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Wallet missing since 1950s found during school renovations; owner recalls losing it in gym

Poquson MS lost wallet.jpg
Posted at 11:15 AM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 14:15:53-04

POQUOSON, Va. (WTKR) — A $19 million renovation of a middle school in Virginia unearthed something priceless.

As walls started coming down at Poquoson Middle School, a piece of history saw the light of day for the first time in around 70 years.

A contractor discovered a wallet lost in the duct work in the early 1950s when the building was still a high school.

“There’s a calendar from 1951; some wonderful stamps of Santa Claus from 1951. There’s two pictures of people that were important to her; there’s some silver coins,” were the contents inside, explained Executive Director of Operations for Poquoson City Public Schools Steve Pappas.

There was only $0.85 inside. A small newspaper clipping in excellent condition inside asks God to protect all the Navy sailors during the Korean War.

Some things have held up better than others, but the wallet is mostly intact and holds stories long forgotten.

“She remembers playing basketball in the gym — put her wallet down, and then it was lost forever,” said Pappas.

That is, until now.

As luck would have it, a little blue book with names and addresses tucked inside the wallet helped the district track down Ester French — whose maiden name is Diggs — 500 miles away in Beacon Falls, Connecticut.

“There was a ledge [in the gym] that I had placed my wallet on, and when I went to get it, it wasn't there, but there was a hole - opening behind that ledge - and so my wallet apparently had fallen down and gone beneath the school, and there was nothing to do about it,” explained French.

She figures she lost it when she was 16 or 17 and never expected to see it again.

“It was absolutely shocking when I learned about it. Just very surprising, but interesting,” said French.

She doesn’t remember much of the contents inside, but now at 85, she’s looking forward to flipping through the pages of the past.

This story originally reported by Kofo Lasaki on WTKR.com.