Old Mr. Radley had died during Dill's first summer in Maycomb, and the children were disappointed that Boo did not make an appearance at his father's funeral. Instead, Boo's older brother, Nathan, returned from Pensacola, and very little changed at the Radley House. However, after Dill returned home to Meridian, Jem and Scout became more interested in the Radley Place than ever before. Since Scout was now attending school, she passed by the Radley House more often than usual, and it was she who found the first items in the knothole of the old Radley oak:
Some tinfoil was sticking in a knot-hole just above my eye level, winking at me in the afternoon sun. I stood on tiptoe, hastily looked around once more, reached into the hole and withdrew two pieces of chewing gum minus their outer wrapper. (Chapter 4)
Soon other gifts were found inside the knothole, including two "polished" Indian-head pennies, which Jem decided possessed magical qualities.