When daylight-saving time begins we button-push or, if we have an old fashioned clock or watch, wind forward an hour. The clocks in our computers, cell phones and new cars won’t let us forget; they spring ahead whether we like it or not.
The morning after, we wake up groggy at 7 a.m., which is really 6, and it takes us days to get our body clocks synced with the fake time imposed on us so softball leagues can play double headers in April.
Well, at least we’re all on board. Most of us get to church — or the breakfast buffet — at the right time, well, the wrong right time. But it wasn’t always so. From 1946 to 1948, daylight-saving time, aka “fast time,” started on the last Sunday in April, but turning the clocks ahead was more of a suggestion than a policy.
Greater Pittston folks who wanted to go to 8 a.m. Mass the morning after went at 8, unless they were Lithuanian or Greek, then 8 a.m. Mass was at 7 at St. Casimir’s and St. Michael’s. The 8 a.m. school bell rang at 8 for school kids in the city, except for the parochial students at St. John’s, their 8 a.m. bell rang at 9, which was really 8. Miners went to work at “fast” 6, which was really 7, unless they worked at the Russell Breaker in Old Forge, then they went at 8, which was really 7.
Tavern proprietors didn’t know what time it was and the LCB wouldn’t tell them. Wives and mothers didn’t know what time to get the kids up for school or set the dinner table.
The Wilkes-Barre Traction Company, which ran the trolley system, and the Laurel Line tried to live in fast time and slow time. They scheduled morning trollies and trains once and then again an hour later.
Talk about coo coo clocks.
Clock chaos ruled as various schools, businesses, towns and even individual homes rebelled against fast time. Pittston stayed on standard time, even though the merchants, movie theaters and state and federal government office went to daylight-saving time.
Citing a statute passed by the state legislature in 1883, City Attorney J. Earl Langan said Pittston had to stay on standard time because it was state law. The statute, reaffirmed in 1919 and 1923, prohibited any interference with standard time except by congressional action.
From the statute: “On and after the first day of July the mean solar time of the 75th meridian of longitude west of Greenwich commonly called Eastern Standard Time shall be the sole and uniform legal standard time throughout this Commonwealth. And … “provided no county, city, borough, town or township shall adopt a different standard of time.”
In 1947, when West Pittston, Wyoming, Pittston Twp. and Avoca officially went to standard time, a newspaper headline read: “DST Observers Or Lawbreakers?”
But the city held fast on not going fast. At an April 29 council meeting, only Mayor Frank Horan and Councilman John Allardyce voted against a motion to stay standard. Following Pittston’s lead, West Wyoming, Dupont, Exeter, Duryea, Hughestown, Yatesville and Jenkins Twp. stayed on standard time.
In Pittston, the school system defied the city and went to DST with the merchants and dress factories. It got to the point where civic groups and hose companies had to list the start times of their meetings as DST or standard. So over the next couple years the towns caved — oops, bad metaphor — the towns reluctantly gave into fast time. In 1948, all but Yatesville, West Wyoming and Exeter went fast. Exeter Council voted 7-1 to stay on standard, with Councilman Lipfert dissenting, even though the retail stores, banks and liquor stores and most of the homes sprung ahead. The Exeter school followed the town, but didn’t stop the students with after-school jobs or dance or music lessons from walking out before dismissal.
Exeter gave in the next year. Yatesville and West Wyoming were the last holdouts. West Wyoming stayed on standard until 1949 to appease the mine bosses and the union. West Wyoming Burgess Jake Hizney was a local organizer for the United Mine Workers.
Yatesville earned a reputation for defying the fast timers. A letter from a mom to a local newspaper: “I wish I could get one of those people who inaugurate daylight-saving time to try to get a baby to sleep under fast time. Although it is late, the sun is still shining, confusing the child. Along with that the older children are playing in the street and making noise and the babies are off schedule. I guess the best thing to do is move to Yatesville for the summer.”