Old Keys, Reynolds Metals Company, McCook, Illinois

Can’t recall exactly when we found these old keys, but I’m pretty sure these came from the recent basement cleaning. I think we found them on top of some old duct work – and it seemed like someone had just set these there, and plumb forgot about them.

The keys run an interesting span – some look like normal keys, but there are a few that look to operate some kind of machinery (or perhaps fit a file cabinet or old school desk). There is also a medallion that speaks to the owner. The text is a little hard to read, but the best I can make out is:


Along the perimeter of the medallion, there is the text: Reynolds Metal Company – McCook, Illinois.

I’ve done just a bit of digging, but haven’t been able to uncover much about the company beyond the fact that it eventually became Reynolds Grop Holdings (and was later acquired by Alcoa in 2000). And yes, these are the same guys who make Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil.

If I had my guess, I’d say these keys are from the 50’s or 60’s, and in the neighborhood of 50+ years old. I’m delighted by the fact that someone simply *lost* them in the basement, where they’ve sat all these many years… only to be found by us, decades later.

I don’t know if these belonged to someone that worked on the basement, or if they belonged to one of the prior owners of the house. In either event, these keys feel like part of the house now to me. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with them, but I can’t imagine throwing these away.

Couldn’t Find My Keys This Morning
Cleaning the Basement, Part 1
Cleaning the Basement, Part 2

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. I used to work at the McCook plant in the 80’s and 90’s. I think I remember John Trask, I think he retired in the 80’s. I worked in the quality department, the Chem Lab was part of that department.

    This style of badge was used in the 60’s. The plant was the largest plant under one roof in Illinois at 72 acres, about 6,000,000 sq ft. When I started in ’84 there were about 2,300 people working there. In the 60’s they had over 5,000 workers.

    It’s sad to see it gone. They made a lot more than Reynolds Wrap, half of the panels used in the Space Shuttle fuel tanks were made there, all of the wing skins used on the McDonnell-Douglas aircraft were made there, DC-9, DC-10, MD-11. They made armor plate for the M-113 and Bradley Fighting vehicles. And a lot of beer can metal.


    Rich Reply

  2. I worked there also from 1993 to 2001 until it closed.great place to work for if it was’nt for the greedy CEO brick rider and the share holders we would still be running the place. It was sold to the michigan ave. partners. And they really did’nt understand the business of cold rolling aluminum.the diamond studied plate that you see on emergency one fire trucks and tool boxes was produced by the McCook plant and we were the only one making it. The departments in the plant were, the cast house,hotline,shear room,shipping.cold mills, process dept ultrasonic dept,. we made aluminum for beer comp. the orange tank for the space shuttle, delta rockets, plate for the army,hood and body parts for Gm and ford aluminum for wheels and a lot of other things. it’s sad when a company dies because the owners are greedy, Why would you sell over 51%of your company to make the shareholders happy just to be subjected to a hostile takeover then get penny’s on the dollar for the sale. And ruin many lives. Greed was alive and we’ll until they lost it all.

    D.byas Reply

  3. i worked at the McCook plant in the machine and roll shops where I ground rolls used in all the rolling mills including the tread plate rolls which was a nerve wracking job but I loved it. Don’t know of any other place where you could make the kind of money we did or have as much fun as we all did . I was a union rep for the machinists union and had 30 years of service when I retired in the year 2000

    Richard Kelley Reply

  4. My “Father in law” worked there A long time.. Somewhere from 1954 or 55 to 1994.. He should have been giving his forty years since he retired with the full 40 years in But someone decide that his vacation time didn’t count so retired 39 &3/4 of a years of service.. He also was one of the main people in charge of tools I believe in the “Skin” department and also made the dc 10 wings and other stuff.. The name “Was” George Schubert.. Great guy.. In case your wondering he passed in 2000..

    Tim Reply

  5. I was a Pyro Electrician at the McDook Plant in the 1970’s. I was just a scared kid with a great education. The old timers I worked with are long gone. What a great experience, riding my three wheeled bike throughout the entire plant, from Cast House to Finishing. What great WW2 history was there. The plant was built there to protect it from German Bombers. There were so many machines still working from the war, including a 145 inch aluminum rolling mill, stolen from Germany, after the war as War Reparations. Vanquished to the Victors. Amazing.

    Mike McDaniels Reply

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