A lost purse discovered behind a school locker in Ohio serves as an unintended time capsule, giving students at North Canton Middle School a glimpse into the past. The bag was lost in 1957 and it wasn’t seen again for about 62 years — the contents inside frozen in time.
Pyle was starting to fix some loose trim on the locker when, much to his surprise, he came across the small red bag, covered in dust. He brought it to the school office.
After getting in touch with the family of the purse’s owner, North Canton City Schools decided to share more about the lost heirlooms inside and the woman who once owned them.
The bag belonged to Patti Rumfola, who graduated in 1960 from what was then called Hoover High School, the district said on Facebook.
With the help of some internet sleuths, the school — which is now North Canton Middle School — was able to track down Rumfola’s family. Unfortunately, they informed the district she had passed away in 2013.
However, Rumfola’s five children now have a new heirloom connecting them to their late mother: her old red purse filled with belongings from 62 years ago.
During a family gathering last fall, the Rumfola kids were able to peek inside the purse for a glimpse at their mom’s life as a teen. They found photos, makeup, notes, and other personal items that belonged to her long ago.
With the family’s permission, North Canton City Schools shared photos of the contents of the purse — which painted a picture of the young woman and her times.
Rumfola chewed peppermint-flavored Beech-Nut gum. She had a friend named Bonnie, who signed a school photo with a sweet message. She wore Hazel Bishop lipstick in the shade “Pastel Pink.” She was a high school member of the American Junior Red Cross.
The contents of the purse also included a library card that expired in 1960, a YMCA membership and old ticket stubs. Rumfola’s wallet, now weathered and faded, and some old pennies were also found.
“Those of you who may have gone to school in the 1950s or 1960s may have memories of some of these items,” the district wrote on Facebook. “In one of the photos, you will see nine coins from Patti’s wallet. Each of her five children kept one of the wheat pennies as a token of remembrance of their mom.”
While the items revealed a lot about life in the 1950s, followers captivated by the story asked the school district for more information about the woman herself. The district shared an obituary about Rumfola, which was printed in the The Punxsutawney Spirit in 2013.
She died Patricia R. Michele at 71 years old, but she was born February 25, 1942, the daughter of the late Charles and Rose Rumfola.
She married John G. Michele in 1980 and the pair stayed together until his death in 2007. Rumfola worked as a teacher and helped establish Punxsutawney’s Theatre Arts Guild and the Young Women’s Club. She was also a member of book and quilting clubs and was an active costume designer and seamstress with the Reitz Theatre.
But she “especially enjoyed spending time with her children and grandchildren,” the obituary reads.
Next week, Rumfola would’ve celebrated her 78th birthday. Now, a snapshot of her youth has been immortalized and shared in a way she never could have imagined when she lost her purse back in 1957 — ensuring that her story lives on long past her time in the halls of Hoover High.