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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

The Barefoot Boy, Modernized

Last week we heard the story about the Children in a Democracy report cover that was torn off because it depicted 3 barefoot children on their way to school, and the government offical thought that reflected badly on the United States.

In one of the newspapers of the time there appeared a poem that mocked that decision.

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Children in a Democracy

I have a picture for you to take a look at. See if you can figure out what was wrong with it, so much so that it was ripped off the cover of an official governmental report.

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I recently saw a conversation in which a barefooter was chastised by family for being “disrespectful” to them. It was said that being barefoot was traditionally a disrespectful action. Others countered that bare feet have traditionally been considered respectful, and that it’s only fairly recently (and mainly in the U.S.) that many have considered bare feet disrespectful.

So, have bare feet traditionally been considered respectful?

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Let me finish of with what happened with our barefoot schoolboy in 1903. We found out about his father’s request in A Barefoot Schoolboy. We saw the letter his father sent to the Board of Education, and some of the motivation in More on the Barefoot Schoolboy.

How did the Board rule?

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Yesterday I presented the New York Times story about Harold Smith, whose father Victor petitioned the Jersey City Board of Education to allow Harold, age 10, to go barefoot to school there.

Here’s another story, also from before the Board met to decide his fate, with a bit more information.

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A Barefoot Schoolboy

These days practically all schools require shoes. That’s just the way it is, and I suspect it is that way just because . . . that’s just the way it has been.

A lot of that is just cultural. Here’s a story from the September 12, 1903 New York Times about a father petitioning the school to let his son attend his Jersey City school barefoot. Just the thought was enough to make the news . . . in New York City. Meanwhile, in rural districts all over America, large numbers of children were attending school barefoot without their school districts batting an eye.

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Animous to Bare Feet

Here’s a story from June of 1969, from the time when hippies and bare feet were in full swing.

And those in authority were not reluctant to arrest you for going barefooted, even if they had to make stuff up.

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A Remembrance of Times Past

As barefootedness disappeared back in the early 1900s you would see all sorts of essays bemoaning the trend. Going barefoot really was considered one of life’s great pleasures.

Here is a remembrance from the fall of 1936.

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At the White House

Can you tour the White House barefoot? Well, you could back in the 1960s, but I doubt it would succeed today.

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Feminism . . . Circa 1914

I had no idea that the words “feminism” and “feminist” first came into use in the early 1900s. (I was aware of suffragettes and such movements, I just didn’t know that the word itself was that old.)

But a newspaper column in 1914 related feminism to our favorite subject: barefooting.

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An Attitude

Here’s a story about busybodies. It’s an editorial from the Ada, Oklahoma newspaper in the summer of 1922.

It seems another town in Oklahoma decided it was improper for girls to go barefoot.

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Hippies Flying High

We’ve long suspected that one reason we barefooters have problems today is because there was a reaction to hippies going barefooted in the late-60s/early-70s.

I’ve found some old articles that suggest they also led to restrictions on flying barefoot.

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A Levi’s Advertisement

When I was doing the research for my articles on Ellen Tilton Holmsen, I happened upon what I thought was an interesting advertisement for Levi’s Jeans.

Let me set the scene.

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When last we left Ellen Tilton Holsmen, she had just finished scandalizing Reno while waiting for her quickie divorce. After all, shorts and bare feet on a pretty lady going about town (in 1934) just weren’t normal. And she wore slacks to a courtroom.

But she wasn’t finished.

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Today let’s look at a colorful character from 1934. Ellen (Mildred) Tilton Holmsen was a bona fide member of society’s elite, even appearing in the Social Register.

Well, at least she did before she came to the public’s attention.

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