Have you adjusted to the time change? I know it happened weeks ago and most years I don’t have any trouble with the “spring forward” change, but for some reason this year it’s been different.
Even at this late date I’m barely adjusted. I like the late sunsets that come with the time change, but I’m still having trouble adjusting to those pitch-black mornings. I’m a morning person and things were just starting to get brighter around 5 or 6 in the morning. Then one morning, I get up and it’s the middle of the night.
Did you know that the great inventor, statesman, ladies man and kite-flyer Ben Franklin was the first to suggest something like Daylight Saving Time? They say it was part of that “early to bed early to rise” kick he was on – even though, when he was our representative in Paris, they say he didn’t rise until noon or later. Digging deeper into this time history, I learned that I wasn’t the only one with adjustment problems.
From the beginning, there were always a few who refused to have anything to do with changing the clocks. And even now, in these enlightened times, daylight saving is not observed everywhere in the United States and its territories. Folks in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, most of the Eastern Time Zone portion of Indiana, and the state of Arizona, will have nothing to do with the “savings time” foolishness about springing forward and falling back. They say in effect: Our clocks have been set, thank you very much, that’s the time, and we’re not about to turn our clocks one way or another just because the rest of the country is silly enough to want it.
In the scheme of things, we haven’t even been on standard time all that long. Standard time was instituted by the railroads in 1883 so that travelers would know when the 8:03 for Chicago would be leaving the station – at 8:03. Before the train companies strongly suggested the idea of adopting standard time, it was a local matter and most cities and towns used some form of local “solar time” that was more-or-less kept by some well-known local clock, like one in the church spire.
When Congress finally imposed the standard time system on the country, it’s not surprising that it was not immediately embraced by all citizens. Some people opposed a standard time just to be ornery and contrary.
As part of a plan to conserve coal during World War I, Congress created a Daylight Saving Time plan in 1918 with a law titled: “An act to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States.” The law was never all that popular and after the war ended it was repealed over President Wilson’s veto.
Why was it so unpopular? Historians say it was because TV hadn’t been invented yet and people went to bed earlier and got up earlier – like Ben told them to do. And people didn’t like going to bed while the sun was still streaming in their windows. It was unnatural.
The question of time then became a local option once again. Daylight Saving Time was continued in states like Massachusetts and Rhode Island and a few cities like New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. Maine went back to the old way like everyone else.
I don’t know if I’ll feel better when I wake up tomorrow morning, but just knowing more about the time change makes me feel better. I hope you’re feeling better, too.
John McDonald is the author of “A Moose and a Lobster Walk into a Bar,” “Down the road a piece,” “The Maine Dictionary” and “Nothin’ but Puffins.” Contact him at Mainestoryteller@yahoo.com.