Making Tin Can Toys

by Edward Thatcher 1919

Extract From a Letter Written to the Author by a Former Pupil Mrs. Clyde M. Myers

RECONSTRUCTION AIDE, DIRECTOR OF THE RED CROSS WORK SHOP FOR PATIENTS AT NEUROLOGICAL BASE HOSPITAL I 17, LA F AUCHE, HAUTE MARNE, FRANCE The hospital was new and its needs were many. We began work the day after our arrival and by the time our small equipment was unpacked Mrs. Myers refers here to her own personal equipment of tools which was necessarily a small one as it was brought from America. The hospital shops were not equipped with tools until after the Aides had established the work and decided on the necessary tools needed, requests were coming in from all quarters of the hospital for us to make everything from tables and dishes to doughnut cutters. There was such a lack of material that the problem of making them could have been solved by nothing less than ingenuity of the American soldier and the ever present tin can pile.

Some old French hospital beds found on the salvage heap were quickly converted into work benches. It was then that the tin can ceased to be a thing to be burned and buried and came into its own. Our first need was a charcoal furnace to heat our soldering coppers. This was made from two large square tins with an interlining of brick. A bit of an old grate completed this perfectly good furnace which served us well for many months. The wants of the kitchen were next considered. For washing dishes we made three huge wooden tubs 2 by 2.0 by 6 feet. The lining and drain pipes for these were made from several large tin cans. As the size of the hospital increased there was a constant demand for such things as biscuit pans, doughnut cutters, funnels, potato graters, vegetable strainers, soap dishes and other small necessities.