Navy meteorologist Paul Grisham, 91, set off for Antarctica in October 1967, where he spent 13 months monitoring weather conditions as a weather forecaster at a Ross Island-based science station.
Returning home to California from ‘The Ice’, Grisham accidentally left his wallet behind on the freezing continent. He wouldn’t see it again for many decades.
As reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune, the wallet was discovered in 2014 after a building at McMurdo Station was demolished.
The wallet was found behind a locker, containing an array of personal effects from Grisham’s younger days as a weather forecaster. Inside was found Grisham’s Navy ID, driver’s licence and a tax withholding statement, as well as a homemade Kahlua recipe.
It also contained a beer ration punch card, receipts for money orders sent to Grisham’s wife for his station poker winnings, plus a pocket reference card with information about what to do following an atomic, biological or chemical weapons attack.
As there was nothing to actually purchase at the far flung station – which is located in the southernmost town on Earth – the brown, leather wallet reportedly didn’t contain any notes or coins.
As per The San Diego Union-Tribune, Grisham received the wallet by mail in good condition following weeks of emails, Facebook messages and letters between a group of online sleuths determined to track down its owner.
New Hampshire based father and daughter sleuthing team, Stephen Decato and Sarah Lindbergh, were the ones who managed to trace the wallet back to Grisham, alongside Bruce McKee from the Indiana Spirit of ’45 nonprofit foundation.
Although Grisham couldn’t recall losing the wallet in the first place after all these years, he was still very grateful to those who tracked him down, telling the The San Diego Union-Tribune:
I was just blown away. There was a long series of people involved who tracked me down and ran me to ground.
Reminiscing over his time in Antartica – where temperatures dropped to lows of -65 degrees during his stay – Grisham recalled:
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.
Over the course of his adventurous career, Grisham has also worked at duty stations in Guam, Hawaii and Japan, and has also spent two periods working aboard aircraft carriers in the Pacific.
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The San Diego Union Tribune