WHAT TIME IS IT? Bob Reiss, From the Re-Echo, Winter 2002
When the Laycocks and Hankes first settled in St. Louis Park
on their farms along the Minnehaha Creek, they lived their
lives by seasons. Days were planned around sunrise and
sunset The exact time of day was relatively unimportant to
them. If they even had a clock, it was probably in me
kitchen, inaccurate, and had to be wound periodically. Time
was so unimportant that most were intentionally set five or
ten minutes fast.
Railroads were the first to recognize the importance of
accurate time. They had been instrumental in passing the
Uniform Time Act of 1883 which established the time zones
across the United States. The trains were the nation's time
keepers. In St. Louis Park everyone lived within the sound
of a train whistle and set their clock by them. An accurate
pocket watch was the badge of a railroad man. The families
of depot agents, Jorvig and Felber, probably still treasure
the watches of these men.
When industry came to the Park, knowing the exact time
became important. Now the Monitor Drill became the town's
time keeper. The seven o'clock start, noon lunch, one
o'clock restart and five o'clock quitting time were all
signaled by its whistle. When the Monitor burned down, the
Creosote plant took over. The volunteer fire department
added the nine o'clock curfew.
The "Waiting Station" is a good example of how unconcerned
people were about time. This was the name of the building at
Walker and Lake Street. The streetcars may have operated on
a schedule but the people did not. Because they walked from
Oak Hill or the Center to the end of the streetcar line it
was difficult to arive just on time. Therefore the store o
this comer was named the "Waiting Station" because it was
where they could wait for the next streetcar.
Radios caused a big change in the requirement to know the
correct time. Radio programs were scheduled to start on the
fifteen intervals. Ma Perkins came on at 2:15 PM and Little
Orphan Annie at 5:45 PM. If you wanted to listen, it was
necessary to turn the radio on at these times. Radios now
became the nation's time keeper.
It took technology a while to catch up with the need for
accurate time. The first half of the century very few people
could afford personal watches. Wristwatches were used by the
soldiers of World War I to coordinate attacks. By World War
H they were still expensive enough to be a popular gift for
important events such as graduations. They still needed to
be wound and were still not very accurate.
It took the space age to bring us inexpensive clocks. But
did it bring us clocks. We have and need at least one time
keeper in every room and most kitchens have many. We now
have "clocks" that keep very accurate time for years, in
spite of power failures and even leap year. But even, still
when the power fails, how many 12:00 o'clock flashers do you
have? Seconds are not a small enough increment to measure
how fast things happen today. Now things happen in
nanoseconds. Accurate time is so important that we thought
our world was going to stop functioning on Y2K because our
computers were not going to be able to know what time it
This information comes from a variety of sources: newspapers, books, yearbooks, phone directories, interviews, etc. Given the varied sources, we cannot guarantee that all of this information is correct, and welcome any additions and corrections. Please contact us with your contributions and comments.