(CNN)Retired Navy meteorologist Paul Grisham had long forgotten the wallet he lost while stationed in Antarctica in 1968, so he was surprised when someone returned it to him two weeks ago -- 53 years later.
A Navy meteorologist lost his wallet in Antarctica and got it back 53 years later
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He was also surprised by how young he looked at his old ID card that was tucked inside.
"It brought back memories, oh yeah. I had dark brown hair at the time," the 91-year-old said with a laugh.
Grisham said somebody found the wallet while demolishing some old buildings at McMurdo Station, including the building where he lived from 1967 to 1968.
The worn wallet is a time capsule of the 13 long months Grisham served in the Antarctic -- or "The Ice," as they called it. It held a beer ration card with 21 punches left, his motor vehicle operator's license, and a card with instructions for what to do in the event of a nuclear, chemical or biological attack.
"Thank God it was never used," Grisham said, adding that this was at the heart of the Cold War.
It also had a handwritten recipe for making homemade Kahlua liqueur.
Grisham never used that either (he's partial to gin martinis), but a lot of people have asked him for it after hearing his story.
Grisham was particularly busy during summer operations in Antarctica, monitoring the weather and providing reports for the airplanes and ships delivering personnel, equipment, and supplies.
"The entire station worked 12 (hours) on 12 off around the clock for a period of five months because there was so much to do" to get ready for the long, black winter, Grisham said.
There was a two-lane bowling alley, which was almost always in use, along with a small gym because it was too cold to safely exercise outside.
"McMurdo Station was in what we called the 'banana belt,' the temperature got up to about 25 degrees and I've seen it as cold as minus 65," he said. It got even colder as you went farther inland.
"It's almost inconceivable just how cold it is. It's almost impossible to describe to people who haven't been there," he said. "In fact, we spent a lot of time trying to figure out 'how do we explain this to the folks at home?' and we just never really came up with a