Fall back: Turn clocks back Saturday

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

According to the Bible verse and the song, there's a time for just about everything human beings can think of - a time to reap, a time to sow, a time to live, a time to die, a time for every purpose under heaven.

And then there's Daylight Saving Time. If a person didn't take the time to reap, sow, mend, rend, live or die, he just might have enough time to figure out this manufactured phenomenon and how it affects countries throughout the world. He can begin this Sunday morning, when, at 2 , he will turn the clock back to 1 a.m.

Other than messing with a person's natural sleep patterns, Daylight Saving Time doesn't affect too many people in this area, even the farmers, who are more tied into the rhythm of crops and sunlight.

"I have never heard a farmer complain one way or the other, but that doesn't mean it hasn't had an affect," said Willie Durr, an agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service. "If it did, you would hear about it eventually."

Even those working long hours that cross over that imaginary timeline aren't affected much. At Shaw, where the shifts and hours often cross over the 2 a.m. roll back (or forward, in the spring), workers don't "lose" that hour.

"If they work, they'll be paid for 13 hours," said Margaret Worley with Shaw's human resources department.

The United States' Daylight Saving Time in its most recent incarnation is a product of war, formally adopted in 1918 to preserve daylight and provide standard time. It esatablished time zones and set a summer DST to being March 31 of that year. Back then, however, people rose much earlier and the law was incredibly unpopular. The law was repealed - over President Woodrow Wilson's veto, and since then, DST has been an option for states to consider on their own.

Not all states do consider it, however. Arizona does not observe DST, although the Navajo reservation within Arizona does. Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa have all opted out of that extra hour of sunlight, and considering their tropical nature, it is easy to understand why.

During WWII, despite having been unpopular and repealed, it was reinstituted in the U.S. under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on a year-round basis. He gave it the patriotic name of "War Time" and it lengthened days from 1942 to 1945. From 1944 to 1946, DST again became a state-held option, including when it started and ended. Again, this man-made muddling about with time and schedules grew confusing and Congress passed a law giving exact schedules of starting and ending points. States did not have to observe DST, but if they did, they had to follow the timetable set out by the federal government. Spring forward on the first Sunday in April and fall back on the last Sunday in October.

Loathe it or love it, here in Alabama, we can' t escape it - so don't forget to set your clocks back an hour before you got bed Saturday night, or you may find yourself sitting in an empty pew Sunday morning, wondering why everyone else is an hour late for church.