Opinon: DST: Here we go again


So, now I’m getting up an hour earlier. Well, not really. I’m still getting up at the same time I always have. But the clocks have changed. Daylight Savings Time strikes again.

The only good news is the kids no longer stand in the dark at the bus stop. The bad news is the cows still beg to be milked at the same time they always do. Only now it’s 5 a.m. instead of 6 a.m.

DST has been doing a number on us twice a year for as long as I can remember. It first started in 1908 in Canada. America instituted it in 1918, and it became a real thing to all of us during World War II. It was supposed to save energy and help us get the most out of daylight.

I guess it did those things. I’ve sat outside at 10 o’clock on a July night in Minnesota and read the newspaper. That meant I didn’t have to go indoors and turn on a light. I’ve also traveled to and from work in total darkness in winter. During those months we never turned the lights off.

DST probably wouldn’t make any difference in Alaska since the sun never sets in the summertime, anyway. Ditto the Equator, since every day has a monotonous 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness.

Back when Nixon was president and we suddenly had an energy crisis, he issued a couple of panicky executive orders supposedly intended to conserve coal, gasoline and presumably light bulbs. He ordered the nation’s thermostats to be locked at 65 degrees and the country’s speed limit reduced to 55 miles per hour.

He also ordered Daylight Savings Time enacted year-round. In January that year,  dawn crept over the horizon just before lunchtime and vanished again shortly after the afternoon coffee break.

I had a friend who spent a year as part of a research team in Little America in Antarctica. He said the Nixon decree reminded him of that adventure.

For the longest time Indiana never changed its clocks. Which made perfect sense because we’d already advanced them years before and never changed them back. Plus, too many parts of our state were caught in the crosshairs of someone else’s time slot – think Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan. By ignoring DST we kept the screaming to a minimum. Only Arizona has kept the faith and never changed time.

I don’t like the time change. Oh, I’ll still get up at the same time, no matter what the clock says. But I have a gee-whiz, slam-bang, bee’s knees digital watch that only a kindergartener can set. And my grandkids don’t come over that often.