Houston and the Goo Goo Eyes Law

Keep those goo goo eyes in their sockets, Lads! This is Houston, Texas USA!

Fellow Houstonian J.R. Gonzales writes a most educational and entertaining blog called Bayou City History at

http://blog.chron.com/bayoucityhistory/

We need to give J.R. Gonzales credit for unearthing Houston’s early 20th century attempt to protect women from sexual leering by men through the passage of an ordinance that forbade men from lewd “goo goo eyed” suggestions to women on the streets of the city.

Passed by Houston City Council in 1905, the “Goo Goo Eyes” ordinance decreed:

“That hereafter any male person in the City of Houston who shall stare at, or make what is commonly called ‘goo-goo eyes’ at, or in any other manner look at or make remarks to or concerning, or cough or whistle at, or do any other act to attract the attention of any woman or female person upon or traveling along any of the sidewalks, streets, or public ways in the City of Houston, with the intent or in a manner calculated to annoy, or to attempt to flirt with any such woman or female person, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor…”

The fine for conviction of a goo goo eyes law violation in 1905 was $100.00, an amount today equivalent to a financial penalty far exceeding $2,000.00. Interestingly, as well as unbeknown to the cultured and gender respectful members of my own adolescent and young adult generation of male Houstonians, these early century goo goo eyes laws stayed on the books in the city through the 1950s.

And nobody told that poplar singing group of the time, The Four Lads. Are you old enough to remember The Four Lads and some of the lyrics from “Standing on the Corner,” a popular song from 1956, the year of my graduation from St. Thomas High School?

Standing on the corner – watching all the girls go by 
Standing on the corner – giving all the girls the eye 
Brother, if you’ve got a rich imagination 
Give it a whirl, give it a try 
Try standing on the corner – watching all the girls 
Watching all the girls, watching all the girls – go by 

Brother, you can’t go to jail for what you’re thinking 
Or for that wolf – look in your eye 
Standing on the corner – watching all the girls 
Watching all the girls, watching all the girls – go by

The Four Lads obviously had not heard about the Houston goo goo eyes law.

Sure am glad we solved that problem. Now we are well on our way as a society to punishing all people who hold onto unfavorable thoughts and suggestive non-verbal communications, even those expressions of discomfort that emanate from drug and chemical addiction withdrawal.

Concerned Citizen (staring down and pointing at a man curled up in a ball on the sidewalk): “Oh, Officer, come over here please. And make it quick! This man says he’s thinking about lighting up a cigarette!”

HPD Uniformed Officer (running over hurriedly to his call for help and also pointing at the now purple-faced man in the sidewalk ball): “On your feet, sir! We have a law against that kind of thinking and I am hereby placing you under arrest for same. – You have a right to remain silent. …”

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JIMMY MENUTIS PARTY REMINDER!

Houston, 1959

 Jimmy Menutis Party, Featuring the Platters, Sept. 3rd: Don’t forget to contact Ruth Ann Menutis, asap, to make reservations for the big rock n roll birthday party in Lafayette, lA on Saturday, Sept. 3rd. Admission is free to fans, but only to those with advance  reservations because seating is seating is limited to about 250 guests.

Contact Ruth Ann Menutis at

rmenutis@brandedworksinc.com

at your earliest opportunity for party reservations and her advisory on your best hotel/motel rates in Lafayette. The Menutis family will do all in their power to help make your trip plan into this wonderful weekend experience both easy and as much fun as possible.

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3 Responses to “Houston and the Goo Goo Eyes Law”

  1. Bob Hulsey Says:

    And now we have sexual harassment laws which stem from the same “thought crime” genre.as the Goo Goo Eyes law. It all goes back to that phenomena of male-female interraction. Women do not want attention from men they are not attracted to but the same behavior is more than welcome from men they are attracted to. It goes back to my theorum “Women want attention from men except when they don’t.”

    BTW, I believe “Standing on the Corner” came from a Broadway show although the name of the show escapes me.

  2. Bill McCurdy Says:

    The song, “Standing on the Corner,” came from the Broadway musical, “The Most Happy Fella.”

  3. Gerald D. Swick Says:

    On March 22, 1951, the Harris County Court ruled that it was okay for women to make “goo-goo” eyes. The court held “a charge of ‘goo-goo’ eyes must specify that the defendant is a male. It upheld the conviction of Attorney Edwin P. Lea who was fined $50 in corporation court for making eyes at a housewife.”—UPI story, Mar. 22, 1951

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