I Called it a Moses Basket
So Many Baskets
If you are like most families you must have several baskets somewhere in your home and they are useful for so many purposes, I know we have some(truthfully a lot of em") and maybe too many just hanging in our basement. My wife likes baskets and has been known on many occasions to fill a nice wooden basket with canned goods to give to special friends at Christmas time or special occasions and sometimes just because she wants to a special git to someone . Whenever we are out and about at yard sales or estate sales and there just happens to be "amongst the "stuff" a nice picnic basket or maybe one that has a nice geometric design, the probability of it ending up as a purchase by us is quite high.
A few years ago we were at a yard sale and there was this huge basket that caught the attention of each of us, the basket was simply huge Out of my ignorance of baskets I proclaimed this to be the original Moses basket. I didn't know at the time this is a common name for the style of large baskets. Most of us good Baptist folk who ever attended Sunday School certainly are familiar with the story of how Jochebed, Moses mother, hid baby Moses from the Pharaohs who at this time of history were killing all of the male newborns of the Jewish people. Hidden in the bull rushes along the Nile River, Miriam, Moses sister was given orders to watch over the basket that had been carefully constructed and made waterproof. In my vivid imagination I could visualize baby Moses wrapped in a warm blanket or garment from the period with never a fret or worry about his future which had already been planned by a Higher Power. I told my wife she could pack a whole meal in that basket including the table cloth. She laughed and soon I loaded it into our car. We have since used that basket many times for a variety of different things.
Some of the first baskets my wife and I became familiar were those big bushel bean hampers shown in the photographs of this hub. Pole beans were a money crop here in the Blue Ridge Mountains and we earned our school money picking beans either for family or for other farmers. The baskets when full held a bushel of pole beans and weighed 32 pounds if my memory is correct . We were instructed to lay the beans in the basket straight and the weight would come out pretty close. My wife was a much better picker than me and her baskets always weighed closer to 34 pounds.
The bean fields near our Green River community were just across the South Carolina state line. The area was commonly referred to as The Hodge Bottoms which had field after field of pole beans and the rows covered many acres. It would take all day to pick just one row of beans. With such large fields, farm labor came from our family and school friends or adults who needed and wanted to work. A day in "bean patch" meant at least 10 to 12 hours of work stopping only for lunch and "hitting the woods." We didn't make lots of money but enough to buy most our school clothes.
The older boys like my friend Harold Corn was a lugger. A lugger would carry our full baskets to the end of the field where they would be weighed and given a lid and then loaded onto a truck that would eventually deliver to a packing house or a broker.Harold played football for our high school and sometimes wore ankle weights and carried two full baskets at a time when working in the fields at the Hodge Bottoms. Harold told me recently he was paid a salary of $100 each week for his lugger duties, which was a lot of money in those days for a teenager but not a lot for all the hard work he had to do. When football season arrived, Harold was in great physical shape. Today pole beans and other crops such as tomatoes, eggplant and bell pepper are still grown in the Hodge Bottoms but migrant labor is used for the harvest.
Finally, baskets all seem to have an identity. Whether it is a bread basket one may have personally made or some unique basket found at a yard sale or estate such as a horn of plenty the skill that it took to make most likely was two pairs of hands. Basket making is and of itself an art requiring great skill and the imagination and ingenuity of a craftsman. The baskets made by American Indians as well as those of our near neighbors South of the border are all interesting works of art. They not only have utility but have a special appeal.
Isn't it wonderful how something so common as a basket can capture our fancy and become a relic we treasure.