Janitor Finds Purse Behind School Locker Before Learning The Unsettling Reality

While everyone’s time in high school was undoubtedly different, some experiences are universal. Sure, there were plenty of classes — remember trigonometry — but just as many unforgettable moments goofing with your friends. From cramming in the library tp illicitly hanging in the hallways, those memories will last a lifetime.

Some moments, items, and lessons, however, manage to slip through the cracks. In fact, one object remained hidden in a school hallway for decades until it was recently uncovered. And its contents revealed something very unexpected.

From September through June of each year, school buildings around the country are packed full of students. Hoover Middle School in North Canton, Ohio, was no exception to that rule.

Corvallis Gazette-Times

Running a school, however, takes plenty of work behind the scenes. While everyone knows that teachers do a great deal for their students every day, custodians don’t always receive the same credit.

Nate Guidry/ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

One of those under-appreciated workers was Chas Pyle. In May 2019, though, he had a specific task; this would go beyond simply sweeping the floors or changing some lightbulbs.

North Canton City Schools/ Facebook

As any student can tell you, a locker is an essential part of everyone’s day. This time, however, Hoover Middle School’s lockers needed a little bit of TLC. Thankfully, Chas was on the case.

John D. Simmons / The Charolette Observer

In one stretch of hallway, there was a particular bank of lockers. The trim, which connected the metal to the wall, had somehow come loose. It needed to be reattached. So began a grand adventure.

North Canton City Schools/ Facebook

Nothing was seriously broken, so Chas didn’t think it would be a big job. He sized up the situation and got to work; without breaking a sweat, he had popped the offending piece of metal loose.

Doug McKnight

Now that the trim was completely off, the custodian simply needed to reattach it and get on with his responsibilities. Something, however, caught his eye and stopped him in his tracks.

Nicholas Draney/ Standard-Examiner

In the dusty space between the locker and wall, there was something red sitting on the floor. While he wasn’t sure what he had spotted, Chas fished it out from the crevice.

North Canton City Schools/ Facebook

It was a red purse! Clearly, some student had lost her beloved bag and its contents behind that piece of metal locker trim. Surely, Chas thought, she would want her possessions back.

Well, when something goes wrong in a school, what happens? You head to the office! Chas picked up his newfound purse and did just that. They were going to get to the bottom of this.

Jasmynn Velez / The Forum

While it usually isn’t okay to rummage through someone’s purse, the school staff decided that this was a special circumstance. They slowly opened the zipper, hoping to find a clue of the owner’s identity.


Inside the purse, they found several items that belonged to Patti Rumfola. As they dug deeper, though, they encountered a problem. It wouldn’t be easy to return this purse after all…

USA Today

Patti wasn’t a current student…. or someone who had been in the building recently. She graduated from Hoover High School in 1960; her purse had been lost for nearly 60 years!


While Patti hadn’t been a student for quite some time, her purse was chock full of stuff. It didn’t have a clue to her whereabouts, but it did provide a glimpse into her former life and the things she held dear.

North Canton City Schools / Facebook

First and foremost, there were plenty of school supplies. Patti definitely made sure that she was prepared for class! There was also some makeup and a single stick of Beech-Net chewing gum.

North Canton City Schools / Facebook

That wasn’t all Patti was carrying, though. The purse also contained some faded baseball and football schedules and a couple of old ticket stubs. She definitely had plenty of school spirit!

North Canton City Schools / Facebook

With the help of Facebook, the school tried to track down Patti. Eventually, though, they hit an unfortunate dead end. She had passed away 2013 at age 71. There was one silver, lining however.

Patti had five children, so the school sent them the purse. While it helped them see a side of their mother they never knew, the kids also found something else in the bag.

North Canton City Schools / Facebook

Within the purse, there was a faded teal wallet containing a few coins. While currency might have changed over the years — good luck buying anything for a penny — they still provided an opportunity.

North Canton City Schools / Facebook

Those coins, which were tarnished with time, became a prized possession. “Each of her five children kept one of the wheat pennies as a token of remembrance of their mom,” the school explained in a Facebook post.

North Canton City Schools / Facebook

Meanwhile, in Southern Indiana at the beginning of February in 2019, workers were hard at work tearing down the decrepit Jeffersonville High School. The former faculty supposedly hauled all valuables out of the building years before, but the construction crew stumbled across a long-forgotten cache.

Before bulldozing the rubble, one worker fortunately spotted this lost purse. Though covered in dust and grime, it appeared to be in fair condition. And based on its weight, the bag was filled to the brim with objects.

The workers took a break and decided to rummage through the bag. They expected to find some junk that teenagers stashed in the past few months, but nothing of the sort popped out. Instead, they gazed upon a bundle of objects from the early 1950s.


A few newspaper clippings confirmed the date, and the retro items inside matched the era perfectly. For example, the crew popped open a vintage tube of lipstick that must’ve belonged to a high school girl way back when. Underneath that was a clue to her identity.

Facebook / Greater Clark County Schools

A letter, carefully folded up, lined the bottom of the bag. Written to “Marty” from “Torchy,” it appeared to be some kind of love note! The message hinted at a love triangle, as both the writer and a boy named Paul wanted to take Marty to prom.

News and Tribune

The workers notified the school board, and together they tried to figure out the owner of the abandoned purse. Based on the personal information and date of the news clippings, they guessed it must have belonged to Martha Ina Ingham, class of 1955.

Facebook / Greater Clark County Schools

Miraculously, they were able to track down Martha, now splitting her time between Maryland and Florida, and ask her about the bag. The octogenarian confirmed she’d lost it long ago, and she revealed the dramatic story behind her love letter.

Facebook / Marty Ingham Everett

Reportedly, Martha — or “Marty” — was quite the catch back in the day. Both Paul and Torchy asked her to prom, but in the end, she decided to take an entirely different date: a boy named Carter Williams.

Facebook / Greater Clark County Schools

Martha’s and Carter’s relationship didn’t last past senior year, but the Jeffersonville alum was ecstatic to get her old purse and belongings back. They conjured up memories that hadn’t crossed her mind for decades.

Martha understandably had no interest in reviving this old romance, but there’s no denying that thoughts of high school flames stay with us. Coincidentally, half a country away, a Georgia woman learned a similar lesson while cleaning her house.

One chilly day in 2019, Ann Caldwell of Augusta, Georgia, decided to straighten up her house a little bit. But her spring cleaning threw her for a loop. Instead of bringing her ahead to the next season, one surprise took her back sixty years.


The older woman lived alone, so she knew just about every inch of her home. When she cleared out a cluttered drawer, however, an unfamiliar sparkle in the back caught her eye. She reached for it — and gasped.

It was a class ring! Judging by its gold sheen and black engravings, it held great sentimental value — except Ann had no idea how it got there. The inscription had the initials C.S. and indicated the owner graduated from Weatherford High School in 1959.


This information only heightened the mystery. While Ann lived in Georgia, Weatherford High was four states away in Oklahoma! She had serious doubts about whether she’d ever track down the owner, but Ann knew she had to try.

After a bit of research, Ann enlisted the help of Chad Wilson, the Weatherford Superintendent of Schools. Chad had access to all the records from the area but couldn’t make any promises about an answer.

Facebook / Kiwanis Club of Weatherford, OK

Chad got his hands on a yearbook from 1959, the same year on the ring. The only other information he had was the initials C.S., but luckily only one student in the 62-person senior class matched them.

News 9

Chad and Ann’s likely target was Coy Sullivan, who also was one of the three valedictorians of the class. It was a revelation, but the case hit a brick wall. Chad couldn’t find any current contact information for Coy. He wasn’t even sure he was alive!

9 News

Months passed by, and Chad almost gave up on the ring mystery. He still kept digging in his spare time, and one day he hit pay dirt. On Facebook, he came across the profile of Justin Sullivan, the adult son of Coy. Chad sent a message and held his breath.

News 9

Amazingly, Justin responded and confirmed that Coy was still very much alive! The elderly man remembered the ring well, too. He said that it was one of his most treasured possessions, and he always wondered what happened to it.

News 9

Ann was thrilled to hear that the ring’s owner had stepped forward. She immediately shipped it off to Coy’s home but also struck up a correspondence with him. More than anything, she wanted to know how a stranger’s ring from 1959 wound up in her house.

Together, they pieced together the answer. Ann’s late husband’s family used to run a laundry near Coy’s high school. At some point, he must’ve left the class ring in a pocket and sent that clothing out for washing.

The timing of Ann’s discovery was convenient, too. Coy had his 60th school reunion coming up, so he was excited to show off his long-lost ring at the ceremony. It’s funny how high school can make such an impact on us.

Clifton High School

For instance, Adrian Pearce and Vicki Allen were high school sweethearts, together for nearly 2 years. Sadly, like most romances, it eventually came to an end, but Adrian was left with a memento he’d never forget.

It was Vicki who ultimately ended the relationship, and Adrian hadn’t seen it coming. It was right before the holidays, so it was a rough time to break up, but Vicki insisted on giving Adrian the present she bought for him.

Spending Christmas without his beloved left Adrian heartbroken — so much so, that he refused to open the mysterious gift. Still, he couldn’t bring himself to toss it out, so he put it under his tree and left it there.

As years went by, Adrian fell in love once again, this time with a woman named Valerie. Having nearly forgotten all about Vicki, he married Valerie without hesitation and together they started a family.

But the one time a year that Adrian would think of his ex-girlfriend was right before Christmas, as he continued to put out the present that he never unwrapped beneath the tree. Naturally, his family deemed it a bit odd and wondered what it could be.

Years turned into decades, and even though Adrian had told his family that he would never open the present, they had finally had enough of the mystery. On the 47th year after the high school break-up, Valerie told him to open it already.

So on December 23 of 2017, Adrian wrote a Facebook post explaining the situation, which sparked a lot of interest from his social media friends. He finished by asking if anyone knew how to track down Vicki so they could reconnect and open the gift together.

As it turned out, one of Adrian’s friends from high school was friends with Vicki on Facebook, and he was happy to connect the two. Happy to hear from him, Vicki invited Adrian and Valerie to fly out and visit her home in British Columbia.

Of course, Adrian was both excited to see his old flame, whom he had long since forgiven, but he was nervous too. So much pressure built up around the present, what could it possibly be? Would Vicki and Valerie get along?

Nevertheless, the Pearces headed to western Canada where they finally caught up with Vicki. While live on CTV, Vicki admitted that she didn’t actually remember what was in the box, but she did recall the circumstances surrounding the present.

As she explained, she had been out shopping for a Christmas gift for her then-boyfriend Adrian when she ran into another guy named Wolf. They got to talking, and he ended up kissing her, but she didn’t pull away… in fact, she kissed him back!

Absolutely riddled with guilt, Vicki decided that the only fair thing to do was to break up with Adrian, but she still wanted to hand him the gift she had so carefully sought out for him. Forty-seven years later, here they were, ready to reveal what was inside.

With cameras all around, Adrian handed the present to Vicki to do the honors of unwrapping the gift. As soon as she peeled off the wrapping paper, her face turned red, and she muttered there was no way she would have given this to her boyfriend.

After much speculation surrounding what was inside the little package, it turned out to be a book, titled Love Is: New Ways To Spot That Certain Feeling. It was a collection of comic strips by Kim Grove, inspired by letters the author had written to her own husband.

While the book may not have been a teenage boy’s taste, it did have a clear message of love behind it, and that wasn’t all: when Adrian handed it back to Vicki, she opened the book and flipped the pages to reveal a personal note inside of it.

While Adrian preferred to keep the inscription private, he did announce that he would frame the book and its shiny blue wrapping paper as a memory to treasure forever. With that, Adrian and Valerie bade Vicki adieu and headed back home. Still, the story was far from over.

Unable to let go of the story itself, Adrian wrote a book about his experience. The live TV coverage of his meeting with Vicki gave him 15 minutes of fame, which he would use to promote The 47-Year-Old Present.

Aside from the book, Adrian also wanted to incorporate his story using another one of his hobbies – camera work. He announced plans to release a documentary, filmed by the one and only, that would cover what the book did not.

Unfortunately, not everyone was psyched about Adrian’s creative outlets. His own son called the entire story of his father holding onto a 47-year-old present from an ex-girlfriend “stupid.” Even Vicki said the whole ordeal was “a bit worrisome.”

It seemed like the story itself had given Adrian a sense of purpose and a source of inspiration. He was happy to have reconciled with his former love, and to have received some attention for refusing to give up on his dream.

Recommended From Eternally Sunny

Stay up to date on the
latest trending stories!

like our facebook page!