Fisherman nets more than just fish

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Antonino Randazzo hauled up a wallet lost 40 years ago, then tracked down the sailor to whom it belonged

Antonino Randazzo hauled up a wallet lost 40 years ago, then tracked down the sailor to whom it belonged

Antonino Randazzo was hauling in a net full of ground fish about 12 miles off Gloucester, Mass., in June when he noticed something unusual. Among the fish in the haul, the 44-year-old commercial fisherman found a plastic sheath caked in mud and containing about 10 credit and identification cards. Looking at the cards, he determined that they dated back to the late 1960s, and they belonged to a man named James Lubeck of Marblehead, Mass.

  “When I saw the cards I thought they looked like part of a wallet,” says Randazzo. “I said to myself, ‘What is this doing here?’ My first thought was that somebody had fallen overboard and went missing years ago. That was my fear.” Randazzo took the cards home, and after a little nudging from his wife, Connie, he began searching for Lubeck’s family, thinking they might like to have the cards as a memento.

 

 

James Lubeck

“Being a fisherman, I’ve lost a lot of friends at sea,” Randazzo says. “Many of their families don’t have much to remember them by. I figured that if something bad had happened to this man then at least his family would have something of his.” Looking in the Marblehead, Mass., telephone directory, Randazzo found a Jonathan Lubeck and decided to call him. Randazzo spoke with Jonathan’s wife, Sarah, who informed him that James Lubeck was her husband’s father, who is still alive and living in Fairfield, Conn. “When she said he’s alive, I was very relieved,” Randazzo says.Jonathan Lubeck contacted his 74-year-old father about the cards, and the elder Lubeck says he initially had no idea what his son was talking about. Thinking about it a little more, the former DuPont Co. executive and longtime sailor began to recall the details.

It was an afternoon in 1966, and Lubeck — dressed in suit and tie — was getting ready to go to dinner with his wife, Myra. The weather forecast called for a storm, so Lubeck drove to Marblehead Harbor to secure his Bristol 27, Nappie IV, before heading to dinner. But the couple never made it to the restaurant. At the dock, Lubeck’s wallet slipped from his back pocket and dropped into the water. Lubeck lost not only his credit and identification cards, but also $300 in expense checks.

“If I had known when I lost it I would have jumped in, suit and all, after that wallet; $300 back then was a lot of money,” Lubeck says.

Determined to make his dinner date Lubeck hired a local diver to search for his wallet. But the current apparently had swept it away by the time the diver arrived. Lubeck assumed the wallet was gone forever — that is, until Randazzo came across it 39 years later and 25 miles from where it was lost.

“[Randazzo] took it upon himself to say, ‘This belongs to the family of someone who might be lost at sea,’” says Lubeck. “He made the effort, and that means a lot to me. He has a real loyalty to people of the sea.”

Lubeck says he’s not sure what he will do with the cards. “But seeing them again sure does bring back a lot of memories,” he says.