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

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In July, 2004, Dr. Smith and Jeff Forster flew to Oshkosh, Wisconsin and interviewed Dr. Robert L. Snyder, a retired Professor of Film and Television at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. Al Folker (Creative Resource Media Publishing and Productions) videotaped this interview. Excerpts can be found in both Power for the Parkinsons and on this web site.

In 1968, Snyder had published the definitive biography of Pare Lorentz. In preparing this impressive volume, Snyder had drawn in part on his own interviews with Pare Lorentz. He had also solicited written reminiscences. These included a number of people involved with Power and the Land, including Tom Parkinson, Joris Ivens, Douglas Moore, and photographer Floyd Crosby. Snyder had also been instrumental in getting Pare Lorentz to donate materials to a new Lorentz Center in the Forrest Polk Library at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh campus. While in Wisconsin, Smith, with the assistance of archivist Josuha Ranger, was able to examine the holdings of that archive and secure copies of historical photographs. (Subsequently, Dr. Robert L. Snyder and his son, Dr. Robert J. Snyder, an Associate Professor of Broadcasting at the University of Wisconsin, Plattville, wrote perceptive and original essays that can be found on this web site.)

Smith also traveled to Springfield, Ohio where Sally Brannan (Ruth’s daughter) permitted him to copy additional Parkinson family photographs. Sally then assisted in the videotaping of an interview with her brother, Rick Brannan. Of all the Brannan children, Rich, as the oldest, was the only one to have known his grandfather - Bill Parkinson. Rick remembered being warned by his grandfather that children who played in the fire would wet their bed at night! Rick also vividly recalled the drive leading up by the cornfields to the house and how dark the living room seemed. Rick also shared his recollections of his mother and father, who, as his other siblings had indicated, were very much involved with community service.

Shortly afterwards, Smith returned to the National Archives II facilities in College Park, Maryland to go through once more the photographic collections relating to the work of the REA and Power and the Land. While at the National Archives, Smith also secured copies of historical photographs and war department footage on World War II and Korea. Smith would like to thank the staff at this beautiful facility for their assistance. Research was a real job working in such a modern facility, set in such park-like surroundings.


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