Alabama, Appeals Court, Arizona, blanket, Chicago, Cincinnati, daylight saving time, double daylight time, Edgar Whitcomb, Farm Bureau, federal court, Florida, Georgia, history, Huntingburg, Idaho, Indian, Indiana, Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, Indiana General Assembly, Indianapolis, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Richard Nixon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Transportation Department, Uniform Time Act of 1966, Utah, Wyoming
Here’s an extract from my book on the history of daylight saving time around the world, The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy. Daylight saving in the US had been chaotic for two decades before the Uniform Time Act of 1966 was finally passed. But that was not the end of the matter in many states. About half the states introduced bills into their state legislature in 1966 and 1967 to exempt themselves from daylight saving time, including Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and South Dakota in the midwest, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas in the south and Arizona, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming in the west. Here’s what happened in Indiana at that time …
More complex and protracted battles ensued in Indiana and Michigan. Time arrangements in Indiana had been working quite well and it wanted to maintain them rather than for the whole state to shift to daylight time in summer. Officially, the state was split fairly evenly between the Eastern and Central time zones. In practice, 77 of the 92 counties used Eastern Standard Time all year except for a small area in the south-east near Cincinnati that advanced its clocks. The other 15 counties, in the state’s north-west and south-west corners, were on Central time and had daylight saving to be on the same time as adjacent states and nearby cities such as Chicago. In the six warmer months, the whole state had been on the same time. Further, standard time was well ahead of sun time, with Indianapolis forward by 45 minutes, and residents didn’t want to be ahead by nearly two hours with what they called “double daylight time”.
Indiana, in 1967, got away with its law to put one clock in each public building an hour ahead and for communities to decide their own time. The legislature wasn’t due to meet in 1968 and many people worried that the state would automatically have to go onto daylight time. Their fears were confirmed when the Transportation Department announced on 14 March 1967 that the state was to have daylight saving that year. But the state Farm Bureau felt that business would be disrupted and took the issue to the federal court. Theatre owners did the same, as drive-in movies would be forced to start very late and would lose a lot of customers.
A month later, the department reversed its decision, which gave Indiana until the following year to fix its time problems. Farmers and theatre operators withdrew their suits. But now it was the turn of the television stations to take the matter to federal court due to “substantial advertising revenue loss” if the state was on standard time and nearly everywhere else was on daylight time. They won their case and Indiana was ordered on 17 July 1968 to switch to daylight saving within 10 days. The US district attorney appealed the decision. Meanwhile, on 26 July, the same judge rejected a plea to delay his order and directed that daylight saving begin on Sunday at 2 a.m. two days later. But on 27 July, the Appeals Court granted a week’s stay.
The time turmoil encouraged The Indianapolis Star to repeat an old daylight saving joke at the top of page 1 of its newspaper on the Monday: “Today’s chuckle: Daylight Saving Time is founded on the old Indian idea of cutting off one end of the blanket and sewing it on the other end to make it longer.” This relates to a comment purportedly made by a native American years earlier when told about daylight saving: “Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.”
Television stations asked the Court of Appeals on 30 July to reverse its decision as they were losing revenue. The farmers and theatres reentered the row next day, seeking a delay until the next year. Joining them was the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns. On 2 August, the Appeals Court halted the daylight saving order indefinitely or until a final decision could be made. By then it was midsummer and well over a month after the longest day.
In January 1969, the Department of Transportation ruled that all of Indiana except the north-west and south-west corners would be in the Eastern time zone from April, a decision praised by the governor, Edgar Whitcomb, although the new directive reflected precisely what had been happening in practice for a number of years. The department would also seek to change the Uniform Time Act to allow states in two time zones to use daylight saving in one and keep standard time in the other. A bill to exempt the state from daylight saving was passed by both houses of the Indiana General Assembly in March but it was vetoed by the governor on the last day of the session despite close to four to one support for the bill in the House and almost three to one in the Senate. He was concerned that the state would be on a different hour to nearby states. There was no time to override the veto and the legislature wasn’t due to meet again until 1971 unless the governor called it back early, which he didn’t.
All of Indiana officially had daylight saving in 1969 although a few areas went their own way. One was the city of Huntingburg in the south-west. The council altered the city hall clock by an hour but, in an act of defiance, set out a resolution asking people to remain on Eastern Standard Time or simply pick their own time over the summer months.
Many residents and organisations complained about “double daylight time”, which they would now have to put up with for two years: 1969 and 1970. When the legislature reconvened in January 1971, the House voted 61 to 36 to override the governor’s 1969 veto of the bill to exempt Indiana from daylight saving. Ironically, the chamber clock was exactly three hours slow. The Senate voted 24-24 before another vote a few days later resulted in two senators swapping sides in a 26 to 22 count to override the veto, which was met with cheers and applause. To the relief of residents, Indiana would keep to standard time in 1971. The new law included provision for the north-west and south-west corners to use Central Daylight Time, pending an amendment to the Uniform Time Act.
That came in 1972 when the president, Richard Nixon, signed a bill on 30 March allowing states in two time zones to use different times in summer. The Senate had passed a bill nearly a year earlier but it sat in a House commerce subcommittee due to a reluctance to reopen the standard time–daylight time debate. North-west and south-west counties in Indiana could now legally have daylight saving. Seven counties in the south-east using Eastern Daylight Time weren’t covered by the amended Act but kept using this time in the warmer months regardless.
(end of excerpt)
The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy is available at Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y2R5KQ7), Kobo and Apple.