IF THE WALLS OF THE former Centralia High School in Illinois could talk, they’d probably tell us the story of a bizarre crime wave that swept the campus in the 1940s. How else could 15 wallets from that decade end up stashed in an air duct in what was the women’s restroom?
Three weeks ago, an unsuspecting plumber—working on converting the old school building into a new space for the City Hope Church—pulled the wallets out of the bathroom wall as he tore it down for remodeling. Seth Baltzell, City Hope’s pastor, says the plumber found him in another part of the building and approached him with a cardboard box containing the wallets. It “took me a second to figure out what in the world he was saying,” says Baltzell, who had been hoping that the demolition work might turn up some historical surprises like these.