I’ve written a few times about the 1903 story of Victor Smith, the New Jersey boy who wanted to be able to go to school barefoot. In this entry, we got the story of his father specially asking the Newark School Board for permission. And, in this followup story, we saw that that permission was granted.
But what a difference location can make. We know that throughout the south during that period, there were barefoot schoolchildren all over the place. The big issues for those schools was just getting a schoolhouse built and supplied, not whether their students wore shoes or not.
Location also makes a difference in how the Victor Smith situation was perceived. In a place like New Jersey, a barefooted schoolchild was a big deal. But even in another big city like Chicago, not so much.
All this is just a long lead-in to another story I found about Victor Smith. This story was in the November 7, 1903 Chicago Eagle, page 4. They (somewhat cleverly) titled their news snippets from all over as “Eaglets”, and here is what they say:
A New Jersey board of education has recently decided that a boy may go to school without any shoes on if he desires. The school trustees in many a small district would be more astounded at having any one doubt the right of a boy to go barefoot than was the board in the New Jersey city at the request that this youngster might not be compelled to wear shoes.