A long lost home video has been returned to its owner thanks to a viral TikTok. David Gutenmacher, who regularly scavenges through thrift stores, found the VHS tape in a shop in Valley Stream, New York.
It featured a family on vacation in Africa from 30 years ago, with images of a college student enjoying his time. Gutenmacher set out to find out who the tape belonged to by posting it on his TikTok page called Museum of Lost Memories.
In one clip, the man was wearing a Wesleyan swim team shirt, offering a small clue to the mystery. One of Gutenmacher’s followers used the clue to help track down the man.
“She contacted every Wesleyan university and college she could find and reached out to their swimming departments to try to make a connection,” Gutenmacher said.
Amazingly, the man was located. Jono Marcus, now 54, is a Maryland financial consultant and dad of two.
“I know people wouldn’t believe that it was me, ‘cause of, you know, this,” Marcus joked, pointing to his bald head. “Compared to the long-haired boy I used to be.”
In 1990, Marcus was celebrating his 23rd birthday with his family in Kenya. The tape was brought to the thrift shop by accident.
“It was the beginning of a long road for me, and it’s just a young, unburdened, very light and playful kind of guy,” Marcus said.
Marcus still has the swim shirt, and even made his own TikTok reenacting some of the scenes from the vacation with his wife.