Hope Reese, of the Monroe-Walton Center for the Arts, put it best last week: “I adore, simply adore, living in a town where the big media war between our beloved mayor and our fabulous hometown paper is how to spell crepe myrtle.”
I found myself back in that war last week, hacking off our mayor for the way I edited his guest column.
Mayor John Howard wrote about the removal of crape myrtles on West Spring Street to make way for a longer turn lane onto Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Only trouble is, he spelled it “crepe myrtle.”
To be fair, that’s a totally acceptable spelling, but we defer to the Webster’s New World College Dictionary, which prefers “crape.”
Apparently the admirers of “crepe” got onto the mayor, who in turn got onto me.
It’s not the first time I’ve dealt with this. I dug up a column I wrote here for the June 2, 2010, issue, about our old festival in Hammond Park.
That, though, was the Crepe Myrtle Festival.
An email from a reader then said, “I think the correct spelling for the plant festival on June 12 is ‘Crape Myrtle,’ not ‘Crepe Myrtle.’ I checked both my garden book and the internet and the spelling is ‘Crape.’”
We used the two-e spelling for the festival, given that it was the proper name, the same as we do in writing sports articles about the Winder-Barrow Bulldoggs, no matter how much that one makes me cringe.
(To quote our governor, “Yeah, I just said that.”)
The Crepe Myrtle Festival started after the downburst that hit downtown in 1993. The event was first called the Monroe Jamboree, even if it wasn’t actually in the city limits. (It was in Criswell Park, just south of town.) Then-Mayor Harry Knight thought of it as a way to celebrate the town’s return and cleanup from the storm.
It later took on the Crepe Myrtle Festival name and moved to Hammond Park in 2005.
The event took 2011 off, citing a lack of volunteers and attendance, with plans to return, but never did.
The spelling controversy, though, rages.