There are no photos of Carl Moles in the 1976 Marlington High School yearbook.
Carl was a good kid, “as easy-going as could be,” but he didn’t like to dress up, and he really didn’t like having his picture taken, according to his father, Neil Moles.
Carl, who like Neil Moles’ second son, Ron, was born with cystic fibrosis, spent the first month of his life in the hospital. Doctors predicted that neither son would live past the age of 2 or 3.
But Moles said his boys “just kept plugging away.”
Carl died in 1989 at the age of 31. Ron died two years ago. He would have been 50 this year.
Neil Moles, 70, has photos of Ron in a suit. He was married and also had been on a cruise where he got dressed up.
But Carl never married, and, as far as his dad knew, no pictures of him in a jacket existed.
Two years ago, Moles, a Hoover Co. retiree, ran into his high school sweetheart, Eva May. Her husband had died five years earlier and Moles had been divorced for about 13 years. They were married in September.
Coincidentally, their children attended Marlington together in the 1970s.
In November, the couple read The Repository’s story about the former studios of Troup & Pluto at 3145 Tuscarawas St. W in Canton. The building’s new owners, Annie O’Toole and Mike Pastore, opened Spike’s Shine Shop and Coffee & Chrome, a used-motorcycle showroom and adjacent coffee shop there.
With the purchase of the building came rooms of file cabinets and boxes holding tens of thousands of proofs and negatives — dating as far back as 1957 and up to 2006 — of senior photos, weddings, family portraits and more. O’Toole and Pastore said the public was welcome to them in exchange for a toy or monetary donation to Toys for Tots.
So, Moles took his new wife there to look for photos of her children. He never expected to find some of his children.
When the couple arrived, there were people everywhere. At least 50 were sitting on the floor searching through files — and more files.
Moles said they were going through the Marlington files, pulling photos of friends, when he came across a yellow envelope.
Printed on it was the name “Carl Moles.”
“I’m just standing there. I can’t hardly speak,” Moles recalled. “I just turned and held it up to (my wife).”
Inside was six color negatives. No proofs. The envelope was dated June 25, 1975, and it said that no order was filled. They were pictures that no one had ever seen.
Moles, overcome with emotion, grabbed the envelope, and:
Page 2 of 3 - “I said, ‘We need to go.’ ”
A VISIT WITH CARL
As an amateur photographer — one who appreciates film — Moles has a darkroom where he develops pictures the old-fashioned way.
When he got home, he put the negatives on his light table and saw what he had hoped for.
“Carl had a jacket and a tie,” Moles said. “It really, really affected me. After all these years it was like him saying, ‘Hey Pop, here I am.’ ”
Moles didn’t want to part with the negatives, so he decided to print them himself in black and white.
“Focusing on the negatives was really hard for me, I’m kind of emotional,” he said. “I exposed the first sheet of paper, put it in the developer. This image came up in the tray. I didn’t know if I could take it out of there.”
Moles had to sit down.
“I was totally blown away. Here was Carl. These negatives are 35 years old,” explained Moles, still emotional over the discovery.
He went to work, printing an 8-by-10-inch photo from each negative.
“Each one is absolutely precious. It was like a visit from him. I sat down there and talked to him,” Moles said. “You never get over losing a son.”
On Christmas Eve, Moles surprised his other two sons, Ron’s wife and other family members with photo albums. Inside, were pictures of Carl in his jacket and tie.
He is grateful to new building owners, O’Toole and Pastore, for preserving the past.
“Nothing but good comes out of them opening up these negatives. They’re just precious to me,” Moles said. “I can’t think of anything else that could have affected me like this.”
Since the story ran in The Repository on Sunday, Nov. 14, more than 5,000 people have visited Spike’s Shine Shop and Coffee & Chrome to search the files. At least 41 boxes have been filled with more than 1,500 toys along with over $8,500 in cash — all donated to Toys for Tots.
“It’s just been amazing,” said O’Toole, who has witnessed what he described as many joyful moments and countless tears from those finding photos of their loved ones.
One woman, she said, had eight children, all of whom had their pictures taken at the former Troup & Pluto studios.
“They had their pictures in the yearbook, but she couldn’t afford to buy them” at the time, explained O’Toole.
The woman was able to find seven of her eight children, along with photos of her sister who had died.
“She comes back in to say thanks all the time,” O’Toole said.
Page 3 of 3 - Pastore calls the experience “mind-blowing” and said he never thought they would raise so much money.
“What excites me most? The toys. When you think about the number of kids who wouldn’t have gotten them, have them because of this,” he said.
Dana Hunter and Robert Harris coordinated the toy drive for the Marine Corps League this year.
Hunter said the donations generated by the couple were the largest this year and, possibly, set a record.
“To sum it all up in a word — amazing,” he said. “I was astonished when I walked in and saw what they did.”
Hunter said O’Toole and Pastore made a huge impact on local children in a year when it was truly needed.
The couple chose Toys for Tots because O’Toole’s father was a Marine and everything they collect stays here in Stark County.
O’Toole and Pastore will continue to take cash donations until the end of the year, then they said they will pick a new charity.