Sunday, July 29, 2007

Barefoot Memories

In today's New York Times Education section, a "trendspotting" piece here talks about the students at Reed College in Oregon and my alma mater, Occidental College, and their propensity to go barefoot.

Here are some of the Oxy shots:





I'm sure alumni all over the nation are saying either, "For shame!" or "That's not a trend! I did that!!"

So let me chime in....I attempted, or at least remember selectively that I attempted, to go shoeless my last term at Oxy (we were still on the quarter system then, so it was a shorter time). My philosophy was, I was going to have to wear shoes for the rest of my life, so I should go shoeless now. Besides, raised in Hawai'i, barefootness was second nature to me.

I still get raised eyebrows from neighbors when, in the dead of Winter, I exit the house shoeless to bring garbage to the curb.

A trend? Hardly. I wasn't the only shoeless student my senior year, Spring term. And I would imagine that the Sixties and Seventies were rife with shoelessness.

UPDATE: Monday morning, my boss walked in with the Times article, acting as if the barefoot students were a bunch of space aliens. Granted, in NYC, going barefoot is a little odd. You may remove your shoes in Sheep's Meadow in Central Park, but most city-dwellers keep their feet shod, as the sidewalks are significantly filthier here than, say, a well-groomed Southern California college campus.

Update 8/9/07: Someone linked this post in a yahoo group and my traffic spiked. If you are reading this and were referred here by that yahoo post, I would ask you to please consider either e-mailing me the text of the post, or cutting and pasting it in the comments section. Just wanting to slake my curiosity. Thank you.

7 comments:

bonnie said...

Reminds me of my freshman year at Whitman College - I seem to recall looking out a friend's dorm room window & seeing Matt Teho walking around in the first snow of that winter - not barefoot, but wearing flip-flops, which isn't much better!

Mellomouth said...

Ahhh... Oxy.
It took me so long to embrace the barefoot thing. I mean I grew up in NYC. It had nothing to do with cleanliness or respect for professors. It had everything to do with all the beautiful shoes. How could you go barefoot when you have the perfect pair of shoes for that outfit??? I got over it. Now that I'm back in NY??? It's shoes all the way.

jonathan said...

Wow, that's really cool! I had never heard of those colleges. I eas searching for "going barefoot" and came across your blog. I love going barefoot, wish I had gone to one of those schools.

Anonymous said...

You said in your blog "And I would imagine that the Sixties and Seventies were rife with shoelessness." If you were not around then, you can't even begin to imagine how common it was to see young people going barefoot on nice summer days and hot summer nights just about everywhere. Shopping, running errands, to the mall, etc. Though from what I remember, most of the people going barefoot were young women. And the comment from the person that is back in New York saying "it's shoes all the way now", has no idea what went on in New York in the early 1970s. There were barefoot girls around there too - check the New York Times article from 1970 that talks about young women walking barefoot out of their upper west side apartments and shopping barefoot at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales. And that was not the "cleaned up" version of NY - NYC in the 1970s was a much dirtier place. I was a teenager in the 1970s, and a lot of the girls were just the opposite of today - "I hate shoes" is what they said. It was cool to be non-materialistic back then, them the 1980s came and ruined everything....

Anonymous said...

Yes - in my teens I went barefoot pretty well everywhere from April to October. So did a lot of my friends. We couldn't be barefoot in class in high school, but in college there was no dress code and a lot of us were barefoot all the time. Partly fashion, I suppose, partly anti-materialism - we were proud to show that we didn't need shoes. And it just felt good to be barefoot. Still does.

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Prissy said...

I recall when I was a child in the 1970s, my mother took me and my brother for a 3 mile walk to a city college in Los Angeles.we both were barefooted. I didn't care about germs on the ground. I could never image doing that today. It still was a happy memory that I will never forget