Doc Frye Pool Cues

silverminer

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Doc with his cues edited.jpg

My wife is the granddaughter of Doc Frye, who many of you know made pool cues in the Philadelphia area (Feasterville) in the 60's & 70's. My wife still remembers the smell of the wood shavings she swept from the cellar floor where he made his cues. We are lucky to own one of the cues he made in 1977; Doc died in 1978. I'm trying to compile information about Doc in order to create a booklet commemorating his history to give to the family. If any of you have any information you'd like to share about Doc, especially any first hand encounters, I'd REALLY appreciate it. In return, I'll be glad to share some historical photos we have of Doc for your enjoyment.

Part of the trouble I'm running across while doing my research is in the spelling of his name. It seems as if 90% of the entries list him as "Fry", not "Frye." It's an easy mistake to make. His real name was Franklin Lamar Frye, a name shared by his father and which continues on with my wife's nephew, Franklin Lamar Frye V. Mr. Frye was a pharmacist, hence the moniker "Doc."

Please let me know if you have any information you might have to contribute. I live in Colorado but we travel to the PA area on occasion. I would love the opportunity to meet and possibly interview anyone that has something to share. Thanks in advance! - Tom Lewis
 
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philly

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I do have memories of Doc Frye. I played at 19th & Cheltenham as a teen in the late sixties, early seventies. The poolroom I played in was the Cue And Cushion. Cheltenham Ave. was the county line between Philadelphia and Montgomery County. I knew 2 guys there that had Doc Frye cues and I do vaguely remember him stopping in the poolroom once while I was there. It has been 40+ years so my memories are vague. The 2 guys that had his sticks had two shafts for them. One a regular shaft and the other had a "bell tip." The ferrule on the shaft was conical in that the tip was wider than the base of the ferrule. If my memory serves me correctly Doc's cues were about $90 new at the time. Both players that had his sticks were serious shooters. Hope this helps.
 

silverminer

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Thanks for the input! Google earth shows a Lynnewood Billiards on what would be the north side of that intersection. I wonder if that was where the Cue and Cushion was located? I'm traveling to PA next month and I think I'll swing by that area. I'll also do a search of old phone directories.

$90 in 1970 would be about $550 in today's dollars. I have no idea if that's a bargain or not.

I found the following on another forum. Sounds legit but I can't confirm it.

“In about 1970, I was at Doc Frye’s in Feasterville, PA to pick up a cue and Doc asked me to wait for an hour or so. He sent me upstairs from his basement shop to play on the table upstairs. When I got upstairs there was a big guy hitting balls and he asked me to join him in some straight pool. We played a while and he was really sharp on the table. He played a safety that left me a long shot that I missed. He reset the shot and showed me the proper way to hit it and then showed me some follow shots. Doc came up after a while and introduced me to the big guy. It was Steve Mizerak. I hadn’t recognized him and he was very cool and friendly. Doc handed a nice rosewood cue to Steve and he ran about thirty balls and then left. My cue was ready and I paid Doc and split also but I’d gotten a free lesson from Steve and a great memory. So Steve had at least one very nice Doc Frye rosewood cue.” - Mike the Bike
 
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philly

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Yes Lynnewood billiards is the old Cue & Cushion. It is in a strip mall that is all Korean shops. From what I understand, Lynnwood is largely frequented by Korean shooters. It is two floors and the downstairs is all 3 cushion tables. I have been meaning to stop in there for old times sake. I ran into Jimmy Fusco, an old time Philly pool legend and one pocket hall of famer. He is the one that gave me the rundown on Lynnewood Billiards. Do I have it right that a Doc Frye new cue was about $90 back then? You can PM me anytime on this forum.
 

GoldCrown

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I met Doc thru manager Walt Krebbs at the Cue and Cushion in the Roosevelt Mall in the mid 60's. Doc came in with the Miz once. I was at Doc's house a few times as he made a cue for me. My favorite piece of his was an Ebony night stick with stainless rings he made for a police officer. I believe Doc was a champion skeet or trap shooter. He was a soft spoken gentleman. He treated everyone with respect. A true American craftsman. His work was the best.
I still have this cue. It is a cherished keepsake. I think it was $100(with a case) + $25 for the extra shaft. Ferrules are Ivory.
It is not my player. I would never sell it. I'm a big fan of bumperless cues. Doc always comes to mind when I see a bumperless cue. Also known for inserting an appropriately dated penny under the bumper. I remember Doc as Doc FRYE.
He had a relationship with Gus Szamboti. Barry might be able to fill in some blanks here....no pun intended.

Hope this info helps....and thanks for opening the thread. Thanks for the memories. Frank
 

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GoldCrown

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GUS SZAMBOTI
Maker of pool cues from 1969 to 1988 in Penndel, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia.
Cues by Gus Szamboti have become among the most sought-after items in the field of cue collecting. A master draftsman and designer for RCA in the late 1960s, he had a passion for pool that began at the age of eight. Gus started repairing cues in 1969, after selling his Harley Davidson to buy his first batch of wood, and using the same year´s tax refund check to buy a lathe and other necessary supplies. By the end of the year, he had made his first cue. This cue was not of the standards of his later cues, and when he saw it again, years later, in a Philadelphia pool room, he purchased it, took it home and destroyed it.

Early on, Gus met and became friends with Doc Fry, a pharmacist who had been making cues for some time in the Philadelphia area. Fry was influential in Gus´s work, and soon Gus was making parts for him.
 
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GoldCrown

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I'm at a car show in S. Florida. The subject of pool comes up and guy takes a cue from the trunk of his Corvette and tells me his friend lent it to him. It's a Frye...I tell him to let his friend know the the cue is special.....and keep it out of the car. We call the man that owns the cue...he comes over to the car show and takes the cue back. Since then it is his player. I would buy the cue from him and have it refinished....he will not sell it. He also mentioned he met Miz at Doc's house.
 

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silverminer

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Thanks for the stories, gents. Keep 'em coming. I also really appreciate the photos. When I get some more time I'll put up a photo of Doc's pharmacy. The problem is I have the photo in a shadow-box display, along with the one cue of his we own, and it takes a little dismantling to get to it. I wish we had more of his cues but such is life. I'm glad to see there are collectors out there that appreciate his work. My wife tells me ours is not one of his more impressive ones he made but of course we're more than glad to have it. It would be nice to know how many he made during his time. We'll be taking a trip out to PA in March and I hope to gather up some more information while we're there.
 

silverminer

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Here's Doc's pharmacy at the corner of Greene and Coulter Streets in Germantown. I just checked on Google Earth and it looks like the building still stands but I can't tell what it's used for today. The building has definitely lost some of its luster. My wife tells me there were doctors offices in the upper floors and the patients would grab their prescriptions from Doc downstairs. More soon.

Pharmacy Edited.jpg
 

silverminer

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Here's one of Doc in his younger years. My wife thinks he didn't start making cues until his 50's although she's not certain, so I'll have to do a little more research on that matter. My next post will be a photo of him when he's roughly 60 - as best I can tell right now - so maybe some of you who knew him personally will be able to add more detail. If you look carefully at the bottom of this photo, you'll see it was taken at Geissinger Studio, 2804 Germantown Ave., PA. A building still stands where it appears Geissinger's was located but it's not looking good; mostly covered in graffiti.

Doc young.jpg
 

silverminer

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And here's Doc Frye at about 60. If my wife's recollection is correct, Doc started making pool cues in his 50s. Those of you who knew him firsthand might have a better feel for that as my wife was quite young at the time. We'll be taking a trip to PA in March and I'll try get some better intel at that time.

Doc about 60.jpg
 

GoldCrown

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the one cue of his we own..

Please post a picture. The cue I'm showing is my 2nd Frye. I sold the first ( plain Jane) for about $50 so I could buy the current one. I think I was bringing home about $42.50 at that time.
Doc's Ebony Cue with Stainless Steel rings was his masterpiece as far as i'm concerned. It ran way over a $100...it was out of the question for me. Otherwise he specialized in Cocobolo and Rosewood.
 

silverminer

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Here's ours, circa 1977. As was his style, there is a shiny new penny from 1977 under the rubber bumper. My wife recalls going to the bank with Doc to pick up some fresh pennies for his cues. As I mentioned before, Doc died in 1978 so this must be amongst the last cues he made.

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classiccues

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Silverminer,
Thank you very much. Between your family and Eddie Laube's family reaching out to the cue collecting community, it really shows that there is still good the hobby. I have a few pics I can send you.

Joe
 

silverminer

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Silverminer,
Thank you very much. Between your family and Eddie Laube's family reaching out to the cue collecting community, it really shows that there is still good the hobby. I have a few pics I can send you.

Joe

Thanks, Joe. It was suggested to me that I contact you as someone with plenty of knowledge and a good reputation. I'll like to pick your brain at some point. Unfortunately, I'll have to put this project aside until March as I'll be leaving this next week for a trip. We'll be in PA in March and I hope to gather some more info then, including photos.

Speaking of photos, I just saw for the first time photos of the Doc Frye cues owned by my sister's siblings. Holy moly! Those are some fine specimens, or at least they appear that way to me. I'll see if they're okay with me posting some photos.
 

Type79

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Ebony Frye

Attached are a few pictures of an ebony Doc Frye Merry Window I obtained last year.
 

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Type79

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Another Frye

This Frye is particularly interesting in that it combines a Padauk forearm with a contrasting black and silver back end. If that were not enough there is a bakelite material similar in color to the Padauk at the A-Joint. Very tasteful application and combination of natural and man-made materials.
 

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Type79

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Frye #3

This cue continues the usual theme but with interesting brown bakelite/catalin rings coupled with a rosewood forearm with minimal inlay.
 

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GoldCrown

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TYPE... You would have loved being in Phila during the Doc era. Order a cue from him ...he would you invite to his house at various times to see the cues progress. When the cue was done he would play pool with you and chat.
I had that pleasure over 50 years ago...the memories linger. He was great company.
 
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