Grover Krantz Documentary

Grover Sanders Krantz, 1931-2002

Grover Krantz, age 3, at his childhood home in Rockford, Illinois 1934 Photo Courtesy of Jon Applequist

Shelves built with stacks of orange crates festoon young Grover Krantz’ boyhood home basement.  On them exhibit his treasures—a vast array of partial and complete animal skeletons: leg bones, toe bones, beaks, ribs, teeth, and especially skulls.  Some of these skeletons have made their way out of the boxes.  The rearticulated bones of squirrel, skunk, coyote and, yes, even a few neighborhood pets, are arranged in various stages of reconstruction and displayed on newspaper-strewn tables and counter-tops.

Grover Krantz was an enchanting and unusual child.  Those who grew up with him say that he was in fact a delight to be around.   By all accounts he was a nice boy but it wasn’t just his affability that made Grover such an appealing character.  He possessed a clever wit and inquisitiveness that was constantly searching for a different way to look at the world. Grover’s life-long friend and cousin, Jon Applequist, recalled an early memory of Grover’s tendency to break the mold.  In their fifth grade English class Grover was asked by his teacher to use the past tense of “rang” in a sentence.  Grover, of course, knowing the correct answer, responded with a straight face, “I think we are missing a rung in our ladder.”  From an early age his free spirit and originality bubbled over in such a compelling way that there was little incentive for him to do what was expected.  He reveled in his ability to think differently and this behavior continued throughout his life.

By any definition Grover was an intellectual prodigy.  He had a subtle mind and an eager ability to comprehend even the most advanced subjects.   This allowed him to move through his perfunctory schoolwork with ease and gave him ample time to devote to his passions. By the age of twelve he had developed a love of astronomy and had acquainted himself with the eminent work of Einstein, Eddington and Jeans. He learned principles of telescope design from his reading in the Salt Lake City library, and with his inspiration, Jon Applequist constructed a 100X telescope from scratch.

Grover Looking through Jon Applequist’s homemade telescope, Berkeley, CA 1947 Photo Courtesy of Jon Applequist

He possessed a natural charm and enthusiasm that was infectious and gave him an early propensity to teach and to inspire—a momentous attribute that stayed with him until the end of his life and touched the lives of hundreds of students and admirers.

Grover collecting in Parley’s Canyon, Utah 1948  Photo Courtesy of Jon Applequist

Grover’s primary interests had always revolved around his deep fascination with science.  But, at the age of fourteen, Grover found that he had an intricate and rather eccentric connection with bones—a zeal that would thereafter define much of the rest of his life.   Collecting and arranging specimens became a “normal” teenage activity.  Through the years he became intimately familiar with them—how they fit and worked together—all of their peculiar ridges and valleys, colors, weight, texture, imperfections and dichotomies.  It must have occurred to young Grover that the patterns he was noticing were not always random.  Whether his young but brilliant mind knew it or not, the hours he spent painstakingly detailing and reassembling his collections were gradually but insistently teaching him the strange and marvelous language of bones.

Grover Krantz went on to become one of the world’s best known yet least understood researchers in the field of physical anthropology and human evolution. He is perhaps best known for his persistent research into the seemingly improbable but alluring mystery of Sasquatch or Bigfoot.  The overall substance of the man was that of an original thinker and a dogged investigator of the hidden and unexpected. The team at Raincrow Film is very happy to announce that this fascinating life, its triumphs, joys and tribulations, will be the subject of our next film.  From his early childhood until after his death his life and work seem destined for a story in film.  We are honored to be a part of it.

Grover examines skull exhumed from a cave near Willow Creek, CA 1962  Photo from Monterey County The Herald Archives

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