Film: 5704

Farming + Rural Life | 1940 | Sound | B/W


An online film clip is not available yet, please contact us for a viewing


Agriculture in the USA 1940's
the life of an American smallholding farmer Bill Parkinson in Belmont, Ohio, his work and family life. Bringing the benefits of electricity to rural America. Idyllic view with no mention of the Second World War or the Great Depression.

Map of the USA showing number of small farms with electricity in 1940 projected in 1950. Titles.
Before dawn, two men walk with a kerosene lamp. Bill Parkinson, wearing shirt and dungarees shovels feed. He distributes it to the cattle. The cattle shed. He sits against a cow to hand milk. Close up of hands milking the cow. Hazel Parkinson pumps water at the water trough. She carries it across the yard. She enters the house, she wears a pinafore and a cap. The clock shows 5.05am. She lights the stove, filling the top with wood, striking a match. A girl peeling apples at the kitchen table, a boy comes in with wood. Close up of saucepan on the hob, the lid is lifted off. The roof of the farmhouse, smoke comes from the chimney. Horses in the field. Dawn over the farmhouse. Horses. Dawn over the corn fields. Bill in the cattle shed turns off the kerosene lamp. Close of milking a cow, milk squirts into the bucket. Milk pours into a bucket. Pumping water to cool the milk, a boy in flat cap. A boy lets the cows out. Herding cows. Cows enter the fields. Boy opens gate to corn field. Panorama of Bill's farm of 205 acres. Farmhouse and corn fields in front.

Milk lorry arrives, boy sits on three milk churns. Young boy comes out of the outside toilet hut, he does up his dungarees. He runs across the dust and watches the men load the churns onto the milk lorry. Bill is handed a letter, it says that two of his churns turned sour so are rejected. He sniffs the content, its hard to cool the milk in August. He looks disconsolate in his straw hat. The churns are taken off the truck. He walks away with the letter in his back pocket. Close up of pigs trough and the milk poured in. The milk lorry drives away.

Bill is sawing wood. His son chops wood. Bill pushes open the shed door. He and his son push out the wagon. Son leads two grey horses to the wagon. They are hitched to the harvester. Harvester driven down the lane, son walking behind. They are going to harvest the alfalfa crop. Two horses are driven and the alfalfa is cut, son uses a pitch fork. Hazel and daughter prepare boiling water on an open fire. She pours the water into an open tub, a cat walks by. Hazel washes clothes on a washboard. Daughter fills the oil lamps. Close up of hands pushing clothes against a wash board in a tub of water. Daughter cleans the glass chimney of a lamp. Close up of chimney cleaning. Close up of cap on oil lamp removed and a small funnel to fill lamp with oil. Boy in alfalfa filed. Wagon loaded with crop. Close up of boy using pitchfork. Other son distributed it evenly on the wagon. Son drinks water from a glass bottle. Cows in a field. Cows chew the cud, one wears a bell. Cutting corn by hand with a machete. Young boy and father play with corn stalks. Boy walks off with sunflower. Sunflower carried past field of high crop so boy not seen. Bill mopes his brow and replaces his straw hat. Young man guides two horse heavily laden wagon onto lane. He climbs on the back. Mother is hanging out the clothes on the line as the wagon passes. Wagon enters the barn. The two horses are taken out, as young man pulls the barn door shut. Hazel is ironing shirts, she tests the iron for heat. Close up of one flat iron put on the stove and another taken up. Sunset over the farm.

Mother lights the lamps. She puts on the chimney and then the lampshade. She opens the top of the stove and pokes the fire. The family sit down at the table, father passes bread to the younger children, sons take plates of potatoes and meat, plates are passed around. Mother takes potatoes from the saucepan into a bowl. Bill and younger son eat. Older son shovels food into his mouth, other son takes cabbage and passes it on. Bill eats, puts down his fork and rises. Mother eating. Bill with a lamp in the yard, passing the washing on the line. Two children reading their home work by lamplight. Mother pushes the lamp towards them, she is sewing. Mother sewing and rubs her eyes, she stretches her work near the light. Younger son is sharpening a knife on a whetstone, pan down to feet working the turn of the wheel. Father holds the harvester to the whetstone by lamp light. He checks the blades and repllies the grindstone. A team of men cutting the corn harvest with machetes. Man cutting corn. Young boy carries water jars. Song on track sings about "you and me and the niggers too" cutting the high corn stalks. Bill drinks water. Row of men cutting corn. Close up of feet moving thought he corn field. Corn loaded. Several shots. Corn stalks carried to wagon. Man driving wagon, pov the wagon behind him. Bill sticks his machete into the gate post. File of men stick their machetes into the gate post as they pass. Team of men resting, all in dungarees. Old man's head. They talk, about electricity, heads nod sagely. One points where the power lines will go across. Close up of fingers rolling a cigarette, he licks it. Men discussing ( non sync sound) heads thinking, views given.

Meeting in the parish hall, top table and audience stand to speak. View of Bill. What is the electricity going to cost and who's going to do it?? Top table man stands. Men and woman sit on different sides of the hall, all smartly dressed. The scheme is outlined as a cooperative. Heads of farmers, some with no teeth. Hands are raised. A map shows the project, Bill and his neighbours look. Big slate, with faint USA outline map but big white figures saying "1935". Changes to slate "1936" "1937" "1938" "1939" "1940". Commentary talks about number of areas now with electricity. Generation station, towers and coal smoke, pylons. Pylons and wires. The Parkinson family now have electricity. Poles is raised. Man climbs pole. He hooks himself to the pole and starts work. The transformer is hoisted up. Wires are raised and the farmhouse is connected. In the kitchen mother and daughter are baking, the electricity men come into the house and dip their hats at Hazel. A light is switched on and off. Hazel looks amazed. She puts on her coat and goes outside. She rings an outside bell. A tractor stops in the field. A man shows hazel the switches on her new electric oven. Bill comes in, he puts his hat on the lamp. Hazel puts two pies in the oven. A hand turns the dial on a radio. Young boy with the large radio, father comes over and turns on a side lamp, they listen to a weather report. Bill in the dairy with his electric cooler for the milk, he adjusts a pump. Close up of pump. Bill adjusts a shower. Ice tray is filled from the tap. Mother puts it in her new refrigerator. Mother puts the lamp in a cupboard. Young boy showers. Bill washes his hands in a sink. Young son sticks his head out of the shower curtain. Bill splashes him with water. Bill dries his hands on a towel. Outside the farmhouse, wires and meter. Close up of cow drinking water from a automatic water bowl, large tongue dipping into he water. Two cows drink. Milk poured into a churn. Churn placed into a sink and filled with water to cool. Chicks in an incubator. Water pump turned on. Horses drink. Electric wood saw. Mother loads a top filler washing machine. Close up of agitator. Mother puts on the lid. Daughter irons with an electric iron at the ironing board, mother brings more over, she adjusts the temperature and hands the iron back. Mother drains the washing machine, she outs the clothes thought eh electric mangle. Close up of dungarees going thought the electric mangle. Bill uses a small electric motor to do various jobs, including the whetstone, he sharpens a knife. The farmyard at night, lit by a electric lichgate. He switches off the light and comes into he bedroom. Mother bastes a large joint of meat in a tray on the oven door, with roast potatoes, a Sunday lunch. Bill and Hazel smile. Children eat at the table.

To request more details on this film, please contact us quoting Film number 5704.