Home Page

 
THE MAKING OF POWER FOR THE PARKINSONS
by Dr. Ephraim K. Smith

Current Page: 8
Previous Page in Essay (page 7) Next Page in Essay (page 9)
Jump To Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19


From these interviews, Dr. Smith not only learned more details about the family and the filming, but that the Parkinson story did not end with the premier of Power and the Land in 1940. The Parkinsons would continue to make a contribution to the general good. Even before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Dan, with his good friend George Kuzma, had enlisted in the US Army. Apparently anticipating only a year’s service, Dan and George spent four years in the Pacific Theater with the 41st Division. They both saw a great deal of combat and were in most of the New Guinea campaigns. Dan did not return to the farm until the war was over. He then entered into the road construction business. His good friend, George Kuzma, who had been wounded in New Guinea, returned to Warnock to live out his life on his family farm adjacent to the Parkinson farmstead. (He died in 2004, one year after his interview with Dr. Smith.)

But it was not just Dan and George Kuzma who were members of the “greatest generation” that fought in World War II. Tom was also in the US Army and saw action in the European Theater with the 301st Infantry Regiment. For his valor during fighting around Sinz in February, 1945, Tom was awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star. Although seriously wounded after leading a charge against an enemy position, He had refused to be evacuated until his men were taken care of. Ruth, only a teenager during the war, was undoubtedly influenced by the military service of two of her brothers - and that one came home badly wounded. Subsequently, Ruth underwent nurse’s training and became a nurse. In 1948, she married Tom Brannan. Tom Brannan, as had been the case with Dan and Tom, had served in World War II. A sailor in the US Navy, Tom had ferried soldiers ashore during the second wave of landings on D-Day. One can imagine what terrible sights he witnessed. Like many returning veterans, he apparently never shared these memories with his immediate family.

Bip was too young to fight in World War II. But he later volunteered to fight in Korea. In 1951-52, he was part of an artillery unit with the 6th Army. His letters in 1951-1952, sent back to his high school sweetheart Elizabeth “Susie” Cunard (later to be his wife), reveal he saw sustained heavy combat. He never talked much to his sons about what had happened in Korea. Indeed, during Vietnam War, he had advised one of his sons not to join up. But after Bip’s death, his sons, Jim and John, learned from their mother what their father could not or would not tell them: during combat in Korea, he had killed an enemy soldier with a shovel! And as Jim and John learned in a later reading of their father’s 1951-1952 correspondence, this was just one of many traumatic experiences in Korea. Returning from combat, Bip, as his sons later learned only from their mother, had become an alcoholic. But at his wife’s insistence, Bip pulled himself together and became a solid citizen in Belmont, Ohio. He spent the rest of his life working for the East Ohio Gas Company and living in Belmont, Ohio.

On occasion, Bip, when his children and grandchildren were in the local school, would go down and show Power and the Land. The students, according to first grade teacher Janie Bartlett, particularly enjoyed the scene showing him coming out of the outhouse! Bip’s sister, Ruth Brannan, was also proud of her family’s role in Power and the Land. She would also occasionally give local talks in her community of Glendale, West Virginia. In 1985, Jake, Bip, Ruth, and Tom were honored by the Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives in ceremonies in Columbus, Ohio celebrating the 50th anniversary of the REA. As part of this commemoration, Dick Johnson, the producer of “Agri-Country,” a syndicated weekly television series based in Columbus, Ohio, interviewed Bip, Ruth, and Jake. Johnson’s interview took place out of front of Jake’s home, located on a small piece of what had originally been the Parkinson farm.

Fortunately, this interview has survived. Ken Keylor, Vice President of the Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, alerted Dr. Smith to existence of this program and provided a VHS copy. As part of his new documentary, Dr. Smith interviewed Bart Johnson (Ed’s son). At Bart’s suggestion, Smith contacted Professor Larry Whiting, a Professor of Ag Communications at Ohio State University. Dr. Whiting then located the ¾ inch tape of the 1985 interview. Smith then had this tape digitized at PS Video in San Ramon, California. Excerpts appear in Power for the Parkinsons and its sequel -- The Parkinsons: 1940-2005.


Current Page: 8
Previous Page in Essay (page 7) Next Page in Essay (page 9)
Jump To Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19


Return To Top