Three years later, Arthur Samish’s power and influence began to crumble. He was under investigation by state, national and local officials and was linked to an illegal bookie operation in Colma. When California experienced a severe drought in 1948, and when water supplies fell sharply, Governor Earl Warren declared a temporary state of emergency, instituting Daylight Saving Time.
Meetings between the governor’s staff and the groups traditionally opposed to DST–such as railroads and farmers–proved that opinions could be changed. They were persuaded to accept Daylight Saving Time.
But the motion picture studios continued to fight it.
When the rains came and water levels rose, Governor Warren ordered the end of DST on January 1, 1949. A few years later, Samish was convicted of income tax evasion and served 25 months in prison. He never returned to the lobbying profession.
The DST issue was permanently resolved in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act. There were some minor exemptions: Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Eastern Time Zone portion of the state of Indiana and most of Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Indian reservations).
Don’t forget to turn your clocks forward Saturday night (March 10) or some time on Sunday.
Most of the special interests lined up against Daylight Saving Time (DST) were Arthur Samish’s clients–and they were not disappointed with his results. As the aftermath of the 1930 election, the hands on the clocks remained unchanged.
Samish was able to defeat DST every time it cropped up until Sunday, February 8, 1942–when “War Time” took effect.
The time change was the first since 1918 during World War I when the additional hour of light demonstrated that scarce electricity, coal and oil could be saved.
Several months had passed since the Japanese surprise strike on Pearl Harborn. There was genuine fear of a possible attack on San Mateo County, especially the Coastside where dark window coverings smothered any escaping light that could guide the enemy.
Although “war time” officially ended on September 30, 1945, DST was allowed to lapse into a local affair, with optional applications causing great confusion.
There was also resistance to Daylight Saving Time (DST) from labor unions, the transportation industry and dairy farmers.
One clever strategy Artie Samish employed was to insert anti-DST editorials in sightseeing pamphlets and tour schedules. One such piece appeared in a tourist guide advertising a wondrous day trip to San Mateo County called “Giant Redwood Trees.” It also spoon-fed the poor reader a persuasive essay on “Why The Daylight Saving Bill Should Be Voted Down.”
A sample paragraph read: “This (DST) would bring the average family dinner hour back to 5 p.m. instead of 6, requiring the hardest work of the day to be done during its warmest period. It would necessitate the putting to bed of small children while the sun was yet high in the heavens and before the air had a chance to cool off. Any mother knows what that would mean.”
DST waas firmly opposed by farmers, especially the dairy industry. “The former, feel, quite justly,” Samish pointed out, “that they get up early enough now. The latter assert and how figures to prove that daylight saving everywhere tends to cut down the yield of milk.”
Hotel owners, bartenders and organized labor were against DST. So were the railroads and other transportation interests, citing the inconvenience of having to completely revise their time schedules twice a year.
The editorial noted opposition from the “motion picture companies and theater owners generally on the ground that everywhere it has been tried theater attendance has fallen off and revenues consequently decreased.”
By 1930 Arthur Samish exerted more influence than did any member of the state legislature. As the self-annointed “Governor of the Legislature,” he was the man to see in Sacramento about legislation regarding liquor, horse racing, banking, cigarettes, trucking and—-daylight saving time.
Over the years, Samish said, he performed many services for Hollywood folks concerned with pending legislation. He knew all the studio bosses, including Louis B. Mayer, Harry Cohn, Jack Warner and Joseph M. Schenck.
When the daylight saving time initiative was facing California voters in 1930, Schenck and other movie heads opposed it, believing that the extra hour of sunlight would discourage people from going to the movies.
“Whatever Joe Schenck wanted, wanted, I got for him,” wrote Samish in his autobiography, “The Secret Boss of California.”
(Photo: at left, Arthur Samish in a satiric pose as a ventriloquist.)
Beginning his colorful career as a young history clerk in the State Assembly at Sacramento, the ambitious, politically saavy Arthur Samish set himself up as a “public relations counsel” for special interests–at a hotel across the street from the capitol dome.
“I can tell if a man wants a baked potato, a girl or money,” Samish once bragged.
He proved to be a skillful mastermind and strategist, blending his business instincts and political know-how. As owner and operator of the Pacific Auto Stages, an interurban bus service, he engineered a complex million dollar deal merging 18 major California bus lines into the national Greyhound bus system.
Samish reportedly raised $1 million over a six-year period from a nickel-a-barrel levy on beer provided by his biggest client, the Brewers Institute. In his autobiography, he explained that these funds were a war chest used to “select and elect” legislators who would see things his way. If they didn’t, he’d “unelect them.” Samish didn’t care if they were Democrats or Republicans.