By Bill Derby, Publisher
Some of this may be true and some not so true, just like the history some institutions are teaching today.
Ben Franklin commented, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” The first part is true, but at an older age, old Ben left out the part about bladder function.
“The early bird gets the worm” is another but leaves out what the worm thinks about it.
You can blame Daylight Saving Time on Mr. Franklin, an American hero, inventor, newspaperman, and just about everything good that happened during his years. Ole Ben, at 78 years of age, was stuck in Paris as an American delegate in 1784. He was mostly confined to his home in the outskirts of Paris fighting his health issues of gout and gallstones.
To help fight his boredom one of his French newspaper friends asked him to pen a few ramblings to entertain readers. One of his writings focused on the economy of saving the fuel of the new oil lamp by going to bed earlier and getting up earlier to enjoy the early morning sunlight. It would also help to decrease the use of candles, an important source of light in those days. However, Ben Franklin was known to play chess into the early morning hours and sleep till noon. Hum…sounds like…. ‘Better for me, not thee.
Through some quirk of fate Franklin was startled awake at 6 a.m. one morning, opened his window covering and discovered that it was daylight. What a novel idea to change the clocks so folks could have more daylight in the evening. He was determined to develop a scientific approach to his theory and came up with the following which was discovered this morning while looking for a column idea.
By Ben Franklin, “On the assumption that 100,000 Parisian families burned half a pound of candles per hour for an average of seven hours per day (the average time for the summer months between dusk and the supposed bedtime of Parisians), the account would stand thus: “183 nights between 20 March and 20 September times 7 hours per night of candle usage equals 1,281 hours for a half year of candle usage. Multiplying by 100,000 families gives 128,100,000 hours by candlelight. Each candle requires half a pound of tallow and wax, thus a total of 64,050,000 pounds. At a price of thirty sols per pounds of tallow and wax (two hundred sols make one livre tournois), the total sum comes to 96,075,000 livre tournois. “An immense sum,” the astonished Franklin concluded, “that the city of Paris might save every year.”
Some “new” regulations
To answer skeptics who cried that old habits are hard to change, and it would be difficult to induce the population of Paris to rise before noon, Franklin proposed the following regulations:
- A tax be laid on every window built with shutters to keep out the light of the sun.
- Candles rationed to one pound per family per week, and the regulation enforced by the constabulary.
- Guards posted to stop the passage of all coaches, etc. upon the streets after sunset except those of physicians, surgeons and midwives.
- Every morning as soon as the sun shall rise, church bells and, if necessary, cannon shall inform the citizenry of the advent of light and “awaken the sluggards effectually and make them open their eyes to see their true interests … All the difficulty will be in the first two or three days; after which the reformation will be as natural and easy as the present irregularity. … Oblige a man to rise at four in the morning, and it is probable he will go willingly to bed at eight in the evening.”
It takes me a week to adjust to Mr. Franklin’s Daylight Saving Time and it isn’t easy but the extra daylight is wonderful. Thank you Mr. Franklin for Daylight Saving Time. Let’s keep it all year.