Here’s a story from the Hutchinson (Kansas) News Herald from January 1947. It’s about a barefoot boy who knows what he prefers . . . even in winter.
There’s a real contrast with the way this would have turned out today.
See what you think.
Barefoot By Choice
County Commissioner C. O. “Charley” Hitchcock thought he was seeing things late Monday afternoon, but after investigating, he found out it was the real thing.
Hitchcock was walking through the newstand in the lobby of the Wiley building when he observed a boy of about 6 or 7 gazing contentedly at some funny pictures. Glancing downward, Charley noticed the youth was barefoot and as unconcerned as if it was a hot summer day instead of mid-winter.
Hitchcock walked up to the boy and said, “Come on, son, let’s get some shoes.”
The reply was: “I don’t want any and wouldn’t wear ‘em anyhow.”
Further questioningg by the county commissioner revealed that the boy had a pair of shoes at home, but he didn’t like to wear them—and he would give no reason. Hitchcock attempted to convince him that wearing shoes was the custom in winter time, but the boy still refused.
Finally Hitchcock realized he had met a stalemate and walked on, leaving the boy looking at a funny book. The commissioner failed to get the boy’s name or address, but he described him as “a nice looking little kid and fairly well dressed in overalls.”
Wow. The kid knew what he wanted, and got it.
Even more surprisingly, a government official respected that.
These days not only would the kid have been taken into custody, but they would have searched out his parents and probably taken them into custody too, charging them with child endangerment.
And while there is no word that any harm came to the kid (really, why would there?), you can be sure there would have been a followup story if it had.
And these days, libraries and statehouses and public transportation systems presume to tell grown adults what they can and cannot do barefoot, for supposed “safety’s sake”.
Times sure have changed.