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By Joe Phillips Dear Me
By Joe Phillips Dear Me

They're old.

During my childhood, kids rarely wore shoes during warm weather. We were tender footed in the first warm days and the smallest pebble left a stone bruise.

Even adults went shoeless in the summer. Uncle Guy Phillips and his friend Hugh Webb didn't bother with shoes while following mules and plows turning over the warm ground.

We were warned of what could happen to shoeless boys who played in mud puddles. It was called “ground itch,” which didn't seem terrible. If our moms had said we could get hook worms, we would have paid attention. Maybe.

Our enemies were nails, hot rails, pieces of glass and sand spurs.

Kids stepped on nails because the streets were unpaved and full of old horseshoe nails.

We rarely wore shoes during warm weather, and most of us went to church barefooted.

There are few things people use that have not greatly changed over thousands of years. Rocks, maybe. Those have been used as weapons, tools, building material.

Folks have needed to beat on things, likely starting with hammer stones.

Primitive pointed weapons, such as arrows, changed little except for improvements.

The item I had in mind was “footwear,” or sandals in particular. Their use goes so far back in history it is hard to know when the use of sandals began.

According to the website “fashion history,” the oldest sandals found in the United States are about 8,000 years old.

I remember seeing pictures of Japanese women in traditional clothing wearing sandals made of wood. They were like little platforms.

Sandals protected feet from sharp rocks and hot ground and they also indicated status.

Of the earliest sandals found in the deserts of Egypt and South America, the oldest were woven of straw.

Anthropologist Eric Trinkaus, writing in the web magazine “Live Science,” suggested that a change in the size of foot and toe bones occurred some 40,000 years ago because people began wearing shoes.

He continued that much can be determined about a body by the size of bones and that when people are not wearing shoes, the toe bones are further apart and feet wider. He postulated that when people began wearing shoes, feet got smaller.

He didn't comment on ground itch.

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