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CSotD: Of Time and the Ribbers

The first Daylight Saving Time changeover was March 30, 1918, back when photographic set pieces like this, featuring small children in hastily-made costumes, were a fading but still present part of newspaper graphics.

 

One complication was that the next day was Easter, but the good people of Harrisburg, PA, didn’t have to worry about missing services, because, as noted here, the mayor would make sure they remembered to reset their clocks the night before.

 

Jack Callahan focused the Over Here strip on Easter itself, without mention of the time change.

Side note: I was surprised to see the girl asking if anyone remembered those candy Easter eggs with pretty sights inside, because they were still around when I was a wee lad in the 50s: Hollow softball-sized eggs made of colored sugar with dioramas inside fashioned from candy and a few paper cutouts.

They were a test of how long  you could preserve beauty without breaking off pieces and eating them.

 

This was less a strip than a public service explaining the time change. Hard to clean up all that shading, so here are the captions:

Before retiring, turn the clock ahead … because tomorrow morning all watches must have a lead of an hour on Old Sol … When you eat breakfast at the regular hour the sun will be much lower than usual … Daylight will last an hour longer, which can be used for tennis or other sports … Hereafter you will go to bed an hour earlier, but probably won’t realize it.

Which hasn’t changed a whole lot since 1918.

 

Jiggs was still Jiggs, at any hour of any day. Sometimes the old fellow comes out on top, other times he overreaches a bit.

 

Ditto with Mutt and Jeff, still in the capable hands of Bud Fisher and sometimes pursuing story arcs while, at others, doing one-off gags.

In those pre-broadcast/pre-talkie days, Fisher and McManus were giants, living good lives that even drew press coverage.

 

As was Rudolph Dirks, creator of the Katzenjammer Kids and, after a prolonged court battle with Hearst, of his own version of the trademarked strip, “The Captain and the Kids,” which competed with the by-then reassigned original.

The whole legal imbroglio is well covered in the current print edition of “Hogan’s Alley,” but this third take on the strip, “Dem Boys,” sent me scurrying to the Strippers Guide, where Alan Holtz featured it as an “Obscurity of the Day,” suggesting that, even in a time of blatant imitation, and even in a case where two nearly-identical strips were competing with each other, “Dem Boys” still “may be the most egregious ripoff ever.”

It is indeed a marvel of pure chutzpah.

 

When I first saw this Snoodles, I thought it must surely be Fontaine Fox writing under a pseudonym. However, Cy Hungerford was a completely other person and the strip ran several years.

 

Fontaine Fox was also active, however, and his kids certainly bore an uncanny resemblance to the kids in Snoodles.

 

But then I came on a Freckles and his Friends — from well before Freckles became an all-American teenager — and the little fellow also looked like he could have stepped out of either a Fox or Hungerford comic.

(I agree it would be nice, BTW, if the animals in the zoo could slip in and out of their cages at will, but don’t take this strip as evidence that they ever really did.)

 

Anyway, by the time I got to the Doings of the Duffs, I was convinced that all small children probably looked like this in 1918 and that cartoonists like Walter Allman were simply drawing what they saw.

This particular strip, mind you, contains a reminder that Daylight Saving Time was hardly the dominant thing on people’s minds.

 

Nor was the income tax, though it was a relatively new phenomenon, the 16th Amendment having just been ratified five years earlier. But, as Claude Gibbs suggested, it was already raising the hackles of those who paid the most, while administering pain to everyone.

 

There was, however, a war on, the Americans had been in it for a year, and the Germans had recently launched a major offensive. E.A. Bushnell proclaimed England’s defiance …

 

… and decried Prussian arrogance that put the weight of the war on the backs of the “German proletariat.”

 

Bob Satterfield offered a similarly harsh critique, depicting von Hindenburg shoveling hapless soldiers into the maw of Death …

 

… and, like Bushnell, he had a second comment running in different papers that same day, grimly mocking the results of Germany’s offensive.

 

While Ding Darling took a less defiant, more sentimental, look at the ongoing carnage.

 

Daylight Saving was part of the war effort, intended to cut use of fuel for both heating and lighting, as described in the caption to the illustration that started today’s posting.

Wartime measures also included a recently-announced request for Americans to conserve wheat, which Post cereal was quick to go to work on, this ad noting not only that were Grape Nuts lower in wheat than other cereals, but that they required less milk and no sugar.

 

Readers were also chiming in with their tips for reducing use of wheat.

The US produced more than 1.4 billion-with-a-B bushels of oats in 1918, compared to 65 million bushels in 2020, and, while horses were still very much a part of life in those days, I’m guessing they were not consuming all those additional oats themselves.

I’m also assuming that barley flour was more of a common kitchen staple in 1918 than it is today, or Mrs. Fitzhugh wouldn’t list it so casually.

 

In any case, as Allman points out, it’s not like the little ladies had anything else to do with their time but bake crackers.

 

And Clare Briggs agreed, which means it must have been true.

Note that both artists are pointing out women’s subjugation, but we’re too late to ask their wives whether this was an act of feminist solidarity or simply a jovial bit of good old boy self-mockery.

 

 

Still, only two years later, Bushnell and Satterfield would be welcoming women to the American political scene as newly-minted voters, finally setting not our clocks, but our calendars, forward.

Meanwhile, Grandpa Jones was only five years old when they started this system, but, whether or not his clocks adjusted to it, he sure never did:

 

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