A purse is one of a woman’s most important accessories and Marty Ingham Everett lost one of hers in 1954 when she was only 16.
A high school girl doesn’t carry that many valuables so it wasn’t that big a deal. But an incredible reunion with her purse 65 years later has made its contents priceless.
For whatever reason, Marty’s purse ended up behind a cabinet in the science room of Jeffersonville High in Indiana where she studied. It lay there untouched by human hands and the elements until a construction crew that was doing renovation work uncovered it last month. They gave the purse to the Greater Clark County School District in Jeffersonville.
She knew it was a long shot but school district employee Erin Bojorquez put up at “lost and found” post on the school district’s Facebook with pictures of the handbag.
But the power of social media was at play and she was soon directed to John Folea, Marty’s son. He then connected Erin to Marty, who was known in high school as Martha Ina Ingham. Erin mailed the purse to Marty, now 81, at her southwestern Florida home. It marked an incredible return that instantly brought back beautiful memories of Marty’s high school years.
“It was like opening a time capsule,” said Marty, a widow who also has a second home in Grasonville, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
The story caught the attention of social media and news stories came out showing the contents of the purse, including handwritten letters from three boys she had dated – Paul, Carter, and “Torchy” – that were neatly folded and kept inside her purse.
“Dear Marty, I’ve heard that Paul has asked you to go the prom with him,” went one note. “If he hasn’t, I would like very much to take you. Love, Torchy.”
“Dear Marty, Bobbie and I aren’t going back together,” said a letter from Carter. “I’m just continuing to walk her to classes. She asked me if I would, and I told her that I would. I’m just trying to be friends with everybody.”
People from all over inevitably started asking who she ended up going to the prom with in 1954 and the question has only amused Marty.
“Ask her who she went to the prom with!” one woman commented on the school’s Facebook page. “I gotta know!”
“Does anyone know who she ended up going with? Burning question!” wrote another.
“We all want to know who she went to the prom with! I’m rooting for Torchy,” added a third.
It turns out her prom date was Carter Williams. They rode the school bus together every day from the “company town” outside Jeffersonville. Both their fathers worked for DuPont that time.
“He was my first boyfriend,” she said. “I had an awful lot of things in my purse, but I know that the letter from Carter was special. That’s why I kept it.”
She added: “The letters from the other two boys meant something to me, too. Why else would I have carried them with me everywhere?”
It turns out that Carter, now also 81, lives in Phoenix and hadn’t spoken to Marty since graduating from high school. Hearing from her has thrilled him.
“It was amazing to reconnect and reminisce about a time that is so different from today,” he said. “We respected our teachers, we respected the law, and we respected our parents. We had more time to sit around a table and just talk or listen. I feel very lucky to have grown up when I did.”
While he is happily married to his wife Suzie and has five children, nine grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren, Carter said he can never forget the first girl he kissed in 1954.
“Marty was my first love, a real sweetheart and a great gal,” he said. “What a treat it was to talk to her again for the first time in 65 years. I’ll never forget dressing up to take her to the junior prom.”
“So many years have passed that I don’t remember a lot about that time, but I do know that I enjoyed high school life,” she said. “And I do remember some of my dates.”
As to the other boys, “Torchy” was a big guy named Clyde Morris and Paul Moore was a track team star who attended her church.
Now that she has her purse again, she said she’ll never lose it again.
“I was floored when I sat at my dining room table and took everything out of the purse,” she said. “How incredible that everything was still there and ended up back in my hands.”
The purse also included 75-cent tickets for a “genuine” Italian church dinner.
“Do you suppose that they’re still valid?” she jokingly asked.
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