BOB & LUE CRANE
ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW
About Growing Peaches
In the 1920-40 period, the Fennville area produced the largest volume of peaches.
Bob heard from an Army friend who was
attending the horticultural school at the
The Crane farm began to specialize in fruit tree production in the late 1930s but began significant expansion when Bob returned from the Service in the late 40s. As time went on, they introduced new and better varieties and more efficient farming methods.
Peaches were initially shipped by boat in
Douglas-made baskets from Pier Cove. Bob recalls that in later years he would
load up his truck with peaches and drive them down to
Bob’s father eventually trained Lue to drive the truck and she became the best-looking hauler in the area. She reportedly held the farm record for the most number of hauls in a day because, as she says, “Everyone got out of my way when they saw me coming.” They currently grow nine varieties of peach but apples are currently their primary fruit crop.
Bob Crane’s family began general farming in
Fennville in the 1870s. During the Great Depression, Bob, the youngest of
six children, recalls his family farming with six cows, chickens and a pair of
horses. He recalls having to come home from basketball practice at
Rob, the oldest Crane son, designs and runs the annual cornfield maze challenge and the very scary haunted maze. In the latter venue, a crew of spooky folks in a variety of macabre outfits terrorize paying customers. One monster-player, Fabian the chainsaw operator, while waiting in the tall corn to spook an unwary patron overheard a young woman customer tell her friend that she had to relieve herself. Fabian fired up the chainsaw and leapt out of hiding behind the embarrassed lass who shouted, “Wait until I finish.” During the first year of the haunted maze, a woman emerged to report that a gorilla was attacking people in the maze. Rob reassured her that there was no gorilla among their haunted actors. She insisted she had been accosted by a gorilla and again she was reassured that she must have been mistaken. Later that evening Rob ran into one of his crew who reported having snuck in a gorilla outfit without telling anyone. Such is entertainment on the Crane farm.
Bob as a Flyer
In 1935 Bob obtained a ticket for a flight
on a bi-plane. At 15, during the war, he, his father, mother and brother
Albert learned to fly in a Piper Cub at the
Bob recalls landing in corn fields and flying
out of the old
Several generations of Cranes attended the small brick district school at M-89 and 60th.
During the Great Depression, “The cities had the soup kitchens, but the country had the farmers who typically fed anyone who came to the door.” He and his sister Beth took turns feeding folks at the door. No one had money but they always had food, fresh and put up in Ball jars.
Around 1934 when Bob was starting high school he recalls classmates talking about who was rich and who was poor. His mother explained that they had no money but they did have plenty of food and good health.
The death of one of the
horses, part of a team.
The team of horses were eventually sold on
Flew with 4 kids in their
own plane to