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Tag Archives: There was an old woman tossed up in a basket

I’m Not a Basket Case

For this week’s Middle-aged Musings Monday, I would like to dissect a ditty I learned in elementary school. I still sing it on occasion, because it has kind of a catchy tune. Luckily for you, dear reader, this is not an audio blog. Without my awful singing voice, then, here is the first part:

There was an old woman tossed up in a basket,
Fifteen times as high as the moon.
And where she was going, I couldn’t but ask it,
For in her hand she carried a broom.

Excuse me, what? Of course, I’m no expert on astronomy, but considering how small the moon looks from here, how in the world is this guy seeing this old woman, never mind the basket and the broom (I say “this guy,” because there was a picture of a guy next to this song in my fourth grade music book) (although it might not have been fourth grade; I just thought the sentence would sound better if I was specific) (but I digress).

Who tossed her, the Incredible Hulk?

OK, let’s assume the guy has the Hubble Space Telescope, how does he manage to carry on a conversation with her, which he does, because the song continues:

“Old Woman, Old Woman, Old Woman,” quoth I,
“Oh whither, or whither so high?”
“To swee-eep the co-obwebs out of the sky-y-y!”

I guess that was how people talked back then, “quoth I.” In my younger days, it would have been, “So I sez to her…” These days, it might be, “So I’m like, ‘What up, Lady?’ and she’s all, ‘Sweeping the cobwebs, dude.'”

Do people still call other people “dude”? It was “man” in the ’60s and ’70s, “dude” in the ’80s and ’90s, and then I completely lost touch. I did mention that these were middle-aged musings, didn’t I?

Come to think of it, these days, he could have texted her. This probably would include “lol” and “fml,” but I really don’t know a lot about texting.

It just goes to show, though, how I took everything at face value when I was a little kid. You taught me a song about a lady in a basket, and I sang it. It isn’t till YEARS later that I finally say, “Waaait a minute!”

On further reflection, that basket may have been sixteen times as high as the moon.