Time marches on, and very quickly

Gene Deason
Gene Deason

Six years ago, I wrote a column on bedtime stories I thought I might tell my grandchildren (if any came along). Well, we were indeed blessed with the birth of our grandson not too long afterward.

He will celebrate his third birthday next week.

I thought it might be appropriate now to update one of those bedtime stories, since it turns out I can actually tell some. So without further ado, I submit this for your consideration…

As a rookie editor, young man, I started writing a weekly column for the daily newspaper where I worked. Actually, it began six years earlier when I was in college. Some readers might say that was when I did my best work. I can’t argue the point.

Nevertheless, coming up with the topic was always the most difficult part. Once that was determined, the words just seemed to flow. Why that never happened until two hours before deadline is a mystery I’ve never figured out.

My thought-process always began with checking the calendar. Was a special holiday just ahead, like Christmas or Easter? Was it one of the days on which we honor veterans? Was it the week to change from, or change to, daylight-saving time?

If so, a suitable column topic was obvious.

The problem, though, was that after three or four decades of plowing those literary fields, all those topics had been covered. I had to assume that at least some of my current readers were also veteran readers, and you can’t go to the well too often.

You see, my boy, a well is where pioneers had to go to get their water. That was before we were able to get it in 16-ounce bottles at the store.

Occasionally, I was tempted to find a 10- or 20-year-old column in the archives, and happily “copy and paste” the text into the glaring void at the top of the page. Maybe you don’t understand the term “copy and paste.” It’s the primitive method we had to use in the early 21st century to move words around on the computer screen. That was, of course, before Apple came out with its eyeball-recognition program “iPlagiarize.”

So there was one week in mid-March during the year that Donald Trump was elected president.

It was also the weekend when daylight-saving time was going to start. You know, it was spring, so it was time to “spring forward.” That meant all the clocks had to be changed to show one hour later than before. And for the most part, we had to do it manually.

The problem was, I had written such a column repeatedly. How many times had my faithful readers been forced to labor through my recitation of the history of daylight-saving time? How it was developed from wartime as an energy-conservation measure. How much farmers hated it in the spring when they had to go milk cows in the dark each morning. How much the golfers loved it because there was additional daylight in the evenings. How dangerous it was when children had to catch school buses in the morning darkness. How people told that joke about daylight-saving time being like the person who thought he could make a blanket longer by cutting 12 inches off one end and sewing it onto the other. And how it all but killed the drive-in movie theater industry.

What’s a drive-in theater, you say? Let’s save that story for tomorrow night.

So, I was at a loss for where to go with daylight-saving time on this particular week. OK, we always have something to complain about it, spring or fall, so I can do that.

We do lose that precious hour of sleep each spring, not to mention the time wasted resetting the clocks.

In the autumn, you at least get the advantage of a 25-hour day because the hour falls back. But the unfortunate thing is, it took your mother and me almost that hour to get around to all our clocks. And wouldn’t you know it, there was always one clock we would overlook. Sometimes, it was two weeks or more before we would discover it.

Animals — like our pets — seem to have an especially difficult time adjusting to the time change we humans orchestrated. They become accustomed to certain feeding intervals, and it didn’t matter what time we thought it was. In their minds, chow time is chow time, and they want it now.

On the bright side, in the spring and summer, it is nice to have the sun set later in the evening. And after a few weeks, you hardly notice the loss of sunshine early in the morning.

Some people try to console us by saying the hour we lose in spring will be returned in the fall. But even the fall time change is a difficult adjustment.

It seems that when daylight-saving ends in November, there’s a more serene feeling to the days and the early darkness. We need some serenity at that time of year, because the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are approaching then. But for now, spring is just around the corner…

What do you know? He’s already asleep. Maybe I should turn in myself. After all, daylight-saving time begins Sunday.

Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He made be reached at gdeason@brownwoodbulletin.com.