1964 Jackson Primary

1964 Jackson Primary Election 12The photos were taken in August 1964 in the Cape County Courthouse in Jackson. The sleeve says “Jackson Primary,” so the workers must have been counting ballots while the candidates chewed their fingernails. I would have been working at The Jackson Pioneer at the time. In the background are name plates that seem to read Rada Lou Kamp, Rusby C. Crites and Marie H. Bradford when I blew them up.

Covering elections fun, frustrating

1964 Jackson Primary Election 6Covering election night could produce some good images, unfortunately, the best pictures often didn’t run because they were of minor candidates or of relatively insignificant races. Photographers would be frustrated because they wasted a lot of time and editors were frustrated because they didn’t have key photos.

We finally came to a compromise at The Palm Beach Post. We would determine in advance what races we wanted to focus on, then reporters were responsible for finding out where the candidates were likely to be when the results came in. (The good old days when everybody gathered at election central had given away to elaborate parties.)

I played air traffic controller

1964 Jackson Primary Election 8Each photographer was given a master list of candidates he or she was responsible for covering, along with the size and shape of the photo that had been laid out in advance. (We could make a limited number of changes on the fly, but tight deadlines meant we had to stay to the script most of the time.)

I coordinated moving the shooters from place to place based on results that were being relayed to me from the newsroom. I also arranged for film to be picked up so the photographers wouldn’t have to come back to the office. We’d have been lost without two-way radios. I handled the logistics of getting the photos taken. Chief Photographer John Lopinot edited the film and saw that the pictures got in the paper. It wasn’t unusual that I would realize that I had juggled bodies all evening without seeing the results until the paper came off the press.

Wife Lila key player

1964 Jackson Primary Election 4Wife Lila was a staff favorite because she’d brew up a huge pot of her special chili to fuel the staff before they headed out to chase candidates. We joked that it was not only filling, but that about two hours into the evening, it would produce gas that would keep the TV crews from getting too close to you.

Gladys Stiver and Gary Rust

Gladys Stiver, Gary Rust and others at Jackson courthouse c Aug. 1964I recognize Gladys Stiver, Friend Shari’s grandmother, and a young Gary Rust in this photo. Gary was the subject of my first big political story.

Primary night photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the side to move through the gallery. Call out anybody you recognize.

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.”