This amusing item was in the Long Branch (NJ) Record, 27 March 1903, pg.
5, col. 1:
"SPAT" IS NOT SPITTING.
Rockaway Justice Makes an Odd Ruling Interpreting Law.
"Yer honor, he spat on the floor," said Policeman Sullivan to Magistrate
Healy in the Far Rockaway Court when John Trumbull was arraigned, charged
with violating the sanitary code.
"Just spat?" inquired the magistrate.
"Yes, he spat on the floor of the smoking car."
"Well, if he spat he wasn't spitting," ruled the wise magistrate. "The
law says 'spitting' is prohibited in public places. 'Spitting' is plural;
'spat' is singular. It don't give any punishment if a man merely spat.
"Futhermore, a smoking car is not a public place. Women are admitted in
public places, but they are not allowed in smoking cars, so a smoking car is
not a public place. Trumball is discharged."