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Bizarre laws on the books

A loyal Law Review reader (not my Mom) sent me a collection of old and – probably by now – obsolete laws that were until relatively recently still on the books in many states. There are some pretty good ones.

— It is illegal to raise alligators in your home in Corpus Christi, Texas.

— It is against a law to drive an automobile barefooted or with bedroom slippers in Alabama.



— In Rockville, Md., it is against the law to push baby carriages down a sidewalk two abreast, and in Roderfield, W. Va., only babies are allowed to ride in baby carriages.

— Here’s one they don’t honor in Sacramento. In Georgia it is against the law to slap a man on the back.



— There’s a Massachusetts law that makes it a crime to lounge on shelves in a bakery, and in Alabama there’s a law that prohibits sleeping all night in a barbershop.

— Barbers in Waterloo, Neb., are forbidden by law from eating onions between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. How about dentists?

— Under Kentucky State law, every person must take a bath at least once a year – whether they need or not.

— Pennsylvania forbids singing in the bathtub and in Mojave County, Ariz., anyone caught stealing soap must wash himself with it until it is all used up.

— New York City law states that all whiskers worn in public by Santa Clauses must be fireproof. This one makes sense. Alaska does not allow you to disturb a grizzly bear to take its picture.

— In Rumford, Maine, it is against the law to bite your landlord.

— Kentucky law imposes a fine of $1 for every cuss word used in public.

— Some things never change. 1930 Virginia Code: “To prohibit corrupt practices by bribery by any person other than candidates.”

— Galveston, Texas makes it illegal for camels to wander unintended in the streets. And in the Great State of Nevada it is against the law to drive a camel on a public highway – presumably except in the great City of Virginia City.

— An International Falls, Minn., law forbids dogs to chase cats up telephone poles.

— In Oklahoma, it is against the law to rob a bird’s nest in a public cemetery.

— In Quitman, Ga., it is against the law for any chicken to cross any road within the city limits. Even to get to the other side.

— Norfolk, Va., says hens cannot lay eggs before 8 a.m. and after 4 p.m.

— A Washington, DC law makes it against the law for small boys to throw stones, at any time, at any place.

— A New York State law makes it illegal for children to collect old cigar butts.

— And in support of Boston Clam Chowder, in Massachusetts it is forbidden to put tomatoes in clam chowder, you have to go to Manhattan.

— In Paducah, Ky. (the name says it all), it is against the law for a merchant to pull a person from the street for the purpose of making a sale.

— In Seattle, you can’t carry a concealed weapon that is over 6 feet in length.

— Supposedly San Francisco has an ordinance banning picking up used confetti to throw again.

— In Joliet, Ill., it is against the law to put cake in a cookie jar.

— In Cleveland, you can’t get married in a bathing suit.

— Only in Kentucky is it against the law for women to marry the same man four times. But what if he is your cousin?

— Alabama has a legal right to chastise their wives with “sticks no larger than the thumb.” I suspect that may not still be on the books.

That’s enough for now. Happy New Year.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter – Simon, with offices in Truckee, South Lake Tahoe and Reno.


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