Last week I mentioned about Porter “Barefoot” Dean, a fishing guide from Boulder Junction, Wisconsin. I showed this statute commemorating him that sits there in town:
It seems that a lot of places have their local “colorful character” and quite often that person is a barefooter. Until not too recently, that sort of barefoot color was considered interesting. Local townsfolk would adopt their barefooter, and they could even reflect a bit off their fame (or notoriety, so to speak). Probably the most famous colorful character of this sort was Johnny Appleseed. But Porter “Barefoot” Dean made a pretty big impact through the 1970s.
I managed to find quite a bit about him online. He was a fishing guide who was known for two things. First, of course, for going barefoot. Second, for packing really, really nice lunches for his clients for when he was out guiding them.
It also doesn’t sound as if his going barefoot cost him any business, or fame. According to a few sources, President Eisenhower was among those of the famous who went fishing with him and used him as his guide.
According to this article, Dean
stopped wearing shoes after an uncomfortable World War II stint on the hot sands of North Africa, according to the late writer/historian Tom Hollatz, and he was famous for his story-telling, drinking and hobnobbing with celebrities. But, Hollatz added, he was loved for a friendliness that set the tone for the whole village.
Hollatz went on to say that Dean “was our Sasquatch, our tourist attraction.”
Porter Dean also went barefoot both summer and winter. I think that might be beyond me, at least in northern Wisconsin. It gets really, really cold up there. I don’t mind a bit of winter snow, but that is just too much.
Finally, here’s a story regarding Porter Dean from “The White Earth Snowshoe Guide Book”, by Tom Hollatz:
Unless you are the famed north woods guide Porter Dean of Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, who never wears shoes much less snowshoes, you will need snowshoes to move about in any off-road deep-snow country.
Porter, who is known far and wide as “Barefoot,” tromps through spring, summer, fall, and even parts of winter in bare feet. Once a mild panic began among Boulder Junction citizens when they found bear tracks in the snow outside of the Junction Bar. The bar owner got his rifle, and went searching for this fearless bear which had wandered too close to town. The bear posse’s search soon ended at Porter Dean’s doorstep. The bear had only been “Barefoot” wandering through the snow in search of a beer.
Well, needing a beer could make anybody head out into the snow barefoot.