Medora man's wallet returned after 33 years
After four or five years of taking care of the Golden Valley County Fairgrounds in Beach, Bob "Trapper Bob" Schmeling discovered a treasure waiting for him for 33 years.
Schmeling was using a weed trimmer to shave unwanted foliage around a gate the second week of June when he had to dig a little deeper to uproot some weeds. What he found was a chunk of leather buried under about an inch of dirt.
Schmeling had found the wallet of family friend and softball rival Perry Tescher, lost in 1979 at a dance held on the fairgrounds.
"It was just a lucky streak that I found it," Schmeling said.
Shortly before the find, Tescher of Medora, had been driving by the fairgrounds and told his girlfriend about losing his wallet, which was made as a graduation present by his brother-in-law, Val Obrigewitch.
The wallet, lost for 33 years, didn't want to stay found. Schmeling left the wallet on the lawn tractor he borrowed from West Plains Inc. implement. It was found again with a call to the dealership.
The wallet contained Tescher's driver's license, metal Social Security card, miniature high school diploma and what appeared to be a credit card, although Tescher said he didn't remember what the Metropolitan Federal card was.
"What I was amazed by is my Social Security card," he said. "It's just like new."
He thought he had some cash in the wallet, but if he did, it was less than $20.
He suspects he lost the wallet inside the dance and that someone found it, took the cash and left the wallet outside.
The driver's license expired on his 20th birthday, April 6, 1981.
Tescher thinks he was 14 or 15 when he got his driver's license because the address listed is Sentinel Butte and his family moved to a ranch in 1976 that put him in the Beach school district starting his sophomore year of high school.
"I looked like an ornery little kid in that picture," he said of his driver's license.
The wallet is in pretty good shape for being underground for more than 30 years, he said.
"It's pretty rough, but it's pretty good compared to what you'd think it'd be," Tescher said of the stiffened wallet. "I thought if a person put some oil on it and cleaned it up it might actually fold again."
Finding the wallet has been a bit of a trip down memory lane, he said.
"That wallet was brand new when I lost it. I had had it about two weeks," Tescher said. "It was a real slick new wallet and I'm sure it just slid out of my pocket."
Tescher's sister, Carol Tescher Obrigewitch, said that it was St. Anthony, the patron saint associated with the return of lost articles and missing persons, who can be credited with the wallet's return.
"It was really something when Perry found his billfold and he said, 'I talked to St. Anthony,' you know," Obrigewitch said. "'He finally answered me.'"