First proposed in 1907 by William Willett, an English Builder and avid golfer, DST has had a bumpy road to survive into the 21st century. Willett came up with the idea one morning while riding …
First proposed in 1907 by William Willett, an English Builder and avid golfer, DST has had a bumpy road to survive into the 21st century. Willett came up with the idea one morning while riding through the countryside and fought for its implementation in Great Britain until his death in 1915. Unfortunately, it took a war, World War I to be exact, to turn Willett’s daylight saving idea into a law.
Ironically, not Britain, but Germany, along with their allies and occupied zones, was the first to use Willett’s proposed time changes during World War I. Britain and its allies followed suit shortly after, with Russia joining the next year, followed by the United States in 1918.
Some of the benefits touted at the time were based on alleviating hardships like wartime coal shortages and air raid blackouts.
Public opinion changed after the war due in part to farmers’ dislike of the practice and DST was repealed in most countries except Great Britain. American President Woodrow Wilson, who was also an avid golfer, twice vetoed the repeal that would take him off his beloved links an hour earlier. Eventually he was over ruled and DST in the United States was repealed.
From that point on, DST became a political football until it was finally standardized in the United States in 1966. Interestingly, in the mid 1980’s, Clorox and 7-Eleven ponied up the funding for the Daylight Savings Time Coalition which extended the time. Their research showed that they would sell more food at fast food restaurants during DST. In 1984, Fortune magazine argued that seven weeks of DST would add an additional $30 million dollars in revenue for 7-Eleven stores. The National Golf Foundation also estimated the extra time would increase their yearly takes by two to three hundred million dollars.
In 2005, the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Convenience Stores along with the Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation Fighting Blindness, among others, lobbied for the current expansion in 2007.
Winston Churchill said it best, “It enlarges the opportunities for the pursuit of health and happiness of my countrymen”. He didn’t mention that you can tee off at 5pm and squeeze in 18 holes if it’s not too crowded, but he was probably thinking it.
Daylight Savings Time, which most of us take for granted, has had an interesting history and is still controversial to say the least. But love it or hate it, it begins the second Sunday in March, and ends the first Sunday in November.