Ventura, CA

"Time Capsule" Lost Wallet Found In California Theatre And Returned - 46 Years Later

Em Unravelling
The wallet's owner, Colleen Distin, with Tom Stevens who found itVentura County Star

In 1975, Colleen Distin - then in her early 20s - went on a movie date to the Majestic Ventura Theater, in Ventura, California. When she left that night, she left without her wallet - she'd mislaid it and despite calling the theater a couple of times, she was left disappointed as it was never handed in.

Distin was sad about the loss as along with a bit of money - which she needed - there were also photos and other items in the wallet, but she had to accept they were gone for good. And it seems unlikely she thought much more about it - until last month, when a Facebook post appeared asking if anyone knew her. The reason? Her wallet had been found.

The Majestic Ventura Theater was undergoing a refurbishment so that it could reopen for concerts in the summer, and whilst undertaking some of that work, Tom Stevens went into the dusty space under the theatre seats to find the electrical box connected to a chandelier that had dropped a bit while having a lightbulb changed. In that crawl space, he found the usual theater debris - candy wrappers, tickets, chewing gum - but also, he found Distin's wallet.

Stevens says that the wallet was not in a place it could have fallen into accidentally and - given that it no longer had any cash in it - he believes that a theater employee hid the wallet after emptying it of money back in 1975. Nevertheless, although it had no cash, it had plenty of other items in it including photos, a ticket stub from a 1973 Grateful Dead concert and Colleen Distin's California driving licence.

Stevens searched online, but couldn't find Distin, so he did a Facebook shout-out to see if anyone knew her. That post, and the nostalgia it evoked, went small-town viral and when news of it reached her, Colleen Distin says that she was nervous to reach out as so many people knew about the post and she worried she would feel too exposed.

However, she said she felt a "positive energy" from all the responses, and so - just a couple of hours after the post appeared - she replied to confirm it was her wallet. "It's me," she said. And in due course, she was reunited with her wallet, which used to be red but is now brown with age. Upon seeing it again, tears filled her eyes.

It's very emotional. It kind of caught me off guard. I was excited but then all of the sudden you start seeing things and you go back into your past. It's like a time capsule. - Colleen Distin

It was a huge rush of nostalgia for her to be reunited with old photos of friends and family, wearing the 1970s fashions of the time, and to see her Grateful Dead ticket stub. But mainly her impression was that people online were just happy to see a good news story with a happy ending.

"People need to see the gratitude," she said. I think there's so much other negative stuff that I think this is what touched people."

Comments / 0

Published by

A lover of horizons, hills, and words. Likes to write about uncomfortable things because too many people steer round those parts of life.


More from Em Unravelling

Comments / 0