Our once-a-month crossword, by the talented Sophia Maymudes, is very popular. And so, I have begun looking into the possibility of finding some new types of puzzles or word games that we could add to the Independent’s pages. For example, I’ve always liked palindromes — words or phrases that read the same backward as forward — and I hoped a little online research would turn up an expert on the subject.
Well, the wonders of Google never cease, because, within seconds, I discovered the Pan-American Association of Palindronomes (PAAP). A palindronome is, of course, a person whose name is a palindrome. When I emailed the secretary of PAAP, Tessa Basset, and explained my quest, she invited me to sit in on the next meeting, via Zoom, naturally, of the group’s executive committee.
They happened to be taking up the matter of multiple perspectives, considering a resolution regarding seeing things from both sides. I scanned their faces and the names on the screen beneath them. Before me were Leona Noel, Emily Lime, Bruce Curb, Wollace Callow, Orin Niro, Anita Latina, Mabel LeBam, and others.
How many palindronomes are there? I asked. “More than you might think,” said Walter Bretlaw, a white-haired fellow who said he was the president of the association. Walter explained that many people don’t know they are palindronomes until the fact is pointed out to them. He told me, for example, about Norbert Ragden, who never suspected he was one until a friend who was a member of PAAP found out that Ragden’s middle name was Edgar. That made him N. Edgar Ragden, a palindronome. His friend’s name was Steven Nevets.
Mabel pointed out that a number of well-known people are palindronomes: Nora Aaron, the literary critic; Marc Cram, the Olympic gold-medalist; Burnes Enrub, the hedge-fund billionaire; Barbara Rabrab, the TV newscaster; and O. Grace Cargo, the novelist. I was amazed.
PAAP’s annual convention had to be canceled last year because of the pandemic. It’s usually quite a gathering, Anita told me. Two summers ago, it was held on Cape Cod, she said, and a sporty group of palindronomes went deep-sea fishing on a charter boat out of Provincetown called the Tuna Nut.
PAAP has quite a few special-interest groups, including one for members of the clergy. The members are Rev. Ned Denver, Rabbi Amos O. Maibbar, Rev. Lisa Silver, and Imam Olaf Alomami. They told me I ought to get to know Rev. Ira River, who once preached by special invitation at Eastham’s Chapel in the Pines.
Unfortunately, not one of the members of PAAP is a puzzle-maker. Do you know of any? It doesn’t matter whether they’re a palindronome or not.