LUBECK
Lubeck Family  /  AP
James and Myra Lubeck wave from their sailboat Nappie IV in 1966 in Marblehead, Mass. Nearly 40 years after James Lubeck lost his wallet while securing his boat, a fisherman hauled in a netful of fish off Cape Ann and recovered what remained of the long-forgotten wallet.
updated 8/22/2005 3:25:41 AM ET 2005-08-22T07:25:41

Back in 1966, James Lubeck bent over to secure his sailboat against a gathering storm and his wallet slipped from his back pocket into Marblehead Harbor. The wallet and the credit cards inside were seemingly gone forever.

Then Lubeck got word recently about a mind-boggling discovery: A fisherman had hauled in the wallet’s sheath of credit cards in a netful of cod, flounder and haddock.

“I can’t find the adjectives,” Lubeck, 74, said in an interview Friday. “I don’t know how many people would have done that.”

Fisherman Antonino Randazzo hauled in the catch in June roughly 25 miles from where Lubeck lost the wallet. The sheath was caked in mud, but the 10 to 12 credit and identification cards were in pristine condition.

“It is incredible,” he said. “Life is full of mysteries.”

Randazzo, 44, said he initially feared the wallet belonged to someone who was lost at sea, but when he looked at the cards, he noticed that the expiration dates were from the late 1960s.

Nervous phone call
The only Lubeck listed in the Marblehead phone book was a Jonathan. Randazzo called and nervously inquired whether James Lubeck was home. He was relieved to learn from James Lubeck’s daughter-in-law that he was alive and living in Connecticut.

Later, when Lubeck got a call from his son about the recovered wallet, he initially had no idea what he was talking about. He eventually recalled the details — and the $300 in expense checks that had been lost with the wallet.

“Thirty-nine years ago, $300 was a lot of money,” he said.

The checks, cash and leather of the wallet are gone, but the value of the find isn’t in what was recovered, but what happened afterward, Lubeck said.

“It’s the idea that somebody reached out,” Lubeck said. “And the puzzlement of that moving so many miles.”

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