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“Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch”

Where, oh where is dear little Danny?
Where, oh where is dear little Danny?
Where, oh where is dear little Danny?
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.

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

Pickin’ up paw-paws, put ’em in your pockets,
Pickin’ up paw-paws, put ’em in your pockets,
Pickin’ up paw-paws, put ’em in your pockets,
Way down yonder in the paw-patch.

Where, oh where is dear old Nellie?
Where, oh where is dear old Nellie?
Where, oh where is dear old Nellie?
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, put ’em in your pockets,
Pickin’ up paw-paws, put ’em in your pockets,
Pickin’ up paw-paws, put ’em in your pockets,
Way down yonder in the paw-patch.

Where, oh where is dear little Jimmy?
Where, oh where is dear little Jimmy?
Where, oh where is dear little Jimmy?
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.

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

Pickin’ up paw-paws, put ’em in your pockets,
Pickin’ up paw-paws, put ’em in your pockets,
Pickin’ up paw-paws, put ’em in your pockets,
Way down yonder in the paw-patch.

(If you know this song, I believe you might have ended up singing it as you read the words?!?)

Categorized as a children’s song or campfire song, I can remember singing about the paw-paw patch on the playground at school. Even though it really didn’t make any sense, we certainly enjoyed the acting out and vocalizing of it. I didn’t know Jimmy, Nellie, or Danny, and a paw-paw was also beyond my ken.

This song was similar to “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and “The Bear Went Over the Mountain.” All three songs included action and repetition, though nonsensical. I have always loved music and grew up in a family that sang along in the car, raking leaves, or at church.

Shel Silverstein understood children and songs.

“There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.”

Whether adult or child, songs speak to us. Sometimes it’s the rhythm, sometimes the words, but more often it is the melody that sears our hearts. We sway, tap our feet, hum, or clap our hands to become part of the song. It not only tickles our ears, but we savor its essence.

I have a friend that listens to NPR daily and particularly enjoys the musical sections in the afternoon. Her grandchildren have learned to recognize famous composers and their works from their visits with her. What a legacy she is passing on to them.

As I muse about music and its importance in my life, I want to draw closer to it, and I challenge you to do the same. It is good for the soul. As Julie Andrews sang, “The hills are alive with the sound of music….”

“Where words leave off, music begins.”
― Heinrich Heine