I’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
Gary 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
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.”