LODI (CBS13) — Digging up the past isn’t always a bad thing. Donna Brown knows that first hand after a construction company revamping the old Sunset Theater in Lodi found her wallet from nearly six decades ago.
“It’s amazing to me… it’s unbelievable. When you don’t think about something all those years and they call and say, ‘We have your wallet,'” said Brown.
The last time Donna Brown saw this red wallet filled with black and white photos, she was just 15 years old. At that time, she lived just a couple of streets away from the theater.
“Coming to the movie theater all the time, because I live so close. There was a grocery store at the corner, so I would always walk past there and I would always look at the (movie) posters to see what was coming,” she said.
A 60’s flashback! Construction crews in Lodi found a wallet in the wall of the old Sunset Theater 58 years after it went missing. Why the wallet’s owner says getting it back is so important on @CBSSacramento pic.twitter.com/0NQTPb56Tg
— Velena Jones (@velenajones) May 21, 2020
The ruby-red billfold disappeared while she was in the bathroom at the theater in 1962 washing her hands. Brown suspects the only other person in there at the time stole it.
“When I found her…I said, ‘I know you have my wallet cause you were the only one in there.’ I said, ‘I want my wallet and I want my silver dollar too,'” said Brown.
Brown left the theater that day without her wallet filled with pictures, her school i.d., workers permit, and a single silver dollar.
Terry Clark, the owner of the Sunset Theater, is turning this old theater into a community and performing arts center. Construction crews found the hidden treasure in the wall after they suspect someone threw it in the attic.
“I really thought about what if it was mine. What touched me was the pictures. 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,” explained Clark. “That was Facebook in 1960, you carried it with you… I didn’t know the history of those people, I didn’t know who passed, I didn’t know what meaning they had to her, so I knew I had to get it back to her.”
Clark turned to social media for help, posting on Facebook, and within hours he was connected to Donna. Before he returned the wallet to her, he knew there was one more thing he had to do.
“She asked if I found her silver dollar and I said ‘No, there is no silver dollar in the wallet’, so I took it upon myself to find a silver dollar of that era and make sure it went back in the wallet,” said Clark.
Clark returned the wallet to Brown Wednesday. Brown said she is happy to have the memories back and a silver dollar just like the one she lost. She hopes to visit the reinvented theater when the arts center is complete in 2021.
“The conditions that its (the wallet), in and the pictures, it’s really amazing. I’m glad he found it and gave it to me,” Brown said.