|Mary O'Hora & Lawrence Warner 1928|
Here's another old photo from my parent's house, it shows my grandparents Mary O'Hora and Lawrence Warner. This photo is dated July 1928 on the reverse, three years before their marriage and... wait, wait just one second, that would make Grandma fifteen and a half years old, and Grandpa twenty-one! I don't think that would fly today, that would be like a high school sophomore dating a college junior! Maybe they were just friends at that point..but they look pretty chummy.
This made me wonder if the laws concerning such things were perhaps different in the early 1900's, and as it turns out they were. I found an article on the very subject, (is there any subject you can't find an article about on the net?), Statutory Rape Laws In Historical Context. I'm not implying any hanky-panky here by the way, just to be perfectly clear.
The writer of said article delved into the history of statutory rape laws and how they evolved over the years. Also included on page 23, (page 15 on the toolbar), is a table of the changing legal age of consent for all the different US states, along with permissible, "age spans", the age difference between the subjects. My grandparents lived in New York state so in looking at that section I saw that in1885 the age of consent was ten. Yes, ten years old -- and if you think that was weird, in Delaware it was seven! By 1890 it had risen to sixteen in New York, and to eighteen by 1920. By 1999 it had been lowered to seventeen. The allowable age span was five years. The table isn't detailed enough to show exactly what year the age changes occurred, but I feel confident that in 1928 the age of consent in New York was not fifteen and a half. Seems like Grandpa may have been playing with fire but by December, when Grandma turned sixteen, they were at least within the five year age span!