Down the Street with Carl and Myrtle

Hi everyone,

It looks like we’ll be sheltering in place and staying at home for the next several weeks so I’m combing through my photo archives for blog writing material. I have a couple of themes that I’m working on, one of them being photos I’ve taken of people over the years. That’s what I’ll start with this week and then alternate themes so I, or more importantly you, don’t get bored. Comments and feedback are always appreciated.

I’ll start with a couple of people most of you haven’t met, our former neighbors Carl and Myrtle. They lived down the street from us for many years until their physical abilities became too challenging for them to stay in their home so they moved to a nearby apartment. We didn’t see them too much after their move except once in a while they would stop to chat when they’d see us out in the yard. Sadly they both passed away a few years ago within a few months of each other.

Carl and Myrtle were some of the kindest, most pleasant people you could ever meet. Myrtle had a keen sense of humor and could produce a laugh out of most anyone with a joke or a self-deprecating comment. She had those natural “Grandma” like qualities even though they didn’t have any grandchildren of their own, I felt like I was one of hers. Carl was very precise in his soft spoken speech, always careful to chose his words carefully and looked everyone straight in the eye. I never heard him say anything bad about anyone, even politicians! I first met him soon after we moved to the neighborhood when he rode by our house on his bicycle and stopped to introduce himself as I was working in the yard. I realized then that Carl was quite deaf and even with hearing aids one had to speak in a loud voice to be heard. Over the years I learned that Carl was a Navy veteran of World War II. And it was still much later that I discovered that he spent nearly all of his adult life with two leg prosthesis. You see, Carl’s ship was sunk in the English Channel on June 8, 1944 during the Allied invasion of Normandy, D-Day. Carl spent 24 hours in the cold water of the English Channel and when rescued was assumed dead. Only when he was given Last Rites was it determined that Carl was still breathing. He was rushed to a MASH unit where one of his legs was amputated and then shipped to Boston to recover where the second leg was removed. After a few years of rehabilitation, Carl came to Madison to work in the printing business and later owned a bookstore. Carl and Myrtle were married in 1960 and honeymooned in Hawaii for three weeks, a fact we learned when hosting a neighborhood luau on one of the coldest days of the winter. Since both married later in life they didn’t have children of their own but adopted a daughter, Karen, who still lives in the house down the street and cared for them during their last years. Carl and Myrtle were people who lived their faith, attending church on Sunday, he in a suit and tie and she in her best dress and shoes. Then everyday quietly living their lives as good examples to others.

Carl never complained about his situation and always projected a positive outlook on life. When he found out that my Traveling Partner and I both worked at the local Veteran’s Hospital, he always expressed appreciation (never a grievence) for the services he and all the other veterans were provided. Every once in awhile he would offer a suggestion for improvement, we both knew to take it seriously and make it better.

While writing this post, I found a newspaper article online about Carl. While recovering from his amputations, he asked his father, Alfred, to search for the man that pulled him out of the water. Carl knew he was from Ft. Wayne, Indiana and that his first name was Raymond. Alfred contacted the Ft. Wayne Chamber of Commerce who helped find Ray Tinkel, the Navy corpsman that saved Carl. Carl’s father expressed gratitude for saving his son, invited him to Milwaukee and asked him to visit Carl at the Boston hospital. Carl was forever indebted to Ray for saving his life. At Carl’s funeral, his leg prosthesis stood by the casket as a reminder to us all the sacrifice the men and women in uniform have given for our freedoms, safety, and our way of life. IMG_2065

When I started this post, my plan was to create a post with many photos accompanied by a short explanation. My plan changed when I came across this photo of Carl and Myrtle and I started writing about them. During our current situation, called a “war” by some, it’s a good time think about what we may have to give up to “win” this conflict, for some a lot, for others not so much. Time will tell so let Carl and Myrtle’s kindness, humor, and perseverance be an inspiration to us all  and give us strength during this challenging time.

Join me next week for another adventure, I’m trying to figure out what that will be!

Until then, happy virtual travels!




6 thoughts on “Down the Street with Carl and Myrtle

  1. Hi Tom,
    What a lovely tribute to your former neighbors. Wonder what they would have to say about our current situation, but I’ll bet they would take it in stride with good humor.

    1. Thanks for checking in Joyce. I agree they would have done what they were told and accepted it and wondered what all the fuss was about. It was an easy story to write after seeing the photo.

  2. What a sweet tribute to your neighbors and a nice gentle reminder to be thankduring the toughest of times.


    1. Thanks for checking in Katie. This was one of the easiest stories I’ve written, after seeing the photo the words came flowing out.

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