CASSADAGA — Village resident Robert “Bob” Kennelley has seen and skilled rather a lot in his life. As Kennelley seems again on the day he was born, 95 years in the past immediately, in 1926, he hits an preliminary realization.
“That was awhile in the past,” Kennelley mentioned.
Loads has occurred within the final 95 years, particularly within the lifetime of Kennelley, who has lived on each coasts, flown and sailed internationally, all whereas experiencing his early childhood within the midst of the Nice Despair.
As he was born on April 9, 1926, Kennelley was the seventh in a line of eight siblings. Becoming a member of sisters Dorothy, Mary, and Emily and brothers James, Invoice, and Chuck, with brother Rollie on the best way two years later, the Kennelley household shortly expanded, leaving rather a lot for his or her mom and father to care for.
When Kennelley was very younger, simply 5 years outdated, his father, James, died in an accident at his place of employment, the Stockton Basket Manufacturing facility, when he was simply 48 years outdated.
“They had been taking logs in and getting the bark off,” Kennelley mentioned. “They used a giant vat with boiling water to place the logs in and loosen the bark. One actual foggy morning, he walked to work, fell in and was scalded to loss of life.”
His father died proper towards the start of the Nice Despair, making the load of caring for the children a a lot bigger burden for Kennelley’s mom, Emma. Kennelley and his two youngest brothers, Chuck and Rollie, continued to dwell with Emma till a couple of yr after James died, when the burden grew to become an excessive amount of to bear with the whole lot occurring on the earth.
When Kennelley was 7, he was put right into a separate house Randolph, which proved to be one other brief lived keep. A few yr and a half after that, Kennelley moved again in together with his mother, who had remarried. No stranger to farm work, Kennelley helped out on that farm, promoting corn and even a number of different issues.
“We even bought fireworks that we had left over one yr,” Kennelley mentioned.
Whereas life had briefly stabilized, it might get thrown into turmoil once more shortly after, when his mother died in 1938, additionally on the age of 48, like James. From there, Kennelley lived together with his older sister and brother in regulation, on a farm in Cassadaga, the place the labor was amplified.
“It was round 100 acres,” Kennelley mentioned. “And we labored. We needed to work. We had cows and 4 horses for energy, no tractor after all. We needed to plow fields by hand.”
With Kennelley’s brother in regulation working nights on the metal mill through the battle, solely obtainable to plant issues when he was house on the weekends, extra work fell on Kennelley. Ultimately, Chuck Kennelley was drafted, placing extra work on Bob. When he was 16, Bob dropped out of highschool to place extra concentrate on the farm.
“I left faculty at 16,” Kennelley mentioned. “Chuck left for the service, and right here I’m with all this farm work.”
Although he would get his GED in a while, for the following two years, Kennelley put all his work into that Cassadaga farm. That’s after all till he turned 18, and was additionally drafted.
Kennelley started his 4 years of service in 1944, as World Battle II was nearing its finish. He was despatched off as well camp in Sampson within the Finger Lakes, and was then despatched to Shell Seashore in Louisiana, as he was chosen as a part of the Navy, which Kennelley felt was a lucky break for him.
“I used to be fortunate to get within the Navy,” Kennelley mentioned. “Six out of fifty guys at my place obtained into the Navy.”
After studying the fundamentals, and “taking pictures each darn gun that they had,” Kennelley’s first placement was on a service provider ship on the Atlantic Ocean, which packed extra warmth than individuals could anticipate.
“The ship had a gun on the bow, a gun on the strict, and one on both sides,” Kennelley mentioned. “Who would suppose an outdated service provider ship would have weapons on it?”
After a short depart, Kennelley was again, this time on the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco. Serving on a revamped child plane service, Kennelley’s new task was getting a great deal of troops, which they did from each Pearl Harbor and the Philippines. The method of which took up a majority of the Kennelley’s remaining service time, as a result of velocity of the ships. He then ended up working as a PBY aircraft tender, the place he served as a mailman travelling the world.
“We went throughout the Pacific Ocean,” Kennelley mentioned. “Our base was in Okinawa, however we went to the Philippines, Guam, China, Shanghai, and we simply saved doing that. We stayed a number of days in every place after which saved going. I used to be round.”
Kennelley stayed on the west coast till his service ended. After that, his determination was simple. “I went house.”
Following his time as a mailman in California, Kennelley went to each publish workplace within the Cassadaga space making an attempt to get a job upon his return.
“You suppose I may get a job?” Kennelley mentioned.
As an alternative, he ended up taking a job at a Agway Building Co. in Falconer, the place he obtained laid off each winter and made $38 per week on unemployment within the down time. This grew particularly difficult throughout his 20-year tenure in Falconer, as his life modified considerably.
In 1950, Kennelley obtained married to Shirley McGonegal, who he had met by means of McGonegal’s brother. The Kennelleys then proceeded to have 5 youngsters of their very own, as Kennelley alternated between being unemployed through the winter, whereas going by means of extra arduous labor when he was employed.
“You labored,” Kennelley mentioned. “And it wasn’t simple work.”
Ultimately as his youngsters, Rae, Rita, Robert, Susan, and Gail, grew up, lots of them ended up in Florida. Mixed with the truth that Shirley additionally had household in Florida, in addition to the 2 having pals in Florida, Kennelley accepted that Florida was within the playing cards for him. After 20 years at Agway, the Kennelleys moved to Florida in 1973, the place they might keep for 44 years.
One situation Kennelley had for transferring to Florida was that he needed a job with no heavy lifting. Sadly, his want was not fulfilled.
“After I give up Agway, I mentioned I’d by no means get a job with all this lifting,” Kennelley mentioned. “I went to Florida and obtained a job at a scale firm, throwing 50-pound weights on scales.”
Laborious work was one thing Kennelley was no stranger to, at the same time as he began rising older. Kennelley continued arduous work till he retired in 1988, on the age of 61, and the retirement wasn’t even deliberate.
“In 1987, I used to be going to work by means of Tampa,” Kennelley mentioned. “All the sudden, we bumped into rain and needed to break quick, when a Publix semi rear ended my pickup. I used to be out of labor for some time. I attempted to return in 1988 however I couldn’t do it.”
There’s even a little bit of irony in the kind of semi that hit Kennelley. “Publix was our greatest buyer.”
In retirement, Kennelley spent lots of time “doing nothing.” He remained lively, and embraced extra of his hobbies, similar to bowling and enjoying playing cards. In 1995, on the age of 63, Shirley Kennelley died after 46 years of marriage. Even after his spouse’s loss of life although, companionship was nonetheless in his future. Kennelley re-married in 1999 to longtime household good friend Grace Abersold, who had married her first husband only a yr earlier than the Kennelleys had married.
Bob and Grace stayed in Florida till 2017, after they returned to their common house in Cassadaga. Though Bob started to go partially blind round 2001, he can nonetheless get round the home properly and be considerably lively as he has his entire life, which is an element as to why he thinks he’s lived this lengthy.
“I feel it’s the explanation I’ve lived so lengthy,” Kennelley mentioned. “I’m the one one in my household to even hit 90.”
Having lived a life nobody may describe as simple, it’s all value it for the Kennelley household now, which stays as giant as Kennelley was used to rising up. Kennelley, who grew up as part of eight siblings, had 5 youngsters of his personal, who’ve since grown the household to incorporate eight grand youngsters, 12 great-grandkids, one nice nice grandchild, and a stepson, Rudy, from Grace. As Kennelley seems again and displays on the lengthy, difficult life he’s had, he can be grateful for all the bowling, card events, hearth cookouts, and most significantly, the household that has helped get him by means of.