We can answer that.
First, keep in mind what prompted the story I quoted (from 1977, which does seem quite late in the whole NSNSNS saga). The New Mexico Restaurant Association had started supplying such signs. I suspect some reporter saw the story about the signs, and then asked around Albuquerque. But the attitude (and other signs, probably even hand-written ones) had been there for a long time.
Here is a story (it appears to be a local column) from October 1, 1968 about those damn, dirty hippies.
Hippies Hurt Trade
Law Lacking To Make Cafe Visitors Clean
By Bob Brown
There simply isn’t any law against entering a restaurant barefooted. And, while waitresses and fry cooks must be neat and clean, the same isn’t true of customers.
That was the conclusion a city health official was forced to give a cafe owner in the university area recently.
Peter Griego, assistant health department director, said he received an appeal for help from a businessman who was being invaded by hippies. The man described his new customers as being barefooted, dirty and malodorous.
And to make matters worse they ordered only one drink and then helped themselves to several straws so each could have a sip.
Good paying customers were taking a look inside and then moved on. The restaurant man said he couldn’t just tell the hippies they were unwanted because one of them was a Negro and he feared the consequences should this individual claim discrimination.
“I had to tell the owner that while we could require waitresses and other employes be clean and neat we simply had no control over customers, ” said Griego. “I even pointed out that we are now requiring male employees with long hair to either wear a hair net, get a hair cut or find a job outside the food service field.”
Perhaps installing showers — as at swimming pool doors — is one solution. But this would surely discourage regular customers.
There must be a better way.
I think what we see here is not that bare feet, in and of themselves, were what were considered the problem. The problem was the hippies being dirty, and in particular, horrible-smelling. If it were just bare feet, I doubt we’d be in the situation we are in today.
But bare feet became a proxy for keeping out hippies and it has stuck.
Interestingly, two weeks after the above, another barefooted item appeared in the same newspaper’s “Joint Action Line”, a local question-answering and problem-solving column.
Here it is:
No Law Requires Cafe Waitresses To Wear Shoes
Q. I read in Action Line where a health official would be around to check on an Albuquerque waitress who was wearing her hair loose in a restaurant. Do health inspectors ever come around Reserve, N.M.? There the restaurant waitresses go barefooted. —R.N.M.
A. Yes, there are sanitarians who check on food service in public restaurants in all state counties. But, whether the restaurant is in Bernalillo or Catron (or any other county), there is no ordinance on bare-footed waitresses. On hair, yes, but not a bare foot. Pete Griego, of the Health Department here, says he can now enforce the ordinance which requires either sex to wear a net if he or she has long, loose hair.
We do see that people were concerned that it was a health code violation. But we also see that there was no such thing. That’s good to know.
This story even had a bit of a nice rejoinder. A week after that, we heard from the waitress herself (who sounded like she could easily have been any of us).
Barefooted Girl Thanks Column For Publicity
Q. I am the barefooted waitress R.N.M. was asking about in the Journal Action Line (Oct. 13). Since this appeared, several customers have asked my shoe size in case I am forced by the Health Dept. to wear shoes. I handle no food nor dishes with my feet and friends keep me supplied with soap. My wages and tips aren’t the greatest but since your comment, my tips have increased greatly. May I thank Action Line? —J.A.T., The barefooted waitress from Reserve.
A. Sure, and if we get down Reserve way, we’ll drop by for a cup of coffee.
First, note that the column did not get all indignant about her waitressing barefoot. “We’ll drop by for a cup of coffee”.
And this story didn’t seem to generate any additional outrage that I could find. It was just accepted, and okay.
That’s the way we all want it.