Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Going Barefoot

Did you go barefoot when you were little or maybe you still do? I’ve heard folks say their Mother wouldn’t allow them to go barefoot till after Easter.

We waited till school was out for summer vacation. It wasn’t that we needed to save our shoes or had outgrown our present pair-its just when you run in and out of the house a blue million times a day (slamming the screen-door every last time) who wants to fool with putting on shoes?

It’s been many years since I went barefoot often enough to toughen up my feet-and just walking across the gravel barefoot makes me wish I’d remembered to slip on my house-shoes before going outside.

Do kids go barefoot today like they used too? My girls do sometimes-but certainly not to the extent I did. I guess for one thing-kids don’t play outside as much as we used too-and for another there seems to be so many things to be afraid of now-like catching some kind of parasite that will burrow in under your big toe nail make a home and invite it’s friends. I’m glad me and Paul only had to be wary of honeybees on our barefoot summer days.

Did you have a certain day each Spring when your Mother decreed going barefoot was ok?


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    December 1, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Thank you for the great comment! Youre right-most of us like to go barefoot but worry about what others will think : )
    Hope you have a great evening!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    December 1, 2014 at 11:16 am

    My wife and I live in a northern industrial city yet we both go barefoot everywhere year round! I just came across this blog post and comments while researching for our runner’s club, but apparently many of your readers wish they still could go barefoot. There are so many myths regarding bare feet related to health codes (there are none requiring footwear) worms, and foot function.
    The Society for Barefoot Living does a great job dispelling most of these concerns on their website.
    By the way, an unscientific survey conducted among a random sample of Facebook users found that 40% of adults in the U.S. would go barefoot everywhere if it were considered socially acceptable!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    There were six of us kids growing up, and once mom got our shoes on us in the morning, God forbid we should take them off and make her have to start it all over again.
    Now once I left home, however, it was hard to keep shoes on me (“You can take the kid out of the country but…”). In fact, I don’t like clothes much either so if it weren’t for that our younger brother and I live together, I’d probably not have clothes on much either.
    But now we’ve moved to the sandhills, and boy howdy, if you step on a sandspur or two or thirty, it’ll make you wish you’d had your shoes on, so for most of the time, I wear moccasins. (It took me one whole summer and a lot of sandspurs to learn that lesson. LOL)
    God bless.
    <>< P.S. - If anyone knows how to rid property of sandspurs, I'd dearly love to know it. Closest thing I've heard to working is to drag an old blanket through the property, then throw it in the fire, but here - we'd need a lot of blankets for this property.

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    April 3, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I used to go barefoot a lot when I was younger until i stepped on a bee and got stung. After that, I wore shoes a lot more! I don’t remember having a certain time when I could go barefoot. I let my kids go barefoot whenever it’s warm enough, however, they don’t do it much cause of the fire ants.

  • Reply
    Missy Steiger
    April 2, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    I spent my summers as a child barefoot. We live on a farm and my children spend the summer barefoot. As a matter of fact, with the weather we’ve had they’ve already been barefoot this year! They don’t wear shoes in the house even when it’s cold!

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    April 2, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Yea, the first of May..had tough feet back then, now I only go barefoot in the house..The men usually didn’t shed their long johns untill then eother..I don’t see how they made

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    April 2, 2012 at 11:22 am

    My mother never allowed us children to go outside without our shoes before May 1. We looked forward to that day almost like we did Christmas. The same applied to wearing shorts. Just remembering those days has brought a smile to my face!

  • Reply
    April 1, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Oh my goodness yes! My mother wouldn’t let me go barefoot until after the first day of May and I had to still wear an undershirt until then also. Seems like I got stung by honey bees when I ran through the clover everyday!

  • Reply
    Jen Y
    April 1, 2012 at 12:08 am

    I can’t remember a certain day but i went barefoot as often as I could get away – and still do!When I moved to the big city to go to college I use to embarrass my husband – then just a friend, by always taking my shoes off as soon as I sat down where ever I was. In class, the library, church , where ever, I would take them off. It felt so good. Now he fusses at me that I’m going to hurt my feet when I run to the garden or mailbox without my shoes. I think I’m too old to change now.

  • Reply
    Bob & Inez Jones
    March 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    I too am a barefoot girl. It was usually Easter when that freedom came about. We lived on a farm so you had to be careful where you stepped! To this day .I go barefoot inside all year round. As soon as I step into the house, off come the footwear.Inez Jones

  • Reply
    March 31, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    We could go barefoot the first day of May…earlier if Momma didn’t catch us! I can still remember the funny feeling before our feet got tougher every spring. In those days we didn’t take a bath every day and the last thing Momma would tell us was to be sure to wash our feet before we went to bed.
    Now I am almost always barefoot or wearing non-slip socks in the house.

  • Reply
    Darlene LaRoche
    March 31, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    I go barefoot every chance I get…once the ground warms up…my shoes are off….

  • Reply
    Barbara Daca
    March 31, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    I love goin bnarefoot. Can’t barely even keep shoes on unless the snow is higher than the porch. I guess my little girl got it from me when we headed out for ice cream and some guy stopped us and asked us if he could buy us some shoes! Lol got plenty of pairs we said, just not fond of wearin them! Do they fit or pinch, need a newer pair (lands he was persistant) we said all of them are new, they all fit just fine. Except none of them feel like summer grass or sunshine or a lonesome breeze!

  • Reply
    Donna W
    March 31, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    I hate shoes. I still go barefoot whenever possible, and I am almost 68 years old. Cliff and I take a walk in the pasture every day, and once the temperature is above 50, I go barefoot.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Going barefooted was what we were
    looking forward to, soon as school
    was out. When I was just a kid, we
    didn’t even have a car. Didn’t
    need one cause we weren’t going
    nowhere unless we walked. And we
    did plenty of that, especially on
    Sundays which we managed that mile
    walk two times for services that
    day. When our church had a revival
    it lasted 2 weeks, instead of 3
    days. Progress with all its new
    inventions were fine, but we lost
    the value of those slower times.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    as kids we went barefoot as much as weather allowed…and i remember hating the first day of school cause we had to put on socks and shoes…now instead of living in the missouri mountains and being able to enjoy the cool grass between my toes i live in mississipi where you dont dare go shoeless because of the fireants being so bad…

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    March 31, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    The more time passes and the more old homesteads change to new sub-divisions,it is more dangerous for children to go barefooted.
    Backfill dirt is brought in from who knows where! Plus the old places are usually just releveled with care to where the dump areas where…Broken glass, nails, tin, wire in a lot of it..
    How else could one get a rusty old nail or broken glass shard in the foot from a beautiful new green lawn??
    I was a barefoot gal…I had my share of cuts, scrapes and bruises mostly walking where I wasn’t supposed too
    Now days you can get flesh-eating bacteria from a clean sidewalk..ewww scary..I think I’d rather deal with worms, bumble bee and honey bee stings from the past…LOL
    Great Post Tipper,
    I have a sweet little wren nesting on a shelf on my porch with 4 sweet little eggs in it…I sure love the birdies.LOL
    He and she outsmarted my cat by hiding in plain view…LOL ‘Course he is such a neutered lazy old thing, a bird has to practically fly in his mouth for him to notice..LOL

  • Reply
    Tim Cuthbertson
    March 31, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    It was so long ago it is hard to remember, but I think it was just June 1 that we were allowed to start going barefoot.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Have always loved to go barefooted. Remember Mama always telling us we’d be sick if we didn’t keep our shoes on cause she thought it was too cold. So don’t think there was a certain time to go without shoes.

  • Reply
    Rick Kratzke
    March 31, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    I myself have never gone barefoot but my son Tyler is constantly barefoot. When he get’s home from school the first thing he does is takes off his shoes and socks.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    All the time around the house and yard up until a few years ago. My feet now get cold easily if barefooted. Miss Cindy’s grandma talking about dew poisoning reminded me of my mother’s superstition. We never were allowed to leave the house or go to bed with damp hair after shampooing. She said if we did, we would catch a cold. Now I have done that as a grownup-never got a cold from it.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Oh the joy of barefoot days! I always loved the feel of dirt between my toes. Here in Florida we have to watch out for those dreadful sandspurs. I went barefoot as much as possible and still do!

  • Reply
    March 31, 2012 at 11:50 am

    We were allowed to go barefoot when the Locust trees were blooming. Or when we saw the first bumble bees. It’s been so long ago…
    Our daughter would live barefoot if she could, but I’m not really thrilled about it, because of the danger of stepping on nails, or bees, etc. Now I sound like a Mom! 🙂

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 31, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Miss Cindy-I remember Dew Poisoning now that you mention it. Water, so hot you have to dip your foot in several times before you can stand it, and half a cup of Epsom salts was the cure for that too.
    I split my heel on something once in the Little Tennessee, all way across. Didn’t even feel it ’til I got out. Then it was on. Couldn’t stop the bleeding and walk home at the same time. So I left bloody footprints for a mile or more. Didn’t even get a whupping that time. Mommy wrapped up real tight for a couple of days then came the HOT!! epsom salts soaks again.
    My feet were so tough on the bottom I didn’t worry about stepping on bees. But if they could get between my toes. Owwwww!
    I agree, it’s barefooted. Barefoot is when you walk around for a while without shoes. Barefooted is when you go without shoes for months and your old ones don’t even fit any more. And you know what ain’t fair. The oldest brother always got new shoes at the end of barefooted season. The rest got hand me downs.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2012 at 11:38 am

    We always went barefoot from Easter forward until school started. September seemed to be the magic month! Sometimes we got flip flops to play in and my Mom used to say “Flip Flop, Flip Flop, Bang! The bang was the screen door slamming. We used to really get on her nerves!

  • Reply
    March 31, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Tipper, we used to go barefoot too. My feet would toughen up, because the only time I put on shoes was to go to church or to town. I could walk through the stickers and through gravel with no problems. Loved to feel cool mud squirting up between my toes in the hot summer time. Now I can’t go outside barefoot anymore. I still go barefoot in my house or walk around in a pair of wooly socks in the winter time, but when it is time to head out, I put on some shoes on my feet. My mother would make us wait until after Easter when the ground was warmer, before we could go barefoot. I have become a tenderfoot in my old age. LOL

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    March 31, 2012 at 10:05 am

    First day of May was when we were allowed to go barefoot for the first time. I went barefoot a lot when I was a kid, we all did. About the only time we put on our shoes was when we went to the store (in town – not the little store down the road). I still go barefoot in our yard in the summer, and yes you do have to look out for bees.

  • Reply
    Pamela Moore
    March 31, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I used to go barefoot all the time, even when it was cold out (not in the snow). My mom gave up on keeping shoes on me. I had feet like rhino hide. I even went barefoot around the stables which had Mom telling me that I would pick up worms. My DD wears flip flops instead of going barefoot. And now, with us in Florida, the pavement gets too hot for bare feet.

  • Reply
    Grandma Sallie
    March 31, 2012 at 9:50 am

    I know there was a certain time when we were allowed to go barefoot it was too long ago to remember, but I know we looked forward to it. I loved remembering waiting for the time that we would be allowed to run around with only a dress and underwear on..
    Thanks for this share Tipper. It brought back wonderful memories.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2012 at 9:42 am

    After posting my previous comment, I started laughing about how we would have been accused of talking ‘proper’ (city slickerish) if we had said barefoot. We always called it barefooted.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I love to kick off my shoes and go barefoot…mostly indoors now. Like you, my feet are so tender that every little stone feels like a boulder. Do you remember getting stone bruises? Ouch! Wading the creeks barefoot was the thing we were most afraid of. Lots of trash ended up in them not to mention most toilets were built close to or over the water. Mom didn’t allow us to go barefoot till after May 1st. I remember March and April being cold when I was growing up, unlike the 80s we have had several times this month.

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    March 31, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I always went barefoot in the summers when I was a kid. I don’t remember a certain day that was declared, Barefoot Day– it was just when the weather was warm enough. I did step on a rusty nail a couple of times, but that’s just a rite of passage. I don’t think the young’uns I know of today go barefoot outside. In the house is where it is done these days….

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    March 31, 2012 at 9:02 am

    i am a barefoot girl for sure.. all year round i am barefoot in the house.. and when weather permitting i get the mail and walk outside without shoes.. i have always love the feel of the grass and the dirt.. i was never disciplined for going barefoot either.. lol so i was lucky.. hubby on the other hand never goes outside with out shoes.
    have a great weekend…
    big ladybughugs

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 31, 2012 at 8:45 am

    The first of May was the magic day when my shoes would disappear. The first of October they reappeared, usually as new ones or brothers’ hand me downs. Between I didn’t wear shoes at all except when I stepped on a nail or broken glass or stumped my toe and let it get infected. Epsom salts soaks and shoes were punishment for not watching were I was going.
    I remember some kind of worm that was supposed to get in the feet of barefooted boys and work their way all the way up to the brain. In my case I fear the end of their journey was a sore disappointment.
    Ahhh, the barefoot days! Now my feet are so sensitive I can find a grain of sand on the dining room floor.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    March 31, 2012 at 8:19 am

    My mother never allowed going barefoot, but once out on my own, and to this day, it is one of my pleasures. From early spring until late fall I hardly wear shoes, even flip flops.
    My older son and his daughter wouldn’t think of going barefoot, yet my younger son is like me.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 31, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Yes, I went barefooted as a child. There was no date set for when I started going barefoot I just did it when I wanted to, which was most of the time.
    I can remember going out places barefooted and having a problem with hot pavement or hot sand. If I was lucky my dad was there to carry me across the hot places.
    Once at the creek with my cousin, we were both barefooted, I got a nasty cut on my heel from broken glass in the water. My grandmother had a fit. Wanted me to wear shoes till it healed. I, of course, could see no point in that. She especially wouldn’t let me out without shoes in the morning. She said if the dew got in the cut it would cause dew poisoning. That made no since to me. Dew looked pure as far as I was concerned. Don’t tell Chitter and Chatter but I was a willful child.
    Ever heard of Dew Poisoning?

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    March 31, 2012 at 7:48 am

    We stayed barefoot as much as possible, even after I was married. The only problems we had were sandspurs, they were so painful.

  • Reply
    Jessie : Improved
    March 31, 2012 at 7:40 am

    When I was young my feet were like alligator hides. I could run across gravel without so much as a prick. You still had to watch out for stone bruises though. 😉

  • Reply
    Jerry in Arkansas
    March 31, 2012 at 7:06 am

    The first day of May was when we were allowed to go barefoot. Going barefoot stopped at our house though in the 1950s when several in our family got hookworms which they said were in the soil and could get in a cut or scratch. This was a problem in those days, especially around farms. Now, we can’t go barefoot because of the fire ants.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2012 at 5:50 am

    Could never go barefoot till after Easter. When we were kids we never gave a second thought to parasites. You’re right about being tender footed when you are not ready for Summer! I know about honeybees and what happens when you step on one! That hurts like crazy! To a little kid it’s like being in the “Jaws of Death” – or at least it seems that way at the time! It always seemed that walking in clover was certain to get you stung; especially when it’s in bloom.
    Bet that was your foot in the picture!

  • Reply
    Gorges Smythe
    March 31, 2012 at 5:20 am

    My feet always cracked and bled, so I chose not to go barefoot much. I DO remember how hot the asphalt and gravel roads got between mine and the neighbor kid’s home!

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