More than 4 decades later, it was finally returned thanks to 'good people.' It all started with a social media post asking, "Who's Colleen Distin?"
Tom Stevens was working last week on a remodel inside the historic Majestic Ventura Theater in California, which plans to reopen this summer for concerts. Another employee was changing a lightbulb on a chandelier when the fixture dropped a couple of inches and became trapped on a wire.
Stevens went upstairs to the balcony to find the electrical box that controlled the chandelier. He climbed down into a crawl space littered with old candy bar wrappers, ticket stubs, soda cans and bottles, and, to his surprise, a wallet.
He figured someone who probably worked for the theater had hidden the wallet there.
"They had to have gone down in that hole most likely," he said. The wallet had no cash, Stevens said, but contained clues to its age and owner: old photos, a ticket stub to a Grateful Dead concert and a California driver's license with the name Colleen Distin.
He searched Distin's name online but could not find anything about her. Stevens' boss, Loanne Wullaert, suggested he post the find on the theater's Facebook page. "Does anyone know Colleen Distin?" the post starts. "While doing some maintenance we have found her wallet. To give you an idea how long ago it was lost, there is a concert ticket from 1973 and a driver's license that expired in 1976.
"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!"
The post drew no shortage of attention. "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."
Word got back to Colleen Distin, who grew up in Ventura and remains a resident. She said she heard from a lot of people online and received a call about the post.
"It says a lot about our society, that people are looking for a human story and something to feel good," she said. Distin said she was initially reluctant to reveal herself to the public but the positive response was too much for her to ignore.
"Reading all these comments I was like, 'OK, I think I have to.' I'm feeling this energy with people. I'm kind of pouring my soul out here."
She responded: "It’s me."
She recalled how she had tried to recover her wallet 46 years ago. "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. I had a little bit of money in it, but I needed it at the time. I have no idea what photos are in there, or which concert ticket since I did go to many back then. Such a blast from the past, and a good one I must say."
Distin said she was grateful for the online response and for Stevens' and Wullaert's efforts to find her.
"There are good people out there," Distin said. "Money was stolen out of my wallet but there are pictures I haven't seen," she said. "People need to see the gratitude. I think there's so much other negative stuff that I think this is what touched people."