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Found: A 1950s-Era Wallet Belonging to a Women’s Army Corps Veteran

It was discovered in a drainpipe in downtown Spokane.

While renovating a landmark Macy’s department store in downtown Spokane, Washington, an old wallet recently dropped out of a disassembled drainpipe. There was no money inside, but what workers found, and shared with reporters and editors at The Spokesman-Review, was valuable in its own right: impressively preserved receipts and identification documents belonging to one Isolde Zitzewitz.

Zitzewitz’s wallet revealed that she had served in the Women’s Army Corps, and a nephew confirmed to The Spokesman-Review that she had a long military career. She graduated high school in Oregon in 1941 before moving to Spokane and then San Diego, where she died in 2009. 

Her nephew said that she never mentioned losing the wallet, which also contained a photograph of Zitzewitz’s niece. The receipts date to as late as 1958, suggesting that was the year Zitzewitz lost it. It remains a mystery how it ended up in the pipe. “The best we can tell, that was an old roof drain,” Justin Overton, who’s overseeing the Macy’s renovation, told The Spokesman-Review. “It could have just as easily stayed wedged in there, and went out in the trash. We’d have never seen it.”

The wallet will now be sent to Zitzewitz’s nephew for posterity.