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Shoes and Short Shorts

July 26, 2000

Historian's Notes

World War I affected many Oklahomans in many ways. This Almanac came from a series of newspaper stories printed in 1918 concerning various ways in which citizens of Oklahoma could help the war-ravaged victims in Europe. I had never heard of a "shoe drive" before and thought that the event would make a good Almanac.

Staying with the war theme, I thought that this controversy over shorts was hilarious!! Woo-Woo!!!

Resources for "Shoes":

Tulsa World. (1918).

Resources for "Short Shorts":

Stillwater Daily News-Press. (1945).

Almanac Transcript

Hello, I'm Steven Kite welcoming you to the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.

This week shoes and short shorts make the news.

Oklahomans in 1917 were asked to not throw their old shoes away but instead to send them to Europe. It was in this week in 1917 that the Rotary Clubs of Oklahoma initiated a state wide shoe drive. Oklahomans, by donating their worn out footwear, aided the war weary residents of France and Belgium in preparing for the oncoming winter months. Rotarians throughout the state went house to house collecting shoes for the drive sending the items to New York City. A central clearinghouse there collected shoes donated from across the nation, and from New York the shoes were sent to France for mending and distribution. According to Rotary officials at the time, hundreds of thousands of European residents faced the approaching winter without adequate footwear.

During the summer of 1945 as allied troops advanced against the Japanese in the Pacific theater, residents of Stillwater were faced with a dressing dilemma, a summertime scandal of shorts. It seems that for Navy officers of the Oriental Language School located in Stillwater, shorts were approved as appropriate summer time wear. James McAlpine, director of the language school, indicated that he wasn't waiting for the official shipment of shorts to arrive but that he had sent a pair of long pants to the tailors for alteration and would wear them as soon as they were ready. A spokesperson for the naval group stationed here attempted to explain the dress code decision by saying, “Why not, it’s hotter here than most Pacific islands.” When questioned about changing trends in men’s summer wear several Stillwater men reportedly felt that their legs were too unattractive for public display. On a more serious note, dispatches from the Mayors office indicated that there was no city ordinance against men wearing shorts but that one could be passed if the situation became distasteful. When questioned on her opinion of the men of Stillwater wearing shorts, one female resident simply stated, "Woo-Woo"...and that's what happened this week in Oklahoma history.

I'm Steven Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a production of the OSU and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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