Wallet uncovered after 35 years
By Senior Airman Michael Hess, 355th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 26, 2007
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. -- When Rick Atwood tore through the aging plaster in the Davis-Monthan lodging room during renovation, he didn't expect to find a pocketbook - and certainly not one from 1972.
"I saw a few papers sticking out from a pile of debris and it was this wallet," said the renovation team member. He promptly turned the beige tri-fold ladies wallet to lodging management. Though, they are as baffled as Mr. Atwood.
"I'm not really sure what to do with it," said Dan Baker, lodging general manager.
"Normally, if a guest leaves something behind, we try to contact them or place it in the lost and found. Though, this was in the wall."
True to his word and conscience, even after 35 years, Mr. Baker attempted to make contact with the possible owner of the wallet, Johnna Pollard, wife of medical group Lt. Col. Richard Pollard.
"We found a few phone numbers scratched on pieces of paper, but they were either disconnected or reassigned," said Mr. Baker.
As far as they know, everything in the wallet was intact - stuck with plaster, yellowed by age, but frozen in 1972. The checkbook registry showed the last purchase on Oct. 15,
1971, for $19.45 at the base exchange. The driver's license and military ID cards show the wife and children in the attire and style of the era. The pocket book is thick with normal clutter of daily life, though nothing of monetary value.
There is no money and all the credit cards are expired, but the contents are priceless. All the items in the wallets are relics from the time when the wallet was sealed in the wall. Personal items include business cards, family photos, and a handwritten recipe for oyster stew. The most touching keepsake was a note assumed to be from husband to wife that read: "You woke me up calling at 8. It's nice waking up to your voice." Perhaps it
was wife to husband or son to parent.
There's only speculation in this strange case of a wallet in the wall. "I've been doing
this job for 10 years. You find newspapers and cans from time to time when tearing down walls, but never something like this," said Mr. Atwood.
For the lodging staff and renovation team, the pocket book is an item of mystery and how
it got there a discussion piece. Mr. Atwood speculates the wallet was stolen based on where he found the wallet and access around the stud.
"It's been quite exciting piecing together the contents of the wallet to understand the story of this person's life," said Mr. Baker. With 30 years in the hotel business, people leave things in rooms all the time but usually not inside walls, he said.
Saved from the wall and resurrected from under a pile of debris, the wallet sits in the lodging manager's office and awaits the return of the owner, or acceptance into the wing historian's collection.