Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Clock changing exercise
keeps changing over time
Before the mid-1970s energy crisis the matter of daylight saving time was a matter for individual states to decide. There were no uniform start or stop dates for the changing of the clocks. There was no uniformity among the states in whether or not to even use the procedure.
For a number of elections in the 1950s and into the 1960s in Oregon, daylight saving time was a very big issue. The dairy farmers and the drive-in theater owners were two groups soundly opposed to the concept.
The usual lines were "the cows wouldn't understand" and "the movies would run too late and people couldn't watch them because of the late start."
It may have been the 1959 or the 1961 Legislature that resolved the matter in Oregon. That was the year the lawmakers said, "The counties that want it can have it." That meant the Portland area, Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties were all on daylight time while the rest of the state was on standard time. It also meant that Portland and Ontario (which is in the Mountain Time Zone) were on the same time.
For shoppers in southern Clackamas county it was a bonus to travel to Salem on Friday nights when Meier & Frank, Sears, Lipmans and Penneys were all open until 9 p.m. Why, they could leave their homes, drive a half hour to Salem and be in the store a half hour before they left.
For people in Polk County heading north, the trip took twice as long. If a person in Dallas had an appointment in Portland it took an extra hour (according to the clock) to get there. Of course, the trip home was really quick.
That experiment ended when the next vote for daylight time found a majority of voters in favor of changing the clocks, and the Legislature agreed that it would be good for the entire state. And Ontario was on the same time as the rest of the state.
Now 2007 finds more clock-changing changes. The federal government has decreed that daylight saving moves to a March 11 (that's this Sunday) beginning instead of the first Sunday in April. It will end on November 4 rather than on the last Sunday in October. (The good news is that trick or treaters will have the benefit of a little more daylight than in years past.)
We think the next change in our timekeeping will likely be a shift to 12-month daylight time, and possibly a time zone revision as well. After all, it makes little sense for U.S. time zones today to be determined by fueling and water stops for steam engines on railroad tracks.
Loss of Celilo marks
loss of more than a falls
The 50th year of The Dalles Dam was marked this month, and for many it rekindled memories of Celilo Falls.
The falls in the Columbia between The Dalles and the mouth of the Deschutes River were a unique sighte. Its inundation was a great loss to the culture and heritage for all who call the Pacific Northwest "home."
The falls were a natural impediment to the passage of salmon from the lower Columbia to their upriver spawning grounds. This was home to the Wy'ams, who lived on the river shores and fished from platforms they had built on the basalt base of the falls.
Using long-handled dip nets, the Wy'ams caught thousands of salmon each season. Many of those fish were sold to sightseers who came by to enjoy the sight. Youngsters too young to handle a net were old enough to take a freshly caught fish from the platform and seek out a purchaser among the visitors.
Other salmon were used by the long-time dwellers at the falls for food and ceremony. The Wy'am long house might find itself more of a smokehouse as hundreds of salmon could be prepared there for feasts and celebrations.
The Leader of the Wy'ams at this time was Chief Tommy Thompson, a distinguished gentleman of 100 years and more. Chief Thompson, when dressed in his traditional ceremonial attire, carried a folded piece of paper in a special pocket in his leather and beaded clothing.
That paper was a treaty between an earlier chief and a party of American explorers representing the Great White Eagle, Thomas Jefferson. Chief Thompson honored that treaty between Lewis and Clark and the Wy'ams.
The question that needs to be considered today -- or more accurately should have been considered 50 years ago -- is this: Did the United States honor that treaty when it destroyed the way of life for people who had called Celilo their home for many generations before?
Footnote to Celilo: From Washington State Highway 14 as it curves above the community of Wishram across from Celilo, it is possible to look at the river below and see the outline where Celilo Falls once flowed.
In 1989 when Washington celebrated its centennial of statehood, Klickitat County Commissioner Daryll Spaulding proposed that the Army Corps of Engineers drop the water level that year and allow the Falls to return.
Sadly, the commissioner's idea met with the Corps' disdain. First it contended that there would be no falls because sedimentation has destroyed what once was. Secondly, the loss of generating power at The Dalles Dam would be too great to consider -- apparently the treaties that BPA holds are still being honored.
Celilo shouldn't be forgotten. For those who were there, its memory lives.