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My memory is a trickster. Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, daylight savings time (DST) meant time to play after supper and endless days of summer ahead – right? Return to standard time in the fall meant the beginning of school, dark and homework after dinner. Or did it?

03-10-13 snowmeltThis past weekend, we all dutifully changed our clocks, but I wondered – March 10th? It’s not spring yet; the snow hasn’t even melted. So again, I did a little research and learned how bad my DST memory is.

First, I discovered that ‘spring forward’ happened much earlier than I remembered, not just before summer but late April until the mid-80’s and then early April. That change I remember because it always messed up my children’s circadian body clocks, or maybe, like me, they thought of daylight savings as summertime and play.

DST increased by another month starting in 2007 due to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, shifting the start from early April to the second weekend in March, and fall back from late October to early November.

Fall back – my second DST memory trick. School in New England began after Labor Day, and until 1955, fall back happened in late September. But I didn’t start kindergarten until after 1955 when return to standard time moved to late October. So my grade school memory of beginning school in standard time was flawed, too. Then deep in my brain, I made a connection: Halloween. We couldn’t wait to change our clocks back so we could start trick-or-treating earlier in the dark. Ah, a fond Standard Time memory!

According to National Geographic, there is no consensus about whether DST is wise (Ben Franklin’s ‘early to bed, early to rise’) or energy saving (perhaps regionally if you aren’t running air conditioning in summer evenings) or healthy (evening light increasing outdoor activity v robbing morning productivity). Polls are evenly split between DST lovers and haters, but it seems clear that political mandates are likely to stay.

Once a tradition always a tradition, and traditions, like memories, are hard to change.

Year Spring – more sun in evening Fall – more sun in morning
1950 April 30 September 24
1955 April 24 October 30
1960’s Late April Late October
*1970’s Late April Late October
1980-86 Late April Late October
**1987-89 Early April Late October
1990’s – 2006 Early April Late October
***2007-present March 8-11 Early November

1955http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/clockchange.html?n=179&year=1955

*Emergency DST Energy Conservation Act of 1973 (Arab Oil Embargo): 1974 = 35 weeks starting January 6; 1975= 35 weeks starting February 23

** DST increased to 29-30 weeks between 1987-2006

***Energy Policy Act 2005: DST starts 3-4 weeks earlier, ends 1 week later in 2007, 5 weeks longer in 2008 – 34 weeks of DST.

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