Updated: Nov 15
“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Albert Einstein
Ramblings and musings:
In January of 2022 when Les and I first started working on the reunion, we worked on a single idea of bringing a reunion into reality. Quickly our ideas both grew and changed. Allowing it is part of the creative process. As creator, we give life to our creation and from there it takes on a life of its own and then we become only caretakers of that creation. We hold space for it to grow and change. If we hold on too tight or desire to control it, we stop being a creator and the energy of the creation is lost. Our old Colonel’s desire to change inadvertently became part of this reunion process for all of us.
Debra Dotts, had joined our efforts by then and on one of our weekly calls Les mentioned that he called the school and asked what happened to the old Colonel logo as he noticed the school was now using a sword on a letter “L” for a logo. He returned with the bad news that the school received a Cease and Desist Order regarding the use of the old Colonel logo some years ago. We were appalled to find out that the school actually just let it go, seemingly without a fight. I don’t really know what kind of fight was put up over it, but whatever it was, they didn’t win.
When John Dunham arrived on the organization scene, he was not only stunned, but incensed over the discovery. Quickly, he figured out how to put a big 50 on the Colonel’s hat and a ‘Class of 73’ on the Colonel’s chest. I think that was the start of it. It was an act of defiance. A big NO!!! We had all kinds of talks of insurrection, legal-ease, protests and so on, all in good fun. But we were all feeling it emotionally.
So the discovery of the “surrendered” Colonel logo was something that touched me deeply on a lot of levels. On the surface, it brought up all kinds of old wounds about that song and now this. It felt like I was having an awakening that I didn’t want to have about my school.
On a subtle level, I was feeling a sense of betrayal as well as a disappointment in the school for not having (what felt like “cared enough”) protected the mascot from the very beginning. I also felt their weakness in not having fought and won the battle. They could have at least redrawn a new Colonel to bring it into legal parameters. By law, it only would have had to change 10% for the Colonel to be considered “their own.” It seemed like zero thought or effort was put into the issue. It was probably about time and money. I get that. I just don’t like it.
To add salt to the wound, whoever was in charge substituted the Colonel with the very symbol of his “surrender” and the sword that was used to “kill” him. It is unconscionable what they were thinking. I would have rather heard they were just trying to create something more streamlined and modern. But they didn’t. They SURRENDERED! They replicated the very act that Colonel Ledyard performed 242 years ago. I wonder how many students even know we ever had a Colonel as a mascot.
I spent six years of my life supporting my school and wearing that Colonel on shirts, gym suits, book covers, megaphones and whatever else I could get my hands on. It was fun and I was emotionally invested in it. My father owned Bob Hall’s Sporting Goods. Since I was 15, I designed many logos for my father’s store using that Colonel. Reproducing Colonel logos and putting them on shirts and gym bags was part of my everyday life. Creating a logo and transferring it to printed goods is just a natural flow for me. It’s what you do with one.
So what led me to tread on sacred ground and dare revamp the Colonel? In short, our theme of the reunion ~ Imagine.
When I heard this crazy story of "betrayal" by the school, I started "Imagine"ing about re-designing a new Colonel, if for no other reason than to satisfy myself. Alright, it was more about purging my anger over the school letting it go. I’ve worked in the arts in some capacity for much of my life whether it be drafting, graphic layout, mixed media, fiber arts, painting and drawing. I spent months of going through all kinds of design prototypes and kept drawing and changing a little at a time of this Colonel until everything had been re-designed. I moved that 10% to a good 99%.
The challenge was to "Imagine" and create a new logo that could correct the flaws of the original Colonel (dressed for the wrong era), make it both legal and accurate and still retain the “feel” of the original Colonel. He needed a complete makeover. I researched the clothing, the boots, the buff pants, lace cuffs, red lapels and shape of collar and stock, the tri-corn hat and cockade. I even corrected the saber and the way it ought to be held by someone who meant business. And I removed the Civil War mustache. Officers were clean shaven during the Revolutionary War. Now you can almost hear fifes and drums in the background.
Artists are mediums. We create and bring into reality what we see, feel, and hear. I saw this man so clearly and could feel him wanting to come into “life.” I wanted to help him re-embody his true self as a Revolutionary War Colonel. I wanted to bring back his sense of self respect and experience a rebirth…a regeneration…a transformation…a REVOLUTION!
My job is now done and he is alive again.
And the slogan that I heard to accompany the logo? NEVER SURRENDER!
Why wasn’t my new logo the logo to begin with? It does make me wonder how much historical research was made (clearly none…) and how is it the history teachers didn’t catch this massive guffaw? Seriously, nobody noticed the blaring misstep? I do have to wonder if whoever was in charge was just rifling through a logo book and found something like our Colonel and said, “That’ll do. Close enough.”
I know from experience at my father’s store that back in the 60’s and 70’s there just wasn’t much available in the way of resources to even find a logo. Companies who printed goods had catalogs with a page of logos to choose from. They would have one of these and one of those, i.e. One horse, one lion, one knight, one quasi-old military person… and you would just have to pick from what was available. To design your own logo back then meant having to pay exorbitant fees to have a custom plate made and because of it being custom, required massive minimums and so again made it practically and financially prohibitive.
A question came up about who actually designed the old Colonel. I don’t think anyone at Ledyard did. My vote is that it came from a stock catalog. We see this on the old booster badges. Susan and I dug out our old collections of booster badges before the reunion and we were remarking at the logos (Susan had one with even yet another Colonel, even more Southern than the one we had). Maybe that adventure is for another Blog piece.
We revealed the new Colonel at the reunion by gifting (thank you, Les for donating these) every attendee with a printed mug with the Colonel on one side. I also bought a half dozen t-shirts and hats and put them in the Silent Auction. Two hats went to the runner’s up of the Bean Bag Toss Tournament. My thinking is to create a mechanism for our class to sell these for fundraising toward the Gary Atkinson Imagine Scholarship Fund. Maybe they will resonate with other alumni. I just have to get the logistics down.