OK, sorry. The headline is a small play on the fact that New Hampshire is the Granite State.
I am a huge fan of New Hampshire. My most famous relative lived there for decades, and donated her home and some acreage to the state, and it is now a lovely and quaint state park.
Our children will have more time after school to hike the Shieling Forest in Peterborough
if we have Daylight Time year-round. Photo from this FB Group.
She wrote that book after being inspired by a headstone she discovered on a walk through Jaffrey, New Hampshire. It read:
to the memory of
who was born free in
Africa a slave in America
he purchased liberty
lived reputably and
Nov. 17, 1801
With just that, she went to the state librarian in Concord and researched as much as she could about him, and then wrote a piece of historical fiction that was so lyrical, touching and powerful that it was awarded the top U.S. prize for youth fiction, the Newbery Medal for 1951.
A slave to the clock?
What does this have to do with Daylight Saving Time?
Perhaps just this: As the saying goes, “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.”
I wouldn't presume to say that fixing daylight saving time is the most important social justice issue of our time, or the most significant freedom and states-rights topic of the day... but it is a real issue.
It wasn’t, of course, in Amos Fortune’s day. Clocks back then were set to a town clock, and that was set by someone in the town figuring out when the sun was most straight overhead.
After the train came through, train conductors wanted synchronized time, so the Department of Transportation took over the regulation of time, and does so to this day.
When my great aunt Elizabeth Yates was a small girl, there was no DST, just Eastern Time. When we entered W.W. I, we started switching the clocks twice a year to stay in synch with the Brits, who themselves did it to stay in synch with the Germans. Why the Germans did it is a matter of some controversy.
As a country we Locked The Clock as soon as the war was over, and then we started switching twice a year again in W.W. II.
(Notice that “The Farmers” are not part of that history. They were not, and never have been and anyone who says they are is just repeating fake news.)
Why are we talking about DST?
Life in New Hampshire is just so much better than it was in the old days. People aren’t enslaved, and don’t have to purchase their own freedom. If you get influenza, you probably won’t die — that wasn’t the case 100 years ago.
So the things that we have to fix these days seem, perhaps, a bit prosaic, compared to the days when we did things like send a teacher into space, as we did with the great New Hampshire citizen Christa McAuliffe, God rest her soul.
But historians like Ken Burns of New Hampshire know that sometimes even small things can mean a lot.
So, what is this small thing we are fixing?
It’s the clock. Twice a year the government makes us change it. Why? It really isn’t the farmers. We change it, basically, because that is what we have done for as long as most people alive can remember.
And while it won’t save as many lives as George Whipple, (born in Grafton County, he’s the guy who figured out how to keep people from dying from anemia) fixing DST will save lives.
How? The research is very clear that the spring-forward change is deadly.
In a state as far north as New Hampshire, jolting an entire populace awake an hour before their bodies are ready for it causes traffic accidents, heart attacks, strokes, epileptic seizures, workplace accidents. Even judges are more harsh in their sentencing.
Worried about school kids going to school in the dark? Well, kids don’t die from that, and if the legislature wants to take up the idea of starting school a bit later, I’m sure you’ll have kids and families fully behind you.
The thing we actually need to be worried about these days is childhood obesity. The experts there tell us that another hour of daylight after school gives kids that much more time to play outside, not sitting inside looking at a device.
Regarding House Bill 567
Now, it is the case that it would be pretty disruptive for New Hampshire to be out of synch with Massachusetts and Maine. That’s why the bill being considered now smartly is following the trend of other bills around the country that say states should move as a group.
It’s very good planning to pass this measure right now. I hate to be the one to point this out, but Massachusetts may not be as neighborly, and could just pass a bill to #LockTheClock and not pay attention to if other nearby states are going to do it or not.
If New Hampshire passes this bill right now, you’ll know that you’ll be set if your noisy neighbor to the south takes action.
And there’s a good chance Massachusetts will act. They performed an excellent service for the whole country by really researching the topic in depth. The report they issued after interviews with the best experts is that staying on Daylight Time year-round is the best overall for everyone.
The panel also recommended that Massachusetts move to year-round DST in coordination with other New England states, but that could just end up being Connecticut and Rhode Island.
So this bill is the exact right solution at the exact right time.
Passing this bill will follow in the tradition of my great aunt, Amos Fortune, and so many other great residents of New Hampshire to lead on an important issue, and not just wait for the rest of the New England states to act first and then play catch-up.
New Hampshire has a proud tradition of going first in the nation with the primaries. Passing this bill will give New Hampshire a chance to also go first in bringing some sanity to the government’s mandate of us moving the clock around twice a year.
If you’d like to be a part of history, come to the hearing on Wednesday!