In one of the comments, Martin asked about whether kids used to go barefoot because they liked it or because they were poor.
As part of my answer, I mentioned that there were poems from back then about kids loving to go barefoot. Here is one of them, from 1903, written by Burges Johnson:
It’s more fun goin’ barefoot than anythin’
There ain’t a single nother thing that helps
yer feelin’s so.
Some days I stay in Muvver’s room a get-
tin’ in her way;
An’ when I’ve bothered her so much she sez,
”Oh, run an’ play!”
I say, “Kin I go barefoot?” En she say,
”If y’ choose”–
Nen I alwuz wanter holler when I’m pullin’
off my shoes!
It’s fun a-goin’ barefoot when yer playin’
‘Cause robbers would be noisy an’ Indians
Unless they had their shoes off when they
crep’ up in th’ night,
An’ folks can’t know they’re comin’ till they
get right close in sight!
An’ I’m surely goin’ barefoot every day when
I get old,
An’ haven’t got a nurse to say I’ll catch my
death o’ cold!
An’ if yer goin’ barefoot, yer want t’ go out-
Y’ can’t stretch out an’ dig yer heels in
stupid hard-wood floors
Like you kin dig ‘em in th’ dirt! An’
where th’ long grass grows,
The blades feel kinder tickley and cool be-
tween yer toes.
So when I’m pullin’ off my shoes I’m
mighty ‘fraid I’ll cough,–
‘Cause then I know Ma’d stop me ‘fore I
got my stockin’s off!
If y’ often go round barefoot there’s lot o’
things to know,–
Of how t’ curl yer feet on stones so they
won’t hurt y’ so,–
An’ when th’ grass is stickley an’ pricks
y’ at a touch,
Jes plunk yer feet down solid an’ it don’t
hurt half so much.
I lose my hat mos’ every day. I wish I did
Er else I wisht I was so poor I hadn’t none