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Have you adjusted to the vernal time change? I know it happened a few weeks ago and most years I don't have any trouble with the "spring forward" business, but for some reason this year it's been different. Even now I'm barely adjusted. I like the late sunsets that come with the time change, but I'm still having trouble adjusting to the mornings. Things were just starting to get brighter around 5 or 6 in the morning and then one morning you get up and it's like 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" stuff he was always spouting, even though when he was our representative in Paris he often didn't rise until noon or later. But as we know, things are different in Paris - not Maine - that other Paris. Paris, Maine is pretty sensible.
Anyway, digging deeper into this time history I learned that I wasn't the only one with adjustment problems. From the beginning there were folks 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, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, portions of Indiana, and the state of Arizona, as well as The Navajo Nation - all of those fine people would have nothing to do with the foolishness of "springing forward and falling back." They said 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 do it.
In the course of human events, 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 about when the 8:03 for Chicago would be leaving the station in New York. 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 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 much earlier than we do and, of course, got up earlier - like Ben told them to do. As a result, people didn't like going to bed while the sun was still streaming through their bedroom 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.
Now we're mostly together on the time business, but there are still those who are contrary, which is as it shold be. Like they say, you can't please everybody.
I don't know if I'll feel better when.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at mainestoryteller@yahoo.com or 899-1868.
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