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Do you know who these people are? (Update: Found)

File Under: Life’s Little Mysteries

“I came into work and there was a black purse sitting on my desk,” said Library Director Andrew Kim. “I thought it belonged in lost and found.”

But this was no ordinary lost purse. On further inspection, it was revealed to be something of a mini-time capsule purportedly from a half-century ago.

Contractors found the purse in the course of installing an enhanced HVAC system, a project scheduled to be completed mid-summer.

Inside the purse were intriguing artifacts: a nail brush, a lipstick, a single earring, a Mongol 480 pencil, and two black and white photographs. One is of a youngish-looking girl reminiscent of the character Scout in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The other is of an older woman, bundled against the cold and standing in front of a snow-covered house….

There is a dentist appointment slip for Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 3:05 p.m. The dentist office was located across the street from the library at 333 Park Avenue in the building currently occupied on the first floor by BMO Harris Bank. The dentist’s name was Arthur S. Dunn. His phone number is listed on the slip as Vernon 5-2157. The hand-written name on the slip appears to be Ellen Pritikin. Attempts to find her or someone who might know or have known her have been unsuccessful.


A check of Glencoe vintage telephone directories and good old-fashioned Googling determined that the only year in which Oct. 11 fell on a Tuesday and that Dr. Dunn’s phone number matched the number listed on the slip was 1966.

RTWT at: Library Finds Purse Hidden Since 1966

“Definitely me.” Ellen Pritikin Polito confirmed in an email that she is the woman whose long-lost purse recently was found after more than a half-century inside a wall at the Glencoe Public Library. But she has no clue how the black leather clutch got there. “Perhaps it was stolen and dumped there?” she suggested. “I have no idea.”

Library Closes The Book on Hidden Purse [HT: Reader Tom Appleton]

Alert the Authorities!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Casey Klahn July 7, 2017, 10:57 AM

    Never mind that! Did she return her library books on time?

    Kidding, of course. We had a similar time capsule in my home town of Hoquiam, WA. Someone swept under the movie theater seats and found a lost wallet with a student body card dating to the 1920s. I think that was sometime in the 1970s this happened. My thoughts are about time they swept that floor!

  • ghostsniper July 7, 2017, 12:23 PM

    I created a time capsule in our Florida house and other than my wife only the virtual accomplices reading this know about it.

    The great room is rather large, 36′ long and 20′ wide and it encompasses the living room on the right and the dining room on the left, with very high cathedral ceilings (6/12 pitch). Separating the dining from the living is a half high wall, 36″ high with a nice maple cap. One end of the half wall is anchored to the rear wall of the house, and the opposite end is anchored to a 20″ x 20″ decorative column that is 48″ high with a maple cap and pineapple finial. I built all this stuff from scratch.

    The column is hollow and the fasteners that connect the cap/final to the shaft have been countersunk, puttied, sanded, painted. They are not visible.

    Inside the column is a 12″ dia x 40″ PVC pipe with glued end caps. Inside the pipe are all of the actual construction drawing blueprints (AutoCad plots), all of the documentation for the many building permits, surveys, etc., and all of the original paperwork pertaining to the purchase of the land, the construction loan, and the permanent loan, and 4 years worth of receipts for all of the utilities, and property taxes, and some of my business cards. There is also a CD in an Otterbox that has been PVC glued shut with the digital files of all the AutoCad drawings. Signed, sealed, hidden, all yours. (if you can find it)

    When I put the pipe in there and sealed it up I jokingly told my wife that in 100 years Bob Vila’s great grand son will do a “This Old House” remodeling episode series on this house and the time capsule will be discovered. yeah riiiiight……..

  • HH July 7, 2017, 12:24 PM

    The description sounds like what a child might have put into an old purse she was given to play with, not what a grown woman would be carrying.

  • Snakepit Kansas July 7, 2017, 5:12 PM

    My story will not draw you in like Ghost’s usually do, but I confess that while hanging dry wall during a basement finish at my last hacienda, I nailed in a cross member shelf and stacked some empty beer cans prior to covering with the sheet rock. My only wish is that at the point of future discovery, it makes someone smile.

  • Millie_woods July 7, 2017, 5:35 PM

    A ‘time capsule’ from when I was 12. Thanks for making me feel old.

  • edaddy July 7, 2017, 6:23 PM

    Pretty obvious, I’d say, because nothing of personal value was found in the purse. Why no wallet or money? This purse was probably stolen by a construction worker and hidden during construction/renovation … if construction workers then are anything like they are today, most are one step toward or from incarceration.

  • ahem July 7, 2017, 7:24 PM

    My sister found a pretty painted tin bread box from the beginning of the last century in the basement of an apartment building she bought 20 years ago. In it, were a large collection of letters, photos and ephemera from WWII. Once read, they told the story of an American army soldier who brought his British-born wife to the United States after the war to live in Chicago. They had a rocky relationship, he became an alcoholic, and they ultimately divorced.

    I briefly toyed with the idea of making a multimedia ‘found art’ piece out of it, but then I regained my sanity and decided that someone else’s private tragedy was none of my goddamned business and I should think long and hard before trying to exploit it. I may scan the images onto a DVD to preserve them and then try to find the descendents to whom it belongs–maybe they’re into geneaology—but I have my hands full right now.

  • talnik July 9, 2017, 4:37 AM

    That girl sure looks like Bill Clinton…

  • Tom Appleton July 11, 2017, 11:24 PM