Mess Hall singing, then and now

Pemi SingingAnyone who has ever attended a Pemi lunch or dinner has experienced how singing, a Pemi tradition, can fill the Mess Hall up to the brim, and sometimes beyond it. In recent years, favorite songs have included “The Happy Wanderer,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” (with accompanying hand gestures), and the famously anticlimactic “Three Cheers for the Jones Junior High.” (It’s the best junior high in Toledo.)

But different songs have been popular at different times in Pemi’s history.

For example, Tom Reed, Sr., mentioned “And When the Battle’s Over” as being a song that is never sung anymore, but used to be sung “to honor any distinguished visitor.” The “Junior Camp Song,” Tom says, “has always been sung,” while the song about the Pemi Kid is rarely sung these days. “Bloomer Girl” is sung less frequently, too. (And bloomers have gone out of fashion.)

MesshallSingingThen there are other classics, like the “Clam Shell Song” or “We’re From Camp Pemigewassett” or the “Marching Song.” That last one comes in two versions—with embellishments like the words “sweet gasoline” when the song is sung during the regular season, and a more serious, non-embellished version when the song is sung at a banquet.

When I asked Tom if he had a favorite song, he chuckled. “I don’t think I have one, but I think the “Boating Song” and the “Campfire Song” are the most beautiful songs we have, and the kids love both of them, and then there are the rabble-rousers, like the “Junior Camp” song, and so on. I like them all, but like them not just for the music, but for the Pemi connections they have.”

What songs were popular when you were at camp, and which was your favorite?

Rob Verger

3 thoughts on “Mess Hall singing, then and now

  1. Too bad ‘When the Battle is Over’ isn’t sung anymore. It made/makes no sense to me in the context of when it was sung but I still remember singing it to honor Tom Reed Sr.’s mother. I still know college songs which those who went to said colleges don’t know.

  2. Singing at Pemi….Lusty to the extreme in the mess hall balanced by the precision and sensitive beauty of a quartet singing Grace at the banquets or The Campfire Song at sunset. Remember the octet singing The Spacious Firmament on High at Sunday services?

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