California man’s wallet lost in Antarctica returned after 53 years

SAN CARLOS, Calif. — A California man had his wallet returned after losing it in Antarctica more than 50 years ago.

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In 1967, Paul Grisham was as a Navy meteorologist and served 13 months at a station on Ross Island in Antarctica, the San Diego Tribune reported.

The wallet was returned to Grisham Saturday. It had been found behind a locker when a building at McMurdo Station was destroyed.

The brown leather wallet still contained his Navy identification, driver’s license, tax withholding statement and a recipe to make homemade Kahlua, the Tribune reported. There was also a beer ration punch card, money order receipts for poker winnings he sent home to his wife and a card with instructions on what to do in case of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons attack. There was no cash because there was nothing for sale at the station.

A team of amateur sleuths worked for weeks to find Grisham, 91, who does not recall losing it. He was grateful for its return.

“I was just blown away,” Grisham said. “There was a long series of people involved who tracked me down and ran me to ground.”

Grisham enlisted in 1948. He was promoted to lieutenant during his time in Antarctica. In 1977, he retired and moved to Monterey, California, the Tribune reported. He called the continent “The Ice” and said he had a memorable experience during his 13 months there.

“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,” Grisham said.

The group who returned the wallet included Stephen Decato and his daughter, Sarah Lindbergh, who worked with Bruce McKee, of Indiana Spirit of ’45, a charity group that tries to return items to military members.

“If it was my dad’s possessions, I would have treasured it as I think they will,” Lindbergh, whose grandfather served in the Navy, told the Tribune. “It was a feel-good thing to do, and both my dad and I have gone to bed thinking that another family was as happy as we are. My grandpa would be so proud, and my dad is proud to have things in their rightful places.”

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