Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

March 4, 2014

John Cannon: He now loves saving time: 03/05/14

ASHLAND — When I read that State Rep. Kevin Sinnette, D-Ashland, was calling for the elimination of daylight saving time in Kentucky, three questions and a few distant memories from my teenage years came to mind.

First, the questions:

(1)Didn’t we have The Great Daylight Saving Time Debate nearly a half century ago?

(2)Wasn’t the issue settled back in the 1960s?

(3)If so, why bring it up again?

 As a teenager on a farm, I detested daylight saving time. But now that I have lived with DST all of my adult life and have been a “city boy” living in Ashland since 1979, I have come to like DST so much I don’t want to see it suddenly be taken away from us.

In fact, I love DST so much I did not even utter a word of protest when Congress lengthened it. As I recall, it used to begin on the first Sunday in April and end on the last Sunday in October. This year, DST will begin Sunday, which is March 8, and continue until the first Sunday in November.

I’m not sure why Congress moved the start of DST to earlier in the spring, but extending it another week at the end was done in the name of safety. The extra hour of daylight in late October makes trick-or-treating much safer for the little ghosts and goblins who are more interested in filling their bags with candy than in watching for traffic. I cringe when I see small children wandering the streets after dark, even if it is during what we used to call “beggars night.”

For reasons unrelated to what time it is, I’m really excited about DST beginning Sunday. That’s because DST is closely tied to the spring and summer months. When we “spring forward” Sunday, it will be a sure sign spring is just around the corner, and after the winter we have had, spring weather can’t come quickly enough. Sure, Mother Nature teased us with a few spring-like days a week or so ago, but Sunday and Monday proved Old Man Winter is still around even though he wore out his welcome long ago.

The reason I hated DST in my youth is because it just about ruined my social life. On the farm, we worked from the time the sun rose in the morning until the time it set in the evening. In the Great Daylight Saving Time Debate of the 1960s, city residents supported DST while those of us who lived on farms opposed it. As best I remember it, DST was implemented in Ohio in 1966, but it may have been a year earlier.

During the summer before I enrolled as a freshman at Morehead State University in 1966, Ralph, our hired hand, and I baled more than 15,000 bales of hay and straw. We had nine wagons on our farm, and each day Ralph and I would fill those wagons with more than 900 bales of hay. We would take turns driving the tractor and baler. We would start each day putting the 900 bales from the day before in a loft or in a pole barn. It was important to do that early in the morning, because nothing is hotter than a loft on a sunny July afternoon.

That summer was the hardest I ever worked, and I arrived on campus at MSU that fall in the best shape I have ever been in. Although I only weighed 165 pounds, I was really strong.

My objection to DST that summer was I had a girlfriend who lived about 15 miles away. We usually worked in the fields until dark, and because of DST, that meant it was 9 p.m. instead of  8 p.m. By the time I showered, put on clean clothes and ate a little supper, I could not get to my girlfriend’s house until 10 p.m. or later — and she had a midnight curfew her dad strictly enforced.

The death of my social life that summer was not just because of DST. After handling hundreds of hay bales and working in the hot sun all day, I often was so tired I opted for going to bed rather than seeing my girl. When I did see her, I can remember two or three times falling asleep while she talked. Believe me, falling asleep while your girl is talking to you does not endear you to her.

When I was at Morehead, Kentucky did not have DST throughout the state. Instead, each county decided whether to implement DST or stay on standard time. As best I remember, Fleming County had DST one year, while Rowan and Mason counties remained on standard time. Thus, when I drove home to Ohio, I went from standard time to DST and back to standard time in less than an hour. Talk about being confusing.

I think Arizona stays on standard time throughout the year so it can have the same time as Denver part of the year and the same time as Los Angeles the rest of the year. That’s also confusing, but since I have only been to L.A. twice in my life, I don’t really care what time it is there unless the Reds are playing the Dodgers.

While reading the story about Sinnette trying to do away with DST in Kentucky, several co-workers began discussing the idea. Finally I could no longer hold my tongue.

“I’ll tell you why we have daylight saving time,” I explained. “It is so we can get in nine holes of golf or a couple of sets of tennis after work before it gets too dark to play.

“That’s important to the economy, and it is not going to change just because some farm boy in 2014 can’t see his girl until 10 p.m.”

There may be some legislators from rural counties who support doing away with DST, but they don’t have the same clout as legislators in Lexington, Louisville, Paducah, Bowling Green and even Ashland. In my more than 34 years of living and working in Ashland, I have never heard anyone complain about DST before Sinnette, who I like and think is a good legislator. But, if you ask me, Kevin’s proposal does not have a snowball’s chance in you know where of being approved.

JOHN CANNON can be reached at jcannon@dailyindependent.com or at (606) 326-2649.

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