Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Tax on Bachelors? Why Not? 'There's One on Dogs'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Tax on Bachelors? Why Not? 'There's One on Dogs'

Article excerpt

Bachelor life in Pittsburgh can be tough. Unmarried men were once considered poor citizens, wedded to wickedness and vice. Years ago, some folks suggested a "bachelor tax." Such a levy would coerce a few of those nightclubbing men to get on their knees and pop the question.

It made sense to a man named Mr. Hennessey. "Why shouldn't there be a bachelor tax?" he asked in a 1907 Pittsburgh Press article. "There's one on dogs."

Unmarried Mr. Dooley took offense.

"I suppose ye expect next year to see me trottin' around with a leather collar an' a brass tag on me neck," he said.

Mr. Dooley was part of a fraternity of "comely bachelors" and considered himself quite a catch.

"Bein' very beautiful, we can afford to be haughty and peevish," he said. "It makes us more interestin'."

Using a tax to bully men into marriage was a terrible idea, said a Pittsburgh Press writer in 1921. Any man who could be driven to matrimony by such a tax "would lack the nerve and stamina necessary to make him a successful husband."

The wife of such a man, the writer continued, would certainly be annoyed that her husband's motivation for matrimony was not love and romance but an overwhelming desire to avoid paying a $5 tax bill. Forget about diamonds and pearls.

In 1902, a bachelor named Frank Harper expressed his frustration with women who continually asked him why he wasn't married. He suggested this reply:

"Madam, that query can be best answered by your own sex."

But Mr. Harper would never say such a thing. Bachelors, he said, are gentlemen.

Identifying unmarried men in a crowd was an issue addressed in a 1912 Pittsburgh Press story. One suggestion: Give bachelors special pins identifying them as unwed. Maybe it should be a law.

That wasn't good enough for Mary Coleman. "The distinguishing mark I'd suggest is a black necktie," she said. …

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