and Hashing territory like none other we have had the pleasure of experiencing before or since. Added to that there was lashings of food, a campfire and the usual midnight singing and Hashing, and of course the famous N’York warm tubs to salve aching limbs, and real mattresses and beds with a roof over our heads. It doesn’t get any better. Did we do it again? Does a bear shit in the woods!

On the Road

In early days NYH3 was a busy participant in Road Trips. Our roster at the Washington DC 500th celebration was impressive, with ten showing up for a "mixed" Hash, where all the local women came from Rent-a-Broad from the Georgetown Sororities. Two of us went to the first on-shore Americas Interhash at Atlanta, where they took over the downtown Athletic Club on Sunday, and City Center Park for the Hangover bash on Monday. This so enthused the rest of us that two years later that no less than 16 took the train to Philly for what will be no doubt the high tide mark in InterHash history. Hear the stories elsewhere. None of them are untrue. AIH meetings subsequently moved further from New York and our representation dwindled. Several diehards still make the sacred trip to Mecca, wherever, and others are becoming well known in the tubs of Pittsburgh, Rhode Island and Hogtown. Most Hashes within 200 miles can count on some support.

Spreading the Hash

Special effort has always been made to bolster new Hashes. Pete Kyle, Alec Wilder, Paul Janis and Ian put in many happy hours in the early stages of the New York City Hash, briefing and rebriefing an endless recruitment of Road Runners rounded up by Lee Carlson, using the Athletic Club as a headquarters. Later Fairfield, Ridgefield and Hudson Valley Hashes borrowed and lent hares and hounds in such an incestuous manner that today we are an almost indistinguishable crawling mass of Hash. Bob Ampthor convinced eight of us to go to the inaugural Toledo Hash, and Litchfield Hills, Connecticut got initial and occasional continued support. Two of us went to the Mud Hens first run in Newark, Delaware, started by Tom Tarka, and a small expedition attended the first Long Island run.

Occasional emissaries abroad are to be found at the Biannual World IH meetings, but our folk are not as travel oriented as the NYC crowd who can find themselves in out of the way places often to their own surprise and astonishment. However at least two NYH3 representatives were to be seen at every World IH since Bali in 1988.

Some Special Moments

Having related the origins and philosophy it remains to spice up this dull narrative with a few of the highlights and follies of this pack.

Among the early legends was the shirt-tail Hash. Bill Falter was the Hare on a Saturday run. At some point on the on-in trail he ran out of paper markers and proceeded to rip his shirt apart to provide enough to get home. Next he started on his shorts, and only a last minute short-cut saved his underwear.

The next run after that, also in Croton, featured a quick access to the power line and surrounding woods through a residential back yard. In response to the irate land-owner’s interrogation, all runners referred him to the guy at the back. When the last hound panted up he was adamant that the organizer was way up in front.

There came a later time in North Salem when a particularly vociferous and horn-blowing pack took off up a residential lane on a Sunday afternoon. A home-owner, disturbed from his post-prandial nap, or crap, came out to the garden gate and yelled: "What’s the matter with you bastards – if you have to communicate between the front and the back, why don’t you use walkie-talkies like everybody else!"

Night runs presented new hazards such as clotheslines, chained entrances and low level road signs, such as the one that neatly creased Ginny Carrascio’s forehead. Darkness also induced Brice Faller to lay a trail under the third rail on Metro North, crossing four tracks three times. After the first crossing we abandoned the trail, sought out a cheap pub and waited for him to find us.

Hashing and the Press

We have always welcomed the press to publicize our activities and some write-ups have been reasonably accurate in detail, with great photos. Regrettably, we have never yet identified appearances in the papers resulting in any increases in membership. This may be a syndrome of the Hash at large that should perhaps be looked into. One writer for a local paper, having been assigned the Hash following an article in the WSJ spent nearly four months trying to locate us. Eventually she achieved her objective and her article when a Hare rang her doorbell to ask for permission to run through her yard. She accused us of being a semi-secret society allied to the CIA.

Hashing and the Law

The permission issue in the Northeast is moot. It has become fairly obvious in this highly litigious society that requesting permission almost has to result in refusal. Landowners would far sooner find out about it afterwards than risk liability by granting permission.

Police activity is common, usually resulting in friendly acknowledgment of what we are about, without restriction. The more amusing incidents are usually cases of mistaken identity, such as the Georgetown Riots, when a landowner phoned the police on discovery of John Lovell laying flour in his woods and running off when challenged. After dark the arrival of the pack prompted a further 911 call and the eventual appearance of a Georgetown Squad Car. There were coincidentally several sources of confusion. Lovell’s hasty retreat had left an unreadable trail so the entire neighborhood was saturated with scattered wandering bands of hounds "Are youing?" each other and using unkind language to typify the Hare and his Welsh antecedents. Secondly the police failed to identity the caller’s house, partly because it was dark, but mainly because the caller was tearing up and down the road yelling at the pack to the point that he became indistinguishable from the Hash. The police, after quietly discussing the situation with members of the pack, who it turns out were all in training for various Marathons around the country, in particular the November New Jersey Statewide, determined that this screamingng maniac must be the culprit and picked him up and arraigned him for creating a disturbance. This resulted in an article in the newspaper which so misrepresented what had take place that John felt constrained to phone the man and give him Ian’s phone number so he could get the story straight. Of course his calls were not returned and the demanded printed apology never appeared. We don’t hold with apologizing – it’s demeaning, two-faced and seldom provides lasting satisfaction.

"But officer, it’s just flour…"

For some reason police in Fairfield county assume an adversary attitude much to the detriment of folks like John Eddy and Bill Bailey, both of whom could have been described as Blotter-bait. The events of September 2001 presented New York, and many other Hashes nationwide with new challenges. Anthrax scares had occurred in various locations many years before in hard-nosed locations such as Beantown. Now for the first time a justifiably anxious public was on the alert and quick to react to our flour trails by calling the police. This would not have been so bad except for a requirement in Connecticut that all such incidents were to be investigated by the Feds. Our intrepid JM volunteered to set trail on Columbus day — one of our automatic runs on semi public holidays, starting at the Shipwreck Tavern in Port Chester.

After a brief consultation it was decided to stick to the Westchester side of the state border, with maybe just a brief skirmish into Greenwich CT because there was some parkland to open up the pack’s lungs there. Regretably due to lack of familiarity with the territory the mapless Hare took a wrong turning and got on the wrong side of the Byron river, the state boundary. He spent most of the evening there, laying several miles of flour trail until he met with three Greenwich squad cars and a well armed posse who asked plenty of questions but didn’t wait for any explanation of the contents of the flour bag. In particular the Hare’s offer to eat some to prove its innocence was taken to be an attempt to commit suicide, definitely a felony in Greenwich.

Luckily before they called in the FBI they discovered with great relief that the Hare belonged to Westchester. They picked him up off the ground, allowed him to set one more arrow and "On-In" and rushed him off to the Port Chester RR depot, where he was able to prove his identity and relieve the police of any further responsibility.

Less than a week later a more serious Anthrax incident took place on a Saturday Housewarming Hash in Newtown CT. This time the Hare evaded capture, however the FBI arrived shortly by helicopter and a full-scale search was started. Luckily, with good counsel, the investigation was terminated, but the local press had a field day. Meanwhile the Hash had been relocated with alternative markings, and the housewarming went ahead as planned. Flour is beginning to accumulate on supermarket shelves, but chalk is getting scarce.

Other Moments in Law Enforcement

The relationship in Westchester is better. Whenever Katonah police get multiple calls complaining about ruffians `casing’ their dwellings and putting secret marks on their gate-posts the cops reassure the callers that all is well, then drive down to the RR depot, wave at us as they cruise by, and go about their coply business elsewhere. There was a particular instance of police cooperation which was touching and over and above their normal attention to duty and services, such as forcing open locked cars when the keys have been lost. This took place at Bedford Hills. The pack went through the prison employees’ compound in daylight and then took off into the woods, a-hollerin’ and a-whoopin’ and a-blowin’ on their horns and whistles. This type of activity in proximity to two maximum-security penal institutions is generally called a Jailbreak, and police routinely contact the prisons for instructions. Meantime a property-owner had cornered the pack and held them at bay with shotgun and pitchfork. The Bedford police sized up the situation very quickly, announced to the captors that this was just the harmless Hash. The officer then asked us where the OnOn might be because he had met a lady who wanted to run with us. Sure enough he turned up an hour later with her in tow and released on her own good behavior. We never saw either of them again.

Perhaps the most astounding incident was the summer evening in 1993 when Dave Cary, master of the Death March Hashes, ran us from Ossining to Hawthorne, poured down a precipice through a freshly made hole in a hurricane fence into the middle of the main State Police K troop patrol-car parking lot. He then proceeded out past the police station entrance, blue lights aglow, straight over six lanes of the Sawmill Parkway and two other major thoroughfares and straight in the front door of the nearest pub. This trail was followed with elan, all horns and whistled sounding. Not a single cop looked up. They are trained, I’m told, not to be startled by sudden movement or noise. (Or am I thinking of the Metropolitan Mounted Police horses? I forget.)

On Rules and Mis-management

Now we are on the subject of law enforcement it might be appropriate to talk about rules, of which there are none. Rules smack of organization, the lack of which leaves us inordinately proud, The survival and operation of the NY Hash has always been the responsibility of a single individual, the HonSec. They alone arrange Hares and sometimes issue notices to let everyone know where the next run will be. If anyone complains about the lack of a newsletter they are immediately required to write up the previous seventeen runs. The resulting reading matter is so dull and boring that nobody makes the mistake of complaining for at least another four months. If the same hound complains a second time they run a serious risk of being appointed HonSec at the next AGM. Serves them bloody-well right.

From the above it may become apparent that the nature of the Hash can be dependent on the nature of the HonSec and there is some truth in this.

Our first HonSec, Barbara Woodhouse, after battling with the incongruities and illogic of the Hash system, quit and went to law school, eventually becoming Law Secretary to Sandra Day O’Connor, the first ever female Justice of the Supreme Court. The Hash, after being subjected to her endless barrage of court orders and forced settlements, was seconded to Paul Janis, another attorney of note. His time became known as the Napkin Era.

Hare lists were neatly written on slightly used bar napkins and beer mats, put into a pocket, later retrieved from the washing machine by Dot, and the distinguishable words promulgated by mail to all the addresses Paul could remember. Apart from a problem apparently related to the inadvertent use of the previous year’s calendar, the system worked well, the Hash thrived and somehow amassed a credit balance due to overcharging HashCash and being stingy with tips. Paul decided to quit while he was ahead and promoted himself to InterHash Sec. Since nobody knew what he was meant to do, he did nothing.

The next HonSec, lured by the gold, was Bill Adamsen. With cash in hand he decided to go back to school and that was the last we saw of him.

One of the more enterprising HonSecs was Russ Salvatore, or Fixit as he became known. There is no question we got more free pitchers of beer during his reign than at any other time, and we enjoyed the indignity of truly tacky apparel such as the yellow paper disposable Hazardous Waste jackets and the renowned Fornicating Doggy Jacket.

We then went through a kind of joint HonSec process, a Hash-and-spouse team, Mette and Bob Ampthor. There was a suspicion of an attempt to introduce an element of San Francisco Hash tradition into New York, but you can well imagine how impossible that project could be and overall we thrived under their Joint HonSecship. Mette had numerous blonde Amazon Scandinavian friends and we became not just a coed Hash but a Hash with available unmarried Harriettes, and while we were not a registered dating service, we commenced the I-Hash-too-lets-get-married era, and many a neighborhood church suffered flour trails up the aisle.

The Ampthors moved to Toledo where they started a new Hash. The locals were astute and in no time named Bob "Shit for Brains." Mette went out and bought two sets of bowling gear.

Post-Ampthor was Eddy-time. This was undoubtedly the most laid back misorganization with spurts of enthusiastic activity, the production of all manner of Hash Haberdashery with letters that came off in the wash, a multipage Hash Trash with indexes and amusing anecdotes none of which was relevant (and therefore true Hash Trash.) The activity was neatly interspersed with world-class inactivity, to the point that Hare-raising was done on the fly at the previous week’s OnOn and circulated orally.

About this time Dave Cary, already JM of two other Metropolitan Area Hashes, decided he was under employed in Hash participation and armed with his PC undertook as HonSec. After an initial outburst of computerized long term planning this soon settled down to a more comfortable pace with monthly calendars or postcards and mercifully very rare block-by-block accounts of runs. Having gained control of the run list he could now set about achieving his lifelong ambition to hold the title of Most Runs Laid. However his knees decided against it and eventually matrimony and Nora’s family building joined the club, and Dave relinquished the post and followed Paul Janis’ footsteps, InterHash Sec. (Does anyone know what they do?)

Steve Soler volunteered to follow on (volunteering is one of the requirements of the job) then Alastair Bruce and Ed Smith. By this time in was becoming obvious that computer literacy was another job spec. Donna Fluegel, who already ran the Ridgefield Hash with authority and a lithe keyboard happily took on the task and propelled the Hash into the 20th century. Not a moment too soon, with the 21st hot on its heels! Gone were the soggy table napkins, last year’s calendar and stamp licking. Make way for

Received: (qmail 47711 invoked from network)
Received from unknown (216. 115.97.171)

At last everything is clear, if not as much fun. At the time of writing this, Tom Syrstad has taken over as Honsec, but I suspect the system has the ultimate control.

In the midst of this succession we endured the phenomena of Hash Scribes. The most damaging of these was Ian Vershere an ex-Tokyo ex-patriot outpatient who had a startling ability to plunder and destroy every individual’s character in terms so obscene that most Hashers filed address changes to nonexistent addresses rather than suffer the indignity of having this porn around the house or office. His employers altruistically despatched him back to England, and we took up a quick collection to send them a small donation in gratitude.

A Toast to the Inn Keepers

The true heroes of the Hash Story are of course the owners and keeps of the various bars, pubs and restaurants who have always been subjected to the love/hate relationship of the Hash. To understand this, we have to recognize the inherent dichotomy the Hash presents. For example, it is the Hares responsibility to see that the OnOn never runs out of beer. On the other hand all hounds are honor-bound never to go home as long as there is any beer left. Then, as far as bars are concerned, Hash needs cheap beer, control of music, and no interference with sloppy behavior. The owner, meanwhile, is looking to upgrade his standards and get maximum revenue for minimum effort.

The proof of this can be found in our early carefully developed list of Sleaziest Bars in Westchester very rapidly becoming obsolete. Either they were so grungy the Health Department closed them down, or they came under new management and got upgraded out of our league. One of the longest to suvive, the Pick and Shovel in Port Chester, was perhaps the only pub in the world where ladies had to collect the key to the toilet from behind the bar.

The places that count are the ones that still welcome the Hash in spite of their seeking higher status. Honey’s is a good example. While striving to be a nice family restaurant, a haven for retirees, off-duty firemen, mayors and other low profile bastions of respectability, they still welcome the Hash with open arms and defend their welcome against the locals, if they complain. The Blazer went through some trauma one of which was brought about by Ron Herreid changing his clothes on a wet day in February in the middle of the dining room. Sanctions were taken and embargoes enforced. We had to give notice of intent to Hash which in effect was a ban. However after many months Marika convinced them to have us back and it became business as usual in spite of Amy and Beth slowly and deliberately stripping down and changing in front of the reservation desk. There were no complaints; it seems there is a double standard to cover female behavior.

HashCash is $11.27

The struggle against inflation is nowhere more obvious than in the Hash. Landmark HashCash ceiling busters included Pete Kyle with his $15 extravaganza in the late 80s soon to be followed by a setup on George Ward who arranged an OnOn at his favorite Fairfield fish restaurant. The bottled beer was $3 a pop and nothing on the menu was less than $12. On top of this the gleeful Kyle ordered hors d’oeuvres for everyone. At $17 George still had to subsidize. Nowadays we habitually exceed this, but no one makes much of a fuss other than Lisa ostentatiously trying to borrow money any time HashCash goes over $11.

An Ode to Pete Kyle

While we have mentioned Pete Kyle several times in this narrative, no history of N’York would be complete without describing his contribution to the Hash and its traditions. An avid student of the theory of short-cutting, he used this knowledge to set trails that were unmerciful to other shortcutters. Perhaps the prime example was a winter run that crossed a reservoir leaving no alternative but to add two or three miles extra for any SCBs who chose to slope off to left or right. Trail had been set in warm sunshine earlier in the day, and a thaw was in progress. As the pack reached the middle of the reservoir there was an ominous crackling noise, and the lead in the middle started to spout water. The pack made like a fair imitation of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow, earning Pete’s opinion that we were all wimps. Which he was not. During a long illness with cancer he counted Hashing as regular therapy, and the family present report that near the end he had a Hash song on his lips. There is a three-handled Kyle cup, which on special occasions is part of a Loving Cup ceremony

On Out!

Needless to say for economic and other reasons tailgate and at-home OnOns are popular with great feasts of of Chesapeake Crab, Paella and Maine Lobster. Oriental Riistaffels, Steamboats, curries and Laksa prepared by the Far Eastern hands, Smith, Loper, Cumming and Connor vie with baked hams, turkeys, barbecued lamb and other culinary treats from the kitchens of Fairfield, supervised by Polly, Beth, Chris, Amy, Donna and Lisa. Cult draft micro-brewery beers at a reasonable cost add to the enjoyment. Mind you we can come unstuck, and Brice is renowned for his raw bean Chile, and Mackerel dip washed down with lukewarm Utica Club Light, or temperamental Micros like draft Weisse or stale Guiness. The New York Hash may be "On The Piss Again" but can lay no claim to being connoisseurs of beer. We know what it is and what to do with it, but the standard is Black Label in cans and anything other than Bud "can do" so long as it’s cheap and not Light. The introduction of Antipodian brews by Geof Connor and the like only leaves us with Foster or Swan breath in the morning after, but we’ll drink just about anything that flows and foams.

So here we are talking beer which is basically what the Hash is all about. What else is there to say?

Ian Cumming
Westchester County, NY
March 2002