4 Shots of One-Shot Frony

G.D. Fronabarger - Gary Rust recognized at Kiwanis 07-20-1967I’m sure G.D. Fronabarger – better known to everyone in Southeast Missouri as One-Shot Frony – must have thought, “That kid’s crazy wasting four shots on a Kiwanis Club presentation.” (I took four, but only three were different enough to show here.)

Frony, who was the Missourian’s photographer from 1929 to 1986, was best known for lining up a group of people, then growling around his ever-present cigar, “Don’t blink. I’m taking one picture.” True to his word, he’d press the shutter release, then walk away.

The negative sleeve is slugged Kiwanis Club – Frony 07-20-1967. That’s in one of those months that is a black hole in the Google Archives, so I don’t know what’s happening in the photo.

Gary Rust was there

G.D. Fronabarger - Gary Rust recognized at Kiwanis 07-20-1967Gary Rust, who would become a newspaper magnate a few years down the road, was one of the three men being recognized with Frony. He’s on the left in the photo at the top of the page and on the right in this photo. I don’t know who the man in the middle was. Note Frony’s cigar. I don’t know if he ever smoked it or if he just chewed it to death. I tried to blow up the name tag on the man at the lectern, but “Wayne” was all I could make out.

Fred Lynch keeps him alive

G.D. Fronabarger - Gary Rust recognized at Kiwanis 07-20-1967

Fred Lynch, who has been a photographer at The Missourian since 1975, keeps Frony’s photos alive in his blog, f/8 and Be There. Some of his early work goes well beyond straight newspaper photography and approaches art as much as anything can that is destined to have a life of 24 hours.

By the time I got to know Frony, he was burned out from shooting 59 years worth of those Kiwanis Club meetings and the same annual events that had come around 59 times. I wrote about Frony in 2009 and published my favorite picture of him.

In it, I talked about how surprised I was to hear Frony defend a controversial spot news photo I had taken and how our relationship changed after that. We were never close, but I had the feeling that Frony finally conceded that “this kid might just make it as a news photographer.”

 

7 Replies to “4 Shots of One-Shot Frony”

  1. Ken,
    You knew I would comment on this one. One day as a new hire at the Southeast Missourian, I ventured into the storeroom next to the upstairs darkroom. Lots of stuff piled in there with boxes of 4×5 black and white negatives. This was Frony’s work of decades earlier, and as we would discover, only part of it. A few years ago we had them all digitized and now I can access each of those images easily on the computer.

    I once asked Frony, who was the business editor when I came on board, why people called him One Shot.

    “Because I had to buy my own film,” he said. By that time around 1975 he was taking just a few pictures, mostly building photos for his column. As he would say, “Give me just a short piece of film,” as we would load film cartridges from a bulk roll.

    I have a few slideshows of Frony’s work as he talks posted on YouTube and at semissourian.com/multimedia. Here is one on my blog with Frony talking about his early career:

    http://www.semissourian.com/blogs/flynch/entry/38086

    1. You and The Missourian deserve credit for preserving Frony’s old work. I made it a point to take my stuff with me when I moved from paper to paper because I knew newspapers have a tendency to send old film to the landfill as soon as the file drawers get full.

      Now that I’ve started digitizing my old stuff from Cape and Ohio, I’ve come to realize how valuable a resource newspaper photography is in recreating the history of a region.

      Now, who is going to come along and do the Lynch years?

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