1909 The Phoenix from the Flames

January 4

It has been a tough winter so far. Martin still has the largest amount of the confectionery work, but Joe has managed to scrape some into the new Shop. Frank and Mr. Carey(a helper) work on some candy pans today while James and Mr. Aumen(a helper) begin fabrication of a jacket kettle/cooker. As always, sheets are curved then soldered together to the bottom of the kettle. A top is made and the interior of the entire thing is tinned.

January 8

Frank’s son William Christian dies. The toddler has had the flu for a week and it is too much for the small boy. Frank and Gussie grieve deeply. The Kavanaghs gather to support them, but it is cold comfort after losing their first born so very young. A sudden and horrible tragedy for them all.

February 12

A snowy cold week ends on this Friday. The work has bumped up a little bit, but the new Shop is still struggling. Joe makes calls and searches for anything he can find. Today most of the crew work on a fountain while Frank is visiting Brehm’s Brewery for some repairs. Seams to be soldered and some fittings to be replaced. The fountain is a circle made from hollow copper tube. The tube is perforated to allow the water to spray out of it. They made the tube including holes then curve them into the desired diameter. Certainly, one of their standard old coppersmith jobs.

March 15

Joe’s Shop has made it through the winter and they receive a still job. They are to build and install the unit for Bonita Distilling. They are one of Martin’s customers so Joe is curious what happened. Martin’s shop is in disarray. He has lost some workers due to cash flow problems. Joe, James and Frank do not know any of this, but they are happy for the work. They set about making the 150 gallon still and the associated parts. Something they have a lot of experience doing.

Bonita Distilling job. March 1909.

May 18

As the weather gets warmer, the work starts to come in faster. Several of the candy and ice cream companies order some kettles and some repairs. Joe asks them about the other shop. For the most part, the customers were not satisfied with the work done by Martin’s crew. The turnaround for some was too long and those that placed orders found the jobs taking longer than promised. The Kavanagh brothers are heartened by this. That’s not to say they were hoping for bad things for Martin, but their fledgling company is their main concern. They must worry for their own future above all others. They work on jacket kettles and coolers. Whatever is needed with the hope that if they perform well, they will receive more of this work in the future.

June 2

Leo and Eddie return to the Shop for the Summer. They get right into the swing of things by helping their Uncle James and Uncle Frank fabricating some brewery parts for Globe Brewing. After the pieces are made, they will be installed tomorrow. James, Leo and Eddie doing much of the installation while Frank solders seams in several leaky beer vats. Joe’s daughter Alice is ill. Dr. Pierre Dautch, their family doctor, is called. She is sick to her stomach. Sometimes she is violently ill. He prescribes buttermilk and some adjustments to her diet. He assumes she will be better in short order.

July 7

Joe receives a call from a steamship company. The new Shop has not seen any of the boat work yet. Today they receive an order for a new stack and a new ballast pump chamber. This is good work and it keeps them rolling along. Both of Joe’s sons get the opportunity to work on the ship parts. A good experience and practice for them. The business is doing better partly due to the problems at Martin’s shop. However, Joe’s daughter Alice is getting worse. Joe and Jo are worried. She is unable to eat or keep anything down. They pray and hope for her.

August 6

Joe reads a story in the Sun. Martin has declared bankruptcy. His creditors include the Second National Bank, Clendenin Brothers and an Edward Dawson. Joe informs his brothers of this and they are all rather stunned. They knew their older brother was having issues, but had no idea of the scope of the problems. Each of them in turn wonders what happened to Martin’s money. He inherited $ 25,000 less than five years ago and it is gone. They are perplexed. Joe knows what he has to do. He gets on the phone and starts calling every one of the old Shop’s customers. Joe knows he has to strike while the iron is hot.

August 19

Alice dies from an infection of the small intestine. Something that would be easily dealt with today, but at the time, as in this case, could be deadly. She was thirteen years old. The family is devastated. They seek comfort from each other and from their faith. Johanna is inconsolable while Joe seems to take it a little better. That is the appearance, but he is actually rocked by this loss. His heart and his demeanor are hardened.

September 25

A warm fall Saturday is spent at the Shop. Joe’s boys are back at school. For Leo, this will be his last year and Eddie has two more. Joe and his two brothers are suddenly busy. Joe has made contacts with a few of the old Shop’s customers and work is coming in. They have several large commercial cookers to make and a large brass railing. In addition, there are several orders for small distilling parts, pans and fittings. They finally have a little backlog. This bodes well for the future though winter is coming on soon.

October 16

The Pirates beat the Tigers in seven games to win the World Series. Honus Wagner is the star along with Pirates rookie pitcher, Babe Adams. Adams wins three games in the Series. A record for rookies that still stands. The Kavanaghs, no doubt, followed closely in the newspaper. They are all fans especially Joe.

November 9

The Union Soldiers and Sailors Monument is dedicated in Druid Hill Park in Baltimore. The Shop’s crew are working on another still for Gwynnbrook Distilling. This time the customer didn’t bother calling Martin. They contacted Joe. The work was quoted and ordered. Joe and his brothers consider hiring more men. They decide to wait until the Spring. They will work more hours and harder if needs be. They do not want to commit to any more employees just now. The volume of work keeps moving up and up. Martin’s situation has caused a large portion of his customers to become Joe’s customers. They will wait and see for now.

Gwynnbrook Distillery job. November 1909.

December 25

A muted Christmas holiday. Sorrowful with no song in the Kavanaghs’ homes. In fact, Joe will never sing on the Lombard Street bridge ever again. He was a man who showed little emotion. A stoic who internalized his feelings. Joe and Jo deal with their loss by focusing on their remaining three children. Joe vows to make the Shop succeed for Leo, Eddie and Anna. He will do all he can to assure that they have a good future with an established business. With Martin’s company on the brink of collapse, Joe will continue to seek out all the old Shop’s customers. He will bring them all back into the fold. He has led them this far, he has dealt with adversity in business, he has done all he can for his family and his Shop and now he has felt great devastating loss. Just as his uncle did. The Joseph Kavanagh Company will rise up from the ashes of fire, disputes, mistakes and death. The Phoenix from the Flames indeed. The Kavanagh brothers know that they are close to success and a future on Central Avenue. The Shop will survive and continue on as Old Uncle Joe wanted. Nephew Joe, the song and dance man/traveling minstrel/non-smith but deal maker, is the one and only Joe Kavanagh now. He knows this and he will suffer no others.

Howard Taft is sworn in as the 27th President of the United States. The NAACP is founded. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway holds its first event. Sigmund Freud gives his only lectures in the U. S. at Clark University, Worcester, Mass. The Manhattan Bridge opens. Clyde Barrow, Benny Goodman, Burl Ives, Leo Fender and Al Capp are born.

There are 46 states in the Union.

Martin Kavanagh declares bankruptcy. Baltimore Sun. August 6, 1909.


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