Hail, mail, bail and jail. The four corners of the law come together at Charleston’s historical center, the intersection of Meeting and Broad. Simply cross the street at St. Michael’s church to the main Post office, the US Courthouse, the Probate Court, and City Hall. It’s not an intersection that’s been particularly kind to Charleston’s African-American citizens, but these days Donald Scott, Gullah basket weaver, owns the real estate. You can find him there on Tuesdays through Sunday weaving tight baskets and trinkets with sweetgrass, bullrush and long pine needles. He also makes palmetto roses and crucifixes.
Donald explained the weaving process and showed off his most challenging wares. “Oval baskets are the most difficult. You have to hold the length tight when you make the bend. Keep it tight until you have a dozen or more bends.” Most of his items are much smaller; key chains and bells and small bowls that sell for under $50. His most elaborate item is a basket with elephant ear feet and a huge handle. He asks $775 for that. A lot for a street merchant, but less than half what a similar basket fetches at the Charleston Preservation Society store a few blocks away.
I asked Donald what the city required in rent or permits to set up shop at this historic corner. “Nothing. They want me here. I am part of Charleston’s heritage.”
When he’s not weaving Donald drives a school bus in North Charleston, where he lives.
Charles made me a gift of a Gullah woven keychain to which I added my sole key and hung around my neck. I’ll take a bit of the sea islands with me as I head west.
How will we live tomorrow?
“Only way I now to live tomorrow is through Christ. I have plans to be there. I have given my heart to the Lord.”