Editor’s Note: This is the introductory installment of a new feature called “Carol’s Corner”. The writer, Carol Libman, has been with CARP Advocacy answering questions for members since 1988. Carol is also a writer and a playwright. Her writing career has taken her to The Montreal Gazette, several weekly newspapers and magazines, as well as into radio and theatre. A native Montrealer, she was a founder of the renowned Canadian play development organization Playwrights Workshop Montreal, still going strong after 50 years. On her re-location to Toronto, PWM established the Carol Libman Resource Centre to honour her 20 years of work with the organization.
On November 2 we turned our clocks back one hour. At least most of us in North America did, although not all. In Canada a chunk of Saskatchewan doesn’t bother with Daylight Saving Time, nor do a couple of spots in BC, Nunavut, Quebec and Ontario. Farm animals, were they given the opportunity to express their views, would totally ignore the change, their internal clock being much more reliable. So, why go to all that trouble when we’ll only have to move them forward in the spring next year?
However, attempting to be a model citizen, I complied. Although I decided to jump the gun and move the kitchen clock back on Saturday night, I definitely did not wish to raise the ire of Chronos, the Titan God of Time, or the local authorities, so I moved half of them back an hour, and left half for the next day. Unfortunately one of the ones left for Sunday was the alarm clock. This resulted in my scoring the fastest shower time in the annals of this country, although “in truth” records of this event across the nation are scant.
The phrase, “spring forward, fall back” is very handy for those of us who might have trouble getting to appointments on time in any event. It is particularly useful for a) those who always forget and b) those who can’t remember which way to re-set their clocks and wind up either two hours late or two hours early. Also it’s a neat play on words. Having grown up in a household where Dad was an adept punster, I’m in awe of such useful phrases that manage to combine verbs with the nouns they describe.
It is difficult to track down the origins of the phrase, even with the extra hour to do it. However, my research has revealed that on October 28, 1928, the Heppner Gazette-Times reminded people to re-set their clocks back one hour: Spring Forward “ Fall back. As I was only three and-a-half months old at the time, I do not actually recall the item. And besides, my family in Montreal did not subscribe to the Heppner Gazette-Times. Incidentally, that newspaper, located in Heppner, Oregon is still publishing.
Although many will remember that Daylight Savings Time came about during the First World War “first in Germany, then in Canada and Great Britain.” Benjamin Franklin is supposed to have proposed it in the 1770’s. He was an emissary to France at the time, but no-one in France or back home embraced the idea. During the War, the purpose was to save power and get people out working earlier to enhance the war effort, both in factories and on the farm. The U.S. didn’t get around to doing it until 1918; the law was repealed in 1919, but became a local option. In 1966 the U.S. enacted the Uniform Time Act, except that it isn’t exactly uniform, with some states retaining standard time all year.
So, having dutifully changed the clocks and thereby adding one hour to my day, I determined to make the most of it. This resulted in much cogitation, for at least 15 minutes, to determine the best course of action. I had to decide what was the most important thing to do. I realized immediately that my desk needed cleaning. In anticipation of lots of paper to get rid of I had to empty my recycling bin to make room for the new items. On my way to the larger apartment recycling bin I bumped into my next door neighbour. 15 minutes were required to catch up on the news. On my return I remembered that ace Canadian tennis player, Milos Raonic, was playing Number One player in the world, Novak Djokovic , in the Paris Masters Final. So, of course I had to watch. (Djokovic won, but our guy put up a great fight. Just wait until next year!)
This ate up the last 30 minutes of the hour. I guess my desk will have to wait until next year, too.
As an aside, in our consideration of time, I recently attended the Licence Renewal process in Ontario that drivers over 80 take every two years. Part of the test was to draw a clock with the hands at a certain specified time. None of the participants founds this difficult. However, if the instructor had asked a ten year old, for example, a blank stare would have resulted. “Hands? What do you need hands for?” If the instructor had insisted, I’ll bet that the youngster would have shrugged, raised his/her eyebrows, and then drawn a digital clock, held up by a hand on each side.
Carol Libman, who has been working in Advocacy for CARP since 1988, has recently retired from that job. However, she will continue her association with CARP and keep in touch with our members through CARPACTIONOnLine.