As the new year began in Columbus in 1917, the phrase often heard in the local press was that the city was "turning back the clock" by 24 hours.

As the new year began in Columbus in 1917, the phrase often heard in the local press was that the city was "turning back the clock" by 24 hours.

This had nothing to do with what we today often associate with the change from daylight saving time to standard time.

Instead, it was a recognition in this conservative part of the world that it simply would not do to have too much celebratory imbibing on a Sunday night.

And in 1916, New Year's Eve was a Sunday night.

So the city responded to this state of affairs by simply moving New Year's Eve to Monday night.

As one newspaper put it, "Banks, stores and business houses will generally be closed all day. ... Barber shops will remain open until 11 a.m.

"For the benefit of 'wee sma' hour' revelers, the Columbus Railway, Power and Light Co. will run special car service on Monday night.

"Last regular cars on all lines will be run about an hour later than usual and trailers will be used on High Street and other owl (late night) cars."

All of these extra streetcars were needed because a lot of people came to downtown Columbus on New Year's Eve, and local establishments were staying open to serve them.

For the more serious sort, and especially for advocates of temperance and Prohibition, there were special services at most local churches on Sunday. Some of these were held in the afternoon so that people who wished to attend could be home before dark. In other cases, churches held "watch night" vigils to welcome 1917 with special services Monday.

For the more frivolous adult, there were several options open on this unusually busy Monday night: "Reservations were coming in fast to Columbus hotels and grill rooms for the 'blow-outs' Monday night and all expected capacity houses."

The Deshler Hotel at the corner of Broad and High streets had special entertainers in its Ionian room and main ballroom and the Virginia, Southern Winter Garden and Kaiser Hof had arranged special programming for Monday night.

In addition, the major private clubs in the city held celebrations of their own. The Athletic Club held a reception for members and friends Monday afternoon, with a formal dance in the evening for members of the club.

At the nearby Columbus Club, there was an afternoon reception followed by a dinner-dance in the evening. Similar receptions and dances were held at the city's country clubs and were well-attended.

For some people, these elaborate events were too expensive and in other cases less daring than simply moving from place to place downtown. For these revelers, there were a lot of places to visit.

In an era before automobile suburbs began to drain the urban center of its people, downtown Columbus was the place to be. Here, one would find the better stores, the widest variety of restaurants and all sorts of places where entertainment might be found -- especially on New Year's Eve.

Most local theaters remained open with late-night offerings. Motion pictures were becoming increasingly popular by 1917, but to many people, going to the theater meant visiting a place where real people did the entertaining. This was age of vaudeville, and Columbus had a vibrant and diverse theater district in the blocks south and west of Statehouse Square.

A local paper described a few of the offerings: "The Broadway got a good start on the New Year Monday with its headliner Four Peaches and a Pair, the leading attraction of the bill. The sketch, a 'whirligig' act, is well supplied with songs, dancing and comedy."

The West Broad Theatre opted to blend traditional offerings with motion pictures. Some of the live acts included, "Crossman's Entertainers composed of half dozen musicians; George and Fern Fairwell, comedians and entertainers; and the Lachman Trio, dancers."

The live acts were accompanied by the Harold Lloyd short comedy film Luke's Movie Muddle, and a Pathe weekly newsreel at the end of the show.

For all of the activity taking place in downtown Columbus on New Year's Day in 1917, it should be noted that many people simply enjoyed a quiet day at home with family and friends, accompanied by a nice dinner.

What that dinner might consist of was suggested in an article in The Columbus Dispatch, where a "New Year's menu chart" included consomme, wafers, pickles, celery, oyster cocktail, salami appetizer, olives, roast goose, riced potatoes, brown gravy, tart applesauce, pineapple ice, grape juice, glazed sweet potatoes, asparagus with butter sauce, escalloped tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber salad, Thousand Island dressing, pumpkin pie, coffee, nuts and mints."

Happy New Year.

Local historian and author Ed Lentz writes the As it were column for ThisWeek News.