I Remember When . . . .
Great Stories about growing up in the Horntown, Oklahoma area!

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Barefoot Thermometers

     For many years we couldn't wait until it got warm enough in the spring to go barefoot. This would usually occur in March and we would go barefoot for the rest of the spring and summer and into the fall. Somehow, our feet knew when it was time to doff the shoes and go native for the rest of the summer. It was a great saving on shoe soles and leather. We exhilarated each year at being able to shed our shoes and go barefoot, to feel the mud gush up between our toes and to run and jump as barefoot adventurers.
     After a winter of wearing shoes, our feet were tender and we often had to build up calluses so we could tough it out for the entire season. In the country, we had a lot of sandburs and they were wicked to get into. Many a time, I had to stop and gently pull those sandburs out of my feet. Or I would stub my toe on occasion and have to cry out in pain until the hurt subsided. Of course, I went everywhere barefoot. Out in the chicken yard, I would almost always step something fresh and have to clean that off. Or in the cow lot at milking time, I might step in something and have to find something to scrape that off.
     We would ride the school bus from home to school barefoot and go all day long at school including recess without shoes. It was great fun. We ran and played tag and all kinds of games, girls and boys. We all went barefoot with no discrimination. We always had summer school so the youngsters could get out in the fall to help with the harvest. Most of us were farm kids and that is just the way it was.
We would go to town barefoot and those hot sidewalks would seer the bottoms of the feet. We sometimes had to walk gingerly to avoid the hottest areas. It was particularly hot hoeing weeds in those sandy fields on a hot day. The heat would send chills down the spine as the body attempted to cope with the searing conditions.
     At night, we would usually have to wash our feet before we went to bed so as not to carry any foreign material between the sheets. That is, unless our feet weren't really very dirty. Which was the case on frequent occasions.
     We would take a bath once a week whether we needed it or not. Mom would heat up the water in the tea kettle and pour it into the largest round washtub. The oldest usually took the first bath, then the next and the next. Since I was the youngest of 10, I usually had the dirtiest water by the time it came my turn. I suppose I got clean enough even in all that dirty water. I seem to be no worse for the wear.
     Going barefoot was a right of passage for us in those days. Our feet knew when it was time first to shed the shoes in the spring and then to put them back on in the fall. Strange how feet are so smart. Then, about 1955, going barefoot all of a sudden became passť and everyone seemed to wear shoes all year round after that. For about 13 years in my young life, going barefoot was something to look forward to and something to look back at when the weather got cool. I will never forget all the good times I had going barefoot. It was a glorious era that passed and now is but a memory.
Phil Keathley, Class of 1960

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