This Throwback Thursday is a little twist on our usual entry. It’s the American Classic, Paw-Paw Patch, re-tooled by creative member Joanie Calem, to cover a topic near and dear to our hearts here at CMN: recycling!
I first learned the song “The Paw-Paw Patch” from the book, American Folk Songs for Children by Ruth Crawford Seeger, but as I started to work with it in my preschool classes many years ago, I realized that it was one of these iconic American folk tunes that is used for many, many children’s songs. Pawpaws are a fruit native to the US that resembles a cross between an apple and a banana, that grew all over the United States, mostly in the South, and were harvested for pies, baking, ice cream etc. They are actually incredibly healthy, high in nutrients and vitamins, and unfortunately, a bit endangered at the moment. Why was Susie hiding in the pawpaw patch? Maybe because they were so yummy and healthy and her mom sent her out to pick them? According to Georgia.gov, pawpaws fall to the ground when they were ripe, so would have had to have been picked up from the ground rather than off the tree. The pocket referred to would have been one of those big sacks that girls wore before pockets were sewn directly into clothes. Which is good because a pawpaw put into a pants or skirt pocket would have become mush immediately.
The original game, which I have a vague memory of playing in preschool, can be used as a hide and seek game:
“Where oh where is pretty little (insert name) (3x), way down yonder in the pawpaw patch.”
“come on boys, let’s go find her (3x), way down yonder in the pawpaw patch.”
“pickin’ up paw-paws, puttin’ ‘em in her pockets (3x), way down yonder in the pawpaw patch.”
I have used this tune for many different topics in my preschool classes, and one day when I was looking for a new way to express the idea of recycling, this version popped out. I changed the ending, but the rest follows the original tune.
Hear the original: