When I was younger, I volunteered for a community theater group that my mother was a part of which allowed me a lot of time to roam around the old converted movie theater that they used to put on their plays.
It had been a theater that had been in use on a closed down Air force base and when we went into clean it one time there was a back storage room that nobody had really ever gone into since they bought the building.
When you went in there it was sort of like going back in time. There were these old movie posters from the 70s that the employees at the theater just never bothered to send back or throw away. The big find came later.
There was a film canister that had both reels from when they had this Gene Hackman movie in at the theater. It was so amazing what we were able to find in there it wasn’t even funny.
Any time that you have to clean out a place for a new purpose you will find so many old things in there that it’s almost like walking through a time capsule.
Flash-forward seventy-years. The theater, which used to be the premier place to view the latest black-and-white movies, has gone through a lot during the last decades.
The building was built in the 1920s and got a lot of use. When entrepreneur Larry Sloan bought the theater, he decided he needed to put a bunch of work into it.
So he hired contractors to rip the history out of the place so he could give it a new face. Sloan wanted to transform the old theater into what he called The Talent Factory.
His venue would be one part comedy club and two parts performance theater. That’s why he was willing to shell out a lot of money to make the old theater look new again without completely losing all its history and pizzazz.
During his renovations of the old building, Sloan’s men found something interesting in the third-floor balcony. As they ripped the old hardwood floors out, there was something perched on a ledge. And after looking closely, they realized it was a long-abandoned brown plastic wallet.
The workers reached down through the gaping space and grabbed the wallet. It was old, that was true. And when the workers opened it, they realized that everything inside it had been preserved. The wallet belonged to a 15-year-old boy Clare McIntosh. He must have lost it while going in for a smooch with his date in the dimly lit balcony.
Sloan happened to be an investigator before he switched careers to be a developer and entrepreneur. But he didn’t have to use much of his professional sleuthing skills to learn about Clare McIntosh. The boy had a calendar in his wallet, which pinned the year down as 1944. It also included World War II ration stamps and a handwritten ID card. And in the card, it listed Clare’s emergency contact phone number as “8.”
Besides the personal info, the wallet contained faded photographs. These windows into a boy’s life more than seventy-years before were a marvel in and of themselves.
Sloan was able to track down Clare McIntosh, who was still alive eventually.
Sloan reached out to the now 85-year-old man and told him that he had found his wallet. McIntosh did not know what wallet he meant because he still had his in his pocket. That’s when Sloan told him this wallet was lost in 1944.
When he reunited him with his long-lost wallet, Clare could not believe it was found after so many years. It was great for him to be able to see the stuff he’d lost, especially the photographs.