Going Barefooted

 

Photo by Hollie Harmon

The world of my childhood was experienced with two bare feet.  Growing up in Montgomery, Alabama, in the 1960’s no children wore shoes in the summertime except perhaps the sons and daughters of the newly imported – families who moved to Montgomery from other environs, where apparently shoes were a sign of civilization.  Not here.  Not among the poor and not even among the rich, or at least those deemed rich by the standard of the sleepy town along the banks of the Alabama River.

Shoes were not required for school, prompting uninitiated newcomers regularly to visit the school principal offering to buy shoes for the poor barefoot children streaming into the school each day, the children of the local doctors, lawyers and business leaders – the classmates of their children.  The esteemed local pediatrician, wise beyond his time, assured parents that barefoot was best. He had his medical reasons – but I just thought he loved us.

A whole world of sensation is lost on those who go through life wearing shoes.  Imagine a day with gloves on your hands, how encumbered you would feel, how much you would miss. Yet your feet in shoes are missing even more as their contact with the ground is constant and not the intermittent touch of hands.

I wore shoes in the winter but as spring warmed the ground, and young plants unfurled tender leaves, my own tender soles emerged, free at last.   First outings were always a bit shocking, sensitive feet aware of the rough texture of the sidewalk, a slight prickle from the pine straw, the gritty oiliness of a particular spot in the carport, a vulnerability to menacing stickers, hiding in friendly lawns.

A simple trip to the grocery store, on the first really hot day of summer, was an adventure when barefoot.  The walk across an asphalt parking lot was both a challenge and a physics lesson.  We’d dart from one painted white line to another, my little brother and I, feet cooling to just below the scorching point, before heading off across wide expanses of black.  We mastered principles of thermodynamics by touch – yellow lines were cooler than the asphalt but not as cool as the white lines, rough pavement was cooler than smooth.

The contrast upon entering was dramatic, passing through heavy automatic doors, which threatened to grab an errant bare toe.  The floor felt impossibly smooth and cool, delightful when freshly waxed and clean, not so great when gritty and dusty.  We’d walk past the fruits and vegetables, up and down aisles of canned goods, finally approaching the freezer aisles, with air and floor temperature dropping precipitously.  Bare feet became cold feet, and we’d ask mom to hurry up but don’t forget the ice cream. Then back out we’d go, through the toe – eating doors, across black pavement hotter still in the heat of the day, standing beside the car waiting for mom to unlock it, hopping from foot to foot.

Back home we would drive to my suburban neighborhood, with grassy lawns and concrete sidewalks.  My feet knew each better than my eyes.   St. Augustine grass is a wonder of the natural world, and you simply haven’t lived until you have walked through a lush St. Augustine lawn barefoot on a hot day, so cool underfoot, drawing heat from bare feet, when the air is so heavy, soft and hot.  I still do not understand how this can be.

I became a connoisseur of concrete.  Some is too rough.  Concrete with exposed aggregate is a cruel and inhumane invention of those out to mangle little knees and condemn barefoot children to gingerly pick their way down the driveway. Some is too smooth, slippery for bare feet and must be crossed with care when wet.  But broom-finished concrete is just right, smooth but not slippery underfoot, the perfect palate for painting a storm’s advent, big raindrops leaving dark splotches, more and more until all is darkened.  After the rain we headed back outside, walking across the wet concrete – the warm surface covered in cool rain.  Dust settled. Steam rising.

People wonder at this shoeless lifestyle.  Didn’t your feet get hurt?  Yes, they did on occasion.  I don’t know that modern children even understand the meaning of the phrase   “a stumped toe” as we called it in Central Alabama.  (In other areas, I have learned, it was called a “stubbed toe.”)  But by whatever name, they were a nuisance.  I’m running free  — then a surprise of pain interrupts my steps. I look down and see blood covering torn skin.  “How bad is it?” I wonder. The garden hose will tell, the dull sting of water on exposed flesh.  The first water is hot, warmed by the sun in the snaking hose lying on the grass, and eventually turns cooler, but never cold.

After picking out bits of dirt from the wound, I decide mom needs to see it.  I remember sitting on the kitchen counter, feet in the sink, mom’s hands making it feel better.  Cool water from the faucet, followed by sharply stinging soap and finally a thorough rinsing.  Mom applies goopy antibiotic ointment and two Bandaids – one over the top, one around the toe holding the other in place.  I head back outside, barefoot still…of course.

By late summer, the injuries are rare.  The calluses on my feet are so thick that even black asphalt is mastered.  Small shards of glass can be painlessly pulled out of the thick, tough pads leaving cuts without pain or blood.  Splinters are encased, like bugs in amber – no pain, no infection, no problem.  My summer-toughened feet give me a sense of strength.   I’m armored and able to move quickly and carelessly, impervious to the challenges of the ground.

A child running barefoot in late summer is freedom and joy.   I’m running down streets, across sidewalks, through wooded lots, and undeveloped fields, hot sun on skin, humid air moving through sweaty curls, and the ever-changing feel of the ground under bare feet.  Strong feet, limbs and lungs, conditioned from long days spent playing outside, enable me to run on and on, just for the joy of it.

Nowadays, while some southern children still run free at play, at schools and shops shoes are required.  But there is one last sanctuary for unshod children – one I find especially appropriate.  Like little cherubs, they still patter through the halls of certain Montgomery churches, the girls in French hand-sewn dresses, the boys in smocked shirts which button on to little short pants.  No shoes for either.

In some ways they are remnant of a bygone era, but perhaps they are also a foretaste of heavenly glory.  For I have hopes of going barefooted in heaven.  After all, at the burning bush God told Moses to take off his shoes for he was standing on Holy Ground.  In heaven all the ground will be Holy, and we will be free –  free of sin, free of sickness, free of painful stickers, and, Lord willing, free of shoes.   Amen.

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55 thoughts on “Going Barefooted

  1. becwillmylife

    I love this; you words tell such a colorful story! I had many a stubbed toe…yes we called it stubbed…growing up in the plains of central Kansas. Shoes were requried in school and church and when it was cold, but the rest of the time we were barefoot too. Love the photo of the boys too. Precious.

    Reply
  2. Arlene

    This made me smile and brought back vivid memories of my shoeless freedom!! I love bare feet too and would give my mom fits when I’d run outside in the snow sans shoes. I don’t think I owned a pair of slippers until I was an adult and they were a gift.

    Reply
    1. In-House Counsel Post author

      Oh, I think I would draw the line at going barefoot in SNOW! That was not a texture I experienced in Montgomery, Alabama! Where did you grow up? Would most kids go barefoot there in the summer?

      Reply
  3. chalkdustfairy

    Great writing and sweet picture; brought back barefooted memories for me, as well. Summers on the farm…I used to change sprinkler lines in my dad’s grain field barefooted (or just wearing socks) because the mud did not stick to my feet that way. My dad thought I was crazy. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Kristen Bachmann

    Remembering when our family interviewed at Trinity Presby. in Montgomery when John was our toddler and noticed children at church and still at school shoeless. The explanation made perfect sense then and now!

    Reply
    1. In-House Counsel Post author

      Yes! That is one of the churches. It is really quite lovely. I am not sure this is still done but until recently a lot of flower girls and ring bearers in weddings were barefoot. Although no brides, thank goodness. There are limits!

      Reply
      1. sylvia

        Yes, the children do still go barefoot at Trinity Pres. We are new to the south and found it to be such an adorable practice. All those children in such traditional outfits, big hair bows and little pink feet! I hope they never stop. 🙂

    1. In-House Counsel Post author

      It is a very happy memory. I really enjoyed diving in to it for the essay. Even to this day, though I rarely go barefoot outside, I get mixed feelings when calluses get scrubbed away in a pedicure!

      Reply
  5. Ray's Mom

    i have nominated you for the Reader Appreciation Award. to claim go to Justice for Raymond and follow the same directions, copy the badge. I love your content.

    Reply
    1. In-House Counsel Post author

      Thank you so much. I appreciate your reading and nominating me for the Award! Glad to brighten your day and I appreciate the good work you are doing in your blog to work for justice for so many.

      Reply
    1. In-House Counsel Post author

      I had remembered about the different color lines but the smooth verses dark I had forgotten until I was thinking about the essay and talking to my husband. I told him, i know that this sounds crazy but it seems the smooth was hotter- and he explained that the smooth would have more contact points with the foot whereas on the rough there would be a mix of air and pavement. Makes sense! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  6. disciplinedvault

    Love your post. I find it ironic that kids run around with barefeet and are stil soft to the touch. Just like their carefree hearts. Adults have feet covered and they tend to be a little rough. Fitting since we as adults occasionally forget those little freedoms!

    Reply
  7. Beth Dodd

    When we flew in to Nashville for our home inspection back in 2008, Jed said he knew we were back in the South when our new neighbor, who was outside with her children in the backyard, came over to welcome us — gloriously barefooted. It was like, “Ahhh, at last we are home.”

    You have captured the essence of my childhood. We also played in the woods all day (most certainly shoeless) and kick the cans till way after dark, without laying eyes on a grown-up till we were back in our respective houses.

    Reply
    1. In-House Counsel Post author

      Good story. I knew I was back in the south (the “real south” coming back from Texas) one morning when I went outside and it just smelled like home. I grew up in a neighborhood that was being slowly developed. Vacant lots with wooded patches were our forest and former cattle fields our meadow. We would play outside all day then head home when the street lights came on.

      Reply
  8. Pingback: Going Barefooted | till you make it

  9. Renee Robinson

    Molly, as you know, I love this post since it is the title of my blog! Reading your barefoot experience brought back so many memories. And kids never really change. My kids still love going barefoot and have numerous times hopped in the car for an outing with no shoes. And we were “that family” with no shoes in the store 🙂 Thanks for the post!

    Reply
  10. Nodroppedstitches

    Absolutely love your post! I remember being allowed to run barefoot around the house and the beach but never when we went out shopping. Most stores had a “no shoes, no shirt, no service” sign out front. I guess growing up in Canada the culture and ideas are a bit different. My fondest memories are running through the cool wet grass under the sprinkler and burying my feet deep down into the hot sand at the beach. Having to wear shoes more often though I guess I had sensitive feet. I always had trouble walking over the rocks to get to the ocean water and running across hot asphalt was too painful for me. Ironically, now that I’m older, I love to kick off my sandals and walk barefoot much more and I often forget that I don’t have anything on my feet.

    Reply
    1. In-House Counsel Post author

      Oh, the feel of wet grass under the sprinkler! I remember that! And we would play so long that the ground started to get mushy and we moved the sprinkler so as not to tear up the yard. I saw those signs (and don’t they sound rude!) but usually in Florida. I guess so many people there would try it. In Montgomery, it was just children going around barefoot and they just didn’t bother restraining us.

      Reply
  11. motherallie

    Wonderful post and beautiful ending line. Gave me the chills. “In heaven all the ground will be Holy, and we will be free – free of sin, free of sickness, free of painful stickers, and, Lord willing, free of shoes. Amen.”

    Reply
  12. Janelle

    One Sunday potluck morning, my three year old son surprised all my fellow church goers by sauntering through the sanctuary wearing ONLY his shoes. Well, cowboy boots, actually. I think his older brothers put him up to it.

    Reply
  13. Melinda

    Great post! Over the past year, I’ve been doing some informal research here in Lowndes County. Kids still don’t wear shoes based on the advice of that same Montgomery Doctor! Fine by the Speece kids—

    P.S. – You/your blog are all the talk on the Hayneville Square—at least in the Pharmacy where John and I had a nice chat about it last week!

    Reply
  14. kindparentsnetwork

    I am reading this with a smile on my face. I LOVE beaing barefoot, even at 32. My neighbors here in Maryland may think I’m weird but I hate shoes when it’s hot out. I’m teaching my daughter the same. I don’t make her put shoes on unless we’re getting in the car. (When we get to our unitarian Universalist church she takes them off, which I love.) Thank you so much for making me feel less weird! I think even though I was born in Buffalo and raised in Baltimore that I was born somewhat Southern. 🙂

    Reply
    1. In-House Counsel Post author

      Interesting…I ought to try it more now! In Houston recently I walked through a St. Augustine grass lawn, just to confirm that it really did feel cool even in the heat of the day. And I cannot resist the perfect mud puddle- always loved the feel of mud. When my kids were little I had the excuse of having fun with them in the mud!

      Reply
  15. Michela

    HI, while searching for childhood memories of the post-war generation (I was born in 1947) I’ve been lucky enough to come upon your wonderful site and read your moving barefooted memories ! I can relate very much to what you wrote, as I experienced much the same feelings of pleasure and freedom, going barefoot – from many thousand miles distance, being a little girl in Northern Italy. Please excuse my iffy English, as it is not my mother tongue.
    For ten months a year, I and my sister 3 years younger than me were typical urban middle-class children. We were always well dressed, almost elegant, often in white, with black leather shoes and white knee length socks. We never went out unsupervised, were well behaved (well, most of the time) and a little sad. But every summer, from late June till early September, we were both sent to the country where my grandmother and aunts lived.
    We travelled to the village by car, in a time when cars were still rare in Italy. We were smartly dressed, tidy and clean, and had to stay that way even in the countryside, where local children all went barefoot, with skimpy clothing, and the little ones stayed half-naked most of the time ! At that time, in the Fifties, the most modern Italian city and a Lombardy village were still two worlds apart, albeit only 50 miles apart.
    We were eagerly waiting for Mom and Dad to get back in town, and leave us free to “go native” as soon as possible. We hadn’t to wait long, as after a few days they were both bored sick by the village life, and left us with our dear granny, our aunts and many cousins. I still remember clearly that the first thing I did after they left was to ask granny to give me, and my sister, “normal” clothes, meaning a short, light, well worn, cotton dress like all my cousins used to wear. At the same time, I said goodbye to my shoes and socks and was finally free to roam about barefoot just like them ! The first few days were not easy, as my feet were still soft, but before long I was able to go wherever our cousins went and enjoy the summer like all the village children. We bathed in a little creek nearby, were free to roam about the fields, on the cows and sheep trails, and would only came back home for lunch and dinner, as dirty as the little pigs in the stay. After a few weeks I could walk barefoot in the rocky fields, as well as on the smooth paths in the woods. I still remember how the warm, soft sandy soil, and the occasional mud puddle, felt good between my toes, or how it felt good, coming in from the sun-baked pavement, to walk barefoot on the fresh tiles of the church floor.

    Thanks again for making me remember these golden summer days !
    Michela

    Reply
    1. In-House Counsel Post author

      Michela, I loved reading this! How very interesting. I was recently in Milan, Sondrio, and Bellagio in North Italy. I was struck by the dramatic differences even today in Milan and the village of Sondrio. It was like going back in time. Our hosts in Sondrio spoke of city cousins coming to the village for the summer. I can imagine how wonderfully cool and smooth the church tiles would feel on bare feet. What lovely memories of childhood in one of the most beautiful areas of the world. Thank you for this post.

      Reply
      1. dora77

        Hi, I can’t believe you were just a short time ago in Milan and in Northern Lombardy, which are just the same places I wrote about in my post ! I know very well all the places you mention : Milan is the city where I was born many long years ago (1947!) and lived until 1992 (but I still frequently go there, tomorrow for instance!), Bellagio is one of the most beautiful place in Northern Italy lake district, Sondrio is a small town but is the “capital” of Valtellina, the northernmost province of Lombardy near the Swiss border. The village of my childhood is just south of Sondrio, in the Bergamo province, not far from lake Iseo.
        In-House Counsel commented: “Michela, I loved reading this! How very interesting. I was recently in Milan, Sondrio, and Bellagio in North Italy. I was struck by the dramatic differences even today in Milan and the village of Sondrio. It was like going back in time. Our hosts “

  16. Beth Dodd

    What a treat to read your post, Michela! Thank you for sharing your sweet story. That which binds us always exceeds that which separates us. (Beth, Nashville, TN USA)

    Reply
    1. Michela

      Thank you, Beth, for your comment ! By sharing childhood memories, we can remember the simple pleasures we enjoyed as little girls: one, or in my case two, generations ago.
      In retrospective, what I find amazing is that a modern, urban, middle-class, “civilized”, well shod little girl, could translate almost instantly, and for two months, in a traditional, rural, peasant, “uncivilized” and barefooted one. For that I have to thank my grandmother and my aunt (mom’s sister) who really made me feel part of the family from the moment I arrived there, in every sense. They never thought for a moment to treat me any different to my cousins: same clothing, same food, same bed (literally: we slept three in a bed); inevitably, the same good old fashioned spanking of the kind my cousins frequently “enjoyed” for being naughty or just negligent …
      Michela

      Reply
  17. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

    what a stunning story of life in the South
    I didn’t know it was “stubbed toe”I learned something tonight
    your words poured over my mind like smooth golden Texas honey
    bringing back memories of my barefoot days,I even made it into high school
    by crocheting a toe ring and lacing the yarn around my ankles to look like I was wearing shoes…I didn’t get caught till I was a junior LOLs..
    I still go barefooted today when I can, I am carefully laying new paths through all my gardens for that perfect feel of earth on my feet…
    I think humans especially Americans having so many illnesses because they are no longer connecting to earth, receiving the energy She gives to us freely…
    I am so glad Grumpa Joe pointed me in your directions…
    this is such a feel good space….even in the bits of sadness I have read…
    not sure that makes sense…I was told I am strangely different, I think its because I refuse to give up and wear shoes all the time LOLs..
    Thank you for a lovely read I shall read more
    Take Care…
    You Matter..
    )0(
    Blessed Be
    ladyblue

    Reply
  18. Pingback: Consider the Trees « In-House Counsel

  19. Melissa Crandall

    Being a barefoot kid to this day, I loved this. When I first married my husband Ed, he was appalled that I went barefoot in all sorts of weather. Having grown up in Arizona, that was a foreign notion to him. When my stepkids came to visit in summer, I’d encourage them to barefoot while he was constantly harranging them to put on shoes. “Why?” I asked. “They might get cut. They might stub a toe.” “They’ll get worse than that in life,” I told him. “Let them toughen up.”

    Reply
  20. Turnip Truck

    I was just telling my daughter about growing up in small town South Alabama in the early ’60’s that one of my favorite memories was when it got warm enough in the Spring to go barefoot and what was fantastic was when my Mother was convinced it was okay for me to go to school barefoot so she wrote the permission slip to give to my teacher. It was kinda tough when other kids got their permission before I did. Then the best shoeless experience was walking/running through a freshly plowed field….aahhhh…I can feel it now. Thank for your wonderful article!

    Reply
    1. In-House Counsel Post author

      I never was able to run through a freshly plowed field. Maybe next time I am visiting family in South Alabama I can find one and give it a try. I can imagine though- soft, damp, cool, probably birds all around feasting on exposed worms, the promise of spring…Thanks for commenting and sharing your memories.

      Reply
  21. David Richmond

    Wonderful post, even if it made me extremely envious. I grew up in southern Dallas in the ’70’s. My mom and grandmother were both rather protective and spent a lot of time making sure I always had shoes on. Their good intentions led to the unintended consequence that in the summers I was usually the ONLY kid on my street who wasn’t barefoot. My friends noticed, too. One neighbor girl two houses down from us flat out asked once why I never went barefoot. I was really embarrassed. I stayed at a friend’s house one weekend. He went barefoot the whole time, but my mom had me so trained by then that I couldn’t make myself do it even with her not around.

    I also remember public service announcements on television in the ’70’s directly aimed at discouraging kids from going barefoot. One showed a kid in the doctor’s office after stepping on something sharp. It was designed to be scary. It seems we’re always fighting people who think they know what’s best for us and who want to eliminate all the risks from life. Now I find myself as a parent trying to keep my own overprotective instincts in check.

    I visited Brisbane, Australia in the ’90’s to attend a church conference and was amazed to see kids there who went to church barefoot and attended the conference barefoot the whole week. Apparently, in at least some parts of Australia they have been a few decades behind us in the creeping drive to make kids wear shoes all the time.

    I’d had the same thought about Heaven being holy ground and the promising implication of that. We have a children’s CD for our two-year-old with old hymns and spirituals re-recorded by a kids choir. One is called, “I’ve Got Shoes.” The chorus talks about walking across Heaven in heavenly shoes. It makes me crazy. I know the context is that it was written by slaves whose masters had shoes and they didn’t. Still, every time it’s playing I think, “Who in the world wants to wear shoes in Heaven?” I don’t. I’ve got lost time to make up.

    The only practical thing shoes do is provide protection. In Heaven, what is there to be protected from? God put all those nerve endings down there. He hard-wired us for sensory input and to enjoy His creation. Wearing shoes all the time was surely not part of the Heavenly plan.

    Reply
    1. In-House Counsel Post author

      How interesting! Had your family moved in from outside Texas? The only kids I knew required to wear shoes were the newcomers. And even they eventually joined the crowd. Sounds like your mother stood strong agains the peer pressure and taught you to do the same. That’s not all bad!

      I don’t think they did public service announcements on wearing shoes in Alabama. There many kids still go barefoot around their neighborhoods but are likely to wear shoes in the ballpark and certainly at school. We have had exchange students from Australia and while the subject of shoes never came up it did seem that life of children there is more like what I experienced than typical childhood here.

      I LOVE your thoughts on heaven. I do think you can make a theological case for going barefoot there. Although, I think heaven might have a place for my Lucchese boots!

      Thanks so much for your interesting comment.

      Reply
  22. David Richmond

    Thanks. No, all my family lineages have been in Texas since the 19th century. My grandmother was notorious for worrying, and my mom and it least one of her sisters picked up that trait. The other sister probably doesn’t worry nearly enough.

    My grandmother was of German Texan descent, and I always wondered if that had much to do with it. My grandfather was of Scotch-Irish descent and was often trying to keep my grandmother’s and my mother’s over-worrying in check. . He told numerous stories of going barefoot all summer in Bellville, Texas, where he grew up. While my grandmother would scold any grandchild caught outside barefoot, he was more prone to tease. I wonder sometimes if it was his subversive way of lending moral support without looking like he was trying to encourage the practice.

    There was, however, also clearly a difference between being in Dallas and out in the country. My grandparents’ home towns, Buffalo and Oakwood were out in East Texas. Kids were much more prone to be barefoot out there than in Dallas. I remember going to Vacation Bible School at my grandparents’ church in Buffalo and being surprised that many kids came barefoot. By the early ’70’s, that just wasn’t done in Dallas.

    My dad’s side of the family was certainly more lenient and classic country about the matter.

    I’m currently re-reading That Hideous Strength, a lesser-known science fiction novel that C.S. Lewis wrote in the ’40’s. There’s a part where one of the evil scientist characters, working for an evil government institute, talks of ridding the earth of all organic life and replacing it with a world where humanity has been forcibly “evolved” into a sterile, mostly inorganic life form, liberated from exposure to bacteria and less pleasant elements of organic existence. The character even points to the moon as his ideal of a perfect, sterile, airless world. It’s absurd, of course, but Lewis illustrates the creeping danger of trying to improve humanity to the point that what we end up with no longer even remotely resembles what God intended as the human experience. He talked about this also in The Abolition of Man.

    My mom and grandmother meant well, but I think they were influenced by the thinking that we’ve got to keep everyone safe and clean. Going too far, though, has the opposite effect. How many kids think about textures of grass and concrete, how to plot the best course into the grocery store, watching out for what’s littering the ground? Your blog really hit me with all the observational and problem-solving skills that can be acquired by a simple thing like going barefoot, besides the sheer fun of it and the general lesson that joy and risk are intertwined.

    Reply
  23. Alan Adler

    I just came across your blog and really enjoyed reading this entry. Being raised in the suburbs of a northern U.S. industrial city by European parents I missed out on the opportunity to enjoy a barefoot childhood. Luckily just as “The ’60’s” hit I became old enough to do my own thing and finally made up for lost time. Being viewed as right in style or a counter-cultural rebel depending on who was observing didn’t bother me, I knew I was barefoot everywhere because it just felt so good! Real life and a professional career eventually put an end to that freedom, but after a while I realized that shoes were way over-rated and meant to be tools used only as needed.
    Expanding barefoot life into colder weather and public spaces has become quite challenging, and these days I have had to resort to rising a notch above rebel and am now a militant! My plight was featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal this past March, and my latest barefoot victory was detailed in an internationally followed blog. It’s a tough battle……but someone;s got to do it!
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323826704578356632609610700.html

    http://ahcuah.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/arts-beats-eats-but-feets/

    Reply
    1. In-House Counsel Post author

      Thanks for this interesting comment. How astounding that a simple thing like not wearing shoes is getting so much attention. I guess it is true that you might be exposing yourself a bit more danger than the fully shod, but it is hard to see how you could be hurting anyone else. A much stronger case could be made for everyone to wear gloves in public! You are inspiring me to try to reclaim some of that childhood joy!

      Reply
  24. Alan Adler

    The increased danger may very well be myth. Most of my shod friends and relatives currently suffer from one form or another of pathology of their feet directly related to shoe wearing. I do as well, but it was from wearing footwear in years past. (joint damage). Currently my feet are healthier than theirs. Not a scratch, puncture, open wound, nor fungal infection on mine. Can’t say that for theirs!

    Reply
  25. Daniel Howell

    I loved reading this. I found it several years ago, and found it again today. I have been living mostly barefoot for years now and it is amazing how counter-cultural it is considering how natural it is (or rather, how un-natural shoes are). Like you, I spent much of my childhood barefoot and I well remember the stubbed toes and scratches. The saddest part to me is that today’s children are being deprived of this simple pleasure in life while their feet are being ruined by shoes, ironically in the name of keeping them safe. Anyway, thank you for this article. I hope you get a chance to read my book: http://www.TheBarefootBook.com

    Reply
  26. Holly Sellers

    Oh my gosh! I was born in ’58 in Montgomery, grew up in the 60’s, had Buddy Nolan as my pediatrician (the one who insisted that bare feet were best), and was a member of First United Methodist Church in Old Cloverdale. I am 58 now…and all those beautiful memories had eluded me until I read your piece. Absolutely mind expanding! I was whisked back to my childhood, remembering all the sensations vividly, with tears rolling down my cheeks. I remember the St. Augustine just as you describe it…impossibly cool and lush. I remember running barefoot across the clover covered play field at Seth Johnson Elementary School and hoping I wouldn’t step on a honeybee… not because of the fear of the sting! My feet were too calloused to care about stingers, but because I didn’t want to kill them. Thank you so much for this trip in time! Holly Sellers

    Reply
  27. T.D

    Man, does this ever bring back memories! Some of my most vivid memories, like yours, were of the varying textures, temperatures and treacherous terrains that we had to navigate as kids! I still do the odd hike into deep forests just to soak up and “read” the messages from the ground–it is truly a special experience. It is a precious sensory experience that has significant therapeutic value, both as an immune stimulant, an inflammation reducer and a serious stimulant to the sensory cerebral cortex, and possibly may have some Alzheimer’s mitigating effects–research starting to come out that it does… Where’s the downside?

    Reply

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