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June 2019

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More on John T. Frye

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.

Comments

You could use worldcat.org to track down libraries that have partial collections of Radio Craft. Might have to look pretty carefully to find one whose issues go far enough back.

I don't know whether it's been indexed. You might also drop notes to historians of radio and see if someone has already done the spadework.

More remarkably, he never studied engineering, but preferred English, journalism, history, and psychology.

Not that remarkable... I know other people who didn't study engineering in school, but nevertheless learned a whole lot about radio, electronics, and other things-- even teaching a lot of other people...

(Anonymous)

Hugo Gernsback

W
I bought the use of the Popular Electronics Tradmark from Ziff Davis after they had suspended publication of that magazine. Having purchased Gernsback Publications from Hugo Gernsback and his son Harvey Gernsback I continued publication of the monthly's for several years. Finally merged them into one book, Poptronics until we ceased publication in 2003.
For those who want to know mre about Gernsback
I’ve recently published a new 900-page biography about the life and times of Hugo Gernsback. It is available on Amazon. Just follow this link:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1419658573/ref=s9_asin_title_1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-1&pf_rd_r=0E2P5EPVT6GNP7TGPC29&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=320448601&pf_rd_i=507846

The manuscript was found while I was in the process of closing down Gernsback Publications Inc. in 2003. It was apparently written some time in the 1950’s. It covers all the areas that Hugo found interesting: wireless communications, science fiction, publishing, patents, foretelling the future, and much more.

Want more info? Contact me at PoptronixInc@aol.com

(Anonymous)

Carl and Jerry

Hi Jeff,
I've tried to email you several times over the past year or so but evidently you've not gotten them.
Nice update on one of my favorite magazine stories, Carl and Jerry.
One point - when John Frye left Popular Electronics in 1964, it wasn't for good. He brought back Mac's Service Shop into the pages of PE in the early '70s. How long he continued it past 1974, I'm not yet sure.
Also, an internet friend of mine wrote a sequel to John Frye's works with Carl and Jerry as the characters, but in the time frame of 1953. It's very good.
Catch me at merrijoy at frontiernet.net
Good luck.
Dave in Fairmount, IN

(Anonymous)

John Frye's death

John Frye took his own life. See the link at:
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=dfl&GRid=34709856