Is it time yet mama, can I go barefoot? That was the number one question come spring. We’d see the dogwoods in bloom or the redbud trees and always commence to pull our shoes off. The older people always said wait till the first of May or you’ll catch ye death of cold. I know for a fact my daddy never pulled his long johns off till the first of May. He still wore his long sleeve shirts till mama made him change to short sleeves. He always said he was afraid he’d take cold. It didn’t matter if it got ninety degrees in the shade and in his older years he had such bad circulation that we might see him put his overcoat on in the middle of the summer.
As for going barefoot, when the shoes came off they stayed off all summer long till school started. When we hit the door in the evening, off came the shoes. We’d toughened our feet so and stumped our toes off so bad it was hard to put on a pair of shoes and wear em all day. We walked the paved road so much going to the store or getting milk from the neighbors that we stumped our toes till there was nothing left but a stub.
It wasn’t that we didn’t appreciate a new pair of shoes when school started we just couldn’t stand wearing em and it hurt our stumped toes and calloused feet. We knew we had to make them shoes last as long as possible cause there was no money to run back and forth to the store buying a new pair. The boys were more rough on their shoes than me and my one and only sister which happened to be a lot younger than me was the biggest tomboy to ever come along. She wore out as many pairs as the boys and had her head stuck in something all the time.
We run through the thickets and brairs till our feet were tough as a pine knot. Those mud holes just about did us in. We’d bust every one of those suckers dry and that toe itch was a killer. Mama would say, “don’t complain to me, ye know what did it.” That never stopped us none cause those mud holes were hard to resist.
I never see or hear of a young’un anymore going barefoot and it’s a shame. I even admit in my older years my feet are so tender I can’t stand to walk on the ground to save my life. I walk around barefoot in the house all day long but I gotta have an old pair of flip flops on when I go outside.
I sure do miss those days of going barefoot even if we wore our feet out and the joys of running through those big, grassy fields will last a life time. And every spring I still hear those words, is it time yet mama, can I pull my shoes off ?
© Susie Swanson, 2016