With all the contents of the wallet spread out on my dining room table, I leaned back in my chair and studied it all. It was amazing what I had learned about Ruth by just examining the contents of her wallet. I knew what she looked like. I read some of her thoughts and ideas. She apparently had lots of friends. She was a junior (there was a receipt for paying her Junior Class dues) and she was interested in nursing because of the poem she carried around with her. She liked perfume and maybe the color red. I’m assuming a lot, but Ruth was a typical teenage girl from the 1950’s.
The biggest mystery was how did the wallet stay hidden surrounded by hundreds of people everyday? Where had it been that no one had noticed it in over sixty years? My husband, the excavator, said that on the day they discovered the wallet, they had been demolishing part of the building that included the furnace ducts. Maybe someone was teasing Ruth, grabbed her wallet and threw it down an air duct? Would the mystery ever be solved?
During the time that the demolition was taking place, I was busy getting ready for my granddaughter’s graduation party. Sprucing up the yard, cleaning the garage, making posters, and signs and other decorations. She was graduating from the new school building which had replaced the one we had just demolished. On the day of her graduation party, there were many people attending that had gone to school in the old building. So I began to tell the story of the wallet. And that’s when the story took another turn.
My son’s father in law, Dan, graduated from that high school just a few years after Ruth. He was interested. I took him in the house and showed him the contents of the wallet. He could put a name to almost every picture I had rescued. He didn’t remember Ruth, but he thought her brother still lived in the area. He said he would make some calls and find out if Ruth was still around.
A couple of weeks later I got a phone call from Ruth’s brother, who lived nearby and had heard the story of the wallet from Dan. He asked if he could come out and look at the wallet. He and his wife came right out and they were amazed at the condition of everything. And yes! His sister, Ruth, was still alive and living in another state. She had found that perfect husband and had had a long and happy marriage and family, but her husband had passed away a few years ago. She moved into a retirement community and got involved with the activities there. Then she met someone and is now married again and happy. And she had spent her career as a nurse!
I packaged up the contents of the wallet and handed it to him. He grinned and said he though he would put everything in a box and mail it to her to surprise her. He had not said anything to her about it and wanted to see what her reaction would be. I asked him to let me know how it all turned out.
A few weeks passed and I forgot about the wallet until I received a phone call from Ruth’s brother. He laughed and said it probably wasn’t the outcome I was hoping for.
When Ruth received the package she called him and said, “Why did you send me all that junk in the mail?” She had no recollection of the wallet or any of the circumstances of its loss. We were both disappointed as was everyone who followed the story.
Ruth had moved away from this area shortly after graduation and nursing school so I guess its not surprising that the loss of a wallet 62 years ago was not fresh in her mind. Though I was disappointed in hearing “the rest of the story”, it was comforting to know that her dreams came true. That’s all most of us want, right?