In the inspiration photo, there are ladies doing their ironing with baskets near them. It matched perfectly with this kitten, all sugar and spice, in a basket. My maternal aunt, Mercedes Marie (Strait) Scabet, received this birthday card from her grandmother, Anna Maria (Karthaeuser) Repsher when she was a young girl. The kitten, wearing a red polka dot dress, is in a handled basket that mirrors one found in one of my favorite photos of Mercedes’ mother, Beatrice (Repsher) Strait.
A friend of Beatrice’s took this photo of her and gave her a 11″ x 14″ copy. Beatrice is sitting in her favorite easy chair with her crocheting on her lap. Her picture window floods the room with sunshine. In the foreground are two baskets. One basket contains the balls of cotton crochet thread for her current project. The other holds silk flowers, bright pinks and buttery yellows. On the side table, to Beatrice’s left, is a smaller basket containing silk orchids, peonies, and lilies.
Since this is a medium shot of Beatrice, what you don’t see in the picture are the other baskets all around her! My grandmother Strait kept things in baskets all around the house. Let me show you a better picture to illustrate…
This was Rachel, one of Gram’s friends who also lived on Lincoln Place. Rachel lived across the street from 11 Lincoln Place where my Aunt Sadie resided. She would come up to Gram’s house at 43 Lincoln Place to visit often. Rachel is sitting in Gram’s easy chair in front of the picture window.
There are four baskets on the living room floor. To Rachel’s right is an apple basket with Gram’s newspapers and crossword puzzle books. To her left are two more baskets, one of which contains crocheting projects. Yet another basket, with knitting needles poking out the top, can be seen in the background behind the bentwood chair.
Even the plants hanging in the window got baskets. Two of the three vines in the picture of Rachel were displayed in wooden hanging baskets. Gram Strait raised violets and many of them were found sitting on window sills, all over the house, in tiny baskets.
The basket with the rope handles served a number of different purposes over the years. When my sisters, Jill and Jenni, and I were young, the basket held the old wooden blocks and tinker toys that my father and his sister played with when they were little. We would dump the toys out of the basket onto the living room floor to build towers and houses. It was a requirement that the toys be returned to the basket before lunch or dinner was served. Eventually, the toys were packed up and relegated to the attic and the basket graduated to holding whatever current needlecraft project Gram was working on.
The picture to the left shows Gram (circa 2004), again in her favorite chair, with the rope-handled basket, this time full of teddy bears. Sitting on the table to her left is another basket, most likely containing the TV remote and her letter opener.
Over the years, baskets of all sizes held dolls, teddy bears, crafting projects, Christmas ornaments, towels, plants, bolts of fabric, yarn, plastic easter eggs, and all manner of frogs. The beautiful picture above of Beatrice with her crocheting just touches on the baskets that could be found in her house!