Past Times

The year Raleigh switched to daylight saving time – and the rest of NC didn’t

These merchants on Hargett Street and throughout Raleigh had to deal with four days of daylight saving time in 1932.
These merchants on Hargett Street and throughout Raleigh had to deal with four days of daylight saving time in 1932. Carolina Power and Light Collection, State Archives of North Carolina

One of the rites of spring is the switch to daylight saving time. This almost always causes confusion, but nowhere near the confusion it caused in 1932 when the Raleigh city commissioners adopted daylight saving time for the city of Raleigh – and the rest of the state did not.

“Two-timed” by the city commissioners, Raleigh will return to work today after a week-end in which some clocks were set forward an hour while others retained status quo. All this despite the endorsement of daylight saving time by the municipal fathers, who designated Saturday midnight as the moment it should become effective here until September 1.

The question, “What is the time,” required two answers yesterday as citizens wondered just how complicated the matter of time would become. Church-goers attended services according to regular schedule; today the ministerial association will settle the time question as far as religious events are concerned.

The public schools will operate on daylight time, which means that if a pupil goes by a family clock geared to Eastern Standard Time and gets to school on time… he will be an hour late. School opens at 8:50 o’clock daylight time, which is 7:50 o’clock Eastern Standard Time. But the colleges will continue on standard time.

To change or not to change will be uppermost in Raleigh folks’ minds today as they hopefully watch for some indication of how the majority will act on the time question. Many are straddling the fence as far as the proposition is concerned, wondering just how it will work out. Others are living by daylight saving time regardless of how the rest of the city does.

There is bound to be confusion today as business and professional people and laborers go to work, to meals and to sleep. Timepieces in some homes will tell the hour sixty minutes before the hands of its next door neighbor get around to that particular point; the same will hold true in business houses.

However, Western Union and Postal clocks will record Eastern Standard time. Guests in the city’s hotels will be checked in and out on Eastern Standard time. They came into Raleigh by that time and they’ll leave by that time as bus, train and airplane schedules remain unchanged.

The Rotary and American Business Clubs will lunch today by daylight saving time but the Lions Club, which endorsed the new time, will hew to Eastern Standard. All municipal departments will be on daylight time. But Piedmont League baseball games will be played according to Eastern Standard. Federal and State offices here will function by that time also.…

Standard time will be observed by the Gulf and Standard Oil companies, but the banks will move their clocks up an hour and most of the stores are expected to follow suit. State employees will go to work a half hour earlier, but they aren’t going to adopt daylight saving time. Theatres won’t change to daylight saving, but they will begin their programs at noon instead of at one o’clock as heretofore. The News and Observer will observe the regular time. Trolley schedules represent a compromise.

All in all, it will be a merry mix-up, particularly for out-of-towners who don’t know that Raleigh is the only city south of Baltimore that has daylight saving time. Sponsors of the enterprise say the confusion will be ironed out within a week as they formulate plans to get other cities in the State to follow Raleigh’s example. That’s what the commissioners recommended when they decided Friday that daylight saving time would be a good thing here. Another hearing on the matter has been requested, but the commissioners think it’s no time to be discussing time after they’ve already set it. The N&O May 2, 1932

In the end, the confusion proved to be too much, and four days after the time change went into effect, the commissioners “unanimously voted to repeal the resolution adopted unanimously.”

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Leonard: 919-829-4866 or tleonard@newsobserver.com

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