The call caught me a bit off guard.
“I enjoyed your column in this morning’s paper concerning the time issue,” the voice said.
It was a little like I’d stepped into a time warp.
“Did you mean Sunday’s paper?” I asked, checking my calendar to make sure it really was Wednesday.
“No, I meant this morning’s,” the voice said. “Your column was in this morning’s newspaper.”
My caller went on to say that he agreed with me completely that this whole thing about changing the clocks twice a year was simply ridiculous.
“We ought to go back to the way it was,” he said. “What can we do to make that happen?”
I suggested that he send a letter to his state senator and representative and maybe even a letter to the editor.
“And who would my senator and representative be?” he asked.
“Well, I’m not sure,” I said. “It depends on where you live.”
“I live here in South Bend,” he said.
“South Bend,” I said. “You read my column in South Bend?”
“Yes,” the man said. “It was in this morning’s South Bend Tribune.”
“Ah,” I said. “Now I’m beginning to understand.”
My column, it turned out, had been on a daily list of commentary and news stories distributed to newspapers across the state by the Hoosier State Press Association. The South Bend Tribune had published the column in its Wednesday edition.
And it struck a nerve.
That call was the first of many, along with numerous emails, one of which appears in today’s Word on the Street column on the opposite page.
“I’m getting a lot more comment out of South Bend than I got out of my own community,” I told one caller. “I’ve been talking to people about the column all morning.”
It turns out that time zones are a hot-button issue in South Bend.
I was living in Texas when Indiana went through the time debate, so I heard about it only from afar. When I arrived in Logansport in the fall of 2006, the echoes from the fight were still lingering, and most lawmakers I spoke to vowed never to raise the issue again.
At least one of my South Bend readers agreed.
“Do we really want to sing this song again?” he wrote. “Why should the folks along the Illinois border impact all 6.5 million Hoosiers?
Can we never rest?”
Lots of folks in St. Joseph County are still raw over the time wars of several years ago. That county actually voted in a referendum to move to the Central time zone, but officials at the state and national level overrode the move. The folks I heard from generally blamed Gov. Mitch Daniels, saying he sided with Republicans in neighboring Elkhart County over the Democrats in St. Joe.
If the results from our unscientific online poll are any indication, the folks around Logansport aren’t all that happy about the time issue either. In a four-way race, the status quo finished third.
More than 40 percent of respondents said they wanted to go back to the days when Indiana stayed on Eastern Standard Time throughout the year. They liked not having to change their clocks twice a year, and they were fine with everyone else struggling to figure out what time it might be in Indiana.
The second choice of our online voters was to go with Central time throughout the year. If local folks had to choose between lining up with either New York or Chicago, most would choose Chicago.
Coming in third was the current arrangement with 21 percent of the vote. The only option to finish lower was undecided/don’t care, with 5 percent.
Perhaps these two pockets of Indiana are unique. Based on the reaction I received, though, I’d venture to say that a fair number of Hoosiers would like to see lawmakers revisit the issue of time.
• Kelly Hawes is managing editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.