I just uploaded a new version of my Carl & Jerry index, including an expanded bio of John T. Frye. We know a lot more about him than we did a couple of months ago, and almost all of the new material came to me from Lisa Enfinger, whose parents were close friends of Frye's for many years. I'll summarize here:
- John Frye was stricken by polio as an infant, and he could not walk at all, throughout his entire life.
- That said, he was not immobile: He had hand controls installed on all of his cars, and traveled extensively throughout the United States. He owned a 1963 Olds Dynamic 88, but no word on whether he ever had a Buick. (Legend holds that he was a Buick man, but no one can tell me why that should be so.)
- Remarkably enough, he never attended Purdue University, but instead studied at the University of Indiana, Columbia University, and the University of Chicago. Lisa did not know if he ever received a degree.
- More remarkably, he never studied engineering, but preferred English, journalism, history, and psychology.
- Her parents both attended Purdue in the 1940s while earning their degrees in chemistry, and John visited them there. He probably knew other people at Purdue, and it was not a long drive to Layafette from Logansport in any event.
- He is credited with close to 600 short articles, including Carl & Jerry and Mac's Service Shop. His first publication was supposedly in Hugo Gernsback's Radio Craft in the early 1930s.
- Her great uncle Gene Buntain was Frye's close high school friend in Logansport, and the two of them discovered electronics and ham radio together. (Could Gene Buntain have been the inspiration for Carl?)
- John Frye lived much or most of his life at 1810 Spear St. in Logansport, one block south of US 24. It was a little weird to dive down from orbit on Google Earth and be staring at the roof of Frye's old house. One wonders what the man himself would have thought of it.
I dug through my smallish collection of really old radio magazines (including a few Radio Craft) and did not see him there, but if any of you guys can find any of his early articles, I would like citations.
Needless to say, I'm still looking for details on John Frye's life, especially concerning where he learned radio and TV servicing and where he practiced it. Lisa said she never heard of him owning his own shop nor even working for a shop in town, so that would be a question worth answering.
Finally, I had written to Frye's younger brother Bailey Frye late last year, but he was evidently too ill to respond, and I found today that he passed away at the end of April, at age 90.
Many thanks to Lisa Enfinger for taking the time to send me all the information, including the scan of a newspaper article from 1962 that I first lined to a couple of weeks ago, including a picture of Frye at that time, when he was 42.