The story behind the Penn Yan handshake

John Christensen
Mayor Robert Church accepts a reproduction of the Penn Yan seal artwork from Bob Reynolds, whose brother, Chuck, designed the original.

Local artist Chuck Reynolds’ work is familiar to every resident of Penn Yan. We see it almost every day, and it has become interwoven in the history of the village itself. What is this artwork that everyone knows while not knowing the artist himself by name? It is the village seal depicting the Pennsylvanian and the Yankee from New England shaking hands upon an Indian arrowhead.

The late Chuck Reynolds and the story of the seal’s creation were officially remembered May 17 when his last surviving sibling, Bob Reynolds, made a presentation to Penn Yan Mayor Robert Church. Parker Reynolds, Bob’s son and Chuck’s nephew, had a color reproduction mounted and handsomely framed for the Village Hall, accompanied by a letter on the back written by Peg Pond and undersigned by Bob and his wife Eleanor, and Chuck’s eldest sister, the late Jean Reynolds Whitaker.

The letter was written to the editor of The Chronicle-Express in 2004 following the story of Dexter Benedict’s weather vane being made for the new hall incorporating the symbolic image, but which made no mention of its origin. It reads in part,

“In 1945 or ’46, Walter Pond, then Secretary of the Penn Yan Chamber of Commerce, suggested that Chuck Reynolds, then Penn Yan Village Recreation Director, design a logo to represent the village. Walter came up with the idea of the men shaking hands, and Chuck, who later became a graphic designer in the Rochester Area, created the design.”

Reynolds was in his mid-20s at the time, and sadly, passed away less than 20 years later from complications of diabetes.

It is interesting to note that the seal is 100 percent the product of local initiative and talent. No public relations firm was hired to conduct opinion polls. No advertising executives haggled over the design.

It was made in manner of the image itself; just two men shaking hands for the benefit of Penn Yan.

Chuck Reynolds