The march of progress that has made aluminum the replacement for tin in modern packaging is beginning to end a Berkshire tradition of some 25 years.
At that time, John G. Rose, retired owner of Jack Rose Inc., an appliance store at 82 West St., estimates that more than 200 tons of foil was collected from this area for the benefit of the Shriners Hospital for Handicapped Children. in Springfield.
The metal, brought in by children, factory workers, nurses and fraternal groups, was trucked to a foundry in West Springfield, and the proceeds went directly to the hospital, one of 17 operated by the Shriners in the United States, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. Springfield Hospital in New England has treated 318 children from Berkshire County and surrounding areas, by Mr Rose’s tally, since the tinfoil campaign gave it prominence here.
But the latest truckload of tinfoil, sent out last spring, cost $35 to ship and brought the hospital in just $19. Aluminum, which replaces tin in cigarette and other packaging largely because it is cheaper, was found to predominate in the filler. Good tin, Mr. Rose estimates, fetches about $160 a ton. Aluminum is almost worthless, he says.
Separating the tin from the aluminum when the foil is brought in is a considerable chore. Mr. Rose can make the difference. But remembering the loyalty of his contributors for many years, he hates to refuse an offer. For example, the third floor of his store contains a large inventory of aluminum foil, 95% of which he claims is aluminum. Most of the foils brought in over the years, Mr. Rose recalls, came directly in individual packets or paper bags. A resident of Buffalo for years sent an annual package, which is not worth more than postage. And a woman would often drive 30 to 40 miles to pick up a packet of foil.
The idea for the collections first emerged during a lunchtime conversation between Mr. Rose and George Hendy, former chairman of the Springfield Hospital board. Mr. Rose, a founding member of the Berkshire Shrine Club and former director of the hospital, researched the idea and then launched the campaign, which has been widely emulated by other Shrine groups.
This story within a story is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.