The Lost Wallet Photographs

I want to tell you a story about three pairs of strangers, and an old man they worked to serve. We can’t know the resolution to the story, for reasons that will be shown, but I can tell you what happened because I am the only person who interacted with each stranger.

This event happened Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, three days ago.

I was taking an afternoon walk on Groton Road in North Chelmsford, and as I crossed Marinel Avenue, I noticed one of those clear photo packets, like what men keep in their wallets. The packet was in the middle of the road and at first I wrote it off as just another lost item that will be ground up in short order, as Groton Road is heavily-trafficked. But then I stopped, turned, and picked it up. There was a picture of a pretty gal in the first partition, and the photo didn’t seem like some stock, throwaway thing. She looked to be someone who was somebody’s.

I got out of the road and gave her a quick look. The picture was black and white, and she looked 20-25 years old. I didn’t give a good examination of what I held, but the packet had maybe six sleeves to it, none with an obvious address or ID. I had a few quick thoughts.

This was a definite personal item. It had been lost or discarded. I dropped it back in the road where I found it. If the owner was looking for it, why disturb what I’d found?

Then, as I’ve done many times, I re-thought my quick decision. I took the packet back– of course I couldn’t leave her there. The sleeve would be crushed if it stayed in the street like that. Maybe I could lean it up against a phone pole? Maybe there was more info in the packet?

On the back of the photo “1966” was written in blue ink. I saw another, smaller photo with a man and a youngster when I heard a lady call to me, “Hey did you find that in the street?”

A woman and a man stood on the other side of Groton. “Yeah!” I said. She waited for traffic to clear then ran over to me. Her companion stayed on his side of the street.

She’d found the rest of the wallet. We compared what we had. She said, “These things look important.” I agreed. She asked, “Maybe we could mail it to him?” We looked through what she had and there was an address. “Do you want to mail it?” I asked. “Yes.” I handed her the photo packet, waved to her companion and went on my way.

I told you this was a story of six strangers, plus an old man, and you’ve met three of them– the gal with her half of the wallet, her friend who waited for us, and me.

I also told you we can’t know the resolution to this story, so stop reading if you’re one of those people who must know how it turns out. We can’t know, unless something grand happens.

Still with me? The next morning my wife came back from her walk and told me she saw that adorable Petey cat we always hoped to see in a certain window about a mile from our house, and three bunnies on a yard on Dunstable Road and oh yeah, two ladies were looking for their dad’s wallet on Groton.

What? I told her my story and we jumped in the car to get there. We sped and she told me I was driving too fast– the ladies were probably gone anyway. But no, they were there, searching a few streets up from where I’d found the packet. We parked and called to them across the street.

I told them I’d found the wallet. There was so much traffic at the moment, I couldn’t get into details and just had to wait interminably for the cars to clear. I crossed to the women and told them what had happened, and what I’d found.

They were ecstatic. I’ve blurred some of the details but this is the gist of what I remember. They told me their father was a widower and their mother’s photo was in his wallet. He was living in the elder residence facility nearby, someone had taken him for a cup of coffee and he’d left his wallet on top of the car.

I described the picture I saw, and yes, that was their mother. I walked the women to Marinel Avenue and to where I found the picture sleeve. I told them of the lady and man who’d found the rest of the wallet. I said the lady had agreed to mail both parts to the address that was listed on the medical card, and the ladies confirmed that was a good address. We talked a bit more but there was nothing else to be done. Satisfied, we parted.

Six people pieced together an odd occurrence in North Chelmsford this week. None of us knew each other; I don’t know if the gal actually mailed the items, nor do I know if the man received them, or if the correct address was used, etc. I trust that the items found the old man, because I can’t imagine how bad he must feel losing that special photo. His wife would be about 80 years old if alive today. Strangers did the best they could to make it right.

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About Ara Hagopian's The LITERATE Show

For over thirty years, I have enjoyed drawing beautiful shapes and writing complementary stories. The imagery tends to focus on our place in the world—whomever or whatever we may be. I am influenced by Twentieth Century history—I read vintage magazines, books and letters. Inspiration comes from visualizing human achievement and personal interaction—derived from people, places and things which may be obscure, but never insignificant. My pen-and-ink THE MAGNIFICENT RECOVERY was selected by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for their 2008 summer art auction.
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