Around town, they called him King.
He was the only son of Louis Tyler, owner of a popular downtown store who served as mayor and played a silver coronet.
The King was handsome. He had an air of smug certainty that life would go his way.
It’s a photo I’d never seen before, a young man I do not recognize.
I don’t know if he was smart, or kind, or funny. In fact, I know very little about my grandfather, Carl Benjamin Tyler.
Here he is as a little boy, with his sister Clara and parents Louis and Mary Louise Freund Tyler.
He died in December 1957, a year and a half before I was born.
When he died, he had already spent many years at Toledo State Hospital. Originally named the Toledo Asylum for the Insane, it opened in 1888, the year Carl was born.
I know so little about how he went from being King to being locked up.
I do know that he had a wife and six children to support during the Great Depression, and the store he inherited wasn’t doing so well when the kids were growing up. The last one was born in 1927.
That’s my mom on Gertie’s lap. I don’t recognize her, either. I only know it’s her because I know the birth order of her siblings and I recognize them. (Aunt Bette is standing at right in the white dress.)
Mom said she remembered her dad sitting at the kitchen table with his head in his hands. That was when she first knew that something was terribly wrong.
I only have this photo of the young Carl-as-King because a stranger, Kevin, found me on Ancestry.com. Kevin, it turns out, is my third cousin once removed – his great-great-grandfather Andrew Tyler was the brother of my great-grandfather Louis Tyler.
Kevin has a stack of photos that his grandmother preserved, and these were among them, he wrote me. “I’ve wondered for years who this Carl Tyler was.”
Today’s penny is a 2014. That’s the year Kevin first contacted me. Life intervened, and I just received the photos from him this week.