"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