Appalachia Profiles of Mountain People

Going Barefooted


“That was the greatest thrill on earth when the time of year came to pull your shoes off. My mother would never let us go barefooted until we saw a catbird. She said when catbirds come, spring is here. So we’d look for that. We thought it was plenty warm enough to go barefooted, but we had to produce a catbird or let her see one.”

Quay Smathers – “Mountain Voices” by Warren Moore


Do you say barefooted too? I do.


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  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    May 25, 2018 at 10:26 pm

    I went barefoot from the day school ended until it began again in September. Shoes for
    Sunday School were the one exception, but I even went barefoot to Vacation Bible School!

  • Reply
    Leon Estes
    May 24, 2018 at 12:47 am

    I grew up in central Oklahoma. I, personally, always liked to wear shoes. Around our house it was not unusual to see patches of Goatheads. The thorns on this ground-hugging plant were very hard! and the thorn points were sharp!

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    May 23, 2018 at 2:29 am

    ohh I love being barefoot too..the grass feels so wonderful….and feeling the dew in the morning..or a puddle after the rain…im so glad its warm enough now….you all are people after my own heart…happy bare toes you all
    big ladybug hugs to you all

  • Reply
    May 22, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    We were allowed to go barefoot when the Locust blossoms were out…or when we first saw the bumble bees!

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    May 22, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    We could never go “barefooted” until May 1. I looked forward to it every year. Like most of the others, once Springtime came the only time I wore shoes was to school and church.

  • Reply
    Yecedrah Higman
    May 22, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    Since I am an Arkansas girl, it was destined for me to be barefooted all the time. I don’t remember Momma ever saying I had to wait until May to go barefooted. We didn’t have carpet in our house back then so she would tell me to put my socks on during the winter because it was making her feet cold to see mine with nothing on them. I still like to go barefooted today.

  • Reply
    May 22, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    I use both: “I was barefoot when I stubbed my toe.”We’re going barefooted at the beach”. “He was walking barefooted when he cut his foot.” “Going barefoot in the house is the only way to go.” – – – – for the life of me, I can’t figure out rhyme or reason for using one over the other!

  • Reply
    betty stephenson
    May 22, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    just went out to bring in my newspaper in the rain barefooted i am 71 and still run around without shoes but with winter coming on will probably s tart wearing them some times its shaping up to be a cold one have a great week everyone

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    May 22, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    I use to go barefooted alot when I was a kid, but not anymore. Now, my feet have gotten so tender, that I can’t do like I use to. Useto, I could walk the railroad tracks and crossties, not paying any attention to those rocks in between.

    I remember us boys daming up the creek and making a nice swimming hole not to far from home. My friend, Monte Kit, cannonballed from the bank, and when he got up, he had a rusty nail in his
    heel. It was deep too, but we had an older boy with us, and he got Monte Kit’s attention and jerked out the nail. After he put a little mud on Monte’s heel, we continued swimming. That was over 60 years ago. …Ken

  • Reply
    Vann Helms
    May 22, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Definitely “barefooted”, and it was always May 1st. We moved to Miami from Charlotte when I was ten, and discovered something called “Sandspurs”. Wicked little buggers, that were everywhere back then, and left a thorn inside when you pulled them out. Thank goodness for flip flops (Remember Thongs and Zorries???). In Miami, you were allowed to go barefooted all year, but you had to stay away from those sandspurs, also called “stickers”. And you had to stay out of standing puddles because there were worms in them that found a way to enter your feet. Over the years, the stickers seemed to disappear. Urbanization eventually eradicated them, except for in remote fields and beaches.

    • Reply
      Papaw Ammons
      May 22, 2018 at 9:38 pm

      May 1st to Oct 1st is Barefooted Season. We left school barefooted went back to school barefooted in the fall for a few weeks.

  • Reply
    May 22, 2018 at 10:55 am

    Never was one to go barefooted much, I’m flat footed and always had tender feet, legs would hurt me all the time from hard playing, Doctor said it was because I had no arch in my feet the pain was so regular that I didn’t know how to feel without it, even now staying on my feet all day causes my legs to ache, just something you have to live with, I can remember a buddy of mine growing up come summer you hardly ever seen him with shoes on his feet and he could run just as fast or faster than me without shoes as I could with shoes on a rock road, bottom of his feet was tough as a horse saddle.

    • Reply
      Papaw Ammons
      May 22, 2018 at 9:34 pm

      I am not flatfooted, I have overpronation ankles. It’s pretty much the same thing and hurts the same but mine sounds more official.

  • Reply
    Dee Parks
    May 22, 2018 at 10:52 am

    Ah, barefooted or barefoot, heard both. I think my mother did more of that as she grew up. I grew up in town and preferred to wear my shoes. Probably stubbed my toes once too many times when I went without them.

  • Reply
    May 22, 2018 at 10:05 am

    Never heard it any other way. Usually started late May. Also, remember all the hard calluses, grass and other cuts, stubbed toes, bee stings and tar on the soles. Don’t go barefooted as much now. Soles of feet are a lot thinner and not as tough. I do , however, rarely wear socks.

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan
    May 22, 2018 at 9:34 am

    We always went “barefooted”. Also, could not walk until the dew dried if there were cuts on our feet. Only place shoes were for were school, church, or town. We visited other people barefooted. My husband thought this was really strange, but they were barefooted too. My dad said I had very wide feet from never wearing shoes, but I am glad. They seem to hold me up just fine. I broke a couple of big toes playing sports barefooted, but my dad set them, and on I went. No problem. We just really did not have a lot of shoes, I think, plus we outgrew them pretty fast.

  • Reply
    Papaw Ammons
    May 22, 2018 at 9:23 am

    Well, Of course I say barefooted! Is there some other way to say it?

  • Reply
    May 22, 2018 at 9:19 am

    No matter if the temperature got up to 100 degrees, Mom would absolutely not allow us to go barefooted until May 1st. I walked about two miles to my cousin’s house every weekend during the summer. That asphalt was so hot that I had to step off the road and cool my feet several times during the trip. I don’t know if my tender feet could handle hot asphalt and gravels now that I have spoiled them with shoes.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 22, 2018 at 8:57 am

    We said just ‘barefoot’ as best I can recall. I think going barefoot was in large measure because shoes were (are) expensive and kids are very hard on them. Growing up, I had two pair of shoes; everyday and church/school. To this day I am secretly embarrassed to have more than two pair.

    I guess country kids work their angels hard watching out for them. Remember the picture of the two kids on the rotten bridge being watched over by a big angel?

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    May 22, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Loved going barefoot as a kid. I know at least once a year I would get stung by a honey bee in the clover. Mother would always say “watch where you’re steppin” but we never did.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 22, 2018 at 6:37 am

    I’ve always said barefooted, is there something else to call it? I loved to set my feet free. Once when visiting my grandmother I had a nasty cut on my right heel and she would not let me out barefooted until the dew had dried. She said I’d get dew poisoning going barefoot in the dew wet grass. I had never heard of dew poisoning. She would not let me out the door till the dew dried off the grass!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2018 at 6:33 am

    May 1st, it had to be May 1st before I could go ‘barefooted’. And unless I was at Grannys , oh how black my feet got because of the mill. Yuk! It’s been years and years since my feet touched the ground . Don’t even like to walk in the house ‘barefooted’.
    That was also the ‘white shoe’ date, not Easter. Not that I ever had many white shoes except canvas.

  • Reply
    May 22, 2018 at 6:29 am

    We went barefooted the first day that school got out, because shoes were for church and school and my mom didn’t want want us wearing them out during the summer. If necessary we got new shoes the week before school started.

  • Reply
    Sheryl A. Paule
    May 22, 2018 at 6:24 am

    I don’t think I wore shoes unless going to town in the summer as a kid. I wear them a little more often now, but still love walking outside barefooted

  • Reply
    Betty "JO" Eason Benedict
    May 22, 2018 at 6:17 am

    May 10th……….according to my husband that was the date his mother would let him go barefoot. Me? I hate going barefoot! I think it’s a throwback from when I was 3 or 4 yrs old…….we lived on an old graveled road. In the Summer those rocks got really hot…….Mom would make me go barefoot with the thought of making me stay in the yard. Didn’t work…….I would crawl under the gate and then cry …… couldn’t figure out how to get back in!!! Duh!!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Kimberly Rodriguez
    May 22, 2018 at 6:15 am

    Love it! One of the joys of Summer. Growing up in central North Carolina, I never put a shoe on all Summer long except for church. By the time we went to shop for school shoes, my foot had spread so, it was hard to get a good fit! LOL!

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    May 22, 2018 at 6:11 am

    Barefooted it is! Walking barefooted in the snow at least once each winter is a family tradition I have kept all my life. I am always barefooted in the house. I go outside barefooted summer flip flops stand in for shoes when shoes are necessary.

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