Turn back the hands of time
Published: Saturday, October 25th, 2003
Welcome to the dark side ... of the day. Yes, it’s that time again. Time to set back the clocks and bid farewell to that extra hour of daylight. Except, of course, in Arizona (not including the Navajo Nation), Hawaii and most of Indiana. Their time zones are constants — always standard time. For the rest of us, getting up early in the morning in the dark and getting out of work at 5 p.m. or so in the dark may seem like we haven’t seen the light of day at all. We’re not at all alone, however. According to webexhibits.org, at least 70 other countries are in the same boat. So, why the big deal about one hour of daylight? The idea of daylight saving was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin in 1784 while an American delegate in Paris. Franklin’s idea, aimed at making better use of time, was applauded by some, sneered at by others, then promptly ignored. Some students at Clovis High School tend to ignore the change — at times, anyway, according to vice principal Tanya Adrian. “I think it’s harder on the students when we ‘spring forward,’” she said. “At least in the fall they get to lay in bed an extra hour. They’re pretty good about getting here on time, though.” At Sacred Heart Catholic Community Church in Clovis, Nancy Root, office manager for the church, said the change of hours usually has an annual effect on parishioners. “They usually forget and either show up for the early morning mass too late, or for the evening mass too early,” she laughed. “Other than that, going back to standard time doesn’t really change anything.” While the notion of setting back clocks came and went, mostly in Europe, for another century or so, it wasn’t until 1916 that the plan was put into action. To conserve fuel, Germany and Austria began saving daylight in 1916 by advancing the hands of the clock one hour until the following October. England began saving time in May 1916, and Australia, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia initiated it the following year. The plan was not formally adopted in the United States until 1918, when a law was passed that both established standard time zones and set summer DST to begin at the end of March 1918. During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted year-round Daylight Saving Time, called “War Time,” from 1942 to 1945. After that, there was no federal law until 1966, so states were free to choose whether to observe DST and when it began and ended, causing no end of confusion in broadcasting and travel scheduling due to varying local time observances. Finally, the Daylight Saving Time Energy Act of 1973 was signed by President Nixon, calling for clocks to be set ahead for a 15-month period from January 1974 through April 1975. DST was changed slightly in 1986 when President Reagan changed the start date from the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in April. Today, Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. the first Sunday in April and ends the last Sunday in October.
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