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.
First up is a story from September, 1963, which is pretty-much pre-hippie.
3 PLANE PASSENGERS TRAVEL SHOELESS AFTER BOMB SCARE
MIAMI, Fla. AP — Three pairs of empty shoes and three barefooted airline passengers were reunited after a bomb scare separated them.
They parted yesterday when National Airlines flight 701 from Washington to Miami stopped in Jacksonville after an inebriated passenger mumbled something about a bomb being aboard. The FBI declined to identify the man.
Capt. J. K. Pope ordered everyone to take off their shoes and evacuate through an emergency chute to the airport runway.
The Miamians—Allen Morris and his wife and James McCaughan—decided against waiting two hours for the next flight and took another plane. The shoes arrived later.
Can you imagine that happening today?
Lose your shoes? Just fly barefoot.
But now contrast that to this much longer article, or maybe I should say opinion column, by Henry J. Taylor, which appeared in November of 1967. (It’s actually a rather interesting discussion about the meaning of liberty.)
The Shoeless Hippies Fly Unfriendly Skies
WASHINGTON—It has been truly said, from Tacitus to Burke, that the essence of wise civil government lies in finding a tolerable balance between liberty and order. The search presents a thousand aspects. For a small slice of what this epic quest is all about, consider, if you please, the Case of the Shoeless Hippies.
The story, goes back about three years, to the time the airlines introduced “youth fares.” Under these authorized tariffs, applicable on certain days, young people may purchase tickets at discounts of up to 50 per cent for travel on a “space available” basis.
After the full-tariff passengers go aboard, the youngsters pass through the gate. It has been a fine thing for the airlines; during-the first six months of 1967, they took in $40 million from these cut-rate tickets.
WHEN THE SYSTEM was established, the flower people were barely in the bud. No one imagined the hippies, might one day present a problem of constitutional dimensions. But across the nation, hippies have been showing up at airports, barefoot, beaded and unbathed.
* * *
Alas, they smell. Their feet smell, it is said, and sometimes they smell all over. In the view of Aviation Daily, the hippies “shock and offend the regular patrons, and Aviation Daily has no doubt about what should be done: Throw ’em off. “The airlines should exercise their right to refuse passage to those not meeting cleanliness standards.”
I suspect that any smell was not coming from the feet; they were just being blamed for the overall smell.
But I also was impressed by the reaction to Aviation Daily—they actually limited themselves to a narrow solution to the problem: not meeting cleanliness standards. That is so much better than the broad solution so many would have come up with: banning bare feet.
Continuing . . .
VERY WELL, That is plain speech that any man can understand. But what are these “cleanliness standards”? Who fixes them? On what basis?
In truth, no such standards exist. The Federal Aviation Agency, in the best bureaucratic tradition, will not turn its nose to the issue. “The Congress has not given us statutory authority,” says a spokesman, “to make passengers bathe before boarding an airliner, unless it can be proven their (unwashed) presence has an adverse effect on aviation safety.”
I’m also surprised by the reaction of the ACLU. As I found out in my library cases, they’ve obviously forgotten what you knew about freedom.
And we also see the first airline to institute their broad “solution”.
Continuing . . .
This settles nothing. Irate passengers, full of respectability and outrage, are demanding order. The American Civil Liberties Union, as you might expect, has hurled itself into the hippies’ corner. The ACLU’s position is that barefooted man came into this world, and barefooted he may fly above it. The ACLU wants liberty. And all that has happened is that Eastern Air Lines, with approval of the Public Health Service, has laid down a rule that all passengers must be wearing shoes when they board.
* * *
Up to a point, the hippies surely have the right to smell like roses or to smell like something else. Non-contagious dirt lies beyond the sanitation laws.
THE AIRLINES, for their part, have a duty to haul any sober and non-violent passenger who pays the fare. They are common carriers, operating under certificate, and have no choice in the matter. But the respectable squares, caught inescapably in the confines of an airline cabin, also have rights; they have a right not to be affronted.
That is, they have a right not to be affronted excessively.
I like this guy. He has a good grasp on balancing the rights of everybody, of both sides.
Unfortunately, all too many didn’t, and still don’t.