Tom Purcell: Why ‘springing forward’ takes my dad weeks |
Tom Purcell, Columnist

Tom Purcell: Why ‘springing forward’ takes my dad weeks


Nobody dreads daylight saving time more than my father.

He has his work cut out for him this coming weekend, when we “spring forward” by setting clocks ahead by an hour before going to bed Saturday night.

You see, my mother loves clocks — so much that he has 14 clocks to reset.

There are clocks in both guest bedrooms. That way, my mother argues, friends and family members who stay over always know the time and can set alarms to wake early.

My father finally figured out how to change the microwave’s clock, but the stove is brand-new and its clock is causing him grief.

“For godssakes, Betty,” he complains to my mother, “I’ll never figure this daggone thing out.”

He particularly dislikes the clock in the basement family room. Everyone in our family thinks this framed “picture clock,” which displays a mill on a river, is ugly. But my mother loves it because 40 years ago, I used my meager high-school savings to buy it for her as a birthday gift.

My father especially hates it because he needs a stepladder to reset it.

“Why don’t you take it back?” he pleads with me often.

“I don’t want that ugly thing in my house,” I say.

There also are clocks in my parents’ bedroom, laundry room and car, and on their back patio. My father has to contend with two or three wristwatches, too. But the three clocks that trouble him most all have chimes — and getting those chimes to ring simultaneously takes him weeks.

One is a beautiful, hand-crafted, delightful-sounding wall clock that my Uncle Jimmy got for my parents when he served in the Army in Germany nearly 50 years ago.

On an antique table in the dining room there’s another chime clock that Verizon — we called it “the phone company” — gave my father to mark his 25th year working there.

When he retired after nearly 40 years of service, Verizon gave him a magnificent, chiming grandfather clock. It sits in the living room.

“For godssakes, Betty, I’ll never get these chimes to ring at the same time!” he complains at the top of every hour — and his lungs! — for weeks after we spring forward or fall back.

Daylight saving time, which aims to squeeze an extra hour of daylight out of a typical day, didn’t become uniform across the United States until passage of the Uniform Time Act of 1966. Over the years, there have been some changes in how long daylight saving time lasts. Today, it runs from March into November.

Proponents say daylight saving time gives us more daylight in spring and summer, getting us out of the house and making us happier.

Opponents say it makes spring and summer mornings darker, making us less productive at work and causing us to consume more energy.

All I know is that nobody dreads daylight saving time more than my father. Just as he finally gets his clocks to chime in concert, it’s time to spring forward or fall back again, which means his misery starts all over again.

He has but one thing to say to that.

“For godssakes, Betty, if I’d known these daggone chiming clocks would cause me so much grief, I would’ve asked the phone company for gold watches instead!”

Freelance writer Tom Purcell of Library is author of “Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood.” Visit him on the web at

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