Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"We're Barefootin', We're Barefootin'....."

Lil John Henry he said to Sue, if I was barefootin' would you barefoot too? Sue told John "I'm thirty two, I was barefootin' ever since I was two." We're barefootin, we're barefootin'. Take off your shoes and pat your feet. We're doin' a dance that can't be beat. We're barefootin', we're barefootin....*

Memorial Day is past and according to the media 'summer has officially begun' - even though summer doesn't really begin until the summer solstice June 21. The end of the school year did always mark the beginning of summer for us, though. It meant throwin' off the shoes and going barefoot. I just noticed how white the legs of my little sister and me look in that picture. I wonder if we had calamine lotion on because of chigger bites? Betty was about 2-1/2 and I was 4-1/2. (Summer of '48)

Summer of 1951 and all three of us are barefootin'. I remember my feet being very tender those first couple of weeks, after that not much bothered me. I could even run on the gravel. The only things we had to watch out for were boards with nails in them and animal doo-doo. It seemed chicken manure and cow pies were the worst. For some reason if we stepped in fresh cow manure - which happened often since we were the ones to go down to the pasture to bring the cows up for milking - we referred to it as "cutting our feet".

By the end of the school year our one pair of shoes would be completely worn out - another reason for going barefoot. I distinctly remember this pair of tan shoes I wore when I was twelve. I had worn a hole through the sole in late winter. I don't think I even told my Mom. I just cut a piece of cardboard to fit in my shoe and made do for the rest of the school year. I know it didn't work all that well because I remember my foot getting wet.

If we did wear shoes in the summer it was a pair of inexpensive sandals. I remember Mom buying Betty and me sandals at the shoe store in Villisca for one dollar a pair. Mine were the ugliest dark olive green - a color I like now, but hated then. Betty's were a lighter shade of green - not so ugly as mine. I'm sure they were leftovers from the year before.

I don't think they were any worse than these jellies which became popular in the 80's, though. Did Kari have a pair of jelly sandals or slippers? Probably. They were cheap (a dollar a pair) and came in so many different colors. Jellies were made from PVC plastic - at least my ugly green sandals were leather!

Possibly because he was just learning to walk, my little brother still had to wear shoes, but Betty & I were in summer mode already. Do 'ya think this photo was posed? Summer time and the livin' was easy - wake up, pull on a shirt and pair of shorts and out the door to play.

I don't remember just when I got my first pair of flip flops. I know I was an adult. They were the next thing to going barefoot. And they were cheap, too. I have never been one for bright colors, so my first pair were probably black and cost a dollar. They've gotten a little fancier, and pricier, since then. My current ones are suede embellished with beads.

I don't know if it is a result of going barefoot as a child, but I still kick off my shoes- even the flip flops - as soon as I come into the house. A couple of weeks ago I read the obituary of a woman about my age. (Not someone I knew.) I'm pretty sure she wrote her own obituary because in addition to the things she had liked it also listed these things she did not like: "cooking, bras and wearing shoes". A woman after my own heart. In fact, before I decided to be cremated, I had in my funeral instructions to be buried without shoes.

"She's barefootin', she's barefootin."

* 1966 hit for Robert Parker

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