Thursday, May 11, 2006

Curious Laws, Part 1.

In 1929, the Circus Nip Shoppe opened on Broad Street a block away from the elementary school. The shop sported a neon sign in the shape of a clown holding a spangled hoop through which tiny liquor bottles did somersaults. The full of glory of the sign was only apparent after susnet when the flashing neon really glowed in the dark. Even during the light of day, it was a jolly piece of signage.

Prohibition had just been repealed, and the school marms were disturbed that thier students would have to walk to class and home again past this seductive clown. They felt the use of this child-friendly figure would tempt the children to sample sip-sized bottles of demon schnapps. They circulated petitions throughout the neighborhood to ban the inappropriate use of circus imagery in the city of New London.

Enough signatures were mustered that the ordinance was brought to a vote in City Council chambers. The proprietor of the Circus Nip Shoppe argued that his sign wasn't meant for children. He is on record as saying, "When adults overindulge in the products I sell, they become clownish. I am trying to discourage our youth from imbibing intemperate spirits by showing how foolish they can become."

The neighbors were up in arms and they weren't about to be swayed by reasonable arguments. The measure passed without much discussion between the councillors. To this day, according to city statute, no advertisements can be displayed in New London that utilize circus characters for non-circus purposes.

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