For years, no one knew the identity of this mystery man who, from the 1930s to the 1960s, took hundreds of photobooth pics of himself. Once his image stash became the main attraction at a portraiture exhibition, however, he became an internet sensation and, whaddya know—someone online recognized his friendly face. Meet Uncle Franklyn!
Rutgers Today reports that Franklyn Swantek, proprietor of "Michigan's largest operators and distributors of Photomatic," was IDed by his nephew, Tom Trelenberg of Minden, Nevada. Trelenberg still has fond memories of summer visits with his family in the midwest, which included tearing apart the old machines and pocketing the change.
It's a fascinating new chapter for the collection that was endlessly intriguing because of its history—or lack thereof—and now has a whole new narrative. How will it alter the way we view the black-and-whites? Does this context make a major difference? There's something definitely wonderful knowing that there was a truly jolly flesh-and-blood character behind the smiles, but it raises an interesting question: Is there any enduring enigma the internet won't eventually be able to solve?
For now, we're left to see the set with this new info. "Uncle Franklyn was a lot of fun, just a cheerful guy. It's why I kept going back," Trelenberg says. [Rutgers Today]