I came across a rather whimsical article the other day.
This is a story from 1950, in the Racine Journal Times.
Your Feet and Your Future
George Fitzgerald, a founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Feet, should run for president on a platform of sidewalks padded with six inches of sponge rubber, so that everyone can go barefoot, weather permitting. The tanners, shoe dealers and footwear manufacturers would then buy up all surplus eggs to throw at George whenever he appeared on his campaign, and thus relieve the government of finding a solution of the national egg problem.
But Mr. Fitzgerald runs a shoe store himself. And what he has seen about the way people torture their feet has given him “the creeps.” He is sure that corns bunions and calluses are a first cousin to a rheumatic heart and are aging people long before their time. When a woman’s back aches the trouble, says Mr. Fitzgerald, is not in some allergy or because she has stopped too much over a tub, but comes from the fact that she insists upon packing her size 9 feet into size 6 shoes.
Come to think of it seriously a sidewalk with six inches of sponge rubber would be a pretty welcome thing, and what could be more refreshing and wholesome than for everyone to go barefoot again. One of the wonders of the age to men is how women can sail down the street on those high heels and maintain their balance while they prevent their ankle bones from cracking. But women are mysterious creatures and endure many hardships just to please the male of the species, although they are quick to find a place to sit down and to kick the torturing things they call shoes off and five their feet a rest.
Men designed rubber heels to soften the shock of rapid and heavy tramping. Perhaps some day they will come to that sidewalk of sponge rubber, cool and friendly. And if they could be induced to go barefoot in appropriate months and leave their cars at home they could strengthen their bodies and refresh their outlook by gaily navigating their way to work.
Mr. Fitzgerald’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Feet needs contributions. Talking about the beauties of change and the happiness of a new condition will get us nowhere. We need a few miles of that new kind of sidewalk and then some sturdy but aged pioneers to set a barefoot example. Change is everywhere, but it is too slow.
While the article is whimsical, the Society really did exist. The announcement of its organization appeared in March of 1941.
Here is part of another story about the Society, from the Lima News in 1946.
Stand up, kick off your shoes, take a deep breath—and toss your shoes out the window.
That’s the advice straight from the headquarters of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Feet, located in Brooklyn.
George J. Fitzgerald, president of SPFC, has never seen you, or your shoes either, but he claims that’s the most sensible action to be taken by most people.
* * *
“If folks listen to us their ‘dogs’ may bark once in a while,” he said. “But, by golly, they’ll never bite.”
Of course, there’s a catch. What was Fitzgerald’s profession (you may have caught it buried in the first story)? He owned a shoe store.
But I would also like to point out that people have know for a very long time how much damage shoes do to feet. There are even occasional efforts to do something about it. But give up shoes?