Here’s a rather interesting old story regarding a barefoot Congressman’s wife.
It’s from Drew Pearson’s column from 1957.
In Washington Too
Mrs. Merwin Coad, wife of the able young Congressman from Iowa leads a relaxed life both in Iowa and the Maryland suburbs of Washington. Frequently, in hot weather, she works around the house and in the garden without shoes.
The other day she was driving to the grocery store in the family car when she realized she was driving in her bare feet. Mrs. Coad is the daughter of a minister. She is also the wife of a hard working Congressman whose career she doesn’t want to handicap — even with bare feet.
So figuring that Maryland supermarkets required a certain amount of sophistication, she turned around, returned home and donned a pair of shoes. Then she headed back for the grocery store.
When she entered the supermarket, the first sight to meet her eyes was a pair of bare feet. Mrs. Coad looked up.
It was the wife of Rep. Jimmy Roosevelt, accompanied by the eldest son of the late President of the U.S. Jimmy, however, wore shoes.
One thing that is interesting is the casualness of how barefooting is seen. It’s seen as maybe a bit odd, and not something a Congressman’s wife really ought to do, but it’s really just a matter of “sophistication”. We also get the sense that maybe going barefoot into an Iowa supermarket wasn’t that big a deal.
The really interesting thing, in my mind, is the concern of Mrs. Coad. She is not concerned about a possible “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” sign. She is not concerned about being tossed from the supermarket for being barefoot. She’s not concerned that the store owner is afraid she might step on a piece of glass. No, her only concern is being perceived as a rural hick.
I think that makes it pretty clear that the NSNSNS signs really are the result of stores wanting to keep out hippies. We had strong indications of that before, but I think this story really emphasizes that.
NSNSNS signs—they’re really fairly recent.