Found: His Wallet From Antarctica Half a Century Ago

Former Navy forecaster Paul Grisham gets a surprise in the mail
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2021 10:41 AM CST
Man Gets Back Wallet He Left in Antarctica 53 Years Ago
The McMurdo Station on Ross Island is pictured during Antarctica's summer, in December 2004.   (Wikimedia/Sgootzei)

Paul Grisham lost his wallet so long ago, in 1968, that he couldn't actually remember losing it, let alone remember what was in it. Luckily, he's been reunited with the brown leather billfold—and a recipe for homemade Kahlua—after it turned up in Antarctica. Grisham, a 91-year-old retired Navy forecaster, had spent 13 months on assignment at a science station and airport on the continent, specifically Ross Island, beginning in October 1967. He doesn't remember much about the experience except that he went down there "kicking and screaming" and hated the blistering cold. "Let me just say this, if I took a can of soda pop and set it outside on the step, if I didn't retrieve it in 14 minutes it would pop open because it had frozen," he tells the San Diego Union Tribune. Fifty-three years after his return to sunny California, however, he got a blast from the past.

Two wallets had been found during demolition of a building at the McMurdo research station on Ross Island, which the Union Tribune calls "the southernmost town on Earth," in 2014. They were then sent to Stephen Decato of New Hampshire, who'd worked for an agency that performed snow cap research in Antarctica. He and his daughter, Sarah Lindbergh, had managed to return other items to Navy veterans or their families through a veterans group run by Bruce McKee of Indiana. They eventually located the family of a deceased man named Paul Howard, who'd owned one of the wallets, and Grisham, who'd owned the second. He received it in the mail on Saturday, along with his ID card, driver's license, a beer ration punch card, and "receipts for money orders sent to his wife for his poker winnings at the station," per the Union Tribune. "I was just blown away," says Grisham. (More uplifting news stories.)

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