Long-lost wallet turns up in Avalon debris

CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON/The Daily Sentinel—Kok Seang Bou, of Clifton, thumbs through a wallet that he lost in 1976 in the Cooper Theater, which later became the Avalon. Workers found the wallet between two walls during the theater renovation project that is under way.

Kok Seang Bou typically deletes messages or hangs up on people who call his Clifton home and mispronounce his name.

“Salesmen,” Seang Bou said.

The message Tuesday night, however, was different. An official from the city of Grand Junction called, so “I listened to the whole thing,” he said.

The stranger on the machine had some news.

“Oh, shoot,” Seang Bou thought as he heard the message. “They found my wallet.”

Several days ago, Solar Valley Enterprises’ Jolene Evans and Enrique Dozal were tearing down a wall in the Avalon Theatre by the old stage when they spotted an orange, plastic wallet.

Inside were a slew of cards identifying the wallet as Seang Bou’s. He had lost it there ... in 1976, when he went to watch a movie at what was then the Cooper Theater.

On Wednesday, 37 years after losing his wallet, Seang Bou got it back during an informal ceremony with city officials at the Avalon. The $40 he remembered having that night was no longer in the wallet.

“That’s OK,” Seang Bou said. “I got more important stuff back.”

One by one, Seang Bou pulled the memories out of the old wallet: a high school photograph from Cambodia, his State Farm insurance card, a bank card, his Social Security card, old driver’s license, work permit and job service card.

Seang Bou, a supervisor at Wiggy’s, became a citizen in 1981.

The old wallet even had his fishing license that cost $7.50.

Seang Bou said his three children “cannot wait to see my driver’s license.” Now 58, Seang Bou was in his early-20s when he moved here after fleeing Cambodia.

Evans said the wallet was found between two walls and likely wouldn’t have been spotted had the Avalon not been in the midst of a major renovation.

“I could not wait to see it,” Seang Bou said. “I’m going to frame anything that didn’t have my social security number on it.”

The city gave Seang Bou two free tickets to the Avalon for when it reopens.


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