ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – This is the story of ‘The Unknown Metal Box.’ “It’s a remarkable adventure, I never thought it’d end up this way,” said Robby Poore, an Albuquerque resident.
The box is full of film showcasing people and New Mexico from the 70s and 80s. It was given to Poore for his lighting work decades ago. Now living in North Carolina, he decided to start scanning the photos during the pandemic. He turned to Facebook and was on a mission to find the rightful owner of the film.
KRQE News 13 talked to Poore about his quest back in September. “After the news article on KRQE, I had some people go to the unknown metal box and do a bunch of research, a lot more people recognized people and a lot more people joined in,” said Poore.
Through a hot tub receipt, a genealogist, and some good old detective work, Poore identified Eloy Pacheco as the man behind the camera. “Eloy was the photographer. His family said that he was an avid photographer. He loved to take pictures. He took a camera with him all over the place,” said Poore. “He died forty years ago this last summer.”
Still, Poore was determined to get the film into the hands of the rightful owners. He reached out to Eloy’s siblings. “I arranged to bring this stuff back to them. And I said I’d love to come and give it to you in person because it belongs to the photographer Eloy,” said Poore. He returned the film to the family in Albuquerque last week.
“It was absolutely amazing. I can’t imagine a nicer family to meet with these photos. They miss their brother. They feel like I’m bringing pieces of his life back to them,” said Poore. “They were very thankful, and I was just touched at how sweet they were and really, really warm and generous., We had a really really wonderful time…We exchanged a lot of laughter and a lot of tears, and it was really, really touching. “
Poore got to know the man behind the once ‘unknown’ metal box. “Apparently he was really good at math. He was a very creative person and learned how to make jewelry. He was an avid hunter; he did all kinds of interesting stuff,” said Poore. He also visited Eloy’s grave at the Santa Fe National Cemetery. “Everybody I know who knew him really did love him and thought he was a wonderful person,” said Poore.
Through this experience, Poore has made new friends and reconnected with old ones. He said he hopes this experience encourages people to preserve their families’ stories and make sure to transfer memories to other mediums as technology changes.
He called the entire journey with the Unknown Metal Box rewarding. “It’s been an emotional roller coaster and a wonderful one. But sad stories, and happy stories, it’s just been amazing,” said Poore.
Two Duke Masters students went with Poore to deliver the film to the Pacheco family and are making a documentary on the Unknown Metal Box. Poore said the documentary should be ready by Spring 2023. They have tentative plans to have a showing in Albuquerque when it is released.