5 People From History United Only Through Their Hatred of Socks
We’re constantly buying special underwear designed exclusively for our feet. This reveals a design flaw in the human foot, a design flaw in footwear or design flaws in both.
Not everyone, however, is content to live as a slave to Big Sock. Rebels have fought against the system, rebels including such luminaries as...
Einstein went on walks every day, including a three-mile roundtrip daily walk during his time at Princeton. That would be impressive for anyone that nerdy, and it was especially impressive considering he faced these regular treks with his feet uncushioned. “When I was young,” he wrote, “I found out that the big toe always ends up making a hole in a sock. So I stopped wearing socks.”
He wrote those words in a letter to his first cousin, Elsa. All that talk of feet going commando got her so excited that she soon started sleeping with him and later married him.
Some of you are now thinking, “Hey, Einstein, you ever consider clipping your toenails? Or just switching to better socks? Try that, and your toe isn’t going to rip a hole in them anymore.” It’s possible that the man considered both those options, and he found they solved nothing. We should also mention that for some people, the expense of high-quality socks is the main motivator behind their sock aversion. People like...
The Russian Military
Traditionally, the Russian military did not wear socks. They did wear boots, and bare skin against boots is a recipe for disaster, but rather than socks, they wrapped their feet in squares of cloth. They called these squares portyanki. Americans first discovered this strange choice when they met the Red Army before a battle in 1945 and saw the Soviets covering their feet in what looked like rags.
Portyanki existed before socks. Once socks spread worldwide, people realized they were faster to put on than portyanki and more comfortable, making them superior in just about every way. Still, the Russian military stuck to the wraps because they were much cheaper to make and easier to mend. During World War II, when countries were devoted to manufacturing such complex products as airplanes, sock production might not sound like an obstacle at all, and yet it was, for a country whose every factory was pushed to its limit.
Much of the world shifted to socks once the Industrial Revolution kicked in and mass production became easy. The Russian military stuck to portyanki, not just initially, and not just during World War II but even during the 21st century. They only switched fully to socks in 2013. Soon after that, Russia invaded Crimea, suggesting socks induce evil in those who wear them.
Calvin Coolidge’s Son
Calvin Coolidge’s son was named Calvin and was therefore known as Calvin Jr. This is confusing because President Coolidge was actually named John (Calvin was his middle name), as was his father, making the 30th president’s full name John Calvin Coolidge Jr. Also, Coolidge’s firstborn was named John, but was not called junior, or John III.
Calvin Jr. died in 1924, when his father was president. In fact, he died of an injury he sustained at the White House itself. He was playing tennis at a White House court with John — his brother John, not his father John, nor his grandfather John. He chose not to wear socks during this match. As a result, he developed a blister, which got infected and killed him a week later. He was just 16. Incidentally, his and John’s tennis opponents during the game were two doctors employed by the White House, who offered no assistance preventing this ordeal whatsoever.
Recently, we were noting the strange number of French kings who died playing tennis. Turns out it’s not just a royal French phenomenon. No dynasty is safe.
William Price, the Welsh Archdruid
When he was a young man in the early 19th century, William Price was considered pretty normal. Then he got involved in politics, and England didn’t much like it when revolutionary ideas entered Welshmen’s heads, so he had to flee Britain, disguised as a woman. He moved to Paris, and at the Louvre, he saw an ancient stone and came up with his own interpretation of the engravings. The stone was a prophecy, he concluded, which foretold that he would save Wales. And so, he reinvented himself as an archdruid. Here’s a photo of him:
As a religious leader, he now preached various beliefs. He opposed vivisection and vaccination but supported vegetarianism. He also opposed socks. “Stockings prevent the proper exhalation of the feet,” he said, “which, in consequence, are kept damp. And the person who wears them is more liable to catch cold. My feet are always dry and warm.” Indeed, eschewing socks kept him healthy and virile. On his 81st birthday, he married a 21-year-old and went on to successfully have a child with her. Then he moved on to an 18-year-old, with whom he had three children, one of whom he named Jesus Christ.
In 1884, authorities arrested Price for setting baby Jesus on fire. An investigation revealed that he had not really committed infanticide. The baby had died (very common at the time), and he was merely cremating the body. However, prosecutors said this too was sacrilege and took him to court.
Price successfully argued that no rule forbade this practice, and as a result, Britain wrote its first law officially recognizing cremation. Price himself went on to be cremated, following his death at age 92. Twenty-thousand people attended the ceremony. In his last moments, his entire body — just like his feet had long been — was dry and warm.
Inventor Edgar Ellington
Price was right that damp feet can be dangerous and that socks play a role in this issue. One big risk is trench foot, where a wet foot can freeze, split open or rot. In the 1950s, inventor Edgar Ellington sought to create a waterproof sock, lined with rubber, to prevent trench foot. That sock sounds terrible at keeping your foot dry if you’re thinking about foot sweat, but it at least stood a shot at protecting feet from external moisture.
Ellington tested his invention by filling it with water to see how well the latex was holding up. It wasn’t working well, not when forced through all a sock’s twists. Water was gushing out. Angry, Ellington tossed the sock away, and it burst. This is one of the greatest acts of violence ever committed against socks, as socks otherwise generally do not explode when thrown.
Destroying that sock turned out to be really fun. And so, Ellington discarded the useless pursuit of socks and turned toward the far more interesting field of water-based explosives. He sold envelopes of latex, to be filled with water, under the name “water grenades.” Later, these became better known as water balloons.
That was how Ellington became the quartermaster of our team of adventurers. Einstein’s the brains. The Russian military is the brawn (some seasons, they double as the Token Evil Teammate). Calvin Junior is the plucky youngster. William Price, he’s there to use his magic to control nature and animals. Together, they travel across time on a mission to free the world of the sock scourge. Because feet don’t need socks. Feet need to breathe.