ELK CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – When Bob Kennemer was a young man, his dad had him pick cotton by hand just for the experience.
“You’re going to do enough of it to know what it’s like,” he recalls his father saying.
Growing up, he gathered in what was then common knowledge among western Oklahoma farmers.
Of course he knew what a ‘hog oiler’ was.
Of course he could identify cow horn clippers, and a ‘bull blinder’ even if it did look like a heavy duty, leather bra.
“Put that on him,” he describes, “And the bull can only see down.”
Young Bob grew up driving these kinds of trucks and this kind of tractor.
“The oldest one I ever drove was older than me,” he quips.
The wood cattle chutes and the shop hammers were part of his world.
“You just look at the stuff they had to work with during that time,” says Kennemer. “Excuse me for saying this, but they weren’t dummies.”
But as he grew older and this kind of stuff disappeared from our modern world, people like him became more valuable for what they knew of the past.
His grandson can fix his cellphone, but only guys like Kennemer know a wagon jack from a tire bender.
Don’t even get him started on the differences between alligator, monkey, plow or crescent wrenches.
“That’s a silly looking wrench,” he says of a big alligator wrench hanging on the museum wall.
His grandfather used to tell him about coming to Western Oklahoma on a covered wagon.
“Us kids would crawl up in his lap and we’d say, ‘Tell me a story, Grandad’.”
The generations that knew bison points from hide scrapers are long gone, but he and a few others are still important bridges to explaining our more recent past.
“We went from that to this,” he says of his lifetime.
Bob and a few other old farmers who know things still volunteer at this Elk City museum complex, walking through the old barn and through a history that might be lost without them.
For more information about the museum complex in Elk City, including the Route 66 Museum, and the Farm and Ranch Museum, go to www.visitelkcity.com/things-to-do/m.directory/107/index/39.
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