Hey Ya'll, Don't forget to move your clocks up!
One of my pet peeves is daylight saving time, which begins this Sunday, March 11, at 2 a.m.
When I was a young sprout I liked the fact that on the longest days of summer it started getting light around 4:30 a.m., and sunrise was just before 5 a.m. I was an early riser and liked the extra time to get chores done in the cool of the morning.
I must admit, however, that sometimes those chores waited until after an early-morning fishing trip. There's nothing better than hooking a rock bass in a clear rock-bottomed creek and still making it back home by 7 a.m.
That all changed with the dratted daylight saving time.
Did you know that daylight saving time in the United States has been around more than 90 years? The first daylight-time act was approved on March 19, 1918, but was in effect for only seven months (basically April through October) in 1918 and 1919. After the end of World War I, the immensely unpopular law was repealed by Congress over the veto of President Woodrow Wilson.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted year-round daylight saving time during World War II. It lasted from Feb. 2, 1942, to Sept. 30, 1945. After the war, states and localities were free to choose whether or not daylight saving time would be observed. What resulted was a confusing mix of laws from state to state, and sometimes, from city to city.
The effect was maddening, particularly among broadcasters. Can you imagine trying to schedule programs and keep the public informed of broadcast times when daylight saving time could be in effect in a city but not in the countryside surrounding it?
To illustrate just how silly the mishmash of daylight saving time laws had become, the Interstate Commerce Commission reported in the mid-1960s that bus drivers and passengers went through seven time changes on a 35-mile stretch of Route 2 between Moundsville, W.Va., and Steubenville, Ohio.
So, in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Uniform Time Act. Daylight saving time was set to begin on the last Sunday of April and to end on the last Sunday of October. The only exemption was if a state legislature voted to keep the entire state on standard time.
Twenty years later, in 1986, daylight saving time was moved to the first Sunday of April. Then, in 2005, Congress voted for it to begin on the second Sunday of March and end on the first Sunday of November. That gives us nearly eight months of daylight saving time, despite my personal aversion to the entire concept.
I doubt if I will ever see a time when we will end the observance of daylight saving time. It's too much a part of popular culture now. But in my heart I feel sorry for those individuals who will never remember what it truly was like to observe the words of Benjamin Franklin:
"Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise!"
Speaking of Benjamin Franklin, some think he supplied the germ of the idea of daylight saving time in a satirical letter to the editors of The Journal of Paris in 1784. In the letter, Franklin mentions "saving daylight" and urges Parisians to get up earlier in the morning in order to use the sunlight. The idea of energy saving was also part of that suggestion -- Franklin pointed out that the practice would cut back the amount of candles being burnt at night.
William Willett, a London builder, was among the first persons to seriously propose daylight saving time. In a pamphlet titled "The Waste of Daylight," published in 1907, he lobbied Parliament to adopt the concept, but was unsuccessful. To read Willett's pamphlet, click here.
There is also an interesting overview of the history of time zones and daylight saving time at WebExhibits.org.
And if you're a trivia buff like I am, you will love WebExhibit's page "Incidents and Anecdotes."