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Donna Flood
Woolaroc


"You know! I was fourteen when I first visited Woolaroc, a museum, and the home of Frank Phillips. He was the man who started the Phillips 66 Oil company, Bartlesville, Oklahoma. I remember the thing about the place to most impress me at the time was the mural size painting of Pocahantas, as she was begging her father to stop the execution of John Smith." A girl of fourteen would probably, be impressed with all the possibilities in the story. There were her clothes of soft buckskin to be admired.

Her moccasins were beautiful. The way the painter caught the realness of her skin was very much a wonder. There was an interest going more to the possibility that art was a very real force.

It was something holding many mysteries. My parents always encouraged me to develop the talent, but this was the first time the strong impact was made on my mind as to what art was really about. This was certainly everything my parents had told me it was. Here was the work of an artist. The very large painting made more than a statement. It told a complete story. The story was one of remarkable significance. The on looker became not only interested but, somehow, drawn into the picture to feel every emotion recorded. Yes, this was what was meaningful. This was what I wanted to do with my life. To be able to do this sort of thing was a goal of tremendous proportions. "Maybe I can't ever achieve this with such perfection," a child's mind wondered. " However, I want to try."

Years have gone by and each time I came to the place there was a different part of it to impress me. Once, I remembered how much I admired the buffalo grazing on the grounds close to the curving drive, which had bridges and water spaced at intervals, here and there. The man, made water holes were designed by engineers to make them seem like they were a natural part of a beautiful park. The splashing and trickling of the streams over large boulders and cleverly placed waterfalls were altogether pleasant and unusual in this place. The deer, water buffalo, and other animals seemed more like pets than animals which were confined, behind a locked gate and fence. Driving one's car on the narrow roads set there in another day and time made the experience more interesting, also.

There was another visit when the whole time was spent studying the very large statues, indoors, of the early day Oklahoma characters. They were tall, so much larger than life. Sixteen feet would be close to the height of the people. For, "all the world," they seemed frozen in time with some activity. They were trying to reach across time to convey a thought. They were still and alone. There was a woman, Belle Starr, standing strong and tall. Her stance was sure and definite. She was holding a rifle pointing out to no where. The expression on her face was cut there out of stone but it made the observer want to question her as to what her thoughts were.

Off to one side of her, a cowboy rested on one knee. Was he kneeling to scoop up a drink of water? His horse stood dutifully behind him. The protection of his heavy clothing was draped there for eternity. Inside a large room, a tall, strong man, stood quietly in relatively modern dress. His title was that of

"The plainsman." He could have been the son of a pioneer with his father's inheritance of still determination looking out across the big, circular sized room.

For a girl, who had grown up with the use of guns put into play as a means of providing a protein in the diet, I could have claimed to have known quite a lot about their use. The law men in the family were excellent marksmen. There wasn't an ignorance of the different calibers, their shells, and their design. The parts of the gun to make it work was, certainly, a part of my life as I watched the men care for the guns in their cleaning, repair, and so forth. Although, we were not allowed to handle the things when we were small, when we became at a sensible age we were taught the respect due the tool. How to keep them in the place, they were to be. The instrument had a purpose, and that was to take life. We were made more than aware of how serious a business this was. The men were Hunters who provided a major part of the family's diet with the animals they hunted.

When the large collection of guns was observed, the realization came to this visit that I was, indeed, very ignorant about the many kinds of guns. The rifles with a long barrel, a very small inside to that barrel and this twenty-two, was, probably, what was used during the civil war when they as snipers were hunters of men. There was a pistol which held a machine gun looking cylinder. The repeating Winchester feared by early tribes was on an exhibit.

During this visit, the realization and the impact of the wars to have been waged was carefully spoken to in these guns setting, imprisoned here behind these glass cages.

For those of us who are heirs of ancestors who came and who settled these lands, we are students of these folks. They taught us the lessons of frugality. We struggle along in our minor ways, saving and working with the material available. The mass of material things collected and saved by the oil men who had the advantage of wealth to further their disciplines is featured here in this very complete historical collection at Woolaroc. Should anyone, who has the opportunity to visit the state, by all means do not neglect the visiting of this rich collection housed in the preserved state of the grounds once serving Frank Phillips, oilman, in life and today in his death at his mausoleum there. Certainly, this is the ultimate example of frugality, this saving of great numbers of these fragile artifacts in order to educate those who came to see history stored in this total environment.


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