Lost and Finally Found at the Glencoe Library: The Missing Purse Case Is Opened and Shut

Lost and Finally Found at the Glencoe Library: The Missing Purse Case Is Opened and Shut

(Glencoe, IL---July 12, 2017) The Mystery of the Purse in the Ceiling is solved.
In a case worthy of Nancy Drew, the teenaged sleuth of young adult fiction, the Glencoe Public Library is happy to announce that the owner of a long-lost handbag has been found.
In April, construction workers discovered an old black clutch in the ductwork above a disused lower-level restroom. It contained just a few clues: two black-and-white photographs, an appointment card for “Ellen Pritikin” at a Glencoe dentist’s office, a pencil, a nail brush, a single earring, and a lipstick in a very bright shade.
The library put the purse and its contents on display and asked its patrons to help solve the mystery. An initial article on the case in Daily North Shore sparked even more interest. Leads came in from university professors, amateur genealogists, current Glencoe residents, and former residents living as far away as Maine. The case was covered by Chicago-area television and radio stations as well as print media.
Librarians being the original search engines that they are, Glencoe staff revved up and got to work. Starting from the Tuesday, October 11, date on the dental card, one of the reference librarians used a perpetual calendar and old phone book listings to deduce that the purse was lost in 1966 or a few years earlier. She called Pritikins in the area, but found none who knew an Ellen Pritikin. She identified an Ellen Pritikin as graduating from nearby Evanston Township High School in 1964. Glencoe architect Scott Javore, who specializes in historic properties, was consulted about the house shown in one of the photographs. Through online resources, the librarian eventually located the woman whose belongings went missing 56 years ago.
Ellen Pritikin Polito, who lives in Berkeley, California, was delighted to hear the news but says she doesn’t remember the incident, which likely happened in 1960 when she was about to enter New Trier High School as a freshman.
In an email to the library, Ms. Polito wrote, “I don’t remember losing the purse, but I’m sure it was stolen. I would have had a wallet, which you didn’t find. I figure the loss was forgettable to me because I didn’t have any ID such as a driver’s license that needed to be replaced and probably not a lot of money. I’m sure the wallet was stolen to be checked out later, and the purse dumped.”
Ms. Polito was a volunteer at the library for two summers—1959 and 1960—and may have had the purse stolen while she was busy stamping and shelving books.
The library will return Ms. Polito’s belongings, of course, although its lost-and-found policy is to discard items left more than six months. She’s looking forward to receiving the photographs. One is of a girl she doesn’t remember, but the other is of her grandmother Fanny Pritikin in front of Ms. Polito’s aunt’s Kewanee, Illinois, home. “She wasn’t a woman who liked to be in photographs,” said Ms. Polito, “so I only have a couple of images of her.”
The library’s executive director, Andrew Kim, extended his thanks to reference librarian/detective Maureen Liebenson and to the many members of the public who contributed clues and enthusiasm.
Ms. Polito told the library, “It’s fascinating to me how many people have gotten involved in trying to solve this little mystery.”

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The Glencoe Public Library is located at 320 Park Avenue, Glencoe, IL 60022. Phone: (847) 835-5056. Web: www.glencoepubliclibrary.org.
Grace Hayek
Communications Librarian, Glencoe Public Library
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
320 Park Ave.
Glencoe, IL 60022
(837) 835-5056

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