As I was researching my entry on tetanus, I happened on two other newspaper stories that I found rather amusing.
The first one is an admonition not to go barefoot because of the threat of tetanus (even though, as I noted, nails quite often went through shoes, and that any exposure to soil was a danger, even firecrackers). But this story, from the New York Time in 1909, has a twist . . .
The careful mother does not let her children run barefoot, no matter how they clamor to do it. If they wish to go shoeless let them wear bathing sandals without stockings.
The germ of tetanus, better known as lockjaw, is frequently found in the soil, and a child with even a small scratch or cut takes big risks. For girls, especially, running barefoot should be a forbidden pleasure, as it makes the feet broad and flat.
Oh, yeah. God forbid that girls might end up with feet that are broad and flat. It is so much better that they learn to properly wear high heels and ruin their knees. It is so much better that they wear narrow pointy shoes that squeeze their feet into an unnatural position and give them bunions that make the big toe point way off to the side instead of straight ahead the way they are supposed to. It is so much better that they get a good collection of corns on their toes.
This next story has a great observation, and was written in 1901. The context of it is that it was a common theme for successful people to make a big deal of having pulled themselves up from their bootstraps, and to emphasize how poor they started out. It would also be used as an exhortation to the young. One example is how Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin and went barefoot. Thus, you, too, could grow up to be President. James Garfield was another example, as it was often stressed that he drove mules barefoot along the Ohio & Erie towpath.
Anyways, two cute observations in one story:
Why should the millionaire boast because he started in life as a barefoot boy? Half the people in the country did that . . . and the other half started in as barefoot girls.