Paw-Paw Patch, The

TITLE: The Paw-Paw Patch
AUTHOR
: unknown
CATEGORY: Traditional, Public Domain
KEYWORDS: playparty, children, courting
EARLIEST DATE: 1916 (Wolford)

800px-asimina_triloba3The Paw-Paw Patch or Where O Where is Pretty Little Susie is a song I knew as a child. All I knew about a paw-paw was it was some sort of fruit. The first time someone properly identified the tree to me was in 2008 when my daughter’s pre-school visited an urban/co-op garden where two trees were growing. The small paw-paw trees produce a fruit called a prairie banana, Kentucky banana, the poor man’s banana, or any of a dozen other names. It goes bad quickly, so the fruit has no shelf life and is primarily used in jams and preserves.

American Folk Song for ChildrenI first found the music for the song in Ruth Crawford Seeger’s American Folk Song for Children which also includes instructions for a children’s game that goes with the song. Ruth Seeger was the step-mother of Pete Seeger and the mother of Peggy and Mike Seeger (all well-known folk singers), and developed the book for pre-schoolers when she helped teach in her children’s classroom. I highly recommend this book for the parents of pre-school children. Tian and her fellow classmates in kindergarten love the songs.

Call it the American Custard Apple or the West Virginia Banana, but it’s neither apple nor banana. It’s the Paw-paw (Asimina trilob), the largest native fruit of North America, and it grows throughout Appalachia. There are about seven other members of the genus Asimina, all growing in the southeastern U.S. Mature pawpaw trees produce fruits 2″ wide by 10″ long, which turn from green, to yellow, and then black as they ripen in the fall.

Paw-paw fruits are rich in minerals such as magnesium, copper, zinc, iron, manganese, potassium, and phosphorus. The fruit also contains abundant concentrations of Vitamin C, proteins, and their derivative amino acids. The Peterson Field Guide mentions that the seeds, along with being an emetic, have narcotic properties.

The paw-paw pulp may be eaten raw, made into ice cream, baked, or used as a pie filling. Some Appalachian cooks make a custard out of “Poppaws.” Seed them, mash them, add milk, a little sugar, an egg and some allspice. Pour the batter into custard cups and set those in a bread pan with some water in the bottom of the pan. Bake at a medium heat. Stick a broom straw or toothpick in, and when it comes up clean it’s done.

The paw-paw is sensitive to ultraviolet light, thus, paw paw seedlings may not grow back after forests have been clear cut, and there are very few virgin forests left in the United States. Paw-paws can be found growing there abundantly, but once the forests are harvested, the paw paw will not usually re-establish.

OTHER TITLES AND VARIATIONS:

  • Paw-Paw Land
  • Way Down in Paw-Paw Patch
  • Where, Oh Where is Dear Little Susie?
  • Where, Oh Where is Pretty Little Susie?

RECORDINGS:

YOUTUBE VIDEO:

YOUTUBE AUDIOdownload
LYRIC & CHORDPRO CHORD CHART: download
PPT LYRICS FOR THE CLASSROOM: download
BONUS YOUTUBE VIDEO:Music Teacher Resources (Dance Moves)

The Paw-Paw Patch

Where, O where is pretty little Susie?
Where, O where is pretty little Susie?
Where, O where is pretty little Susie?
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.

Pickin’ up paw-paws, puttin’ um in her pockets,
Pickin’ up paw-paws, puttin’ um in her pockets,
Pickin’ up paw-paws, puttin’ um in her pockets,
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.

Come on, boys, let’s go find her,
Come on, boys, let’s go find her,
Come on, boys, let’s go find her,
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.

Pickin’ up paw-paws, puttin’ um in her pockets,
Pickin’ up paw-paws, puttin’ um in her pockets,
Pickin’ up paw-paws, puttin’ um in her pockets,
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.

Where, O where is pretty little Susie?
Where, O where is pretty little Susie?
Where, O where is pretty little Susie?
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.

SOURCES:

  • Folk Song Index: A Comprehensive Guide to the Florence E. Brunnings Collection, Florence E. Brunnings, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London 1981—Amazon Books
  • Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music, Guthrie T. Meade, Jr. with Dick Spottswood and Douglas S. Meade, Southern Folklife Collection, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries, NC 2002—Amazon Books
  • Folk Songs of North America (in the English Language), Alan Lomax, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York 1960—Amazon Books
  • Folksinger’s Wordbook (Irwin and Fred Silber), Music Sales Corporation 1973.

NOTICE: I’m not the best guitar player or vocalist, but no one loves these songs more than I do. The tune and lyrics are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. The recording © copyright 2013 by Stephen Griffith and may be used by permission of the copyright holder. The variation of the song I’m posting is the version I perform and is not exactly replicating the sources cited, but is always in the same song family. If anyone has more details about this song, or believes I’ve stated something in error, please let me know. I’m also open to suggestions to improve the site. Thanks. sgg