© By Abraham Lincoln
When I was growing up the first day of the week, Sunday, was going to church day. Some of my friends went to church every Sunday. Most were like me and didn’t go to church. I don’t know if that was because we were poor and didn’t have clothes for church, or if there were other reasons. But mostly, the "Blue Laws" meant everything was closed on Sundays and you might as well go to church or stay at home.
It was impossible to go to a grocery store, a drug store, a movie theater, or to go anywhere on Sunday because everything was closed.
You could still find gasoline stations open on the big highways, like US Route 40. Lots of people ended up at these gasoline stations but not to buy gas. The stations often sold candy, ice cream, snacks, milk, bread and pop to travelers. The locals discovered if they ran out of bread they could go to the nearest gas station on "40" and buy some.
In those days, the "Blue Laws" were enforced. Blue laws were based on the biblical injunction against working on the Sabbath, and could be traced back to fourth-century Rome, when Constantine I, the first Christian emperor, commanded all citizens, except farmers, to rest on Sunday.
The first blue law in America was enacted in the Virginia colony in the early 1600s and required church attendance. Fortunately, the laws where I lived did not "require" church attendance. Though I might have turned out better if they did.
About three-fourths of the states still have laws on their books imposing some kind of Sunday restriction on such activities as retail sales, general labor, liquor sales, boxing, hunting, or barbering, as well as polo, cockfighting, or clam digging. These laws have been challenged in federal courts as a violation of the Sherman Anti-trust Act and the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion.
The Supreme Court has upheld them, starting with McGowan v. Maryland (1961), ruling that though the laws originated for religious reasons, the state has a right to set aside a day of rest for the well-being of its citizens.
How about that? I think these laws also contributed to a steady birth rate. I mean winter is bad enough but when you can’t go anywhere it seemed like the only thing going up was the national birthrate.