"It's so incredible!" Jan Teller Wahl said. "My heart is beating a thousand times a minute. It's better than the first time I saw 'Gone With the Wind.' It's like a Hitchcock movie, only it's real and I'm starring. . . ."
Nowadays, Wahl reviews films and runs a movie memorabilia shop in Sausalito. Twenty years ago she was a feisty, idealistic, opinionated 16-year-old on a tour of the Soviet Union with a group from L.A.'s University High School. Wahl kept a diary on the trip--detailed, perceptive, sensitive. On her arrival home, the diary was missing. "I thought the Russians had taken it," she said last week. "I was heartsick. I'd named names: Jews I'd met, dissidents. I'd written down everything, and even though I was only trying to help, I felt tremendous guilt. Until Colin's call."
Colin is Colin Bryant, a Briton who found Wahl's diary near an airport outside of London in 1968. For 20 years he tried to return it, though diary clues were sketchy--writer unnamed, school unnamed. Last month he enlisted the aid of The Times. A friend of Wahl, Ron Silver, who was mentioned in the diary, read the article. Silver, now with the Justice Department here, called Bryant, now a civil-aviation official in Turks and Caicos Islands, British West Indies. Bryant called Wahl in Sausalito. Wahl "almost fainted."