JACK SIMPSON: Strange laws from the past



We have some unusual rules and laws. Others do as well. Many are archaic and have been on the books for years. They haven’t been updated to make them relevant in modern society. They aren’t even enforced.

The first example comes from England where an overweight gentleman was required by an airline to purchase two seats. It seems overweight passengers cost more because they help increase fuel costs. This individual followed the rules, bought two seats and when he got on the plane found his seats were in two different rows! Surprised, he still figured he was lucky. His two seats were not in a three-seat row with one on the aisle and the other next to the window.

Right here in Columbus, Ga., so I’m told, it is illegal to block a moviegoer’s view by wearing a hat. It is also illegal to sell a squirrel’s tail, and I’m betting they are glad of this.

Here is one Congress might be interested in. In San Francisco, it is illegal to pile horse manure higher than 6 feet on a street corner. Some place in Alabama you cannot wear a false mustache to church because it might make folks laugh. Yes, it is illegal.

In California a whole lot of strange things go on, so it is no surprise to learn you cannot trap a mouse without a permit. And, in Colorado, you better think twice about throwing shoes at a bridal couple. In Hawaii, you cannot use a shaving brush to lather a customer.

Moving on down to Florida, you’d better not fall asleep under a hair dryer in a hair salon. The owner can fine you. And, you unmarried ladies might like to know before you try parachuting on Sunday that it is illegal to do so. Go to church instead, but for heaven’s sake don’t spit on the floor because the cops will surely haul you away for this offense.

You may be loving it at McDonald’s, but in Little Rock, if you pull into one of their parking lots and sound your horn after 9 p.m. you have broken the law.

I’ve forgotten exactly where this is, but it is somewhere in the U.S.A. You are forbidden from bringing your donkey or mule into a trolley car or hooking your horse to a parking meter.

Speaking of animal rights, in Helena, Mont., you can expect to be arrested for riding your giraffe down Main Street.

If you are in Alabama and have the credentials and the urge to perform a marriage, the law says you are entitled to collect a $2 fee. Oh, and by the way, just so you’ll know: It is still illegal to wrestle a bear.

Hungry and tired of your usual fare? Go to West Virginia where it is legal to take roadkill home for food.

I guess some of these laws are still on the books. There is one in Athens, Ga., where loud whistling is forbidden after 11 p.m., and one in Columbus, Ga., which forbids carving your initials on the old oak tree. You can’t cuss over the telephone either, no matter how much you might want to do so.

Other no-nos — can’t burn a cross on someone’s property without permission. Cannot feed a wild alligator. Cannot open an umbrella on a public street because you might spook the horses.

At least we know that sometime in our past legislators did get together and pass laws, even some we find funny today.

Right now we find it funny because our Congress and president cannot seem to pass anything that will keep our nation open and operational. Wonder what is in our future. Don’t you?

Years from now we might be laughing at today’s silliness in Washington. Right now we cannot find the humor in this gridlock.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, author, veteran and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.