Would you buy someone else’s long-expired passport? What if the passport showed that, many years ago, the person lived in the same place where you live now?
For Nuno Fonseca, a Portuguese medical student studying in Paris, the pull of the mystery represented by a 60-year-old passport he found at a flea market was too strong to resist. The long-lost passport was covered in stamps from Europe and the Middle East, and its original owner had once lived in the exact same student housing complex as Mr. Fonseca.
As Mr. Fonseca told a reporter from the University of Berkeley, “I knew I had to have the passport of someone who, 60 years before me, took the adventure of going to Paris and lived at the same address. And, of course, I wanted the thrill of finding the passport’s rightful owner.”
When it came to returning the lost passport, Fonseca didn’t have much to go on. He had a name, of course – the passport once belonged to a young woman named Betty Hatfield. Other than that, all he really had was a birth date and birthplace.
The next stop, naturally, was Google, which provided him with a hometown (Ardsley, New York) and a college (UC Berkeley). Getting in touch with people in both the town and the school, he was eventually able to track down 85-year-old Betty Werther. 60 years earlier, when she was still Betty Hatfield, she graduated from Berkeley and embarked on the epic journey through postwar Europe that was recorded on the lost passport Fonseca found in that Paris flea market last year.
Werther told the Berkeley student paper that she had always wondered what became of the passport:
“I was wondering what had happened to that passport. I wouldn’t have thrown it out. It was my first passport. It was important to me.”
Now, over half a century later, the lost passport is being returned at last.
Of course, if you lose a valid passport, you can’t rely on the kindness of strangers to return it to you. See What to Do if You Lost Your Passport for step-by-step instructions on reporting your lost passport and getting a replacement.
If you’re in a hurry, RushMyPassport can help you get your new passport fast, with no need to make an appointment or wait in line at a passport agency. We hand-deliver your application to the Department of State, resulting in processing times as short as 24 hours. Don’t let a lost passport ruin your vacation-contact us today!