Saving Daylight

by Derek Holser, Tastemaker in Residence

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. 

It was a warm summer night. The factory workers had just closed shop, and the seamstresses had just folded their linens. The mood was amiable. The setting serene. 

Strolling from their rooms at the Heldrich Hotel, just a few miles over from Menlo Park, New Jersey, Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Franklin D. Roosevelt walked into Tumulty’s Pub and pulled up a stool. 

Edison: Ben, I’m telling you, I’m going to make a killing off your hunch with lightning. Kite flying might be for kids, but electricity is big business!

FDR: You’re going to need it – on account of the Depression. I don’t know if you’ve listened to me on the radio you’re going to invent, but…

Franklin: Sorry, FDR, but you tend to babble on. We’re here to get a pint, aren’t we? Barkeep, can I get a frothy mug of stout? You know what I always say – in wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria. 

FDR: Speaking of babbling on…

Oh, you’ve heard that one before? Ok, I’ll stop.

The three illustrious gentlemen who just traveled through various points in time to meet at a genuine American original, Tumulty’s Pub, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, have a reason to be here. You see; each of them has played a part in bringing us a most unique custom, known to us today as Daylight Savings. For a little history on the matter, click here: Time & Date

Franklin led the charge, philosophizing in an essay to The Journal of Paris in 1784 about the value of adjusting for the daylight to increase French productivity. You see, Ben loved the French (he spent more time there than in the U.S.A. during the Revolution), and he loved productivity. 

Since the French and productivity mix like oil and water, Ben wrote his collection of wisdom, Poor Richard’s Almanack. He also encouraged technology and efficiency in a variety of ways. He and Edison were kindred spirits, to be sure.

Mr. Edison, meanwhile, was obsessed with invention. Not before nor since has America, and perhaps the world, seen a person so thoroughly driven to create, tinker, design, and build. When he died, he had filed over 3,000 separate patent applications, and had an astounding 2,332 granted. Here’s the complete list: Edison

Which brings us to FDR. The last true emperor of the USA, with 4 consecutive Presidential elections, he is adored by many and reviled by some. He remade our nation in many ways, mostly in response to the disastrous financial crisis of the 1930’s. 

As the country group Alabama famously noted in their hit, Song of The South, “Mr. Roosevelt’s a gonna save us all!” (listen to it here)

Boy howdy! And save us he did. From the scourge of premature darkness, that is. Though introduced by Woodrow Wilson in 1918, it wasn’t until 1942, when FDR was looking for more government documents to sign, that Daylight Savings Time became a year-round occurrence. It has remained that way ever since.

Which brings us to current day life. 

Mr. Edison’s development of the transmission of electricity (Nikola Tesla fans, go to a different blog), and his endless creation of appliances to use that electricity and transform our household efficiencies, has rendered Daylight Savings Time useless. Think about it. How many times have you thought, I sure wish my crops had a bit more sunlight. We could get so much more yield on those soybeans. 

Of course you haven’t. 99% of the population no longer farms. So, why do we still have daylight savings time? It goes back to Franklin, with a thank-you note to Edison. Let’s keep it, as a tribute to FDR.

You see, as Franklin pointed out, evening libations are essential. The Spirited Table happens after the stress of the day’s work has worn away – either through a favorite drink or a great meal, and often both. The Spirited Table takes time. Late into the warm summer night, thanks to Mr. Edison, we have dimly lit tables and rooms teeming with life. There we discover the joys that spark creative thought, as evidenced by Mr. Franklin’s writings. 

We can’t abandon Daylight Savings. After all, FDR made it official. As the generation who came of age under his (like it or not) prodigious influence, I say let’s keep it in place as a memorial to a man who gave his all to his country.

As we prepare to Spring Forward this weekend, raise your glass to the boys – Ben, Tommy, and Frankie. And, if you’re anywhere near New Brunswick, New Jersey, stop in at Tumulty’s Pub. 

Order the Steak and Guinness Stew, paired with a glass of Jacob’s Creek Shiraz, and slowly savor every conversation and every bite. 

And thank those great Americans - Franklin, Edison, and Roosevelt - for Saving Daylight.