Woman's Wallet Returned to Her 70 Years After She Lost It in High School

A photo of the Virginia school where Esther French lost her wallet 70 years ago.

Esther French, 85, was in disbelief when she learned of the news. The wallet was discovered by a contractor doing work at the Poquoson Middle School in Virginia.

Most of us have probably lost our wallet at some point for maybe a few hours, a day or two, or perhaps even a week. How about 70 years?

This was the case for 85-year-old Esther French, whose wallet that she lost while in high school was recently found and returned to her. When she got the news of its discovery, she said “it was absolutely shocking,” CNN reported. 

A contractor doing work at the school found the wallet in some ductwork in the rubble of the old Poquoson Middle School gym, which has been torn down during a 19 million-dollar school-renovation project.

The contents inside the wallet included two faded pictures, a calendar from 1951, Christmas stamps with Santa Claus on them, 85 cents in silver coins, a little blue address book, and a discolored newspaper clipping that asked readers to pray for the Navy sailors serving in the Korean War, a school official told CNN affiliate WTKR. 

Poquoson City Public Schools Superintendent Arty Tillett, who described the town as "small with a lot of deep roots,” told CNN that they were able to track down French after finding a relative who still lived in the area.

French told CNN that she remembers how upset she was when she lost it. She said she remembered that she placed the wallet on a ledge in the school gym and realized that it had fallen into a deep hole in the brick building. 

"I perhaps reported it at the time, but I knew that I couldn't get it and I was feeling bad about it at the time,” she recalled. 

The incident happened between 1951 and 1952, when she 16 or 17 years old. At the time, she was working at a dime store or doing odd jobs at her neighbor's farm.

The lost wallet didn’t seem to stop French from pursuing her endeavors. She went on to nursing school, got married, and has lived in Connecticut since 1957.

Since the recovery, French has re-connected with a former classmate who heard about her remarkable story.

“It was a surprise and we've had a lot of laughs about it," she said.

A grandmother now, she said her grandchildren (and children) are looking forward to seeing this “wallet,” that, for French, has truly been a walk down memory lane.