Lessor Household Feasts and Celebrations #1: Fall-Back Day

November 1st, 2015, 2pm

I helped drag sunrise an hour earlier this morning. I pulled an hour out of savings where I banked it in late winter when we Sprang Ahead. Daylight Saving Time as ended for another year.

I move about my apartment trying to remember how to drop an hour from electronic devices: micro wave ovens, old clock radios. Some switch automatically, others switch according to the old Uniform Time Act of 1966, others use the dates of later time acts, still others, like my car, require reading the owner’s manual.

Some devices I ignore: old boom boxes and MP3 music players.

I grumble and swear under my breath as I adjust my bifocals and try to fit the tiny hole in the back of a big wall clock over the nail. Damn!

I remember sixty years ago when Minnesota cities battled Minnesota agriculture over time. City folk wanted longer summer evenings. Country folk wanted a social life. You see cow udders fill and must be milked at the same “time” each day no matter how you set the clock. Cow’s time can’t be advanced or retarded one hour twice a year. So the need to milk the herd might overlap with The Ed Sullivan Hour or I Love Lucy on television during the summer.

During the Second World War Minnesota adopted Daylight Saving Time to save energy - less lighting needed with longer daylight in the evening - and less opportunity for potential nighttime enemy bombers (in Minnesota 1,500 miles from either coast!) identifying targets in Minnesota by seeing light leaking through blacked out windows.

After the war Minnesota reverted to standard time, but many citizens remembered with fondness the longer evenings in summer they had experienced during the war: more time for a round of golf or softball after a taxing day at the office.

Urban dwellers loved the idea; rural folks hated it. I suspect this was another incarnation of the perennial urban - rural divide that affects our state and national legislatures.

Farmers said Daylight Saving Time did not allow them to work the fields any earlier, “because the morning sun does not dry the dew on daylight savings time.” Fast Time didn’t fit Farmer’s Time.

In 1957 the Minnesota State Legislature enacted a compromise it hoped would satisfy both urban and rural. (This law suggests that all bovines don’t resided in barns but also some occupy the chambers of the state capital.) The compromise allowed major cities and surrounding counties in the state to adopt Fast Time (as it was called then) if they chose while the rest of the Minnesota would remain on Standard (Slow?) Time.

The Alliance of Movie Theaters brought suit in state court. They argued that Fast Time would kill their business since people would not attend movies during daylight hours along with the fact of cow’s udders and dew-dappled fields. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled it illegal for counties to adopt a different time from the rest of the state. Then the state Attorney General issued an opinion that the Supreme Court ruling didn’t really apply to the state’s counties!


To deal with rising chaos a 1959 special session of the legislature adopted a uniform Fast Time law for the entire state. However as a final show of defiance by opposed interests, the period of Fast Time in Minnesota was the shortest in the nation.

One year the City of St. Paul voted to adopt Fast Time on May 9th - the date generally adopted throughout the United States rather that May 23rd, Minnesota’s Daylight Saving Time date, two weeks earlier.

Minneapolis, the twin next door, stayed on Standard Time. The fire department ran on Daylight Saving Time while the police department ran on Standard Time. Business in St. Paul adopted Daylight Saving Time while the university of Minnesota ran on Standard Time. ( Students placed handwritten signs next to clocks saying “You are now entering the Standard Time Zone”.) In the State capital building, the Supreme Court and Legislature kept Standard Time while the Govenors office adopted Fast Time.

They say Daylight Saving Time 1. Saves energy, 2. Cuts down on auto accidents, 3. And results in fewer crimes. Violating blackout, guiding enemy bomber to their targets, is not so much a current concern.

I just read an article that the United State do away with Daylight Saving Time and switch to only two time zones. The author argues economics and convenience for business but do we ignore that our health my be tied to a good balance of daylight in our lives?

Steve said thanks.

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Ken Jackson

An avid outdoors man. Retired and retiring, living on the shore of Lake Superior

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