Home / HistoryPurse Lost in the 1950s Becomes an Unexpected Time Capsule Revealing What Life Was Like Then

Purse Lost in the 1950s Becomes an Unexpected Time Capsule Revealing What Life Was Like Then

1950s Time Capsule

The discovery of a red purse has offered a look into what everyday life was like for a teenager in 1950s Ohio. In 2019, a custodian at the North Canton Middle School was repairing lockers when he discovered a bag wedged behind a piece of detachable metal. Although dusty and dirty, the contents of the purse were well preserved. They belonged to Patti Rumfola who lost the purse in 1957 when she was a teenager attending what was then Hoover High School.

The things found in the bag tell the story of a teenager who was active in her community, organized, and loved her family. Among the items found were her American Junior Red Cross card, ticket stubs, YMCA membership, sharpened pencils and pens, a pocket calendar, and photos of her friends and family.

Once the school determined Rumfola was the rightful owner, they contacted the North Canton Alumni Association in hopes of returning it to her. The organization figured out that Rumfola had graduated from Hoover High in 1960.

Unfortunately, Rumfola died in 2013 at the age of 71 in DuBois, Pennsylvania, so she’ll never get to see these tokens from the past. But she lived a full life. According to her obituary, she was a retired school teacher who worked in Annapolis, Maryland. And as in her youth, she was active in her community as an adult and helped found the Theatre Arts Guild and the Young Women’s Club in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Rumfola was also a costume designer and seamstress with the Reitz theatre who enjoyed spending time with her children and grandchildren.

Because the school could not return Rumfola’s purse to her, they reached out to her grown children. “Patti’s five children were together for a family gathering in the fall where they opened the purse to have a glimpse into their mother’s life as a teenager at Hoover High School,” the North Canton Middle School wrote on Facebook. “Each of her five children kept one of the wheat pennies as a token of remembrance of their mom.”

In 2019, a custodian repairing lockers discovered a red bag wedged behind a piece of detachable metal.

1950s Time Capsule

The bag, it turned out, belonged to Patti Rumfola, who lost the purse in 1957.

1950s Time Capsule

The contents are an unexpected time capsule of what life was like for a 1950s teenager in Ohio.

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1950s Time Capsule

Unfortunately, Rumfola passed away in 2013, but the school was able to make contact with her grown children. Each of them kept a penny from the bag as a way to remember their mom.

1950s Time Capsule

h/t: [Bored Panda]

All images via North Canton Middle School Facebook.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met and Manager of My Modern Met Store. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.

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