Once in a while, organization creeps into the operation of the Good Ship Washington Post. So it was that photographer Frank Johnston found himself one recent day with a stack of assignments on Maryland's Eastern Shore -- to be followed by another that night in Annapolis, to be followed by some more the next day back down by Chesapeake Bay.
Frank had just wrapped up his business in Easton, so he called into the photo desk from a booth beside the road. Nothing pressing, he was told. So he drove on to Annapolis and had dinner before proceeding to his next job.
Came time to pay, though, and Frank discovered that his wallet was missing. It wasn't in the car, either. Could Frank have left it in that Easton phone booth?
He drove all the way back to Easton, but the booth was walletless. There was a diner nearby. Frank went in. "By any chance, did someone leave a wallet here?" he asked the woman behind the counter.
A customer overheard. "No way," he told Frank. "I mean, there's no-o-o-o way. You'll be lucky to even hear anything about it, much less get it back." You can imagine how much better Frank felt after that.
What to do? Frank had no money. He had no identification. Under the circumstances, he could hardly spend the next day making photographs far from home. So he called in to the photo desk, ready to tell them the sad truth and to request permission to come home.
Ellsworth Davis answered the phone. "Dave, this is F.J.," Frank began (People really do talk that way at a newspaper). "You're not going to believe this, but . . . . "
"I'll bet you're looking for your wallet," said Davis.
Who was the angel? A building products salesman from Dover, Del., named Gerald J. Cusick.
Cusick had found Frank's wallet in the phone booth. He had taken it home to Delaware with him, and had tried to reach Frank at The Post. Davis gave Frank the number in Dover, and Frank called immediately. Whereupon Cusick offered to jump in his car right then and there and drive the 48 miles to Easton.
Frank persuaded him to go only half as far, to a little town called Denton. Cusick and Frank met there, the wallet was handed over and a whole bunch of photos that had appeared to be in serious jeopardy were shot the next day as if nothing had ever happened.