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The Jack And Helen Frye Story!
The Sedona Legend Web Site is a copyrighted historical photo enhanced narrative presented for
educational and entertainment purposes. Some materials may be displayed in regard to the
United States Fair Use Act. This web portal is totally non-profit and generates no income nor
does it seek or has it ever accepted a single donation. It is an independent venture.
Sedona Legend was envisioned and created to provide Red Rock State Park visitors a
comprehensive historic overview for Jack and Helen Frye and their Deer-Lick and Smoke Trail
Ranches. This effort is now officially cited by R.R.S.P. as an indepth historical venue
representing Jack and Helen Frye.
Sedona Legend is encouraged by the many friends of Jack and Helen Frye. A gracious thank
you to the Frye and Varner families for invaluable support and Red Rock State Park staff and
volunteers for their enthusiasm.
Sedona Legend Helen Frye a.k.a. the Jack and Helen Frye Story
A Decade of Research and Presentation- Created By Randall D. Reynolds
Copyright © 2003 All Rights Reserved
Sedona's Celebrity Love Story!
This is the official, not to mention only, web portal in the world
dedicated exclusively to the legacy of Jack and Helen Frye!
The Frye Legacy-
a Lifetime of Accomplishment!
By Randall Reynolds
The Frye Ranch @ Sedona Arizona
Jack and Helen Frye truly lived the Sedona
dream long before this red rock scenic
wonderland was ever "discovered" and became
a popular destination. Sedona became the
utopia we know today only in the last 40 years.
But, in the Frye era, Sedona was unspoiled,
remote and inaccessible. Only because the
Fryes had the luxury of an executive plane
were they able to escape to this true wild west
location for R & R and experience what was
then a well kept secret! To the (left) is one of
the most stunning photos I have ever seen of
Helen Frye. The actual location is difficult to
discern but it was captured somewhere on the
Frye Ranch. The earliest parcel of the Frye
Ranch was called Deer-Lick (now Cross Creek
Ranch Estates). This land adjoins Red Rock
State Park to the north and Cup of Gold (also
former Frye property) to south. Date is 1941.
This page is dedicated in part to Red Rock State Park volunteer Judy Bemis (now passed away)
who never should be forgotten for her enthusiasm about the Frye history of Red Rock State
Park and her admirable efforts to pull together an early archive of information at the property.
To the (right and above) we see the Fryes at the second Sedona property they purchased where
Red Rock State Park is today. Certainly, one of the very best photos ever taken of the Fryes
together at the ranch, they look relaxed and happy! Originally the building in the background
was a mystery, but the flagstone sidewalk is a clue. I'm going to venture a guess of a
demolished but remembered guest house near the current Willow House. There are still
flagstone walkways at this part of the ranch even today, and during the Frye era, the entire
area was carpeted with lawn (seen in the photo). Notice the robe on the elaborate leather
covered footstool to the left of the Fryes, with the monogram “JF” (combined into one letter)
for Jack Frye. Jack had exquisite taste, as did Helen, so it is not surprising to see he had a
monogrammed wardrobe. Jack had a flare for fashion and his clothes were always GQ in
appearance and sharply tailored. Click on images for enlargements. Date is 1942. In 1946 Helen
describes this building to her architect John Gaw Meem and his wife Faith who were coming to
the ranch, “I have a small bunk room with good beds for you and Faith; however, it’s no bigger
than a pullman compartment. If the upper berth makes you think of flying, I’ll trade my bed
with you.” Helen Frye- September 14, 1946. Note: John Gaw Meem disliked flying.
Keep in mind, the Sedona Ranch was a small part of the Jack and Helen's life. They had many
other irons in the fire in the 1940's. In 1938 Jack completed a major renovation on his 5-acre
Overland Park tudor in Kansas City (this the second of three homes he had there at various
times). By 1944 Jack and Helen were doing major renovations on their 30-room Washington
D.C. mansion (a 70-acre estate which sat across from the Potomac from the White House). At
the same time they maintained 4 ranches (3 in Arizona and 1 in Texas). The Sedona Ranch fell
somewhere in between all this overhead which one can imagine was dizzying to say the least!
Back to the Sedona ranch, in about 1943, Jack and Helen built a small bunk-house near the
Willow House for their many guests (long since torn down). The building was said to have been
of stucco-adobe as a witness (still alive) remembers. This structure was near the location of the
current Red Rock State Park shop and bunkhouse. By the mid-1940's, this first Frye bunk-
house was removed and materials likely reused for a new red rock bunkhouse. Building
materials were in short supply during the war thus it is no surprise the new building was of red
rock which was widely available. This building was torn down in the 1970’s by Eckankar and the
current bunkhouse was erected with much of the original red rock on the same footprint.
The Fryes also renovated the Deer Lick Ranch buildings (currently at Cross Creek Ranch
Estates) and enlarged the Willow House (formerly built by the Schuermans). The first residence
the Fryes resided in and renovated at the ranch was the Armijo Homestead at Cross Creek as
this was the first ranch they bought in Sedona. They named it Deer-Lick Ranch because there
were natural salt licks on the property.
By fall of 1941 they had purchased the Schuerman Ranch farther north. From this point on
they made the Willow House their “headquarters” and the Armijo homestead and neighboring
smaller house was delegated as the ranch manager’s residence and the assistant ranch
manager's resident. This remained so until 1947 when the Fryes sold off this portion of their
ranch holdings to reduce maintenance. However at the same time they actually increased the
size of the ranch with other purchases and forest service land trades with their other larger
ranches (the Sunshine Ranch and the Spring Valley Ranch) near Flagstaff.
The Frye remained at the Willow House until 1948 when they moved up to the nearly completed
Apache Fires house. There was an old bunkhouse near the Armijo homestead that Helen and
Jack had renovated into a small guest cottage where Howard Hughes is thought to have stayed
one of the two times he is known to have visited the ranch. This house remains today but the
north lofted section has been added on. Below is a more detailed overview of the Frye Ranch.
The house was named for the giant willow tree (long since removed). During the Frye era the
house appeared to Helen Frye "like a doll house” dwarfed by the tree which received its water
from the irrigation ditch at its base. Helen's mother Maude is seen (center) and stayed at the
ranch several times with Jack and Helen in the summers (1940's). Helen's police dog Sonja is
seen (foreground). Note the lawns surrounding the house in this scene. This structure is now
used as the Park Manager’s Residence at Red Rock State Park. The Fryes expanded the modest
dwelling by half before taking up residence (adding additional rooms and a red rock fireplace).
You can see the venetian blinds the Fryes had installed on the windows and shutters which could
be closed to secure the house when the couple was in New York City or Washington D.C. The
house almost burned down in the mid-70's when a friend of Helen's was burning trash in the
fireplace which caught the attic on fire. At the time, the water supply to the house was off-line
but had been just restored the day before! Only because of this was the historic ranch house
saved. Please see Page 1942 for another photo of the Willow House from the early 1940's.
Schuerman Ranch- (Smoke Trail) & Willow House early 1940's
Never Ending Construction Projects
Background on the Fryes
The Fryes Start Dating in 1938
William John Jack Frye and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr. (Helen Varner) were guests at the
same cocktail party in the fall of 1938. At this party Helen taunted Jack for the dullness of
TWA's advertising. This captured Jack's attention as he was always looking for ways to improve
his airline. Helen conveyed to Jack that his ads were stuffy and unappealing to the typical air
traveler, and Mrs. Vanderbilt had traveled all over the world frequently. Later that evening,
after returning home she proceeded to write Jack Frye a letter about consumer appeal in air
travel. This letter made such an impression on Jack Frye that it remained for many years
TWA's informal advertising manual! Later Jack and Helen married. (You see, sometimes you
CAN win a man's heart by telling him how to run his business!) Helen served as Jack Frye's
"Rock of Gibraltar" in those tumultuous years, and as well, a sounding board for the many
TWA corporate decisions which were made.
Mrs. Frye's influence was discernable in her efforts to help improve TWA's dining service. Her
idea was to cook food as appetizing as possible and deep freeze it. Later, it was re-heated and
served in flight. Helen Frye was a marvelous cook and enjoyed this talent her entire life! For
years after, perfecting this method, the airline served some of the finest in-flight-meals in the
industry. It has been said that Helen also designed (or helped design) uniforms utilized by TWA
Hostesses. This came about in regard by TWA to provide it's hostesses with day and night-time
attire. These were the days of the TWA Skysleepers and luxurious trans-continental and soon
after- transworld-airliners. The uniforms could also be altered to reflect dinner or non-dinner
flights. In the infancy of airline stewardess attire Helen used her fashion sense to come up with
a unique dual design uniform. A TWA Hostess would wear the smart outfit that had a lapel-
design that would fold up or down in front. Helen's intent was to provide a TWA Hostess
representative with a multi-purpose uniform. The top was worn one way during the day and
another way at night. The embossed "logos" on the lapels could be displayed in different ways.
Helen’s involvement with TWA was largely derived from interviews with Walt Gunn, a retired
TWA Captain. Gunn knew the Frye personally and was at several times one of Jack and Helen
Frye’s private pilots on their Electra Jr. NC18137. The smartly styled TWA uniforms and the
constant upgrading of TWA's dining services were just one of the efforts by Jack and Helen
Frye as a team to maintain a sterling visual image for TWA. Evidence of Helen’s efforts can be
found on more in depth on Page 1941.
Mrs. Frye Offers TWA Ideas
The Camelot Years of TWA
Jack and Helen's Frye’s
marriage truly can be
summed up as 'the TWA
years' (often referred to as
the Camelot years of TWA)
as this was one of the most
exciting and captivating
periods of TWA's rocky
climb to the top of
worldwide airline service!
These years were some of
the most productive and
glamorous in TWA's
history. The Frye union was
an asset and it greatly
benefited Jack Frye, at the
helm of this remarkable
company, with Helen
Vanderbilt Frye beside him.
This liaison is evident when
one noticed the nearly life
size portrait of Helen
hanging over Jack's desk in
his Washington D.C. office.
This display was most
unusual in the corporate
world Jack frequented and
certainly showed his
confidence in his wife.
Jack and Helen both loved Arizona and spent time here as much as they could. As a matter of
fact Jack was partly responsible for the tourism in Arizona before the war. He heavily promoted
the state from 1924 on and later through TWA with its many Arizona stops as a "winter haven
escapes". Without this TWA publicity and transport service Arizona would never have become
the get-a-way for sun seeking "snowbirds" that it became before and after World War II.
A Home of Our Own
After their wedding Jack and Helen started searching for a 'home' of their own. Previously,
Jack lived in Kansas City and Los Angeles. Helen in South Pasadena (N.W. of Hollywood) and
Lake Arrowhead California. They searched for months in Jack's personal Lockheed twin over
the regions of Southern California, New Mexico and Arizona. They were looking for a unique
tract of land with plenty of water for cattle. Of course it was on one of these trips that they
discovered the property which would become the Frye Deer Lick/Smoke Trail Ranch near what
is now known as Sedona Arizona.
Old Indian Trail
On Smoke Trail Ranch the Frye discovered an old Indian trail that followed Oak Creek. This is
the very trail at Red Rock State Park now called Smoke Trail. Helen and Jack discovered that
this trail had been used for hundreds of years by Indians and found evidence of campfires which
left heavy deposits of smoke on the adjoining cliffs and rocks. Also numerous Indian artifacts
were found by the Fryes. So intrigued and touched were Helen and Jack with this part of their
property that this parcel of their vast property eventually became known as Smoke Trail Ranch!
Although Jack and Helen owned two other ranches in Arizona to include the Sunshine and
Spring Valley Ranches the 2 adjoining Sedona ranches were their most favorite. At one point in
1948 Jack and Helen Frye owned over 50,000 acres of property in the state of Arizona alone per
a Frye 1945 Fortune magazine profile and another 1948 Arizona article!
Deer Lick and Smoke Trail Ranch
It must be stated for historic sake that the first ranch the Fryes bought in June of 1941 was the
old Armijo homestead and ranch where Cross Creek Ranch Estates exists today. The Fryes
named this ranch “Deer-Lick Ranch”. This name was chosen by Helen Frye and according to
locals there were likely natural deer licks on the property (salt deposits). It is not known when
the Fryes started using the name “Smoke Trail Ranch” but it applied more so to the northern
most part of the Frye properties. The name Deer-Lick utilized in the first 8 years or so until at
least until 1947. This name is reflected on county records as well as media archives. Jack Frye
continued to purchase all available adjoining land to his ranch even to the point of forest service
land trades with his other Arizona ranches. Early on in October of 1941, Jack Frye purchased
the sizable Fritz Schuerman Ranch farther north up the creek. It is thought perhaps after a
portion of the Deer Lick Ranch was sold in 1947 by the Fryes that they may have started calling
their remaining ranch Smoke Trail. The name was pretty well associated by 1948.
The Sedona ranch was developed slowly as Jack and Helen were not only celebrities who
entertained constantly but Jack was one of the busiest men in the United States. Eventually the
ranch grew to approximately 700 acres. During the first 8 years or so there were limited
comfortable accommodations on the ranch. Even though the Fryes started working with a
Santa Fe architect John Gaw Meem on a new home by late 1941. Unfortunately though, both
parties were too busy to follow through on any construction until 1946. There also were square
footage restrictions in effect during World War II to save needed war materials.
During the war there were less restrictions of (enlargements and renovations) so the Frye’s
completely enlarged and renovated the Armijo homestead at what is now Cross Creek Estates.
Both this home and another former bunk house nearby were made of red rock and still exist to
this day. The bunkhouse Helen made into a charming guest house where it is thought Howard
Hughes stayed at least once when he visited the ranch.
There was another accommodation which was utilized on Deer Lick Ranch which is still part of
Red Rock State Park at the present. This is a small cottage called the "Willow House" in regard
to the large willow that sat next to it giving it the appearance of a doll house to Helen. This now
historic dwelling built before Helen and Jack's ownership in August of 1930 (per local Sedona
resident Jane Schuerman) was used a majority of the time before the Apache Fires house was
built. The Fryes started using it as their private ranch residence in the fall of 1941 and
completely renovated the small house and added a beautiful red rock fireplace on one end. This
house is still used at Red Rock State Park as the park manager’s residence. The Fryes also
early on built a small adobe guest house nearby for guests.
By the fall of 1941 Jack and Helen had already decided to build their newly planned home much
farther north above Oak Creek and it was there Jack wanted to center the ranch. The Armijo
portion of the ranch was close to the southern most end of the Frye property. The Fryes owned
all the property to the south of this and it is currently called Cup of Gold estates. There was
housing for the "help" in the buildings at Deer Lick Ranch until 1947 (when sold by the Fryes).
Also there was ranch hand housing near the Willow House in the form of an old red rock
bunkhouse residence. It is thought the Fryes built this residence for ranch help and Apache
Fires House workers as it is “missing" in early images. The current such bunkhouse at Red
Rock State Park is not the same Frye building but was instead rebuilt in the mid-1970’s with
much of the same red rock materials with a different footprint in roughly the same location.
Sedona was Isolated and Remote in 1941
In early Sedona the only telephone was at the U.S.F.S. office on Brewer Road. This old copper
line enabled the nearby Hart’s Store @ Forest and Brewer Road to have a public telephone (at
least this is my guess). Jack and Helen drove in to town to use this phone several times in the
earliest days of the Frye Ranch per local witnesses. (The Frye Ranch at that time had no
electricity as well). The Fryes did communicate by telegraph to and from the ranch and at least
once this transmission was from Flagstaff, per one telegram that still exists.
In the early 1940’s Jack Frye was heavily involved with TWA and the White House as engaged
with the war effort. It was crucial when he was at the Sedona Ranch that he was not isolated and
cut off with no outside communication. So from the very beginning the Fryes started
negotiating with the local phone company to install a line out to the ranch which was about 8
miles south of Hart’s Store. (The store is about a block south of the junction of 89A and 179 and
still exists). The phone company was resistant though as during the war they had limited
resources and materials and felt a line out to the Frye Ranch was unwarranted.
Finally, in about 1943, after no luck with the local phone company Helen Frye got an ingenious
idea! She ordered copies of all of Jack Frye’s recent telephone bills from the TWA. She then
took these bills (which were exorbitant) to the local phone operation. After looking through the
bills the company officials nearly passed out. They realized running a line out to the Frye Ranch
would more than pay for itself and at that point the short-sighted phone company broke all
records installing the new line! At first the line was a party-line, later though, it became a
private line. The first party-line serviced other ranches between Deer Lick and Sedona like the
Kellogg/Duncan Crescent Moon Ranch at Baldwin’s Crossing (now Red Rock Crossing). This
was the very first rural residential Sedona telephone service brought to Sedona by Jack Frye of
TWA. This historic telephone line was installed at the Frye residence called the "Willow House"
and later in 1948 to the "House of Apache Fires". The line in essence was a TWA hotline from
the Sedona Ranch to Kansas City, Washington D.C., the White House, Los Angeles, New York
City, and Howard Hughes. This brainstorming idea is testament to the intellect of Helen Frye-
which was always leading edge.
In 1947- The Fryes Sell- and Buy
In 1947, the Fryes sold a portion of the Frye Ranch property which included the 3 residences at
the Armijo Ranch and adjoining outbuildings with barn, etc. At the same time, Jack Frye
increased the size of the ranch with other land purchases (this fact is little known). The portion
which was sold was executed because Jack wanted to reduce the ranch's overhead and upkeep
because he and Helen were not able to be there much during the war and the ranch was not a
money-maker. Jack desired to dissolve his cattle ranching operations at Sedona- save for a
small herd. He felt the operation was not profitable nor were any of the other endeavors he
instigated at the ranch.
During this time frame the Fryes had not one, but two ranch manager families living full time
at the ranch. Jack and Helen kept hired help at the ranch a majority of the time throughout
the years usually a ranch foreman and his family with various other employees. The Fryes
employed many people at their various ranches and homes. In the early 1940’s when Jack and
Helen arrived in Sedona by private plane they often had with them a butler named "White" and
a private secretary. They always had a housekeeper and full-time cook at the Sedona ranch too.
The secretary was necessary as Jack Frye never had a real vacation and conducted TWA
business in-flight and at all his homes.
The Planes- The Glamour
As you surely know if you have been following this web work Jack and Helen and their many
guests arrived and departed from the Sedona area in 2 different Frye private airliners. The first
was a 1937 Lockheed 12A (NC18137) utilized between 1940 and 1945, the second, was a much
larger and well-appointed 1942 Lockheed Lodestar 18 (NC33604) airliner. These planes were
beautiful sophisticated twin-engine executive airliners that Jack and Helen utilized for a
majority of their North America traveling. Please see Page 1940 and Page 1945 which are
dedicated to the Frye private planes.
Landing at Sedona- Not Possible in the 1940’s
These powerful twin-engine Frye planes could not be landed just anywhere especially the larger
Lockheed Lodestar. Although Jack contemplated trying to develop a landing strip at Deer Lick
Ranch there was just not enough time or flat unobstructed areas to facilitate a landing strip.
The red rock cliffs and mountains surrounding the valley could not be navigated by either
Lockheed twin. Thus Jack and Helen landed at what became locally known as the “Frye Private
Airstrip” as described below. They also landed a few times at Prescott Arizona, but more so at
the TWA terminal at Winslow Arizona (this was more so though, after, Jack acquired the
larger Lodestar). Upon arrival the Frye ranch hands would pick up the Fryes at the landing strip
and occasionally at Winslow Arizona which was a full-service TWA terminal. The Fryes also
traveled in and out of Winslow on east-west TWA airliners. While in Winslow the Fryes always
stayed at the historic La Posada Hotel (a former Fred Harvey House).
A Semi-Private Frye Regional Airport Is Founded By Jack Frye
Sedona had no airport at this early date. In 1941 Jack and Helen searched Sedona by air for a
suitable airport and located Table Top Mountain (now known as Airport Mesa) the current
location of the Sedona Airport. Jack and Helen walked the mesa off together and Jack
determined it would be a suitable airfield for the Sedona region. However Jack's personal time
was so limited during the war that he was not able to follow through on any development. Later
in life Helen Frye related that Joe Moser carried the project through by 1953. Jack was
instrumental in the formation of a simpler landing field near Cottonwood instead. This was not
the present airport in Cottonwood but another location farther N.E. (Verde Valley Airport).
Locals Witness TWA Airliners Landing and Departing
As an early Sedona resident who knew the Fryes related to me “on the corner of Cornville Road
and Highway 89A (on the west side) Jack had an area bladed and they often landed their plane
there. Someone from the ranch would then drive over and pick them up". I have discovered
through research that Jack and Helen either owned or leased this property. It is assured that
each time Jack and Helen were in town all who drove down Highway 89A between Cottonwood
and Sedona would see their shiny gleaming TWA private airliners parked out in the desert next
to the highway. Word spread throughout the region that "Jack and Helen Frye are back in
town"! These two were truly Sedona's very first celebrities and millionaires! The local resident
continued his reminiscing “when Jack and Helen came to town they were always accompanied
by an entourage of people”. As he put it "a bevy of beautiful women, secretaries to
secretaries… etc". This was understandable as Jack was never removed from the daily
operations of TWA. Helen, as well, utilized a secretary of her own to handle social
correspondence and engagements. It is well documented locally that each time Jack and Helen
would fly to Sedona in one of their Lockheeds they would fly low over the ranch and circle it
twice. This would signal the ranch hands to drive over to the air strip and pick up Jack, Helen,
and their guests. For more information on this air strip please see Page 1940.
The Crews- and a Private TWA Hostess Staff Frye Planes
Please keep in mind on both planes but primarily the second Lodestar, a TWA hostess was
assigned to tend to the needs of the passengers on all flights. This was the private Frye
V.I.P. Hostess Harriet Appelwick. There was usually a co-pilot on the Electra 12A and a crew of
three for the Lodestar. One of Jack and Helen's pilots on the 12A was Captain Walt Gunn and
Pilot Russell “Robby” Robinson. On the Lockheed Lodestar the pilot was Glenn Knudsen and
M. E. “Ed” Bell. Research is pending on Glenn, who I have been told also had a twin brother
who was also a TWA pilot. (I don’t know if this could be true though, because TWA had a policy
against hiring more than one family member). Another one of Jack and Helen's personal pilots
was thought to be named Al, and interestingly, there was a Al and Max Knudsen with TWA.
The War Years
Because of the war Jack and Helen had to spend more and more time in Washington D.C. Jack
maintained an office there and Transcontinental & Western Air was heavily involved with the
White House with the war effort. President Harry Truman and Jack Frye were good friends and
poker buddies. Jack Frye and Helen Varner Vanderbilt Frye were frequent guests of the FDR
and Truman White House during this time period. During the beginning of the war Helen and
Jack lived in hotel suites and apartments in Washington D.C. like the Wardman and the
Mayflower. However, it became apparent to both of them what with all the entertaining and
lobbying they had to do for Transcontinental & Western Air that they needed to buy or lease a
home in the D.C. area.
The Frye Doubleday Mansion
In late 1943 Helen started searching for a suitable estate in the Washington area and by early
1944 she found the perfect place. This was the Doubleday Mansion with adjoining 70-acres which
TWA in turn leased as an executive mansion (akin to a similar mansion which represented Pan
Am). In depth details on this property can be found on Page 1943 where you read about the
Frye's entertaining the League of Nations at the mansion for a week in Helen's own words!
Sedona Ranch- a Private TWA Get-A-Way
When Jack and Helen could take the time to be in Sedona they made the best of it. Because
TWA was the airline of the movie stars, Jack as president and Helen as his wife became friends
with many celebrities. Helen even served as a TWA hostess on special V.I.P. celebrity
Constellation flights (this per Howard Hughes intimate Terry Moore). Some of these celebrities
as well as many world notables were invited to the Sedona Ranch to experience the wild west of
Sedona Arizona. Because the accommodations on the ranch were limited some of the guests
stayed in town or up the canyon at the famous Mayhew Lodge.
Jack and Helen entertained their many guests with mini-rodeos, square dances, trail rides and
cookouts! The ranch was even made to look like a Hollywood movie set for one gathering. Jack
and Helen's friends were treated to royal western adventures! If one closes one's eyes and
imagines one can see the fiddles, guitars, square dancing, singing, and smell the aromatic fires
of mesquite and juniper cook fires at the Frye Ranch by Oak Creek!
Nature's Little Beasts!
One story goes as follows from a local Sedona resident who worked for Helen and Jack as a
guide in the early 1940’s as a teenager. Quote by Carmen Reyes, "the ranch used to be pretty
big before Armijo sold some of it to Jack Frye- he was president of TWA. I remember when
Jack Frye came he used to hire me to be his 'Little Indian Guide' -him and Helen used to tell
me, ‘and don't speak English’. They had all kinds of important people come. Marlene Dietrich, I
would get all thrilled to death when she came, I was about 12 or 14, at the time." Reyes
continued, "where the creek goes around there was a little farm that was experimenting with
soy beans during the war. It was pretty nice then. We cleared a lot of rocks down by the creek
for the Fryes, they wanted a place to swim. I liked working for them! I was one of the best paid
guys around. I made $60.00 a month, it was paid to me under the table. I would work all day
with the tours and then have to hoe or do anything else that needed to be done. That was fun
working with all those movie stars! Helen Frye had two Great Danes- first two I ever saw in my
life and the talk of the town. When she would go out on horseback, I would have to follow a
long, kind of like a puppy dog. She carried a .22 and I had to carry boxes of ammunition. She
would shoot at anything that moved- grasshoppers- anything! One day a pack of coyotes came
out and took after her dogs! She got so excited she couldn't hit the coyotes and wouldn't give me
the rifle! So, I finally got off my horse and had to get sticks to chase the coyotes off her dogs!"
Friendly Rattlers- "Oh My!"
Please note- the longer Helen lived on the ranch the more respect she gained for the wildlife. At
the end of her life she did not allow anything to be killed or harmed in any way on her property.
Rattlesnakes, tarantulas, coyotes, javelinas, all wildlife lived in harmony and peace on Helen
Frye’s Ranch. As Carmen told me in a recent interview (summer 2008) “Helen told him at one
point she no longer desired to kill anymore of ‘nature's little beasts’ (her words) This, he said
was the result of some experience she had at the ranch which changed her outlook."
This experience was when Helen was on the construction site of the Apache Fires House and she
spotted an Arizona rattlesnake coiled up near her that didn’t strike. She felt from that point on
that she was given a sign that God’s creatures have similar rights to roam the land like man.
And since she was spared she needed to be more respectful of the “other” residents of her and
Jack’s ranch. Later in life Helen became quite interested in the Hopi and Navajo ceremonies
which revered the Hopi Navajo land creatures. Jack Frye was part Cherokee and Helen all her
life had an affinity for the Southwestern Native Americans, especially the Hopi.
The scene above (taken from the House of Apache Fires) shows the Frye Ranch valley in the
summer of 1954. The scene very much mirrors that of today (2012). Notice by this time the
Fryes had torn down the temporary guest house which had been center and as appears above in
another photo. They had instead built a new bunkhouse (foreground-center) and expanded the
barn buildings. Please note the current Red Rock State Park bunkhouse is not the same Frye
bunkhouse seen above. The current one was built on the original footprint in the mid-1970's.
The Frye barn near the Willow House can be seen right in 1947 with the (2nd) bunkhouse built
in the mid-forties out of red rock and adobe behind. The girl milking the cow is Rosie Targhetta
who came out to help the Fryes summer of '47 after Helen broke her arm riding. Rosie's
brother Joseph was the (then) ranch foreman. The first summer Rosie stayed at the Willow
House with the Fryes- the next summer she stayed at the nearly completed Apache Fires house.
To the left is Helen Frye and her mother Maude who visited often from West Virginia in a real
1940's "cheesecake" photo- just look at those strapped pumps! Helen designed much of her own
clothing and this photo shows possibly a Helen Frye design- poolside ensemble with wrap for her
hair- what a knockout! To the right is TWA president Jack Frye sporting a rare look- totally
laid back in shorts and relaxing with his mother-in-law at his Sedona Ranch. When Jack and
Helen were at the ranch they basked in the Arizona sun and were far removed the staid
convention and pomp of N.Y.C. and Washington D.C. The ranch was isolated from Sedona with
no marked mailbox or ranch name at the entry- just the way Jack and Helen wanted it- Private!
The area behind Jack and Helen is the current Red Rock State Park "Bunkhouse Trail Loop".
Notice the horizon? You can see the knoll where the House of Apache Fires rests today but in
the above photos it is missing and no where to be seen- this dates the photos to mid-1940's.
Escaping The Corporate World
Stunning photo of Helen Frye (left) doing what
she and Jack loved most- riding the ranch!
The man (left) may Joe York Sr. (one time
Frye Ranch Foreman) which dates the image
to about 1945. Behind the barn is seen the red
rock and stucco bunkhouse and willow tree.
Helen Frye (to the left) at the Sedona Ranch in the early days with Jack Frye (right) taken a
few moments later. Both rode the ranch extensively. I don't know if I have ever seen a better
photo of Helen- she absolutely looks radiant! Jack is holding the same horse and shown with his
trademark cigar and movie camera in hand (movies which disappeared). I had to do extensive
work to clean up these images which had not aged well but the end result is terrific! (1944?)
Many many thanks to Jack and Helen's nieces Sisty and Sheryl who have gone out of their way
to locate lost images of the Fryes for this page. The images seen here and on page 1935 have
never been seen by the public before and are extremely rare and valuable historically!
Above to the left is Helen's mother-in-law Maude Varner on a visit with Jack and Helen to
Cathedral Rock. One assumes that Jack took the photo and Helen's back is to us. Notice she is
wearing the same buckskin coat as to the right when she is again at the base of Cathedral Rock
with friends and Jack's private TWA pilot Robby Robinson (Page 1942) sightseeing. The photo to
the left is thought to be taken in the mid-1940's. The photo to the right was about 1943.
Showing Guests Around Sedona
Living the Sedona Dream
with Jack and Helen Frye in 1941
Transportation In and Out of The Frye Ranch in the Early Days
The Fryes always kept several cars at the
ranch which they would use to drive back and
forth to the airstrip or Winslow airport. Jack
seemed to favor Pontiacs and he and Helen
drove such at Kansas City and Sedona for
years. I don’t know whether Jack felt Pontiacs
were just solid powerful cars or whether this
was related to his sponsoring the make with
TWA. The Frye Pontiacs were always new with
posh leather interiors and Helen was seen
often around Sedona in hers. Jack Frye even
located a new ‘42 Pontiac for his first ranch
foreman (Roy Kurtz) after he admired Helen
Frye one day driving into the ranch in her
stylish ‘41 Pontiac convertible. In an article
called “Jack Frye- Vision Unlimited”, written
by Douglas J. Ingells, for Coronet Magazine, in
1942, he describes Frye and his Pontiacs thus,
“He drives his Pontiac-- upholstered with red
leather--so fast that there isn’t a policeman in
Kansas City who won’t tell you ‘Sure, I know
Jack Frye-- he’s the guy who tries to fly his
automobile all over town.’”
Jack Frye- Streamliner Torpedo
Above (left) we see Pigg posing at the tail of Jack and Helen's new 1948 Pontiac convertible at
the rear of the House of Apache Fires (see Page 1947). Jack and Helen always kept new Pontiac
convertibles at the ranch from 1941 to 1958. This photograph is on file at Red Rock State Park.
Jack Frye- President and Director of
Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc., is the
only executive head of a major airline holding
an Airline Transport Pilot’s License. He has
over 5,000 flying hours in his pilot’s log,
(1941) and when not busy concentrating on
management problems, Mr. Frye frequently
flies his airline’s research plane (L12A) on
survey trips. Please click on ad for larger file.
Caption from TWA Stratoliner-
Pontiac Streamliner Promo
The Frye Ranch Was Isolated- Sedona Was Off The Beaten Track
To expound on the isolation of Sedona and the lack of services in the 1940’s. When Jack Frye
was out here he was on a very tight schedule, basically just a short break from TWA. As I have
said, the Fryes flew in and out from a private airstrip near the ranch but occasionally for
whatever reason, Jack and Helen flew into the TWA terminal at Winslow and drove down to
Sedona, a trip of about 3-hours. This was more so when Jack had the larger Lockheed Lodestar
18 and needed to have it serviced by TWA ground crews.
On one of these occasions Jack and Helen drove down from Winslow and Jack as usual had a
short window. The day always came too early for him to leave the ranch. On this trip he had an
important TWA business meeting in NY or DC (it is not known). He and Helen threw
everything in the car and started the rugged dusty drive to Winslow. At that time the canyon
road (89A) was narrow and treacherous (more so than today) so the drive was entertaining at
best. Halfway up the switchbacks the transmission went out on the Pontiac, unfortunately,
automobiles back then, especially during the war, were hardly as flawless as they are today.
Jack, who was an accomplished aircraft mechanic, evaluated the situation and realized that the
Pontiac would still operate in reverse. He turned the car around and navigated the narrow
treacherous road backwards up Oak Creek Canyon through the switchbacks and on to Flagstaff
where he and Helen hired a car to rush them to Winslow.
Need I say the Fryes did not miss their connection- Jack Frye made sure of that! Jack was one
of the most important men in the country in the 1940's and this incident is testament to his
value. If he backed a car up that canyon he had damn good reason to do so. This is an example
of just how isolated Sedona was in 1945. If you needed to get out of town you either flew (a real
luxury) or you lethargically negotiated the then primitive roads with a motor car. There were no
taxis, shuttles, or services to speak of- you were on your own! If you had important business on
the east coast- well now we know how one man did it!
So the next time you drive up or down the Canyon and complain about the curves, drop offs,
and traffic, just be thankful you weren’t a passenger with the Frye’s on this trip in the 1940’s.
Jack Frye Seen in President Truman's Inaugural Motorcade in '49
In regard to the Fryes and automobiles, I have heard that Jack and Helen had several
Cadillacs, all garaged in different states, each with the special V.I.P. license plate “JF”. (One
source states it was JF-1). This type of plate was usually designated only for governors and
indicates, if true, Jack Frye’s V.I.P. status nationwide. I have never found documentation to
this end though until now.
Recently, I came across an incident recounted by the famous, legendary actress, Helen Hayes
which proves this end.
Jack Frye attended the presidential inauguration of his friend Harry Truman on January 20,
1949. This information is derived from Hayes who was a witness and would often share her story
of this memorable event with friends. On the morning of January 20th, she and her husband,
Charles MacArthur, were making their way to their designated seats at the viewing stands.
Suddenly, Helen turned around and alarmingly realized that her husband had been separated
from her by the gathering mob. She decided at this point the only thing she could do was
continue to her seat with her invitation and hope Charles would catch up with her. After finding
her seat she waited anxiously for her husband, who never did join her in the stands.
However, imagine her surprise when a big sedan with “JF’ plates drove by the packed stadiums
at the lead of Truman’s presidential motorcade parade (looking very official, mind you).
Waving out of the sedan’s window, Helen recognized her husband Charles, astounded, she
quickly waved back!
How it unfolded- After Charles was separated from Helen Hayes, he soon found himself
standing next to Jack Frye (it is not known if they knew each other previously). Charles
explained his predicament to Jack, at which Jack, who was always most accommodating told
Charles, “you can ride with me!”. They both made their way to Jack’s (assumed to be a)
Cadillac, and Frye, who was known to “fly his car around Washington”, started the difficult
navigation to the view/reception stands. Now, for the interesting aspect to this story, the streets
were blocked for the presidential motorcade and traffic was immobilized, white gloved police
officers were everywhere. However, Jack Frye’s big sedan with his official looking “JF” license
plate was expeditiously flagged onto the blocked official motorcade route, ahead of Truman,
(who was in a dark 1948 or 49 Packard convertible). It is not known how many other vehicles
proceeded Truman in the parade. Through all the blocked intersections Frye followed the
official route and enjoyed an V.I.P. straight-shot to the viewing stands of 1000’s of spectators.
Not one single D.C. police officer questioned the Fleetwood’s presence in the motorcade,
something unheard of today. Perhaps some of the police recognized Frye, as he was a fixture in
Washington, or perhaps, it really was the unusual license plates of the car. It has been said that
Frye was the only civilian who had unfettered access to the Oval Office during Truman’s
presidency- day or night.
And this is how we know that Jack Frye (and perhaps his wife Helen Frye) attended Harry
Truman’s inauguration with at least one surprise guest, Helen Hayes’ husband, Charles
MacArthur. This incident has been verified by media reports and is being researched further.
Parties and Mixing
The Apache Fires villa was set up for large gatherings. The ranch had a variety of
accommodations for guests and Jack and Helen entertained regularly here. This came easy for
them as they threw parties constantly at their homes in Merriam (K.C.) and Hillcrest Farm,
a.k.a. the Doubleday Mansion, at (D.C.). Sedona guests included V.I.P's from out of town and
local acquaintances from the Sedona area. Typically, a party was enjoyed throughout the house,
spilling out on the terraces and lawns. Jack and Helen both enjoyed the Sedona lifestyle and
the first home they planned together. The entertaining at Sedona was an unwinding escape
from Jack 's stressful career with TWA and GAF in Washington and New York City.
'Moscow Mule' Rage- From West Hollywood to Sedona Via TWA
Another memorable party was held at Red Rock Crossing (so called today). Crescent Moon
Ranch was located here in the day as owned by Lois (Kellog) Duncan and Nick Duncan. (A
image of Lois can be found on Page 1958). Rosie was the party greeter and would show the Frye
guests where the bar was and make sure they all got a drink. Each guest just fell in love with
Rosie and would insist she sit down, drink, and visit with them. Rosie found herself becoming
more and more relaxed and intoxicated! The next morning, Mrs. Jack Frye received calls from
many a Sedona resident congratulating her and Jack on a wonderful event and complimenting
Rosie on being such a charming personality! Charming albeit very tipsy!
Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning were often seen around Sedona with their two white fluffy
dogs (thought to be Lhasa Apsos) and even brought the darlings to Frye and Babbitt parties.
There were Frye parties at other locations, too, like Crescent Moon Ranch and Oak Creek
Canyon. One such event is remembered at the Babbitt’s canyon home. Rosie's brother was to
be the bartender, but at the last minute, he was unable to participate. (This dates the event to
1948). Therefore, Rosie was elected by the Fryes to serve drinks. Of course, Rosie was nervous
as she had never mixed drinks before! At this time, there was a very trendy drink called the
"Moscow Mule". This drink was the inspiration of the famous celebrity hangout on Sunset
Boulevard called the "Cock 'n' Bull" Restaurant & Pub in West Hollywood. The concoction had
been developed to utilize the surplus of Russian Vodka available after WWII. Jack and Helen
discovered the concoction in the mid-40's and decided to make it the 'theme' of their Oak
Creek Canyon party. Rosie was settled into her bartending routine and guests were all sipping
the concoction. However, Jack and Helen noticed an unusual effect at the party; everyone was
drinking and having pleasant time, but no one was feeling, well, shall we say "buzzed"? Finally,
Helen realized, that although Vodka is quite invisible in a cocktail, in these drinks the Vodka
was positively missing! Rosie, in her inexperience as a bartender, had neglected to add the
Vodka! Finally, after refilling everyone's drinks with the "real" formula, the party took off!
The adjoining logo appeared on the copper mugs which were
used to serve the famous "Moscow Mule" in 1940's
Hollywood! Now, you too, can enjoy this refreshing drink
associated with the Fryes and Sedona. I assure you it is
excellent and we have served them ourselves at gatherings!
2 ounces Vodka (ice cold)
1 ounce of Lime juice
4 ounces of Cock 'n' Bull Ginger Beer (ice cold)
Mix and serve in a frosty copper mug with a slice of lime!
It is suggested for authenticity that only the
original Cock 'n' Bull Ginger Beer be used in this drink.
I was able to locate it at Bashas' in Sedona
Above we can see the Willow House (as named
by Helen Frye) at the end of the 1930's. This is
the expression of the cottage when the Fryes
bought the ranch in 1941. Built in the 1930's
by Fritz and Dolly Schuerman it was expanded
by the Frye's in 1942. The photo above can be
found in Red Rock State Park archives.
To the (right) is a 35mm image of the the
Willow House likely taken by Jack Frye who
was a professional photographer in about 1945.
(Above) we see the Frye Ranch as seen from the knoll where the Apache Fires house was built
some 5-years later. The photo (scanned from a slide) was taken in 1943 by Frye private pilot
Robby Robinson (see Page 1942). You will recognize the Willow House (right) which had already
been renovated by then, and the new small guest house (center), with a small barn (left). The
white specks are geese. Even though the image was taken in the winter, you can see the whole
valley was developed farm land. The Frye Ranch was a working ranch up until about 1949.
In the stunning image (above) of Mrs. Helen Frye (adjoined by her beloved dog Sonja) we can
understand her affinity with water and animals. At the Frye Ranch Jack and Helen swam
frequently and enjoyed Oak Creek immensely, this, the soul reason Jack bought at Sedona.
In The Words of Jack and Helen Frye
Business and Personal Letters of Jack and Helen Frye
December 8, 1934
Mr. Jack Frye
President, TWA Incorporated,
Kansas City, Mo.
Dear Mr. Frye:
Congratulations on your appointment as President of TWA Incorporated. I wish you a successful
career in this work.
Several years ago, you gave Mrs. Riordan and me a most pleasurable thrill when you took us up
in the air at Prescott, on our first air trip, and shortly after that time, I introduced to Mr. Henry
M. Robinson in Los Angeles. It was then remarked that we could expect big things from you in
the development of air transportation, and now you seem to be fulfilling our hopes.
Mrs. Riordan joins me in all good wishes,
Timothy Riordan (hand written signature)
10 Richards Road
Kansas City, Missouri
December 22, 1934
Mr. Timothy A. Riordan
Howard Sheep Company
Dear Mr. Riordan:
Thank you for your kind letter of congratulations and good wishes which I have just received
due to having been in the east for the past three weeks.
I often fly over Flagstaff and think of the pleasant visit I had in Prescott the time you and Mrs.
Riordan went for a ride with me in the old Fokker Universal. Someday I will stop in with one of
our new Douglas Planes and repeat the experience. You will enjoy these planes as they have all
the comforts of the finest Pullman car with lots of room, large comfortable chairs, steam
heating and all possible conveniences. They are also quieter than the average Pullman car.
I am very grateful to you for your introduction to Mr. Henry Robinson as he has been very
helpful to me ever since, and I see him almost every time I go to Los Angeles.
With sincere wishes to Mrs. Riordan and yourself for a
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, I am,
Jack Frye (hand written signature)
SAVE TIME-USE THE AIRMAIL
TRANSCONTINENTAL & WESTERN AIR, INC.
Kansas City, Missouri
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
September 11, 1942
Dear Mr. Riordan,
I saw Mr. Dolan in Flagstaff last week and he has arranged for me to have a pair of logging
I want you to know that Mr. Frye and I are very happy and proud to have been favored by your
They will always be a symbol to us of one great frontiersman and a big tall Arizonan, whose zest
for living and taste for good whisky can only be measured by the immensity of his wagon wheels.
We are leaving tomorrow, but will be back. Please come to see us often.
With kindest regards and best wishes to you, Mrs. Riordan and your family.
Helen V. Frye (hand written signature)
TRANSCONTINENTAL & WESTERN AIR, INC.
Kansas City, Missouri
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
September 30, 1943
Mr. Timothy A. Riordan
Dear Mr. Riordan;
Mr. and Mrs. Frye are in Washington. I know they will be delighted to receive your interesting
letter of September 27, which I am forwarding to them.
Knowing how very busy Mr. Frye always is when he is in the East and that Helen is spending all
of her time trying to find a place to live, I thought I would write this note so you would
understand if some time elapses before they have a chance to write to you.
Meriam L. Furse (hand written signature)
Meriam L. Furse
Secretary to Mr. Frye
Jan. 14, 1944
Dear Mr. Tim;
Our Christmas cards are just catching up with us. Thanks for your kind thoughtfulness. Your
beautiful bottle of Scotch and a handsome pair of chaps that Jack had made for me in Flag are
all the Christmas we have had yet. You see this war and our traveling around first completely
upsets all holidays and social life. Hell, won't it be fun when we all get back to work and leave all
our packages to unwrap-let me guess-about "Ground Hog Day?"
We are due back in L.A. soon, maybe tomorrow. We were so busy the few days that we were at
the ranch that I didn't get to call you folks. Maybe by the time I do you will be there, too. I
certainly hope so because I want to make a date with you to take you out for dinner and a show.
I can't depend upon Jack when he is in town doing anything except his work. But I don't think
he will mind seeing such a good friend as you going out with me.
Should you not be in L.A. when we get there, Jack says that he's hoping to come back to our
ranch next week. I'll contact you because you might like to fly back to California with us then.
Thanks again for your lovely Christmas spirit, "spirits," we need?? them both. Hope to see you
Helen V. Frye (hand written signature)
January 18, 1944
Dear Mrs. Frye;
I was delighted to have your letter of the 14th with the breezy news about the doings of Mr. Jack
and yourself. I especially am pleased and thankful for the proposed date with you to go out for
food and a show. I hope we may arrange this sometime but at present, I am a flu victim and
have been for three or four weeks--up and down. I have been warned to stay in bed but I won't
I have been trying to clean up my heap of Christmas cards and letters and keep out of the cold
winds that we have been having.
I can understand how lonesome it must be for you at times on your various trips with your
husband who doubtless is wrapped up in his business and leaves you stranded at times.
I am expecting Mary and Bob over here next Monday. Bob will stay a week or two to help me
clean up my business and Estate matters and I want Mary to stay for a month for a rest. They
have had such a frantic time with all the girls home and all the girls' friends and with all the
marriages, I think they said thirteen, the shopping and everything else and practically no help
to be had.
I didn't get to see Rita coming from or going to St. Louis. She passed through here on the Chief
after midnight both ways. She is having a grand time in St. Louis. In fact, she had a lively time
in L.A. during the vacation period.
I don't expect to get over to the Coast now for a month or maybe two months but hope I may
see Jack and yourself over here on one of your trips. Be sure and drop in when you come this
I noticed in the Phoenix Gazette of the 17th a very nice item, "Jack Frye wins Honors" by being
elected Fellow in the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences. I am very pleased at his continual
progress to the top. I will always remember Mrs. Riordan's fondness for him when she first met
him in Prescott and he took us up on our first air ride.
I have a "Good Wishes" card today from Bill, Toni, and Carole Coburn. I imagine this is from
Mr. Bill Coburn the St. Louis newspaperman who is an old friend of mine and who knows a
number of our friends in St. Louis. He is also a friend of Dr. Raymond's in Flagstaff. I got the
card from Sedona and I don't know what he is doing down here.
I have had a fairly good season of it here even with the flu-- a big surprise party on my eighty-
six birthday when just about raised the roof.
If you happen to be in Phoenix this week Mr. Joe Dolan and one of his daughters are at the
Westward Ho. I am certain Mr. Joe could show you around if you need any escort in that vicinity
and he's perfectly safe.
I'm glad you liked the "spirits" and hope you all got some good cheer out of it. It's a getting to
be awfully rare nowadays up this way and I guess every other place.
Be sure and have Mr. Jack give me a ring whenever he is in town and of course, you will always
be there with him.
I'll bet you look charming in those chaps that Jack had made for you in Flagstaff. I didn't know
that they could be had here. I had some most unusual presents myself. A beautiful set of
unusual dishes and a set of beautiful water and wine glasses and then a large willow tray with a
fine set of highball glasses. I had most of these things in abundance in the house but these are
now models I suppose and have a different pattern, which is to cheer me up.
With all good wishes for Mr. Jack and yourself all the days of this New Year and hoping to see
both of you very soon.
Most sincerely yours,
Timothy A. Riordan (hand written signature)
TRANSCONTINENTAL & WESTERN AIR, INC.
Kansas City, Missouri
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
February 21, 1944
Dear Mr. Riordan,
As you no doubt have guessed by this time, my plans for coming down to the ranch have never
materialized. This is always the way it is when I make any plans and I hope you didn't wait for
us. Just the same, when I do get there I will contact you and if we are going on west will extend
Right here, I want to explain something to you. In your last letter, you said something about
how I must be very lonely having to jump around the way I do with Mr. Frye and not being able
to have much social life. Mr. Riordan, I have about ten times more social life than I would like
to have. You see, I am not really a social person; in fact--except for a very few people (of which
you are one) --I would rather be entirely alone. I am sort of a creative type and I never can do
my best unless I have a lot of time by myself. I don't know how many people realize it, but Mr.
Frye is the same type. I often am amazed at the work he does for his job, and does well, which in
the bare truth is entirely against his nature. When I hope for a day with you it is one of those
wishes that I don't have for everyone. It seems to me that I waste half my life on social things
that actually have no gain in any way but which a lot of people seemingly envy me.
As long as I am into this discussion, I might as well tell you that the evenings I spend in
nightclubs are the bore of my life. Jack says that when money begins growing on trees I can
forget about this sort of thing and do just as I please. You see, that is why I love the ranch so.
These kinds of people of which I speak will seldom ever expose themselves to the rattlesnakes,
which infest the land there --bless their hearts, (the rattlesnake’s hearts, I mean).
I know I have you to thank for Mr. Stroud's horses. I have put off getting any nice animals that
I might think a great deal of because of the trouble we have had with help there. However, now
I think that Mr. York (Joel and Hazel York) is hard to beat and know that he will take the best
of care of Mr. Stroud's horses. I will love nothing better than seeing them when I go down to the
ranch; in fact, I hope that I can spend enough time down there to get the confidence of the
stallion and be the first person to ride him.
Last week we were in Albuquerque where Mr. Frye's father was operated on for gallstones. He
was a pretty sick man but Dr. Lovelace at the St. Joseph is a pretty wonderful doctor and the
results of his operation and treatment have, so far as we can observe, been a great success. We
regretted that we were so near the ranch and still unable to go on down.
I surely hope you get got over your cold and are now enjoying the best of health.
We are now established in our country house in Washington, which, in my opinion, is a pretty
poor substitute for the ranch but still very, very much better than hotel life. The house is about
two hundred years old and has seventy acres of land with a lovely swimming pool. We are going
to get a couple of riding horses and stock the place soon. Do you think you could ever consider
an Eastern trip? Jack and I would both enjoy very much having you come and spend a month
Give our best to our Flagstaff friends and let us hear from you when you have time.
With love and best wishes,
Helen Frye (hand written signature)
TRANSCONTINENTAL & WESTERN AIR, INC.
WASHINGTON, D. C.
TWA -THE TRANSCONTINENTAL AIRLINE
1319 F. Street N.W.
Falls Church, Virginia
July 10, 1944
Dear Mr. Riordan,
It was certainly good to hear from you again, but I was really terribly disappointed we didn't get
to see you when we were in Arizona. I am also sorry we never got together on our connections
as we might have done and gone to California together, but I think you understand that we can't
regulate our social plans except as they parallel business. I certainly hope that this finds you
well recovered from your attack of flu. Those things just seem to take months to get back to
oneself again, but maybe summertime in Flagstaff will do the trick.
We have a new pet, which is a little unusual and I want to tell you about it. About three weeks
ago, right after a bad thunderstorm Sonja, my big police dog, found a baby hawk on the lawn. He
was all by himself, no momma, no papa, and he couldn't fly even downhill. I told Sonja not to
hurt it and of course she didn't but she was very curious and had to sniff him all over. The hawk
refused to back up an inch and sat back on his tail, put his feet up and opened his mouth and
dared anyone to touch him. When I picked him up he stuck his talons in my fingers until it was
very painful, but he soon got over that and has been very gentle since. I kept him for a week. At
first I put him in the waste paper basket at night, then inside an inverted lampshade, but finally
had to settle for the top of the door to the bedroom as he was very unhappy except when he was
on the highest spot in the room. One day I sat him in the window and the robins outside got very
excited and the baby responded very excited too. I have known of other birds caring for young of
another species when something would happen to their parents and I thought since the baby was
so anxious to get to them that they were going to adopt him. I put him out on the roof but it was
a mistake. The baby Thunderbird lost his balance and fell off the roof and only kept from
hurting himself because a limb of a tree broke his fall. Then the robins started dive-bombing
him and the little fellow caught on very quick; he ran for cover and was very glad to see me
when I arrived.
The Thunderbird won't eat anything but raw meat and seldom ever takes a drink of water but
goes for lemonade once in a while. I carried him around on my shoulder every time I went
outside, thinking that sooner or later he would feel confident enough to fly away, and after a
week of care he did fly away. We didn't think we would ever see him again, but he showed up
the next day at the pool and has been there every day since. He comes down and lights on your
head or arm and makes little bird noises and eats what you have for him-- which is either parts
of Sonja's horsemeat or the lung or liver of a chicken. My houseman is quite fond of him too
and spends his leisure hours every day giving the bird a bath. Although the swimming pool is
there and shallow water goes over the rim this Thunderbird likes his bath in a pie-pan and
assisted by his own personal valet. He really soaks himself good but never drinks it. All the
liquid I've ever seen him drink is blood and lemonade.
We have had the League of Nations represented here this week and all of them, you
understand, are in direct line of business and most of it post-war planning.
Col. Shoop-- who was the first man out on the invasion on 'D' day, flying a P-38, and the first
man back to report-was here for a dinner of hot dogs cooked over the barbecue at the pool late
one evening. His tales are very exciting and interesting and I guess he is very lucky to be back
here now, although he will return soon. He says those bombs-the robot ones-are really terrible.
This fellow was test pilot for the Constellation and was on the trip coming across. We have had
during the past week people from France, Holland, Arabia, China, South America, New Zealand,
Egypt, Canada, Scotland, Africa.
There's no use explaining to you why my husband hasn't any time to go visiting. I am more
thankful every day for the swimming pool; otherwise, he would be doing like he did the last
three years--working in the hotel and office all the time. Now he often takes his people to the
pool and they can keep cool, bodily as well as mentally, while they work on their plans. Last
night at midnight, you would have probably gotten a kick out of seeing him and another man,
like two porpoises in the pool, just leisurely moving about under a big moon. It looked like
pleasure but when you got close enough to hear them, they were working on very serious
Jack thinks we might get down to the ranch the latter part of next month; however, I wouldn't
be afraid to bet it will be closer to next Christmas, but I hope I am wrong. I sincerely hope this
finds you in good health again and spending many pleasant days down the canyon.
With best wishes,
Helen Frye (hand written signature) September 29, 1944
Mrs. Jack Frye
Deep Well Guest Ranch
Palm Springs, California
Dear Mrs. Frye,
I must apologize to you for my delay in the acknowledgment of your very nice letter of July 10.
My excuse for not writing is that the flu got me down about that time and I went away for a few
weeks to the Coast and then returned here with very little improvement in my condition. I had
to slow down. I tried fishing without success and then went away again for a while and got back
here the first of September for the opening of the dove season. I went out shooting that day and
got the limit after a very full, hard time. I think I overtaxed my strength and have been wobbly
ever since and am only now just getting a little better and I am taking up my accumulated mail
as best I can.
I was delighted with your letter especially the part about the little Thunderbird that you took
over to mother. The details of your story are very charming. I hope that the bird will continue to
be a companion for you and Mr. Jack for many days.
Both of you must be having a most interesting time. Mr. Jack with the different post-war
planning work, which must be enormous, and with all the members of the different nations that
you mention must make some very interesting time. As you say, the swimming pool has been a
wonderful help for Jack and the others to relax and get away from the big business in town. I
have been most interested in thinking over Jack's future. He certainly is going to arrive at the
top in big things for post-war air business. Good luck to him and you. I hope you may get out
here again soon.
I went down to Big Park with Ed Babbitt and Walt Verkamp recently and had a fine visit with
those interesting Lay brothers and Mr. Bill Coburn of St. Louis, a new settler there. They are
doing wonderful things on the land without water. You probably know about them. I have been
down to Todd's and Snider's at Oak Creek recently with parties. Virginia Lowdermilk and a
couple of her guests from the Rim Rock Ranch were in to see me the other day.
The dry season continued up until a few days ago and then a light rain set in and it has been
quite cool for the past three or four days.
Rita Chambers from St. Louis and her sister Mary from Los Angeles have been with me and will
be here for about a month. I am expecting Mary and Bob soon for a couple of weeks visit.
The leaves are beginning to turn and the maple and aspens will be in their glory in a few days
now. It will be too bad if you have to miss seeing these beautiful colors we usually have in the
fall when the first frosts come.
Again begging your pardon for my delay in acknowledging your letter and with every good wish
for Mr. Jack and yourself, I am
Most sincerely yours,
Timothy Riordan (hand written signature)
LA POSADA HOTEL
Dear Mr. Riordan, October-1944
So sorry you weren't able to attend our dinner party but do hope this finds you on the mend and
able to be up and around very soon -
Helen V. Frye (hand written signature)
Mrs. Jack Frye
Smoke Trail Ranch
December 11, 1944
Dear Mrs. Frye,
I received your nice note and the beautiful flowers. It was very thoughtful of you to remember
me in this lovely way. It's so much better I always think to send flowers to a person when they
can see them and smell them rather than otherwise.
I am sorry I could not attend your dinner for your distinguished guest, the Roosevelts and the
others. (Flagstaff Hotel Monte Vista 12-06-1944)
This is the first day that I have been out of the house for a month and two days. I have had a
dandy holiday in bed. My cold and fever is about ended now, I think, and I will probably be up
and around this week and maybe go over to the Coast for a while.
I am very sorry to have missed you and Mr. Jack.
With sincere thanks and all good wishes for both of you, I am
Timothy A. Riordan (hand written signature)
Falls Church, Virginia
AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!
WITH LOVE, HELEN & JACK FRYE
HOPE THIS FINDS YOU RECOVERED FROM YOUR RECENT ILLNESS AND THAT YOUR
FLOWERS WERE TAKEN IN BEFORE THEY FROZE THAT COLD NIGHT. WAS TERRIBLY
SORRY YOU COULD NOT ATTEND OUR LITTLE DINNER HOPE TO BE BACK IN ARIZONA
BEFORE TOO LONG.
In Loving Memory:
Timothy Allen Riordan (January 01, 1858 to October 24, 1946)
Cherished Friend of Jack and Helen Frye (1927-1946)
Please note: Mr. Timothy Riordan knew Jack and Helen Frye over a period of about 20-years.
The correspondence ended when Mr. Riordan died. His large log home and grounds have now
become an Arizona State Park, just like Jack and Helen Frye's Smoke Trail Ranch. Timothy's
home is now called the Riordan Mansion State Park. I have been told by Timothy's family that
Mr. Riordan would not approve of the name. Why? Because he was not a pretentious man and
would not want the Riordan House called a 'mansion' as he never considered it such.
These letters have been re-typed as closely as possible to the original format. In doing so, the
exact content and text was adhered to. The reason I decided to display them as such and not scan
the original documents, was to reduce the bandwidth of this page. Keep in mind, I have not been
able to re-create the original signatures or TWA logos which appeared on a majority of the
letters. Anyone familiar with vintage TWA stationary will be well aware the company logo
changed frequently over time. I have made a general effort to recreate the logo styles. All
original copies of these authentic documents, with signatures, have been retained in my files.
Jack Frye's secretary, did at times, use a mechanized "Jack Frye" signature block imprint.
However, Jack did sign many letters personally too.
Generally, when Jack and Helen Frye flew out to their Sedona Ranch, Jack, at times, had two
TWA secretaries traveling with him to help with TWA business correspondence. This was
regardless of whether he was in the Frye private Electra or Lodestar. Helen too, in the TWA
years, traveled with a private secretary of her own, and had a personal secretary up until the
end of her life. These letters give an itimate insight into the life of Jack and Helen Frye and
certainly show us how very busy they were, especially Helen statement "but I think you
understand that we can't regulate our social plans except as they parallel business". Says a lot!
Jack Frye and Helen Frye flew in and out of the Albuquerque Airport so often through the
years that the owner of the local airport taxi service knew them both by sight. This was Louis
Clifford who owned Clifford Tours and Taxi Line.
In 1948, or 1949, Mrs. Jack Frye was flying east on TWA and had a stop over in Albuquerque.
Rosie wanted to see her (she was still in school) so she took the bus down to the airport from
Bernalillo. Whilst visiting with Mrs. Frye at the airport on her rather short stop-over, Mr.
Louis Clifford came up and started visiting with Helen, asking how she and Jack were doing.
Clifford was the longtime owner of the airport taxi service and was related to Rosie’s mother
by marriage. Helen introduced Rosie to him and said “she's going to Mexico with me” (this was
a trip that happened several years later). After a short visit Clifford walked away and Rosie
turned to Helen and said, 'son of a bitch… he didn’t even remember who I am!'
Later, after Helen caught the eastbound TWA flight, Rosie went out front to start her ride
back home. It was then that Louis came up to her and apologized for not asking about her
mother. He asked Rosie how she knew Mrs. Frye and gave Rosie a ride downtown to connect
with her bus back to Bernalillo.
Clifford was at one time the personal chauffeur of Mary Pickford at Hollywood, California.
Jack and Helen Frye ABQ Taxi Service
Helen Shows How It's Done!
With great honor I post a photo of Helen
Varner Frye never seen by the public before.
Taken in 1941-1942, Helen had recently
become Mrs. Jack Frye, and was no longer
Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr.
This is one of the earliest photos of the Frye
association with their beloved Sedona.
Captured by Roy Kurtz and offered by his
daughter Helen Hopp (named after Helen Frye)
this image is a treasure! Roy was the Frye
Ranch Foreman for several years starting in
1941 (right after Jack & Helen purchased their
Sedona property). Helen was a horsewoman
from before she married Vanderbilt and in this
image she is re-shoeing a ranch horse.
Thank you to the Kurtz family for your
support of Sedona Legend Helen Frye and the
Jack & Helen Frye Story! Click on image for
All copy and ads crossed
Jack's desk for approval--
he was meticulous about the
appeal of TWA publicity and
the correctness of color and
content. Even the shade of
TWA planes were developed by Frye, this, a shade of crimson he desired which became
TWA-Red (Sherwin Williams Vermillion Lacquer #32092). The accompanying ad demonstrates
this attention to detail which Frye demanded. (1945)