Daylight savings has its reasons

Sue Gilmore

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 just seem like we haven’t seen the light of day at all.
We’re not at all alone, however.
According to, 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 serving as 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 would like 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 the same 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.”
Although the notion of setting back the clocks came and went, mostly in Europe, for another century or so after Franklin’s proposal, it wasn’t until 1916 that the plan was adopted and put into action.
In an effort to conserve fuel needed to produce electric power, Germany and Austria began saving daylight in 1916 by advancing the hands of the clock one hour until the following October.
This was immediately followed by several other European countries. 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.
The country was on DST for the remainder of the war and was observed for seven months in 1918 and 1919. This law proved so unpopular it was repealed in 1919 over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto and became a local option. A few states and some cities — New York, Philadelphia and Chicago, among others, continued to observe DST.
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 about DST until 1966, so states were free to choose whether to observe Daylight Saving Time 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.
Daylight Saving Time was changed slightly in 1986 when President Reagan changed Daylight Saving Time from the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in April. No change was made to the ending date of the last Sunday in October.
Today, Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. the first Sunday in April and ends the last Sunday in October.