Two women chatting in the street in Belize City, one carrying a straw basket, 1899
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October 21, 2022

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Belize National Historical Society
A group for Belizeans who would like to post, discuss and preserve our unique history. We hope our group with the help of our members will eventually develop into an official NGO known as the Belize National Historical Society. For the time being, we want to create an online bank through crowd sourcing of anything of historical content about Belize including historic photos, buildings, bios of patriotic Belizeans to name a few.
Two women chatting in the street in Belize City, one carrying a straw basket, 1899

A Man May Work From Sun To Sun. However, A Woman's Work Is Never Done.

If that is a bucket she is carrying, and not a straw basket, most likely she is sent to fetch a pale of water from the big vat round di lane. Remember back in those days there were no running pipes in place. At the time of this photo there was no water system (Running Water) in Belize City. However, most yards had a vat or two or even barrels to catch rain water. Some yards even had wells.

No cars or trucks in sight. Looks like a Sunday, not many people nor mule cart traffic. The wages of a female domestic house servant was $6. to $8. monthly for a male it $8 to 10 dollars monthly. In 1974 the female clerk/typists who worked for British Forces Belize were paid $B28.00 for a five day week. The salaries were agreed with the Belize Government and were set to be in line with local salaries for the equivalent work skills. $B28.00 was 7.00 at the exchange rate at that time. Everything was cheap back in those days.

Are they barefooted? Belize used to have shoemakers/cobblers. The hides were treated properly and custom fitted shoes back then were probably the norm and not a luxury and those babies would have fit like gloves.

It's common sense nobody would carry a slop straw basket in the crook of the arm like that. Set it down wind and step away while visiting. There was a reason why the contents of a slop straw basket was called night soil.

Elsie Felix-Edmunds: "Sisterhood 1899 style ". This looks like the street next to Haabat William's shop walking towards Racecourse St. It also looks like winter time from the way both women were dressed. Both were properly dressed and practiced what women did then, not go outside their homes unkempt. Their hair was combed, they were properly covered and it is easier to walk barefooted on sand. They were simply sharing neighborhood tales while out running errands. Our people had those heavy iron straw baskets even when I was growing up and we stood around and chatted even in the 70s. BTW, if you are unfamiliar with the slop straw basket, no one carried it like a purse and we never got **it on our clothes.

Pearl Griffith-Hemmans: I don't know about 1899 but I do know that in my early years as a child some of the neighbors who didn't have a vat would ask my mother to sell them a straw basket of rain water for 25 cents.

Photograph courtesy Glen Fuller

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