Mike Creger: Remember forced savings?Wes Lane was responsible for making sure you turned down your thermostat. Can you imagine the outcry today, likely “Socialist!” if Wes knocked on your door and asked you to keep that thing down at 65 during the day and 60 at night?
Wes Lane was responsible for making sure you turned down your thermostat.
Can you imagine the outcry today, likely “Socialist!” if Wes knocked on your door and asked you to keep that thing down at 65 during the day and 60 at night?
But that’s the way it was in 1977 in Lake County. Wes was the emergency services guy and the country was certainly going through an emergency.
I was rooting around in old issues of the paper, looking for some confirmation on when the Winter Frolic flamed out (1985).
There it was, from the Feb. 2 issue: School plans to go to four-day week. Huh?
Turns out, schools and businesses were being asked in the depth of winter for help in conserving fuel during the energy crisis by turning down those thermostats and, in the case of the school, taking some snow days and holidays and keeping the place heated for occupation just four days instead of five.
Turns out history likes repeating itself as the district today mulls the idea of going four days all the time to save money.
There didn’t seem to be a bit of bluster about the idea in 1977. Apparently everyone went about their business as requested.
Businesses closed on Monday nights to save energy. Sports schedules were jostled to keep busses off the roads.
Those unpatriotic cranks in Duluth rejected the suggestion for the schools that came out of the state’s nine-point “energy supply emergency” declaration.
Lake County schools went back to five days by March. It wasn’t clear when the 60-65 rule was phased out, but likely it did just that as the season changed.
I was 10 in 1977. I have a vague recollection of President Jimmy Carter urging us to put on sweaters, gas lines, general unease about the economy on television news and in the papers.
But I grew up in a drafty farmhouse with gravity heat, which I can only explain by saying it was freaking cold on school mornings as eight kids waited in line for the bathroom.
Jimmy Carter didn’t need to tell us to put on a sweater. We were probably wearing three each when he made his speech that night.
But after seeing the non-reaction in the paper to all of this thermostat business, it got me thinking. Did that crisis change our habits? Do you set your thermostat to 60 at night?
What happened between here and there? And why aren’t our elders coming down on us like Wes Lane when we hog energy with a thermostat at 75 or higher.
Yes, 60 can be darn cold. But did those living 33 years ago have that much more moxie than us?
I wake up each morning to a house set at 58 degrees. That’s great motivation to get through the morning routine and jump into a warming car. At night, we use as much wood heat as we can without upsetting the balance of our old accordion, hot water radiators.
For me, perhaps the lessons of 1977 stayed with me.
As for you, are you a wimp?
If not for your country these days, at least turn things down for your pocketbook.
Or we could get another Wes to come by and rap some knuckles.
Thanks to those who stopped by last week for our open house. We had fun looking up old tidbits in past issues and eating food and drinking cider.
If you couldn’t make it, come on down any time and say hi. We’re here most every day.
One reason I may have only small memory of February of 1977 is that it was only a few weeks after the Vikings made their last appearance and fourth loss in the Super Bowl.
By this time, I was well-versed in crushing disappointment handed down by the Vikings. The biggest blow was the season before, when the Cowboys beat what most consider the best Vikings team of all time.
It was that “Hail Mary” game, and as if I had to have a reason to hate the Cowboys then, I remain their biggest hater today.
I have only one thing coursing through my brain this week as the Vikings-Cowboys divisional playoff game looms.
Drew Pearson pushed off.
Mike is the editor of the News-Chronicle. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.