Athlete’s story larger than life
PICTURE ROCKS – When a long distance subscriber wanted to learn of famed athletics from his home town of Picture Rocks, we referred to Marilee Campbell Sholtis and her research on Harry G. Fry, son of James Monroe “Roe” and Edna Mills Fry.
As a small child, Marilee often heard her father bemoan the fact that the world had forgotten about Fry, he had not. “Kenny Campbell (my dad) was born and raised in Picture Rocks, an underclassman behind a wonderful group of athletes.” In a notebook collection, Marilee dedicated her effort to her dad, “because he remembers.”
The daughter was told about the great teams her father had known. For years, he repeated their sizes, the big games and scores.
“After another long 101 session about Picture Rocks High School, dad looked at a newspaper account about the West Branch Sports Hall of Fame and its inductees and said, ‘Those guys couldn’t carry Harry Fry’s sneakers.'”
Thinking it may not be too late, Sholtis decided to do her best to get Fry recognized. She contacted Hughesville’s Ken Mincemoyer, a fine athlete himself, who was a great help. But it had been her father, then age 98, who for 80 years was still the keeper of the flame.
Working to have Fry inducted, Sholtis sought statistics of the 1928 graduate who’d excelled in four sports: football, basketball, baseball and track. Unfortunately, records were not kept at either Picture Rocks High School or at Bucknell University where Fry graduated in 1932.
Harry’s mother’s scrapbook was located which Sholtis copied and submitted records showing Fry in 1993 to be inducted into the West Branch Hall of Fame.
The following year, Sholtis went through the same process to have Fry considered for the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. “He was so proud, and so was my husband Phil and I, as we sat with the sport’s hero in 1995 at the banquet held at King of Prussia. By the time Bucknell got around to honoring him as they should have, he was gone,” Sholtis said.
Sholtis learned much during her research. To build stamina, every day Fry ran back and forth from his home along Roaring Run to Picture Rocks High School.
In 1925, Picture Rocks teams were playing basketball in the park pavilion where they had to shoot over the rafters to hit the hoops; the next year they moved into their new gymnasium. That year, the West Branch League was formed when Picture Rocks finished first in 1926-27, and captured second place the following season. Team members were Jim Smith, Alvin Smith, Harry Fry, Roland Fague (captain), Russ Sprout, Bud Watts, Henderson Robbins and Coach Frank Walp.
In basketball, Fry averaged 34.3 points per game. Team mates during the 1927-28 season were Charles Webster, Bert and Doodle Miller, Ed Pierce, Alvin Smith, Jasper Crawley, Corson West, Ken Myers, Walt Norton and Larue Williamson.
So prolific was Fry’s scoring that he finished 143 points ahead of the counties second highest scorer, Marv Miller of South Williamsport. Newspaper headlines referred to Fry as “the greatest schoolboy athlete in Pennsylvania.”
In Picture Rocks, track had only begun the previous year (1926), where they captured the county championship in 1926-27. They went on to state finals at the University of Pennsylvania during its 33rd annual relay carnival.
While Fry played football for Bucknell during 1929, 30 and 31, the Bisons won 20 games, lost five and tied three. “Although Fry had a full scholarship, times were tough so he worked whenever and wherever he could,” Sholtis said. Upon graduating Bucknell, Fry was the only senior classman to letter in four sports by earning 10 varsity letters.
For one year, Fry played with the Stapleton Club of the National Pro Football League before landing a job as a teacher coaching football and basketball at Salem High School in Salem, NJ.
“In later years, Fry was quite successful working for Dupont. He came home to Picture Rocks frequently to attend his high school alumni reunions. After several years as a bachelor, he wed Grace Frantz, his Picture Rocks sweetheart,” Sholtis said.
The scrapbook Sholtis so lovingly assembled has been donated to the East Lycoming Historical Society in Hughesville.