We’ve been enjoying the benefits of daylight savings time for a couple of weeks now – something most of us have always known. But it wasn’t always so. We saved no daylight before March 31 in 1918, when daylight saving time went into effect in the United States for the first time. It was abandoned after World War I and had an off an on again existence for the next half-century.

Strangely enough, the concept was fairly controversial. In a government hearing on daylight savings time back in the late 40s, Senators brought up several unusual points.

The Senator from Louisiana wondered what effect the change would have on his milk supply since “the flow of milk is not governed by any act of Congress.” The Senator from Rhode Island answered: “I am not an authority on milk – I use it once in a while – but I am sure there will not be any trouble with the delivery of milk to the Senator’s door merely because of the variation of one hour in time.”

But the Senator from Louisiana was just getting started: “Daylight savings time or no daylight savings time, the birds are going to their nests according to standard time, and the squirrels will go to their rest in the same way; and the cows will want to go to the barns and get their food at that time, and they are entitled to do so. But the Senate bids the sun and the moon to stand still – why? To accommodate some of these ambitious people who like to get to work early and like to get away from work early and get out in the sun and play golf, and, after a few rounds of golf, retire for proper refreshments.

“Even love would be affected. A boy calls a young lady up and . . . they make a date for the evening and fix an hour. She has standard time and he has daylight savings time and they do not get together at all. It merely makes for confusion all around.”

Nevertheless, fifty-six senators voted for the daylight savings time bill. Calculations indicate that since that time we’ve saved 18,402 hours of daylight per person.

 

I don’t really care how time is reckoned so long as there is some agreement about it, but I object to being told that I am saving daylight when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind. I even object to the implication that I am wasting something valuable if I stay in bed after the sun has risen. As an admirer of moonlight I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it. At the back of the daylight saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves. — Robertson Davies

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