On Saturday the 13th of April, 2013, while visiting family in Phoenix, we headed south to Tucson with our first goal being to visit the Arizona Historical Society Library in order to search for photos and articles about Jack and his early companies, Standard Airlines and Transcontinental & Western Air. It is well known Tucson was Jack and Paul Richter’s prime spot of establishing a new airline route for commerce and travel as it was in a direct line towards El Paso, a spot they both had their eyes on for the future. We were able to come up with many articles and photographs and at $0.15 a copy, we loaded up! More photos are being researched via the Tempe Arizona AHS location.
The quality of the original photo is spectacular with clarity that rivals today’s image quality. I was completely dumbfounded how clear it is. The photo is registry number 47302 in the AHS. Ms, Hughston by the way was the Advertising manager of Steinfelds in 1969 when this photo was donated by her. I am unable to publish the actual high resolution photos here due to copyrights that are in place. Low resolution thumbnails are shown for reference only.
This was an emotional period retracing Jacks unfortunate accident today. It brought to my thoughts what might have been on his mind after leaving his office, his business day and how it went, and thinking of his child Nevajac and wife Emily who were visiting his mother in law Lillian Johnson Smith in Las Vegas. It was quite surreal and brought home the whole Jack Frye story for me. At just 54 years old, he had so much more to offer in aviation, but more so, to raise and enjoy his beloved and only child Nevajac with whom we are in contact on a weekly basis. We are so blessed to be able to have a relationship with Nev and Jacks granddaughter, Brieana Frye.
Our main focus was to video the route Jack traveled from the Tucson airport area, specifically the old Hughes access road up to the Ajo Way and Palo Verde Road intersection, a 12.4 mile trek where the accident occurred. We got the drive on video and it will be produced for Nev and the families eyes only until further notice should she wish to release for public viewing. Below are some photos of the intersection and a small memorial and flowers we placed in Jack Frye’s honor at Ajo and Palo Verde.
While standing on this spot surveying the intersection, I couldn’t help but imagine the accident scene that occurred in the dusty darkness and the horrible sound of smashed metal, tires squealing and glass breaking. I have been in a few car and motorcycle accidents in my life and everything happens in a flash. We don’t know if Jack saw the station wagon approaching, my guess is he didn’t from reading the accident descriptions in the Tucson Daily Citizen newspaper. The cause of the accident, Mrs. Rosabell Wright did though. She described seeing a sign that said “Stop Sign Ahead”, then it was dark, then she saw bright lights. I assume these were Jacks headlights.
The next stop was to visit St. Mary’s Hospital in which Jack was rushed in an ambulance to try and save his life. I have included a late 50’s photo of the hospital for period reference. And a floor plan of the hospital today. We were able to speak to a very nice elderly volunteer of over 30 years service about where the emergency room was located where Jack's life was trying to be saved in 1959. Rosemary was most helpful in narrowing the location down over decades of remodeling. The red X on the floor plan is the presumed spot of the emergency trauma area. Again, this was quite surreal and emotional knowing where the famous Jack Frye, TWA’s first president and Aviation Pioneer passed away.
Our final stop on this day of discovery after some 8 hours on the road is The Lodge On The Desert where the Frye’s had leased a bungalow for a few months. This period of our day was very enjoyable. Nevajac has fond memories of this place with the swimming pool, horseback riding and a blissful life with her parents. This is a place Kelly and I are very interested in as the same exact bungalow can be rented today of which we will endeavor in the near future. To reside in the Frye’s actual bungalow will be a highlight of our lives.
Below is another bungalow Tabitha let us go into to get a feel for the ambiance and style. The Lodge maintains the original flavor and finish utilizing original styled furniture with some modern amenities. Then Tabitha showed us another room off to the side the Lodge doesn’t rent out. Reason being is they keep it in a non-restored original condition as a remembrance of the lodges past. When you enter the first thing you notice is the musty aroma of age and non attention. It’s not a bad room actually. We would definitely rent it if they would allow us. It needs attention to the plaster and some tidying up. But the solid original wood furniture, floor tiles, bed and cabinetry are really neat.