Obscure Maryville laws

While most laws that are known by students are enforced in Maryville, there are still some laws that are outdated and just plain weird.

After opening the faded cover of the Maryville ordinances from over a century ago, it took all of 15 minutes before coming across a law that required a double take. From there stemmed an array of laws more apt for the 19th century.

Every city has its share of strange laws, and Maryville is no exception. As early as 1882, the law declared activities such as being found intoxicated in any road, street or alley, playing ball on any public street alley and minors jumping on any stationary or moving car illegal.

To freshman Katie Shrewberry, these laws seem too weird to be true.

“First, I laughed,” Shrewberry said. “Second, I think that’s probably a good thing in Maryville. It’s a college town, and people can be kind of crazy. For everyone’s safety I think it’s a good thing, but it makes me laugh and think about what happened that made that become a law in the first place.”

That line of thought could lend itself to several laws in effect in Maryville today. A majority of laws are not out of the ordinary, and their placement does not raise questions. A quick skim of the books, though, will reveal there are oranges among the apples.

Odd laws are not confined to the past or the city limits of Maryville. From making squirrels worry to putting a sofa on the front porch, Missouri laws cover some strange ground.

One colorful crime is the selling of dyed rabbits or fowl. Along with the prohibition of funky colored chickens, the city of Maryville frowns on furniture on porches. Section 215.060 prohibits furniture designed for inside use, such as couches or recliners, from being on front porches or driveways.

Just as rabbits and fowl are safe from harassment in Maryville, squirrels in Excelsior Springs do not have to worry about being worried. Maryville squirrels are infamous for not being afraid of humans, but a law simply stating ‘worrying of squirrels will not be tolerated’ on the books takes away the chance for Excelsior Springs squirrels to show the same bravery.

Other strange animal laws include the prohibition of giving intoxicating liquors to elephants in Natchez and the installation of bathtubs with four legs resembling animal paws in Kansas City. It is also a crime in Missouri to own a dangerous reptile over eight feet long or an ocelot, a wild cat also known as the dwarf leopard.

Some of these laws have reason behind them, and senior Nathan Ellefson saw the sense.

“I think it’s a good idea to not let people own them unless they have a special permit or something,” Ellefson said. “As long as people know they have it.”

For those over 21, the laws of Maryville do have a bright side. On days such as New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, the Fourth of July and the day of the Superbowl, the day of the week does not affect alcohol sales.

On these days and others detailed in Section 600.30, any person or business with a license to sell intoxicating liquor may stay open just like any weekday. So on Superbowl Sunday, the cut off for alcohol sales in Maryville is extended, and citizens will be able to celebrate or mourn appropriately.

The men who gear up to cheer on their favorite team to the championship have another law to adhere to. Missouri law states men must have a permit before shaving, and some such as sophomore Kale Allen may scoff at the ordinance.

“What in the world kind of laws are these?” Allen said. “A real law requiring a permit to shave? That just sounds like a joke that was never meant to be taken seriously.”

Jokes or not, nearly every city or county in Missouri has some strange law with history behind it. These laws may seem unnecessary and are not enforced, but it leaves room to wonder who or what caused these laws. Similar to the tag on a hair dryer that reads ‘do not use in the shower,’ laws such as ‘it is illegal to drive with an uncaged bear,’ which is a real law in Missouri, seem pointless to some.

In the end, though, the fact remains that we are left with the opportunity to laugh at the weird laws that still exist.

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