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.
Here we go:
We had just about made up our mind that the world was getting better, that tolerance of others’ pleasure was not an unknown quanity, that the milk of human kindness was running hither and hither, that all in all we were approaching that blessed state wherein troubles are few and worries light. And now comes Blackwell, Oklaoma, and destroys our blissful state. That city, imagine it if you can, has decreed that girls must not wade barefoot.
We have seen mean men; we have seen bigoted men; but it is hard to conceive of a man who would object to a young girl in her teens wading barefooted in a pool of water. It reminds us of a statement we saw once “the nastiness is all in the mind.”
Do away with the barefoot boy and girl and we do away with much of the best in literature. The barefoot boy has been made a hero. To restrict him to shoes in summer time is about as mean as imprisoning a mocking bird, or some other wild bird which nature never intended to be molested. To develop naturally is to go barefooted.
The man who would force girls to wear stockings while wading must never have read “Maud Muller.” He must not know that many of the women of our land never wore shoes in the summer except when they went to church. Women like Lincoln’s mother went barefooted and it did not prevent their bringing into the world some of its greatest men.
We are about to overdo things. All this talk about the waywardness of the young boys and girls is silly. The styles are just as good now as they have ever been. The girls are as pure and the boys as manly. There have been wayward boys and girls ever since the forbidden fruit was taken in the Garden of Eden. There will be waywardness as long as boys and girls and men and women have the desire, the spirit of adventure, the love of daring that now and always have been part of the human race.
Let’s have some sense. If the girls want to take off their shoes and stockings and wade in a wading pool in a public park, they should be allowed to do so. To show one’s foot is no more vulgar than showing one’s hand. As well say they must wear gloves on the street.