Prague Hash House Harriers - Early History

Part One
THE FIRST TEN YEARS: 1984-1994
As seen through the eyes of Prague "Hashtorian I " and former GM - Don "Private Rommel" Juries in October 1994.
"I left my future wife behind in Holland about 16 months ago, in 1992, to come to Prague. She was quite happy there - good job, company car, finally some extra space in our apartment! So I had lots of time when I arrived to devote to some other things! That became - work, beer, Czech (and some non-Czech) women, and the Prague Hash House Harriers. Oh yes, and darts at the British Embassy. But the Hash consumed my life the most - first in pursuit of finding someone who ran on it, knew of it, knew of a telephone number or bulletin board or anything that might lead me to it. All the old contacts had left Prague years before and the Hash International group in Bangkok had never been given an update.... But five months later, by chance, I happened to meet Donna "Hard Drive" McCormally, reigning Spiritual Advisor at a party wearing a Hash T-Shirt. Never give up, I guess.
Soon after, I was given the role of On-Sec, more or less because the old On-Sec, Michael "Igor" Carr, a "vertically challenged" individual, had mysteriously disappeared weeks before (rumours say he found a local girlfriend who challenged him "horizontally" for a change). A few months later (after Run #194), the then Grand Master, Paddy "Ma's Boy" Keenan, went A.W.O.L. after getting a new job and knocking-up his wife (baby boy, by the way, Stephan "Super Goo" Keenan - named soon after exiting his mother's womb). So I appointed (anointed?) myself as GM and began to diligently scour the historical records to see what the Prague Hash was (and is) all about... The concept of the Prague Hash came to the minds of Dave "Fantum" Lewis and Terri "Shadow" Lewis some time in mid-1984. "Fantum" (I assume from the records) was a teacher, or administrator, at the International School of Prague within the American Embassy compound, and spread the word to his fellow compatriots. This included the likes of Glenn "Hornblower" Johnson and Karen "Cheesecake" Johnson, also teachers or administrators at the ISP, who were instrumental in getting the momentum started (though, they were shipped out of the country only a few months after the Hash really got underway).
Run #1 was held on October 26, 1984, with 18 runners mainly from Embassy staff of the American, British and Canadian Embassies, including about half coming from the ISP itself. With the exception of the Centennial and bi-Centennial celebration Runs, the average size of the Prague Hash has never changed. In those first years under the "old" Czechoslovak regime (read "communist"), local Czechs would have been at great personal risk to join - and none did (with one incredible exception in 1989). But "western" foreigners (those knowing something of the Hash House Harriers from running abroad) were limited to Embassy staff or military personnel guarding the compounds. So, the Prague Hash was destined to stay small.
Runs were planned only about once a month. And by the first anniversary date, only 14 Hashes had been held. Even with the arrival of the ultimate Prague mega-Hasher Mark "Badger" Erwin to the American Embassy, the pace increased only slightly to 15 in the second year. The reasons are unknown, but it's our belief that it may have been both to ensure a larger gathering (by giving enough time to "market" the idea) and because it would have also been difficult for the foreign community to hold such an event. We can only imagine a bunch of bummishly dressed foreign nutcases screaming, singing, and blowing horns through the city in defiance of those trying to maintain "order".
By the third anniversary, the pace had picked up to over 30 runs a year. Embassy staff tended to rotate in and out of Czechoslovakia about every two years, and a whole group of enthusiastic Hashers were to arrive late in 1986. The record books are filled with their names amongst the middle ranks of those with "Most Runs" - and the Hash Debris (write-ups ie Hash Trash!) are filled with the stories of their antics. Unfortunately, the founders were about to leave (or had already left). The first to go were mega-Hashers Dan "Texaco" Haslip and his wife Lou "Spot Check" Haslip in mid-May, 1986. They were to return, however, three years later in 1989, just in time for the big party on Run #100. And they now, in 1994, stand at numbers two and three respectively on the all-time "Most Runs" list, with "Texaco" eventually having taken over the Grand Master's role in 1990.
The second to go was Ron "Wanker" Dodoo. He had joined on Run #14 and immediately helped shape the Prague Hash into the image of his persona - a true wanker. He basically f--ked-up everything, but was the kind of guy you couldn't hate. And he could consume massive quantities of alcohol, then holding the record for most "On-Downs" during the Hashing ceremony (8) and was alone in the record books for most consecutive "On-Downs" (4) until Dave "Squeaky" Gamble joined him on Run #201. In fact, the Prague Hash was so dismayed by "Wanker's" departure in the spring of 1987, that they created a Wanker Memorial Award in his honor. It became a piece of artwork - every time someone adding something to it that represented their Hash Being or something idiotic they did on that run, and was displayed in the holder's office until the next Hash. (Unfortunately, in the early 1990's, it was awarded to a departing Hasher who packed it up and took it to San Francisco forever. It was to be replaced in the winter of 1993 by a toilet seat, but that too was packed up to San Francisco. Today's award, in 1994, comes in the form of a ski - presented by H.W. "Neptunus" Dijkhuizen of the Hague HHH (the Netherlands) during Run #200 - watch this space to discover the whereabouts today of this Wanker Ski award!!…Hashtorian II
The last of the big names to get shipped out were "Fantum" and "Shadow" in June of 1987 after having dedicated their years in Czechoslovakia getting the Prague Hash on it's feet - "Fantum" having run 50 of the first 53 Runs ("Shadow" 49). They reappeared only once - for a reunion run (#162) two years ago, in 1992, - shocked, I'm sure, at the developments of both the Prague Hash and Prague itself......
Fresh blood in the late '80's kept the momentum alive. A real hard-core group was developing, led by "Badger" and (better half) Marilyn "Cobbler" Erwin. Attendance was at its all time peak during the years up to the Velvet Revolution. About 25 to 30 Hashers was quite common, with 45+ appearing for Run #75 in 1988. But, again, job rotations were to hit hard just before the upheaval in Prague in late '89. Dedicated Hashers like former Co-GM Graeme "L'il Nuts" Addy were to leave. Dan "Mouldy Nutz" Gill, Kari "Madonna" Lethonen, Biz "Moo Moo" MacDonald, Barry "Grunt Grunt" MacDonald...were all to go, as well. Unfortunately, right before the Hash Centennial Run!
The 100th Run, on September 30th, 1989, was to be the first big international event for the Prague Hash, and "Badger", "Texaco", and Dave "OD" Pearson did well to pull it off - even introducing the Good Soldier Svejk (the bumbling, but clever fool of Jaroslav Hasek's novel) as the mascot, symbolizing the true mentality of PH3ers...... The Hashing chapters in Vienna, Budapest, and Warsaw were invited, but were limited to Westerners. With the communist regime still hanging on to power, "security regulations (made) it impossible for East Bloc citizens to enter the British or Canadian Embassies w/o special permission". It was best for both sides to avoid each other. Yet, not all Easterners were keen on the rules. Jiri "E.G." Petrak and his wife Hana, after years of Hashing in Baghdad, took the risk to pose as Austrians in order to enter the Embassy Clubs where most events were held. (They're still around today to tell the stories, after having returned from a couple of more years abroad - they do not run the hash anymore but are seen sometimes around town - Hashtorian II).
Only weeks later, both the Prague Hash, and Prague, were thrown into chaos when the communists were ousted and Vaclav Havel returned to power. "Cobbler" gave birth (the first known PH3 baby) and was out of commission for a while. "OD" was to leave shortly after. And "Badger" began spending an inordinate amount of time in Munich. Luckily, new Embassy rotations, and the very first of the corporate ex-pats brought in some new life. But it was up to the likes of "Texaco" and "Spot Check" to carry the group, with Gert "Saurkraut" Guse, Joe "Wireless" Delmonego, Marion "Basshole" Schoni and a few others to tidy up the fringes. Disaster struck, however, just before the 150th Run in 1991, when the entire Mismanagement team left the country. But a nice mix was developing between corporate ex-pats, young entrepreneurs, and Embassy staff in Prague, allowing for a constant replenishment of Hashers. And, though not to make as big a mark on the Prague Hash as those who had left, a new group from around early-1991 (having come in during the two year rotational cycle) was to keep the traditions alive.
The 150th Run was the biggest event so far in this the first ten years. "Basshole" (having just moved to Berlin), European Hashing stars Scoby Beazley of the Berlin HHH, and Detlef "Gigolo" Siepmann (since returned from Hanoi… or was it Shanghai?!… for Ph3 550th in 2001!) from Warsaw led the charge of foreign Hash representation. Total participants numbered in the low 70's, by far the biggest crowd gathered for a Prague Hash in its then seven year history. An incredible amount of virgins, too, were initiated to the Hashing experience. And it would be these same virgins that were left holding the torch after being abandoned shortly after the new year. The Prague Hash was entering .....it's "dark ages".
It took over two and a half years to wade through the chaos and get to the bi-Centennial celebration in May, 1994. Mari "Egg Sucker" Novak (Prague's first and only Grand Goddess) and Steve "Egg" Kelly kept the (now not-so) virgins interested, but the new Embassy staff just having rotated in were not at all keen on Hashing. And the corporate ex-pats and entrepreneurs were engulfed in all the changes taking place to the country (or countries, as it soon became). For the first time, Czech locals were recruited heavily to try to in fill in the gaps and create some stability, but very few were in a position to lead the group (or even understand the group). After a year, "Egg Sucker" was forced to eradicate the throne in order to dedicate herself to her business, with "Ma's Boy" taking control ("Hard Drive" attempted a short coup at the time, but it ended with her drinking several On-Downs for simply burbling). Though, as noted above, "Ma's Boy" too was soon to go A.W.O.L. leaving the lot to myself, Private Rommel, "Squeaky", and Bernie "U2" Fitzpatrick right before the 200th/May1994/!
But the bi-Centennial Run went a long way to put the Prague Hash back on the map. "Gigolo" and others from the 150th were to return, encouraging over 60+ alone to appear from out of town. Hashes as far away as Rome and the UK sent representatives. And it stamped the PH3 with the reputation of being one of the most drunken chapters in Europe. Andrew "Periodical" Davenall (West London) was heard to say it was "one of the most alcoholic weekends he'd spent". Ever since, we've had a host of visitors (from Scotland, Australia, and Denmark.)
Yet, the numbers of Prague Hashers remains small. Some like it that way - intimate and family like, with new virgins having replaced those that have either left or faded away. But the few newcomers to arrive with some experience can feel the untapped potential in this city. Now's the chance to ride on the coat tails of Prague Hash's Ten Years of History. Unfortunately, I won't be here to see any part of it. I just hope I've left the PH3 a little better than I found it...Bye all!"
written by Private Rommel aka Don Juries, ex GM, 24th October, 1994