Never give up hope is a well-worn adage. But after almost 60 years, you could be forgiven for having forgotten if not given up all hope! For one American moviegoer, this was the case after being reunited with a wallet she lost—in 1962.
Back then, Donna Brown was a typical 15-year-old teenager who loved going to her local movie theater, Sunset, in Lodi, California. But one visit to the movies became a night to remember for all the wrong reasons when her favorite red wallet went missing.
As well as sentimental value, the wallet contained a precious collection of black-and-white snaps, her special silver dollar, ID cards, and her worker’s permit. After the hassle of replacing the ID cards and worker’s permit, the loss of the wallet naturally slipped from Donna’s mind over the decades. The red wallet was put down to experience, and she moved on with her life.
Imagine the surprise factor when nearly six decades later, the owner of the movie theater, Terry Clark, contacted her out of the blue. Clark had begun renovation to the old movie theater to convert it into a community and performing arts center.
During the extensive renovation work, a construction crew made the incredible discovery: Brown’s red wallet jammed inside one of the walls. It appeared the wallet had been thrown into the attic above the bathroom and tumbled down behind a wall.
Immediately, Clark knew he had to reunite the wallet with its rightful owner despite knowing it might be an impossible feat of detective work.
“What touched me was the pictures,” he told CBS Sacramento. “The family pictures, the friends that said best wishes, ‘I hope we never lose touch’, all the things that they wrote on the pictures like we did with our yearbooks. That was Facebook in 1960; you carried it with you. I didn’t know the history of those people, I didn’t know who had passed, I didn’t know what meaning they had to her, so I knew I had to get it back to her.”
Brown was happy to be reunited with her long-lost wallet. She said: “It’s amazing to me. It’s unbelievable when you don’t think about something like that for all those years, and then all of a sudden, they call and tell you we have your wallet.”
She told the local TV station in an interview that after she realized her wallet was lost while she was in the bathroom, she challenged the only other person in there.
Brown said: “When I found [that person], I told her, ‘I know you have my wallet because you were the only other one in there,’ and I said ‘I want my wallet, and I want my silver dollar.’”
But it was not until almost 60 years later that Donna finally got her wallet back, albeit with the silver dollar missing. But sentimental Clark decided to restore the wallet to its 1962 condition by finding a silver dollar from that era to replace the original.
“The condition that it is in, the pictures and everything is amazing,” Brown said. “I am so glad he found it and gave it to me.”
Clark now hopes that Brown will agree to be the arts center’s special guest when it reopens in 2021. Let’s hope Brown is a bit luckier with her red wallet then. Indeed, this is a tale that restores faith—and hope—in human nature.