Solved painfully by:
Mounting drive on another PC and putting symlinks in to 2.4.32 vmlinuz and Sysmap.
Put drive back and boot with Slackware 9.1 disk 2, selecting
bare.i on the /dev/hda1 partition
edit lilo.conf to drop initrd.gz line and run lilo
reboot from disk
Remove 126.96.36.199 packages, clean out directories and start again
My conclusion is that initrd together with generic kernel is dangerous, without a 2.4 bare.i kernel with reiserfs support compiled in on the /boot partition I would have been in real trouble.