girl !! put on your shoes ...

college girls walking barefoot at SMU

Cowboy sent me a link today about the scarcity of shoes during WWII.  The following is an interview outtake from THE WAR, a PBS series:

Katherine Phillips: Shoes were precious
 "We lived with the war constantly. I think it's why it had such a profound effect upon my generation. Shoes became scarce. Now, there must have been shoe rationing. I don't remember how they issued shoes, but, being in college, shoes were very important. And we were down to two or three pair of shoes. So you never let your friend borrow your shoes. When it rained at Auburn we all took our shoes off and carried 'em. Some big reporter from New York City came down to see how southern college girls were living during the war, and he found us walking around the campus barefooted. So he went back to New York and wrote this long article, how southern women went to college without shoes on. Well, the Dean of Women called us all into a big assembly and she said, 'Now, girls, I don't care if it's your only pair of shoes. Put them on when you walk across the campus.' She said, 'We can't have publicity like this in New York about our southern campus.' So we all then wore our shoes. If they fell apart, they fell apart."

 To see / hear Katherine Phillips' interview, go HERE.

This interview has me musing about shoes and going barefoot.  When I was a child, I spent entire summers running around barefoot.  Until one day I felt something tickling the bottom of my foot.  I held my foot up to my mother and told her something was tickling me.  She gasped.  Grabbed me by the hand.  Hauled me into the kitchen and wrapped a tea towel around my foot.  End of story - my first set of stitches.  I still have a very faint, funny Y shaped scar on the bottom of my foot.  We never found whatever it was that I stepped on, but from that day onward, I was commanded to wear my shoes!

My youngest child would dearly love a world where no one wears shoes or long pants.  Or at least a world that would allow him to go barefoot, dressed in a pair of shorts - year round.  It doesn't matter how hot or cold, wet or dry it is outside, this child dresses as though he lives near the equator.  My oldest child often runs (as in running more than 5 miles at a time) barefoot on the golf course adjacent to his dad's house.  The youngest loves to run with him, sans shoes of course.  I fret they might step on an unseen danger (as in my childhood) and do permanent damage to their feet.  Knock on wood.  My oldest claims his feet never hurt when he runs barefoot on grass (this coming from a former cross country runner, who had access to the latest and greatest technical running shoes from Nike, their team sponsor.)

My sweetheart is pining for a pair of these:

He almost broke down and purchased a pair in Gruene, Texas.  I thought he wanted them for the comfort of walking around 'almost barefoot'.  Nope.  He likes the idea of the 'awesome footprints' they would leave behind ... (?)

And wouldn't you know it ....... walking barefoot 'for one day' has become a political / social statement:

Which inspired this blogger's post: "Going Barefoot Sucks !! And other ...."  A sampling of the intrepid barefooted college student's insights:
Let's face it. Unless it's in accordance with your will, going barefoot downright sucks. Today was "A day without shoes" day, by Tom's shoes. (check 'em out online.) I woke up to find a torrential monsoon out my window. Initially I wanted to forget barefoot day and put on my boots. But then I thought, you know, that's the whole point. People across the globe are not afforded the option of putting their shoes on when they feel like it. They walk barefoot rain or shine or snow or WHATEVER!!
 A few things I've noticed today:
-Within 5 minutes of my trek to the Psych building, my feet were already being rubbed raw with the rough sidewalks.
-I couldn't walk as fast I normally walked because it hurt and I had to dodge worm guts that were strewn across the pavement. (I'm grossed out about that sort of thing even with my shoes on. Seriously! I was one stride away from vomiting.)
-I looked at the ground pretty much the entire time I walked. I didn't want to step on worms or sharp rocks. Which I inevitably did anyway.
-Aside from the rain I didn't feel like walking around as much. Duh. That's a given.
-I was exceedingly grateful for smooth surfaces.
-I really appreciate the fact that God has blessed me so well that I can own as many shoes as I'd want.
 I have to say that the experience was enlightening. I thought about it and I concluded that I couldn't do a lot without shoes. I couldn't play soccer without my cleats, go rock climbing without those rubber soles, go running without getting cut up, and needless to say, I could barely walk up and down the side walk. Now, I wonder how I can bless others.....

Wow.  Who knew something as simple as walking barefoot could inspire a spiritual meditation on the value of shoes ???!!!

Well, TOMS shoes did.


soubriquet said...

I know that in britain during the second world war, there was no specific shoe rationing, but most shoe-makers were busy making boots, belts, cases, all manner of things for the war effort, so shoes were hard to come by, and had to be repaired, rather than replaced.

I was never very good at going barefoot. my feet seemed to attract thorns, sharp stones, broken glass and other things that pierced my skin and sent me hopping and stumbling. When I became a keen canoeist/kayaker, I cut my foot very badly on some rusty old metal thing in the river Thames, It bled so profusely, that the inside of the canoe looked like a horror movie. After that I always wore a filthy pair of canvas yachting shoes, Dunlop Magister, by brand, they had ossum soles, so grippy, I'd bet you could walk up a wet glass window without slipping. But for years, I've hankered after shoes with toes. Gruene Texas, is the only place where I've actually found them.

Damn, I should have bought a pair.

Barefoot, for me, is exemplified by the feel of sand under your toes on the beach. But I'm the guy whose feet will find the broken bottle under the sand.

soubriquet said...

I'm also very aware that in many countries, people pick up nasty burrowing parasites, that enter via the soles of the feet.


Adullamite said...

"And we were down to two or three pair of shoes."

Down to 2 or 3 pairs?
How rich can you be? We only ever had one pair, and that had to last.

goatman said...

Oddly enough I knew a guy named Tom who went AWOL from the army, arrived at our abode in San Antonio, threw his two pair of army boots into the trash and headed out to the streets barefoot. Within a week he was walking on hot-tar streets and sidewalks happily free of all pain and memory of the green-machine.
Aptly imbued with thick skin he then headed off to the rest of his life. . .

soubriquet said...

Adullamite, one pair? One pair!... Luxury.
We had to share a pair between five of us.
Oh aye. They were happy days though.

Relax Max said...

One pair for 5 people? I wish! We didn't even know what shoes were until we were in high school. And it was only years later we learned some people's shoes didn't come stuffed with cardboard over the holes. Our entire school had to share one pair. And they didn't match. Not in color or size or even in sex.

Relax Max said...

But you are right about those being the good old days. I remember Yvette was our class valedictorian. Cute as a button, though she had unfortunately lost a leg in an car wreck back in eighth grade. We let her wear the white shoe when she gave her graduation speech.

red dirt girl said...

Okay you boys are really making me laugh, but it is very late here and I've had a patch of very bad news -so I can't really process the theme of these comments ---- I'll get back to you on it.

If you haven't already - you really should listen to Katherine Phillips' interview - just listening to her saying 'war' - as in 'wo-wah' is truly a delight. A real southern belle that lady ...


soubriquet said...

In our school it was considered an honour to hold the school shoe.
Of course, I never got to wear it.

We used to tar our feet twice a year. It worked fine, so long as you didn't stand still too long in summer.

Arch E. Pelargonium said...

You people have actually touched shoes?
Seen them with your own eyes?

And all these years, I've thought them just a rumour. If it weren't for the sharpness of the coral, that prevents me from getting to the sea, I'd build a boat and travel to your wonderful lands to see these mythical wonders.

How do they work?

red dirt girl said...

Sharing shoes .... that sounds almost... socialistic !!


Dave Renfro said...

I have some friends who are into the whole minimalist running thing. I think they're crazy. I'm a maximalist runner myself. My trail shoes, though, have a heel-to-toe drop of about 9 millimeters compared to 12 millimeters for my road shoes. I can feel the difference and really like it. I'm intrigued by some of the low-drop and zero-drop shoes out there from a biomechanics standpoint, but only if they have a ton of cushion, and only for short fun runs under six hours. For long runs, I feel adequately "connected to the trail" in my squishy shoes, thank you. But knock yourself out, Soub, I'll gain more respect for you every time I hear your unprotected heels smacking the pavement. You are one tough son-of-a-bitch!

Relax Max said...

Unfortunately, the white school shoe was not female. It was one of those male white platform shoes of the golden age of disco that some men wore back in the mid 1970s, complete with white belt and Bulgarian pimp pork pie hat with a long pheasant feather. Soub will remember. In fact, Soub probably still has a couple of those uber-hip leisure suits hanging at the back of his closet. Complete with hand painted shirts with the big collars. Those were the days, eh Soub? Anyway, Yvette didn't mind the male platform shoe. It wasn't like it made her limp or anything. She had the ankle for it too, and that was good because it was a goodly drop. Say 81 millimeters.

red dirt girl said...

@Max - you know, when you aren't trying to serve me up on a platter, you're actually extremely funny ...

the girl in the red quote
i meant 'cloak'


bulletholes said...

I have a scar on the bottom of my right foot too. Its very ticklish, and keeps me from going barefoot most of the time.
If you want to make me howl, get me down and ticle me there.

red dirt girl said...

In the wrong hands, cowboy, that COULD be dangerous information ... :)


bulletholes said...

And I do I do love the wrong hands.