The switch to daylight saving time on Sunday, which moved clocks ahead an hour, undoubtedly has left many people in
La Grande and throughout the state feeling a bit tired and stressed.

Imagine, however, how much worse La Grande residents felt in late May almost 89 years ago — when La Grande became the only city in the state to be on daylight saving time.

The stage for this curious chapter was set on May 15, 1930, when the La Grande City Council voted to put the city on daylight saving time beginning May 19. All clocks in the city that day were to be moved up one hour at 6 a.m. Although no Oregon cities observed daylight saving time, many in the East and Midwest had adopted making the change.

The La Grande council, then known as the city commission, approved the time change after receiving a petition from the local chamber of commerce requesting the switch, according to the May 16, 1930, Observer. The members of the chamber apparently believed that more daylight in the late afternoon and early evening would be good for business.

The ordinance passed by the city commission called for La Grande to remain on daylight saving time through Sept. 7, 1930.

Articles in The Observer prior to the start of the time change indicated many did not anticipate
major problems.

An article in the May 16, 1930, Observer noted soon people will be able to “quit work at the same time but instead have three and a half hours of daylight at their
disposal.”

Another story in the same edition stated: “To the average person living inside the La Grande city limits there will be little confusion, other than adjusting himself to train and bus schedules, radio programs, etc., which must operate on Pacific Standard Time.”

Unfortunately this feeling of optimism proved to be unwarranted.

“As it enters the third day in La Grande, daylight saving time has grown rather than decreased in confusion according to general reports in the city,” a story in the May 21, 1930, Observer reported.

A big reason people were perplexed was that many city residents and businesses remained on standard time while others were observing daylight saving time.

“There is a ton of confusion,” a May 21 Observer editorial stated. “Half the town is on, half is off. The month is May, the day is Wednesday, but the hour is your own.”

People working for the railroad and businesses involved in intercity travel remained on standard time as a matter of economic necessity. This affected many families because a large percentage of La Grande residents worked for the railroad.

Many children went to school on daylight saving time but their parents operated on standard time because of their jobs. This was just one of many confusing scenarios, according to May 1930 editions of The Observer.

Such scenarios made people
angry.

“Most opponents want to shove the daylight plan’s foot into the grave with as much force as possible,” The Observer reported.

Four days after daylight saving time took effect, the city council met to return La Grande to standard time.

The council’s May 23, 1930, meeting lasted just four minutes. The Observer’s front page headline the next day read: “Time Saving Plan Killed In 4 Minutes. Commission Meets at 7:30 p.m. Daylight Time, Adjourns At 6:34 p.m. Standard Time.”

An editorial in the May 22, 1930, Observer addressed the failed attempt in conciliatory fashion.

“Nobody anticipated the confusion or objections that resulted. No great damage has been done by making the trial,” the editorial stated.

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