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David Pogue remembers Pemi

If you read The New York Times and have an interest in technology, there’s a very good chance you’ve read David Pogue’s work. He is the Times’ personal technology columnist, and he’s also a former Pemi camper. (Read his full bio here. Or, join the more than 1.3 million people who follow him on Twitter.)

Whether he’s reviewing a cell phone, an e-reader, a camera, or any other piece of technology that you might find yourself interacting with, Pogue’s articles and videos are witty, relevant, insightful, and always carefully consider the pros and cons of whatever the item at hand is. (For example: Curious about what Google’s new Buzz service is all about? Or, want to see a good comparison of the best cameras under $300?)

He also has a great sense of humor; one of my favorites of his video reviews is this sketch about the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader.

I caught up with David Pogue via email to ask him about his summers at Pemi.

Pemi: What years were you at Pemi, and what are your memories of your favorite activities there?

David Pogue:

I went to Pemi for two summers, when I was 12 and 13. I think that would have been 1975 and 1976. A bunch of kids from the Cleveland suburbs, where I grew up, all went to Pemi.

Really, I have a huge number of fond memories, some of which you could even say were career-shaping. I wrote for “Bean Soup” and performed in it regularly, which helped to foster a love of writing, humor, and live performance.

I learned to sail at Pemi, too; I sail to this day, and every time I get into a Sunfish, I’m taken back to that sunny lake!

I remember Hurricane Belle in particular, which hit the East Coast in 1976. It was dark and rainy and windy—one of the few times I’d ever seen whitecaps on the lake—and our sailing instructor, Chris, yelled: “Come on, David! You and me, on the Sunfish! We can do this!” I climbed aboard in the howling gale–and we actually sailed a Sunfish on Lower Baker Lake in a hurricane!

Today, Wikipedia tells me that by the time Hurricane Belle hit New Hampshire, it was little more than a rainstorm. Since a professional sailor had the controls, I’m sure there was no danger whatsoever. But to me, there was nothing more exciting and dangerous than to go zipping around the lake in a real live hurricane, splashed by spray and foam! I’ve never forgotten that day, and have told my kids about it many times.

But I also loved the Gilbert and Sullivan musicals; I’m sure Pogue fans will tell you that my acting career’s highlight was when I played Angelina, in drag, in “Trial by Jury.” That scrappy spirit—piano accompaniment, going into town to do the show for the locals, learning real harmonies in rustic wooden cabins—has never left me. I got the musical-theater bug at Pemi, and went on to spend ten years on Broadway, conducting and arranging musicals!

Not a bad life impact for a place where I spent only a few weeks each summer!

Thank you very much, David Pogue!

Rob Verger