Monday, June 5, 2017

112. Pennsylvania Blue Laws

When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties, we couldn’t go to the movies or shop for groceries or clothing on Sundays. Our parents couldn’t buy beer or liquor and couldn’t buy a car. That’s because the Blue Laws, enacted almost 100 years before Pennsylvania became a state, were the law.

In brief, the Sunday Blue Laws prohibited citizens of the State from “working or participating in any sport or diversion.”  Until 1933, that included  professional baseball and football games which we enjoyed on the radio until the early Fifties when were able to watch Pennsylvania teams on TV.  

Blue Laws were intended to force State residents to observe Sunday as a “day of rest,” but over the years so many statutes were enacted, revised,  repealed or misinterpreted most laws became unenforceable.

When Nancy and I were growing up, our parents could only buy alcohol and wine in a State owned and operated liquor store, and there was only one in town. To make a purchase, customers placed their order with a clerk who disappeared briefly and returned with your order. Everything was numbered, so if you couldn’t pronounce Gewürztraminer, you asked for it by number. “I’ll have a bottle of 246.”

The legal age for purchasing liquor or an alcoholic drink in a restaurant was, and still is 21, but Nancy and I had our first cocktail when we were 18 on Christmas Eve in 1949. Nancy’s Dad made Manhattans for us, and I still use his unconventional recipe  today.

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