Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Barefooted

My life in Appalachia - Barefooted

barefoot, barefooted adjective
1939 Hall Coll. Copeland Creek TN I’ve waded the snow knee-deep just as barefooted as I ever come into the world. (Margaret Patton) 1976 GSMNP-113:8 I went barefooted all winter. 1996 Montgomery Coll. barefoot (Brown, Ellis Jones, Norris, Shields); barefooted (Adams, Brewer, Bush, Cardwell).

~Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


I don’t go barefooted as much as I did in my younger days. Chatter goes barefooted more than Chitter and I find myself telling her to put her shoes on before she steps on something and hurts her foot…something I never thought about when I was a kid running around without my shoes on.

I especially like how the dictionary verifies the use of each phrase by listing a few names. My name would be in the barefooted column as that’s the term I use to describe shoe-less feet 99% of the time. Which column would your name be in?


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

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  • Reply
    Sallie Covolo
    August 27, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Just now read this and although I am well into my 70’s, pushing 80, as a matter of fact, I am “barefooted” right now.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    August 17, 2014 at 10:22 am

    In the summer, I wore shoes only to Sunday School (we could go barefoot to Vacation Bible School!). One time I saw a great big yellow and black bee lying on the front porch. I thought it was dead, and thought the fuzzy bee would feel good on the bottom of my bare foot, so I stroked it with my foot. It was NOT dead, and it zapped me good! Another time, I stepped on a nail sticking up through a board. Mama worried about that because I couldn’t have tetanus shots since I was allergic to some ingredient. But it healed just fine. When my school shoes got too small, Mama cut out the toes with a razor blade so I could wear them a month or two longer. After my feet quit growing, I wore shoes until they had holes in the soles, and then they went to the shoe shop to get half-soles put on! By the time the half-soles wore through, the uppers were worn out, too, so I had to get a new pair.

  • Reply
    Glynda Chambers
    August 16, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    Tipper when we were kids we went barefoot all summer. No telling how many yellow jackets or snails I stepped on. I think I actually hated the snails worse, it was really hard to get that slimy stuff washed of my feet!

  • Reply
    August 16, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    I’m usually either “barefooted” or “goin’ barefoot”. Never been crazy about anything on my feet – – wearing shoes always means stinky feet!!. I do give in when working out in the brush – a good pair of work boots is important – – but they come off as soon as I reach the porch!!
    I do need a little extra padding on the bottom of my feet these days – thank heavens for flip-flops (do you remember calling them “thongs”?) No more running over dirt and gravel roads or through plowed fields barefooted.
    Tell Ron I recall my great-grandmother warning me about dew sickness but don’t recall anyone else saying that. I don’t recall the phrase “dew poisoning”. Wonder if it had anything to do with “catching a chill” from having wet feet.
    Now, Ed: I’m glad you caught what should have been “bare-chested”; but if nothing is on your behind, you are “bare-bottomed”.

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    August 16, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Stayed at Granny’s house every summer until school started at home. Was barefooted the whole summer. That was over 50 years ago and I still like the feel of grass on my bare feet.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 15, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    I should have said I was barechested instead of bare barebreasted. I quess that what happens to us who are cursed with a pornagraphic memory.
    I always that pontificate meant you wear a pointy hat. I still do. Look it up. Do you play chess? Which pieces stand to the right and left of the king and queen?

  • Reply
    August 15, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    tipper i am so happy that you and the girls had a great time making memories together, and that you are all rested and ready for the madness of the world
    as for barefoot.. its one of the things i love the most… i hate hate shoes.. and only wear if i leave the house.. in summer.. if im not driving and we are going to family gatherings.. i dont even bring shoes.. there is nothing better than feeling the grass in spring.. the warm dirt when gardening, the sand … the water in a little creek.. or ocean
    sigh.. love feeling the freedom of barefooting ..
    sending big ladybug hugs and love

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    August 15, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    I was barefooted all summer as a kid. If I got a cut or scrape on my foot Mom would not let me go out barefooted until the dew was gone. She said I would get dew poisoning, whatever that is. I’m a tenderfoot now but my youngest boy can run on gravel! I remember being that way too. It seems I always had a sore toe from stumping it on something. Welcome back Tipper!!

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    August 15, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    I suppose I use barefoot and barefooted about equally, and can’t tell you any reason for one or the other. Haven’t gone barefooted outside for many a year now. When I was a kid and we were barefoot (looks like maybe barefooted was an adverb and barefoot an adjective, at least that time anyhow) a lot of the time one of my jobs was to gather eggs from the henhouse and you can guess what I stepped in so many times.

  • Reply
    August 15, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Barefooted. Always barefooted.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    August 15, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    It sure is good to have you back!
    I always went barefooted when I was a kid soon as mama told us we could. There ain’t no tellin’ at the times I stepped in Chicken Duedo. (Come to think of it, maybe that’s why we swept the yard a lot.)
    I think we started going barefooted about the time school
    was out for the summer. Now my
    feet are so tender I couldn’t do

  • Reply
    August 15, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    We were “barefooted” all summer & all got stung by the honeybees in the clover blooms in the yard. Our foot would swell flat on the bottom & itch like mad.
    Our feet were very tough. Saw a mountain man on TV who toughened his by standing on hot coals & ashes. We didn’t go that far but very little we couldn’t walk on.
    Now I don’t like to go barefoot. watering corn in the garden I got my clog stuck deep in a muddy spot & had to pull out my bare foot. Suction had formed & my clog is still buried out there. hated the one shoe on trip to the house.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    August 15, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Never liked going barefoot. As a result, feet were so tender that going barefoot was even more painful, which further motivated me to wear shoes or boots.
    I am curious about the reference to Margaret Patton. I have 4 different Margaret Pattons in my family tree, including my 4th-great grandmother, who was married to Capt. William Hamilton Moore, the first land grant holder west of the French Broad River.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    August 15, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Having lived in Japan for fourteen years I quickly became accustomed to removing my shoes upon entering the house. It is also a common practice in Hawaii, brought no doubt by the Japanese immigrants.
    My podiatrist tells me that going barefoot (barefooted no longer feels right) and hardwood floors contribute greatly to foot problems.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    August 15, 2014 at 10:29 am

    We said “barefooted” in Choestoe, the section of Appalachia dear to me and where I grew up and went barefooted from spring until fall in my childhood and youth. But then, when I began to get “educated,” I was introduced to John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem, “The Barefoot Boy”–and memorized some of it. I remember these lines yet:
    “Blessings on thee, little man,
    Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
    With thy turned-up pantaloons,
    And thy merry whistled tunes;
    With thy red lip, redder still
    Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
    With the sunshine on thy face,
    Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace;
    From my heart I give thee joy:
    I was once a barefoot boy!”
    I often wished he had written a poem about a barefoot(ED) girl, too! Thanks for the memories:
    “Running barefoot through the grass!
    Feeling dirt caress my toes!
    Wading in cool waters of the branch–
    These summer joys my heart knows!”
    (lines from EDJ, remembering!)

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 15, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Well let me see… If I go hatless, I’m bareheaded. If go in shorts, I’m barelegged. If go shirtless I’m barebreasted. If I go without pants, I’m bare—ed naked. So as far as I see there is only the -ed column.
    That being said, the real question is do you stub your toes or stump them?

  • Reply
    August 15, 2014 at 10:01 am

    I would like to count all the bee stings, rusty nail punctures, and stone bruises I had as a child. I once waded a creek and cut a toe half way through. I actually had shoes, but my favorite mode of travel was always barefooted. I miss those carefree days when I never worried what my foot might land on with the next step. There are no longer many honey bees to contend with, and I recall sticking my small hands down to pull the stinger out. There is such a total freedom with barefooted that one can never again find with special made wide shoes with inserts. Growing up sometimes comes when you are a senior.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 15, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Tipper, Tipper, Tipper,
    PONTIFICATE…Now that’s a “big word” even if you’re not a little Pigmy in New Guinea!
    Have you been hangin’ round Jim this summer?
    Love and teasing, just doesn’t sound like you!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 15, 2014 at 9:42 am

    “Where do you think you are goin’ with those bare feet?”
    These words usually stopped me dead in my tracks on the way out the slamming wooden screen door, on a June morning back in the 40’s! Although we got to go barefooted a lot, we had moved and houses had been built in a rush, (Secret City) and Mother knew there were probably nails and pieces of glass in the backfill of clay. Even though, still dangerous with grass beginning to grow on the bald spots and even after Dad had picked up some debris.
    I got to go “barefooted” more often in North Carolina than E. Tn.
    I am barefooted right this very minute. I love to walk out in the dew covered grass of a mornin’. I also love to walk in a newly plowed garden of warm loam and squiggle my toes. Back in the day I never planted our garden with shoes on! I loved gettin’ down on all fours, toes dug in the dirt, one hand propping me up as I made my big swirled mounds for my squash, melons or cucumber seeds. You really feel like you are part of the earth, scootin’ along to make the next mound! We would just hose ourselves off before goin’ up on the back porch!
    Thanks Tipper,
    Love this (barefooted for me)post!
    PS…Today I can barely get down because of hip replacement…but I can still go ‘barefooted”!

  • Reply
    Roy Pipes
    August 15, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Mama would most years let me go barefooted for the first time on my birthday, April 23rd.
    Every year, when school started back from Summer vacation Daddy and Mamma would take me, my brothers and sisters to town and buy us a new pair of shoes, I called them brogans. They had to last until next year.

  • Reply
    August 15, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Loved the review of popular posts. Going barefoot is one of my favorite things to do. Of course, I often stubbed my toes on something or dropped something on them, but going without shoes is so free. As a child I especially loved walking in the sand without shoes. Now, I would think twice as there are so many hidden dangers in and out of the water. I hope you enjoyed your mom/daughters time together. It is an important bonding time you all will remember for a lifetime.

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    August 15, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Well Tipper, you have touched on my greatest weakness – GARDENING BAREFOOT! Yesterday I pulled up a whole bunch of flowers and walked over to my neighbor’s house. Her husband and Jim were on our driveway talking as I walked by them. Jim said “Don’t tell me you are going barefoot to Diane’s house!” Of course I went barefoot and Diane did not think a thing about my being barefoot. I hope your day is a barefoot day!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 15, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Tipper, I’m in the barefooted column, for sure. I went barefooted all my young life and barefooted is what I called it then and now. I have, however, had a few people chuckle at my use of that word, like I’m a country girl, LOL!

  • Reply
    August 15, 2014 at 5:05 am

    I ran barefoot in the snow to the mail box many times. My feet tingled so good. Still do at Mama’s house, but not at my own. I can only drive barefoot also. And shoes go off as soon as I step inside the door.

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