Martha “Marty” Everett had no idea she had lost her purse until it was mailed back to her — around 65 years after she misplaced it.
The black, stitched clutch surfaced during the recent demolition of the Indiana high school that Everett attended. Construction workers found the purse behind science classroom cabinets in the former Jeffersonville High School, where she graduated from in 1955.
“Lost and Found Alert: Martha Ina Ingham’s handbag from 1954 has been found in the Franklin Square demolition,” school district officials wrote in a Feb. 7 Facebook post. “We would love to return it to her or her family!”
A relative spotted the post and contacted one of Everett's children. Soon, the handbag was on its way to its long-lost owner, who spends her winters in Florida and the rest of the year in Maryland.
“It was a total surprise and shock,” Everett, now 81, told NBC News.
Among the items found inside the purse were gum wrappers, a tube of lipstick, Everett's Social Security card, the school basketball schedule and a first-place ribbon for the mile relay at a 1954 track meet.
Also inside the bag: a handwritten letter asking Everett out on a special date.
“I’ve heard that Paul has asked you to go to the prom with him. If he hasn’t, I would like very much to take you,” wrote a suitor who signed the note “Torchy.”
Greater Clark County School spokeswoman Erin Bojorquez said she was "thrilled" to connect with Everett through social media and get her purse mailed back to her.
"I hope this little piece of history brings back fond memories of her year at Jeffersonville High School," she told NBC affiliate WAVE 3 News. "I also hope to answer the community’s burning question soon about who took Marty to prom.”
For the record, Everett did not attend junior prom with Paul nor Torchy. Instead, she went with her boyfriend at the time, Carter Williams. Everett said she graduated midway through her senior year of high school and doesn’t remember attending prom the following year.
But Everett contrasted the way she was asked to the dance in writing to how teens interact with each other now.
“They wouldn’t do that today,” she said. “They would text. I just think that’s really sweet when I look back on it.”
The story about her unearthed clutch has since spread and generated media attention, which Everett said she finds “very funny.”
But perhaps people are drawn to the happy ending.
“I think maybe people were interested in hearing a pleasant story,” she said.