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Mike Watson: On Pawpaw vs. Papaw

The preferred spelling is "Pawpaw,", though, Mike Watson says "papaw" is an acceptable variant. We're fixing to use Pawpaw from here on out. The historian and avid gardener, like my father, like Dr. Ben Arnold, and my niece Mitzi is a Pawpaw fancier. It seems Pawpaws are like Cilantro - you love the spicy fruit or despise it. Comments welcome. As one who rarely eats the fruit except in for Pawpaw Pie, I love the plants on the landscape. Wish there were more to balance the black green beauty of Eastern Red Cedar. Always wondered if there would ever be a commercial value in Pawpaw culture here. - EW Comments re photo 59605 Favorite Old Photo Papaw trees HORSE softball arena
By Mike Watson

Much like my Cousin Jim would say, I'm not intending to "steer" up trouble, but... In the recent days I've viewed the photo of the old barn and kept up with the guesses of location. I don't hazard a guess, but I have noticed most of the responses have "papaw" references, as per the original photo caption.

I was too trifling to go into another room to check references, but this morning, before daybreak, I had to consult Merriam-Webster. I have always pronounced and written the word as "pawpaw" and was beginning to think I had been wrong for more than half a century.




Well, no harm, no foul, so to speak...M-W has the first spelling as "pawpaw" and the first variant, perfectly acceptable, as "papaw."

I grew up enjoying this delicacy. Our dad gave me the first bite and I was hooked. Later, when we had moved to town, Mr. Hugh Wesley had a small tree that produced copious amounts each year and I was encouraged to raid the yard at will.

So, whatever the spelling choice, the fruit was and is fine. Now, when are you going to officially identify the photo location?

- Mike Watson

Mr. Watson wants the answer to: Where the urban farm Pawpaw copse is located which started this conversation?. We've got one answer, not yet published, from Lee Ann Sullivan, and some from my family, who asked that their comments not include the location for fear of spoiling the puzzle for others. It's being strung out a bit to glean Critical Mess on the subject. Growing up, I thought we had the only perfect PawPaw trees in town. What is surprising is that there are strikingly similar town farms, some still much as they were 50-60 years ago, in Columbia, KY. They are such very similar scenes which affected many of our lives in so much the same way. - ED


This story was posted on 2015-04-11 03:15:20
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