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Real (Strange) Laws

Without laws to make, there would be no lawmakers. This might explain the proliferation of stupid laws. But what do we know? We're just a Web site.

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It sounds like the title of a rock album or something, but "Coasting on Beaver Street" is illegal in Edgeworth, Pa.
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In Christiansburg, Va., it's illegal to imitate a police whistle.

Gypsies should steer clear of Caroline County, Md., where it's a $100 fine or six months in the can for "forecasting or pretending to foretell the future."

In Xenia, Ohio, it's illegal to spit in a salad bar.

Strangers in Simsbury, Conn., were required, under an ordinance enacted in 1701 and only recently repealed, to leave town within a month unless they had at least 20 shillings to their names.

Under an old law in Marblehead, Mass., it was illegal to cross the street on Sunday, unless absolutely necessary.

It sounds like the title of a rock album or something, but "Coasting on Beaver Street" is illegal in Edgeworth, Pa.

In Robbins, N.C., anyone who refuses to black out after hearing the blackout signal is subject to a $5 fine.

An ordinance in Murray, Ky., says the superintendent of sanitation "shall determine whether a person is small, medium or large." Why the superintendent should make this determination is left unsaid.

By law, "watch stuffers" are unwelcome in McKeesport, Pa. Now, no one is quite sure what a watch stuffer does, but whatever he does, he better do it somewhere else.

It used to be against the law in Jonesboro, Ga., to utter the words, "Oh boy."

Miami Shores Village, Fla., has for years required that all goods made in Communist countries and offered for sale in Miami Shores Village be clearly marked as such. The ordinance notes that such goods are often marked in a "false, misleading or inadequate manner, to hide their Communist origins."

In Rockwell, N.C., anyone who violates the terms of a proclamation--such as failing to appropriately celebrate Peanut Day or Jaycees Week--is guilty of a misdemeanor.

A 1950 anti-obscenity law in Irondale, Ala., prohibited any showing of anyone nude or "in a substantially nude state" except a babe in arms.

In Jonesboro, Tenn., a slingshot used to be classified by law as a deadly weapon.

A Washington state law offers the presumption that youngsters will read comic books.

Under the Code of 1650 in the New Haven Colony (in what is now Connecticut), a 16-year-old boy could be put to death if he "cursed, struck or disobeyed" his parents or was "stubborn or rebellious."

Wisconsin law provides for a fine of $2 to $20 for anyone under age 17 caught jumping onto a railroad car while the train is in motion.

In a case of wishful thinking, a Delaware legislator recently proposed a law that would require every minor to inform his or her parents before engaging in sexual intercourse.

It used to be the law in Hawaii that children had to obey all "lawful and moral" commands of their parents.

In Olympia, Wash., minors are prohibited from frequenting pool halls.

In Washington state it's illegal to sell to minors comics that might incite them to violence or depraved or immoral acts.

A Wisconsin legislator recently introduced a bill making it illegal to tattoo someone under the age of 18. He was quoted as saying, "I'm going to save the buttocks of a few juveniles."

In Mesquite, Texas, it's still against regulations for youngsters to have haircuts that are "startling or unusual."

In Washington, it's illegal to pretend you're the child of a rich person and entitled to his estate.

Wyoming required that every inmate of the state's training school for girls be issued crinoline bloomers.

Under a 1959 ordinance, stubborn children were considered vagrants in Jupiter Inlet Colony, Fla.

In North Carolina it's illegal to dig ginseng on other people's property between the months of April and September, according to an 1866 law.

If you happen to own a marl bed in North Carolina, the law demands that you put a fence around it. A marl bed may not be what you think. It is a kind of rock quarry.

Apparently with an exaggerated idea of the laws of thermal dynamics, the city council of West Palm Beach, Fla., once decreed that the roofs of all outhouses be fireproof.

In Los Angeles, years ago it was legal to cook in your bedroom, but not to sleep in your kitchen.

An old law in Columbus, Georgia, made it illegal to sit on your porch in an indecent position.

In San Francisco, it's illegal to beat a rug in front of your house.

A Kennesaw, Ga. law makes it illegal for every homeowner not to own a gun, unless you are a convicted felon, conscientious objector or disabled.

In Ballwin, Mo., the only place you can use vulgar, obscene or indecent language is in your home.

In Colorado it's now legal to remove the furniture tags that say, "Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law."

In Washington state, until quite recently, you could have been fined up to $500 for removing or defacing the label on a pillow.

Because people were using them for cheap furniture, it's now illegal in North Carolina to take and sell labeled milk crates.

Taxpayers of Bainbridge, Ind., used to have to swear a solemn oath that the values they placed on their taxable property were the fair market values.

In colonial times, Hartford, Conn., had an ordinance that allowed any resident to rent the town chain for 2 pence. The resident had to fix it if he broke it.

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In Hawaii, it's illegal for a shooting gallery to offer liquor as a prize.
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In Hawaii it's illegal for a shooting gallery to offer liquor as a prize. The shooter might want to come back after drinking the prize and try again.

In Baltimore it's illegal to play professional croquet before 2 p.m. Sunday. The law also applies to professional quoits.

Both Massachusetts and New Hampshire had old laws that penalized gamblers who lost money. You'd get fined in Massachusetts if you had any money left. In New Hampshire you are prohibited from pawning the clothes off your back to pay off gambling debts.

In recent years, several efforts have been made to legalize camel racing and ostrich racing in New Mexico, but to no avail. Those bills were defeated, but the legislature recently allowed gambling on bicycle races.

Delaware prohibits horse racing of any kind on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Under Delaware law, any person of good moral character may keep and operate a bowling alley. No gambling, however, is allowed.

Riverboat gamblers in Iowa have a $5 maximum bet.

In Las Vegas you can bet on any team--except The University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

It's illegal to clam at night in Connecticut.

Due to a typographical error in the Tempe, Ariz., code, a shooting range can be run by the "Amateur Crapshooting Association."

The state of Washington doesn't allow marathon dancing--or marathon skipping, sliding, gliding, rolling or crawling.

San Francisco has an ordinance prohibiting "cane games." City officials have no idea what cane games are. But when revising city laws recently, officials decided to keep the prohibition on the books, in case someday, somehow, cane games came back, they were deemed improper and the city needed the law.

Washington state doesn't allow fake wrestling.

In Maryland, the legislature once proposed a board of parachute examiners to be made up of five licensed parachute instructors who would test and license all other parachute instructors. The plan had been abandoned when it was learned there were only three licensed parachute instructors in the state.

In North Dakota, charitable groups can hold stud poker games to raise money, but only twice a year.

In Indiana a sports agent is supposed to give a college 10 days notice before luring a star athlete into the professional ranks.

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