This Lost Purse From 1957 Shows A Glimpse Into One Girl’s Past

If someone found a bag that had been tucked away in your school for over 50 years, you’d want to know what was inside of it, wouldn’t you? That’s exactly what happened at North Canton Middle School in Ohio in the spring of 2019 when someone discovered a former student’s purse that had been tucked away, collecting dust between a set of lockers and the wall.

Discovering The Bag

red purse tucked next to lockers
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

In May 2019, North Canton Middle School custodian Chas Pyle discovered a red, dusty purse tucked in beside a set of lockers after the metal trim from years ago had come loose and fallen off.

How Long Could It Have Been There?

north canton middle school in ohio
Photo Credit: Flickr
Photo Credit: Flickr

The custodian said he thought the building was opened in 1957 and that, at the time, the trim blocking the space likely didn’t exist, which would explain how a bag could’ve been stored there.

He Knew He Should Pick It Up

Patti's dusty purse
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

Pyle knew he couldn’t just leave the bag there to keep collecting dust, so he brought the purse to the office, where the secretaries made the decision that any sane person would make: they opened it to find out what was inside.

Meeting Patti For The First Time

patti rumfola photo from her purse
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

The staff members opened the purse to find a time capsule of items and learned that the bag had belonged to Patti Rumfola, who graduated from Hoover High School in 1960. North Canton Middle School, where the bag was found, is in what used to be the Hoover High building.

Documenting Their Findings, Just In Case

1950 kids photo with dog outside
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

The women who first went through Patti’s bag decided to take photos of everything they found inside as they learned more about Patti. In an effort to find Patti or anyone who knew her, the school district posted to Facebook about their find.

Finding Patti’s Family Through Facebook

1957 baseball game ticket chit
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

Thanks to social media, the school was able to locate Patti’s five children after someone shared Patti Michele’s (born Rumfola’s) obituary from 2013. Her five children came together at a family gathering a few months later to go through the contents of the bag.

The District Knew They Had To Share The Story

patti rumfola sacred heart necklacce
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

With permission from her children, the school district decided to share photos of what was inside the purse on Facebook, thinking that others would be interested. The post has since garnered more than 50 thousand shares, with tens of thousands of people learning about Patti and life as a teenager in the 50s & 60s.

A Snapshot Of Life

 for public schools, admit one ticket
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton Public Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton Public Schools

When Patti’s children were first contacted, her daughter told the school how much she and her family appreciated the care and effort that North Canton put into reuniting the purse with her family.

Patti’s Children Knew How Happy Their Mother Would’ve Been

doodle and cartoon from patti's purse
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

Patti’s daughter described the purse as a snapshot of life of the average socially involved student and talked about how her mother would’ve smiled so hard to have been able to reminisce on her life as a teenager.

Tokens Of Remembrance

wheat pennies found in patti's wallet
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

Inside of Patti’s purse was a wallet which contained nine coins, and as a token to remember their mother by, each of Patti’s five children kept one of the wheat pennies that was found in her wallet.

Learning More About Patti

booster club photos of Patti
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

Thanks to the person who shared Patti’s obituary, as well as contacting her family, the school was able to learn more about Patti and her life despite her passing away on October 21, 2013, at the age of 71.

Patti’s Life After Hoover High

N.C. Annual $2 card in patti's purse
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

After her time at Hoover High School, Patti went on to have a career as a school teacher for many years in Annapolis, Maryland. She was married for 27 years to John Michele, had five children, and was active in the community theater scene.

A Teenager Involved In Her Community

junior red cross identification card
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

The items inside of Patti’s purse, like her daughter mentioned, tell the story of a teenage girl who was clearly involved in her school community and spent her time socializing with her friends and classmates.

A Friendly Note

friendly photo note on the back of Pattis picture
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

On the back of one of the many photos that were found in Patti’s purse, a friend of hers from the Booster club, Bonnie, wrote a message to Patti acknowledging the wonderful times the pair shared.

A Love For The Theater

passport previews set list found in patti's purse
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

Patti went on to work as a costume designer and seamstress at a local theater called the Reitz Theatre in DuBois, Pennsylvania. Her love of the theater was clearly something that started when she was young considering a setlist for a show called “Passport Previews” was found inside of Patti’s purse.

An Avid Reader

Patti's library card for north canton public library
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

Another interest of Patti’s that was prominent in her later life that was also shown from her purse was her love of reading. In her adult life, Patti was involved in a book club circle with her friends, and inside her purse, her family found two library cards. One belonged to Patti while the other belonged to her mother, Rose Rumfola.

All The Essentials

combs and pencils from Patti's purse
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

Along with all the photos and membership cards, Patti also had all the typical things you’d expect to find in a high school student’s purse, such as a comb, makeup, pencils, and other basic items.

A Throwback For Older Generations

identification card for patricia rumfola
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

A number of items from Patti’s purse felt like a blast from the past for Facebook users, including her identification card from a time when students used to be given insurance through their school at a discounted rate.

Proof That No Woman Cleans Out Her Purse

YMCA membership cards for patti, one expired
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

Inside the purse, there were a number of membership cards for things such as the YMCA, one of which was already expired by the time Patti lost her bag. The expired card made a lot of commenters chuckle about the fact that she clearly didn’t clean her bag out very often, like most people.

Patti’s Classmates In Photos

photos found in purse
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

Inside Patti’s purse along with these three photos were three name cards for people named Jean, Dean, and Marilyn, which many assume to be the three friends in these photos. Giving a photo to your friends of yourself was a common practice for students at the time, which likely explains these photos.

She Didn’t Just Love To Read

high school schedules for sports
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

A girl who loved to read and was involved in the theater might have been stereotyped to have not been interested in sports or physical activity, but inside her purse, they found two schedules, including one for the high school football team that had been marked off.

Keeping Her Family With Her

family photos in Patti's purse
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

Though not much information was mentioned about her family besides her children and husband, Patti’s purse contained a couple of photos of what looks to be Patti with siblings, as well as a photo of her mom and their family dog.

Remembering Patti

north canton patti rumfola
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools
Photo Credit: Facebook / North Canton City Schools

Finding Patti Rumfola’s purse was like finding a time capsule that no one knew was buried, and it brought joy to a lot of people, especially for her children who were able to learn more about their mother’s life as a teenager. Beyond Patti’s family, her story and her purse gave everyone a brief look into the life of someone they otherwise would’ve never had the chance to know.