Military History/WWI locker
Hello Mr. Patton,
I recently purchased a standing olive drab metal locker at an estate sale. The tag around the handle read that it was a World War I locker. I cannot find any numbers stamped on it, only a metal plate at the top of the door(see picture) that reads "Fred Medart Mfg. Co., St. Louis, MO" and the number 2.
Sadly, I don't know anything about military antiques. From my internet searches, I've found that this company did make lockers during the WWI time period, but that's about it. Do you know if the locker actually is a WWI antique, and where/how/by whom it might have been used?
Thank you for your help!
Having grown up in the military, I used these same lockers for gym class at various facilities and even as school lockers. They were very prevalent at post WWII facilities in particular.
As to it being of WWI vintage, I would say no. WWI was in the early 1900's and wood was still the predominate media for a lot of items that are made of steel today, for instance, the frame of the Ford Model T car manufactured from 1908 till 1927 was wood! Ford and a cousin, named Kingsford founded the Kingsford charcoal company to use all the wood scraps that Henry Ford's car plants made while making the Model Ts.
I dare say the US Army who had not any combat airplanes made of metal, nor any tanks, machine guns, or modern artillery (they still all had wooden spoked wheels) were using stamped metal lockers. Also, wood with metal reinforcement was still being used as the preferred media for footlockers up until the Korean War.
I was living on Okinawa, the last island captured from the Japanese in 1945, from 1966-1969 and as I stated, we used those lockers for our Jr. High school lockers. Our classrooms were in old Quonset huts(old is relative, since it was only 20 years after the end of WWII) and were officers barracks. So each officer would have been assigned a locker in the shower facility or other buildings. Troops too, so they could change from their uniforms to work coveralls if involved with aircraft or vehicle maintenance etc. This was pretty standard. GIs in training or in barracks were issued foot lockers for storage of personal items, and were stenciled with their name. Upright lockers were provided for temporary use like in a gym, or work area to change in and out of clothing before or after work.
In WWI I doubt they used them outside of officer facility since at the time the services were still pretty primitive. During that era fully 80% or more of the population still lived on family farms.