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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.


  1. Jerry Buck says:

    Have you tried to contact his friend Randolph G. Lanning? His ham radio call was W9CFI and appeared in many of the Carl and Jerry stories. I last talked to him about 15 years ago and don’t know if he is still alive or not but maybe a neighbor or relative could be of help. Randolph’s last address that I have was 4996 E. Division Rd. Logansport, Ind. John was certainly a wonderful person and I’m sure he was the reason many of us got into the electronics field. I have a complete set of Popular Electronics magazines (except for Jan 1961 which I loaned to a friend and never got it back). I still enjoy going through the articles and especially reading the Carl and Jerry stories. Best of luck on your research.

    Jerry Buck K0YBM

    1. Ed Franklin says:

      Mr Buck, nice to see someone else who remembers John as fondly as I do. I guess Mr Duntemann’s interest has faded since I wrote him over a year ago about my father’s long-term friendship with John and details of my personal knowledge and friendship for 15 years or so…but no response.

      For the record, yes, John drove a big Buick…..his “big trip” car… opposed to his little ’round town special (memory fails there….I think it was an Austin)

      Nice to hear that Randy Lanning is still around!

      Ed Franklin

      1. Ed–

        My interest is still very much alive–and let me first apologize for not responding to your emails, which I do have right here. I’ve had a difficult year on this end due to the aging parents problem, and my intent was always to merge your notes into the main article, but time just hasn’t allowed.

        Also, it’s hard to know how to spin certain things on a public forum, like the very sad manner of his passing. I have a stack of notes (from you and several others) on John Frye’s life and need to do some major updating on the main piece.

        So again, apologies for not responding last year. The article is overdue for a major rewrite, which I will see to as soon as humanly possible. But good luck and many thanks for writing, both here and on email!

  2. edward cochley says:

    I first met John Frye when my family lived with my Grandparents at the corner of George and l9th Street in Logansport. (about 1934 or 35. I remember the three wheeled cart he used to push himself downtown. It had a tiller for steerig attached to the front of the cart.
    Us little kids used to rummage around in a large pocket attached to the backrest on the cart, trying to see what interestng stuff he had in the pocket.

    I was about 7 at the time, and I was very impressed with the size of his right arm – the one he used to push the cart. He would go all the way from his house downtown when the weather was good. When the weather was bad he would use the tiny car, which as I recall, had only room for two persons, and was fixed up with hand accelerator and braking system.

    The reason his arm impressed me, if I were messing around in his tools in that pocket, he could reach around, grab me, left me into the air and set me down in front of the cart and deliver a firm lecture to “let his stuff alone”.

    We moved away when I was in the second grade, but later moved back to the l9th Street address in 1943 when I was a Sophomore at Logansport High School. Then I got to know John very well.

    He loved to sit in his car or his cart at Ebert’s drug store on the corner of 19th and Broadway, and talk to everyone that passed by, especially us High School kids, and some of my favorite memories are
    standing on the corner at Eberts talking to John about everything; cars, Spanish class, girls, the Mxicans at the pickle factory at the end of Bates St., girls, etc……. He was a great listener, and always had some pertinent comments on how to live your life.

    One of the special things he did, if he liked you, would take you for a ride in the little car. The oddest things come back to me from those conversations: suggestions on how to handle a girl I was interested in, driving tips.

    One of the WORST times I had was when I was visiting him in his house on George Street. He was talking on his radio, had to go to the bathroom, and just handed me the mike and told me to talk to those people on the other end. Well Duuuh!! All I could do was make some inane comment on the weather, then there was a lot of dead air until he got back.

    The last time I saw John was in 1952. I had just returned from the Korean War, living in Wabash, and was talking to him about this young school teacher I had just met and was thinking about asking her to marry me. Mr. Mertz who, I think, was then Superintendent of Logan schools, was also there. Mr. Mertz jumped right in and told me I should marry her and bring her back to Logan – he had a great
    job he could give her.

    I often Wonder if John got some of his experience working and repairing radios and other appliances from my Dad. Dad worked all through the Depression at an appliance store in Logansport, repairing all types of small radios and other appliances I laugh now at the small prices he charged for these repairs – now we just throw away anything under $50.00 that needs repair.

    If I can think of anything more about John that might be of interest to you, I’ll get back to you.

    I happened to

  3. Larry Lisle says:

    I, like nany others was inspired by John Frye. In the days when
    my projects never worked and I couldn’t make any contacts
    via ham radio, I could still enjoy the adventures of C & J and
    dream of opening my own service shop. (That was my goal
    when HS teacher asked in 1958; probably best I pursued another
    career. I noticed Mac’s character seemed to change in the
    last stories. More gruff, and the stories like high tech
    lectures. Did you notice that? Was Mr. Frye sick at the time?
    Was there something unusual about his passing?
    Thanks for keeping his memory alive. 73,

    1. In the last years of his life, Frye suffered from depression, probably after being alone for so long. In 1985, he took his own life with a handgun. I don’t have this in the article to keep it from being a downer, but his suicide is listed in public records.

  4. Mark says:

    Not sure but met someone who said he was Frye in Danbury CT in the early sixties. I was about 12 or 13 then. This Person took me and a friend to an IBM facilities where we saw a super computer in what was referred to then as a wave free room. Like I said he told my friend he was Frye of Carl and Jerry. Does anyone place him in Danbury CT around then?

    1. Was he in a wheelchair? He could not walk unassisted for most of his life, and certainly all of his adult life.

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