life in and around NYC is insane

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Songbird Salutes the 70's --- the 1973 energy crisis

If you ask my children, they'd tell you:  "Of course our school was open on Lincoln's Birthday, we get a whole week off for President's Day.  That's how it's always been."  To their minds,   Midwinter Recess is as much a part of the school calendar as Christmas Vacation and Easter Break.

Not quite.

When I was a kid, the schools would close on February 12 for Lincoln's Birthday, and again on February 22 for Washington's Birthday.  Two days, usually in the middle of the week.

That all changed when I was in junior high.

First came the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which became effective on January 1, 1971.  The observance of Washington's Birthday was moved to the the third Monday in February.

And then came the energy crisis of 1973.

October 6, 1973.  Syrian and Egypt invaded Israel on Yom Kippur. the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.  The United States offered support to its ally.

In retaliation, the Arab-dominate OPEC declared an oil embargo.

There were shortages, of course, and rationing of gasoline.  If your license plate ended in an odd number, you could buy gas only on odd numbered days; an even-numbered license plate meant you bought gas on even-numbered days.  Either way, you'd have to wait in line at the gas station.

The national speed limit was reduced to 55 MPH to save energy.  

Year-round Daylight Savings Time was implemented from January 1974 to February 1975.  I remember arriving at school before sunrise, and seeing the moon in the sky.

And (around here, at least) the powers that be who run the schools figured that instead of closing for President's Day and for Lincoln's Birthday, the schools would close for an entire week to save energy.

Midwinter Recess did not reduce the number of instructional days, but rearranged some days off so that schools could shut off lights and turn down thermostats for a whole week. It also meant a break from transporting students during a time of long lines at the gas pumps.

Now, of course, the pressures of the energy crisis are long past, but having that week off has become so popular in this part of the country that it would be hard to revert to the older calendar.

Those of you who have a mid-winter recess, enjoy.




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