Skinny, angular, caught eternally in mid-stride with evidently no part of his body on the ground, the boy depicted in Pemi’s logo is known simply as the Pemi Kid. Cap in hand, socks pulled to his knees, a Pemi “P” on his shirt and a big grin on his face, he captures a lot about the Pemi spirit. He’s happy and running, we just don’t know where to. And he’s been holding that pose for more than 90 years. Today, the logo is on the sign hanging in front of the camp office, and has a prominent position here on our newly redesigned website. He’s graced Pemi clothing from the itchy wool tank tops of the 1920s and 1930s to the Under Armour tees of today.
To learn more about the logo’s history, I called up both Tom Reed, Sr., and Al Fauver to ask them what they remembered about its creation. Both of them spontaneously began to sing bits and pieces of a song, written by Dudley Reed (Tom Reed Sr.’s father), about the creation of the image of the Pemi Kid:
List to the tale of the Pemi kid
Born in 1919
Created by Williams of Oberlin
Out of the back of his bean
He carries a message of “pep and speed”
Most unlucky gossoon
Always going but never arrives
He was born in the dark of the moon
Don’t use “gossoon” in your everyday speech? It means, according the Oxford English Dictionary, “a youth, a boy; a servant-boy, lackey.” It’s also a convenient rhyme with “moon.”
The original image of the Pemi Kid—hanging in the camp library—was created by a counselor named Jack Williams in 1919, sprung seemingly from “the back of his bean,” (his head) where most good things usually originate.
I asked Tom Reed, Sr., what the Pemi Kid symbolized to him. “It is the kind of innocent active energetic skinny Pemi kid, striding along with his cap in his hand,” he said.
“It was the indomitable Pemi kid,” Tom added, with a chuckle.
“Action,” is what Al Fauver said the Pemi Boy symbolizes to him. “Always doing something.”
“What it really means to me, anyway, is here’s a kid that goes away, and there’s so much for him to do,” Al said.
“I think that the greatest thing” about the Pemi Kid, Al added, “is that song.”
And what about that cryptic line, he was born in the dark of the moon?
To be born in the dark of the moon, Tom Reed Sr. explains, means “that you would have misfortune.” Why did Dudley Reed include that line? Perhaps because the poor “unlucky gossoon” is “always going but never arrives.” Happy running, Pemi Kid. Whatever the alignment of your stars, you’ve managed to be a central part of Pemi mythology for nine decades.
Music and lyrics to the song, below.