One hundred years ago, serial stories of the war, such as “Over the Top” as well as Associated Press articles, provided details of life in the front line trenches, creating a vivid picture of the war for people back home.
They also described the ebb and flow of the battle lines, further defining the horrors of war.
As the North Dakota boys entered the trenches, The Red Cross, the Y.M.C.A. and the Salvation Army saw their support increase, as these organizations provided comfort for the boys when they came off the line. And of course, there were the packages from home. So plentiful were the packages that the War Department issued a directive. Unless they were accompanied by an approved request from the soldier himself, these bundles were to be refused by the Post Office. German submarines were playing havoc in the shipping lanes, and transportation of the necessities of war limited the available space. They noted that most of the goods being sent from home were readily available in France via the Army canteens.
But on this date in 1918, people across the state were struggling with another new law that created a great deal of confusion. The first Daylight Saving Time took effect on March 31st. Congress believed that setting the clock ahead one hour would conserve energy. It would also create millions of productive daylight hours. Workers could complete their work and still have an extra hour of daylight to perform other duties in support of the war. Fearing a significant shortage of food, this hour could be spent tending war gardens.
However, that extra hour of daylight proved quite a problem for many. In Bismarck, two young ladies who went to early Mass at St. Mary’s for Easter Services, sat in an empty church for an hour before the remainder of the congregation filed in. It was noted that throughout the state almost all the churches operated on the old schedule. Many who had dinner reservations, who arrived on the new time, surprised their noncompliant hosts, while many other guests, who failed to adopt the new time, arrived just in time for the desert. According to a farmer at Edgeley who puzzled over this daylight savings plan, it just didn’t work all that well. He wondered is somebody could devise some means of setting his flock of roosters ahead one hour.
Dakota Datebook by Jim Davis
Ward County Independent, April 18, 1918
Wahpeton Times, April 18, 1918
Grand Forks Herald, March 28, 1918