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California woman reunited with wallet lost 46 years ago

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An employee working on renovating the historic theater found the wallet inside a crawl space among old candy bar wrappers, ticket stubs and soda cans.

VENTURA, Calif. — A woman from Ventura was reunited with a wallet she lost 46 years ago after an employee working on remodeling Southern California’s historic Majestic Ventura Theater discovered it inside a crawl space.

“I would have never imagined,” said Tom Stevens after locating the wallet among old candy bar wrappers, ticket stubs and soda cans.

Stevens told the Ventura County Star he then went on social media to try to locate the owner based on clues in the wallet, including old photos, a 1973 Grateful Dead concert ticket and a California driver’s license for Colleen Distin that expired in 1976. There was no money in the wallet.

“Does anyone know Colleen Distin?” he asked on the theater’s Facebook page. “While doing some maintenance we have found her wallet. There are a bunch of pictures of people, and they are super cool from that era also. Someone may want them. So if you are, or if you know Colleen, drop us a line and we will have it here for you!”

Stevens’ boss, Loanne Wullaert, suggested posting the information on social media.

“We’re at almost 1,000 shares, a ridiculous amount of comments and then it went to all these other sites,” Wullaert said Monday. “I think it’s cool that people care and are interested.”

Distin, who grew up in Ventura and remains a resident, said she heard from a lot of people online and received a call about the post on social media. She responded May 25, a couple of hours after the posting, that the wallet was hers.

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Does anyone know Colleen Distin? While doing some maintenance we have found her wallet. To give you an idea how long ago…

Posted by The Majestic Ventura Theater on Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Distin on Friday went to pick up the red wallet, now brownish with age, and said it was like opening a “time capsule.”

Distin said she lost the wallet in 1975, when she was in her early 20s, at what was then a movie theater.

Distin said it must have fallen through a hole in her purse, which she had placed on the theater floor. At the time, her wallet held a $200 check and family photos.

“I remember calling the next day when I realized it was gone. They said no one found it, but to call back, which I did,” Distin said.

“I’m shaking,” Distin told KCAL-TV as she looked through the wallet. It contained poetry and notes, photographs of high school friends, the $5 ticket to a Grateful Dead concert at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and photos of Distin’s mother, who died several years ago.

“It’s really wonderful,” Distin said in an emotional voice.

Distin said she was initially reluctant to talk publicly about her experience but she said there was such a positive response that she gave in.

“It says a lot about our society, that people are looking for a human story and something to feel good,” she told the Star. “People need to see the gratitude. I think there’s so much other negative stuff that I think this is what touched people.”

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