1881 The Shop Gets Bigger, Literally

January 13

Joe celebrates his 45th birthday after work. His first birthday as a married man. The house on Albemarle Street is filled with song as the children take turns on the piano. The younger Joe singing several solos. He sings well having done so in church and at any other opportunity. He’s developed a strong love of music. The Kavanaghs eat and drink together. Sharing their joy. Joe looks around at his always expanding family and smiles to think how far they’ve come. A mother and her children on a ship from far away. It seems so long ago yet still close in his mind.

March 14

Another work week begins. The year so far has been a busy one. With the weather breaking in spring, the Shop’s volume of work increases still. This day is full of emergency repair work for a visiting steamship. Baltimore is a busy town with steamship traffic becoming more and more common. Joe allows Martin and his crew to tackle this job. Joe’s grown quite fond of Martin. He’s a talented coppersmith for his young age. Joe knows he must give Martin more freedom to run a complete job from start to finish. It’s difficult. Joe is accustomed to overseeing or doing any and all work. With such a crew and so much work, Joe has no choice. In addition, he knows the best way for Martin to learn to run a job is to do it. The ship is repaired. Job finished.

May 4

The Shop workers are busy today on several stills. The heat of blow-pipes and the sound of hammers is relentless. That’s the nature of their work. It’s a constant. Heat and hammering. Sometimes you do not notice either of them. You do your job and the rest is background. Of course, some days the heat is oppressive and the hammering deafening no matter what you do. Today it’s white noise. They pound out the work. The stills are both large commercial vessels. Three men on each one while others attend to smaller duties. One day in many, but a productive one.

July 2

President James A. Garfield is assassinated. He’s shot by Charles Guiteau in Washington, DC at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station. He survives but is gravely wounded.

July 22

A sweltering humid day in the Shop. Torches are lit when the place is steaming hot already. Joe receives a visit from a gentleman representing a patent medicine company. They produce and sell tonics and such for a variety of medicinal purposes. Joe listens wearily until the fellow informs him that one of the ingredients in their products is alcohol. They have a need for a small still for their facility. Joe’s reputation in the distilling industry seems to have been noticed by these folks. Joe tells him he will visit them tomorrow, Saturday. Discuss and measure the space then give them a price. Joe is slightly amused and rather curious as his visitor leaves.

August 2

The Shop is hired to make its first still for the patent medicine industry. Very popular at the time. Potions and elixirs for coughs, aches, pains, insomnia and anything else. The still is smaller than the whiskey stills, so it will be a quicker build and a quicker install. Joe’s pleased to get the job, but still skeptical that this is a serious market for his work and skills.

September 12

The beat goes on for the Shop. Joe is amazed at how things are going. He watches these eight young men laboring for him. He sees them crammed in this small building. Supplies and equipment in addition to personel have made for a tight squeeze in his space. He wanders behind his building and thinks. He decides to purchase the back lot behind 708 E. Lombard Street. Essentially, this could double his work area.

October 13

The purchase of the property is finalized. Joe builds a small porch extending out from the back of his building. The workers are excited, as well. No more standing in each other’s way. No more feeling the heat from someone else’s torch plus your own. Supplies, tools and parts are stored in the building proper. Work is done both in and out of the Shop on Lombard Street now. Depending on the weather, the preferred space can be either inside or outside. Joe is feeling very proud. Steady, constant work, a bigger Shop, a bigger crew. He has put himself in a position to succeed and to continue to grow.

December 20

A very good year for the Shop and Joe Kavanagh is coming to an end. The holidays are upon Baltimore. The Kavanagh children and adults alike look forward to the welcome break from work and every day life. Joe enjoys a quiet meal with his mother and his wife. After dinner, Mary tells Joe she is pregnant. Joe is going to be a father. They are going to have a family. He’s, again, happier than he’s ever been and happier than he ever thought he could be.





President Garfield dies from his assassin’s wound on September 19. Chester A. Arthur becomes the 21st President of the United States. Kansas becomes the first state to ban all alcoholic beverages. The Red Cross is founded by Clara Barton. Billy the Kid is shot dead by Pat Garrett. The Gunfight at the OK Corral is fought. Cecil B. DeMille and William Boeing are born.

There remain 38 states in the Union.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s