The following article by David Strange was originally published here on 19 Jun 2017.
In 1917, one century ago, Woodrow Wilson was President; the U.S. entered WWI; the average income was $720; a new Chevrolet cost $419; a daily newspaper cost one cent; a movie ticket 15 cents.
And Jack Frick was born.
Jack (John Hershel) Frick, born on June 21, 1917, recently celebrated his 100th birthday with about three hundred friends and family members. Jack, it is said, is one of those rare people who has a photographic memory, so can't you imagine what memories there are from such an extraordinary century of living?
Jack, the son of Ben Frick and Laura Elizabeth Link Frick, was born in a farm house that later became the clubhouse of the Penn Run Golf Course. A charter family of St. Rita Catholic Church in Jefferson County, Jack's First Communion was held there in 1923.
In July 1923, the Frick family moved a little further down Christman Lane in Bullitt County to what is now known as the Summers/Christman cabin (see photos near the bottom of the page). It is a historic log house that I have written about before, and is currently being restored. The Fricks lived there until 1930.
This is where Jack Frick's remarkable memory shines. Even though Jack was just a child, and at least 87 years have passed, Jack's eyes sparkle as he describes the "three-holer" outhouse "with a good, smooth, wooden seat," and three huge pecan trees that once stood nearby.
He smiles and his hands flex a little as he describes working his parents' dairy and truck farm on which they maintained 20 dairy cows and raised strawberries, corn, and ten acres of tomatoes. Jack chuckles with a little justifiable pride when he talks about still putting out 100 tomato plants just last year, "with the help of family." He quickly points out that he uses Better Boy plants now, and that one should "sprinkle sulfur in the hole when planting" to get the best tomatoes.
He remembers back 87 years ago on the family farm that "as many as fifty people would be picking strawberries in the fields, and the next day the family would be in Detroit to sell them."
Back then, Jack attended the little Hebron School House from 1923 to 1931. He graduated Okolona High School in 1937 (northern Bullitt County children went to Okolona High School in Jefferson County in those days). That is where he met Nellie Hatter. Jack's eyes still glisten and he leans forward just a bit when he relates how he "fell madly in love, literally at first sight." Nellie Hatter Frick passed away about three years ago, after 72 years of marriage.
After graduating high school in 1937, Jack went to work with the phone company. In June, 1943, with WWII raging, he was drafted into the Army, serving in Germany and France. Because of his phone company experience, he worked with communications as a Tech Sergeant, mustering out in 1947 as a 1st Lieutenant. Jack tells me that he had actually been made a Captain, but the paperwork for that was never completed, so 1st Lieutenant it was.
The Korean Conflict broke out a few years later, and Jack returned to service from 1951 to 1953.
Shortly after that, Jack and Nellie bought one of the many new "fabricated housing" units being built at the time to accommodate the post-war family and prosperity boom. After 62 years, Jack still lives in this remarkable house where he and Nellie raised their family as their three children, eleven grandchildren, and 23 great grandchildren grew. He says thanks to the meticulousness of Nellie, the home remains in excellent condition, including the original varnished plywood walls. That fine little house itself is now a notable piece of 1950's architectural history.
Jack Frick is, as they say, "really something else." Genealogy researcher Barbara Bailey recently asked him about a family that he might have known back in the 1930's. Without a moment's hesitation, he replied, "Oh yes!," and went on to list in great detail who they had been related to and where they lived. One of Jack's grandsons reverently told me family stories such as how Jack, though a man of moderate income, had once paid for a neighborhood boy's first car, and how Jack had helped a person pay off a damaging credit card debt with just a promise that the money would be paid back. (It was.)
Such are the memories of an active and positive long life well lived. At a party celebrating Jack Frick's 100th birthday, over 300 people attended and rejoiced for having been part of the life of such a man. What could be a better legacy? Hopefully all will continue to remember. You can see in the sparkle in his eyes that he does.
Copyright 2017 by David Strange, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.