1913 The First Ride

January 13

This would have been Old Uncle Joe’s 77th birthday. The three remaining nephews, Joe(46), James(36) and Frank(29) carry on his legacy. The day before they bring their families together for Sunday dinner with their mother, Katherine(69) and to remember their uncle. Joe’s wife, Johanna(40) and their three children are there, Leo(20), Eddie(19) and Anna(6). James’ wife Hanorah(31), their sons Guy(9) and James Jr.(5) and Frank’s wife Gussie(27) and their son Charles(2) are there, as well. They eat ham and potatoes and tell stories of their uncle who started it all. His skills, his words, his faith and his great love of family. He had no children that survived, but these men know he was more than uncle to them. He was mentor/teacher/friend and leader. They mean to keep his dream alive. To work together. To provide for their families. To keep Joe’s Kavanagh tradition alive.

February 3

The Shop has started the year very well. There are confectioner’s kettles to be made and a good bit of boiler work. The candy and ice cream companies are the Shop’s standard fare in the winter. The boiler work is from E. J. Codd, one of their oldest customers. Codd is fabricating a large boiler and there a lot of small brass parts to go into it. The Kavanaghs and crew divide up the work and get busy. James Woods and Mr. Fairbanks attend to the brass parts while Frank, James, Eddie and Leo work on the kettles. Each of those Kavanaghs has a helper and everyone is busy. It is the kind of winter that would make Old Uncle Joe very happy.

March 7

The British freighter Alum Chine explodes in Baltimore Harbor. The ship was loaded with 300 tons of dynamite. The explosion is massive and shakes the nearby ground. A fire alarm goes off and firefighters and equipment hasten to the scene. The word spreads quickly and the Kavanaghs are shocked to hear of it. All thought of the jacket kettles they are making disappears in a moment. It was less than 10 years ago that the City burned, so a fire of this magnitude sends much of the citizenry into a near panic. This includes the crew of the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Fortunately, the fire is quelled and there is little to no damage to the City. It serves as a stark reminder to Baltimore of what happened not so long ago.

May 7

The volume of work stays at a high level. They work Saturdays and extra hours to keep up. This is a good thing. Still, the brothers know they can not burn out their crew. Joe, James and Frank decide to hire two more helpers. Today they are making some more beer vats and drip pans. This time for Bauernschmidt’s Brewery. The vats are made by heating copper sheet until it is softened(annealed). Then, they are hammered and shaped. A brass hammer is used on top while a large wooden mallet is held underneath. After the shape is achieved, finishing hammers are used to smooth it out. Tap by tap. A slow process, but something they are good at. The drip pans are simpler. Just anneal some copper sheet and fold or bend it over to make a rectangular pan. This job alone ties the Shop up for over a week.

Wooden mallet used for shaping copper sheet into large vats, pots & kettles

June 16

A hot busy day at the Shop. Their usual steam ship work has arrived. Added to the kettles they are always making, it keeps them busy. They keep working Saturdays, but only a half-day. Eddie tells his uncle and the rest of the crew of an amazing young local baseball player. Eddie saw him play over the weekend. A pitcher who can really hit too. He is from St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, but is now playing for different City teams on the weekends. In those days, there were neighborhood teams, and work teams and a variety of club teams throughout Baltimore. The Kavanaghs have always been baseball fans. Eddie is no different. In fact, at times it seems baseball, music and the Shop are the only things that Eddie and his father agree on. Eddie goes on and on about this young left-handed slugging pitcher. His name is George Ruth.

August 9

After work on this Saturday, Joe and his sons Leo and Eddie attend a Baltimore Orioles game. Major League Baseball has moved on from Baltimore, but there is a minor league team in the City now. The International League Orioles play at the same Oriole Park/ American League Park that the old Orioles did. It is a minor league team, but it is still baseball. Joe and his boys have a good time though the Orioles lose to the Buffalo Bisons. Joe tells tales of Wee Willie Keeler and John McGraw. How those old Orioles were so good and played so hard. They were tough and were not afraid of some physical contact in the games. The boys, on this rare occasion, are a captive audience. They watch the game and listen to their father speak of the “glory days” of Baltimore baseball.

October 10

Joe Kavanagh finally gets his wish. He takes this Friday off from the Shop. He rides an early train To Philadelphia to attend a World Series game at Schibe Park. He wishes to see his old acquaintance, Connie Mack. Mr. Mack is the manager of the A’s and is too busy to socialize. Joe is disappointed but not much as the A’s defeat the Giants in this game 6-5. He takes the train home and gives a vivid detailed description of the game to the rest of the Shop’s crew the next day. Later that afternoon the Philadelphia A’s win the deciding game 3- 1. The A’s are World Series Champions again.

November 5

Just before his 20th birthday, Eddie applies for and receives a motorcycle license. He has wanted a bike for several years. Without consulting his parents, he buys a “Flying Merkel”. It costs him over $ 300.00 He has been saving for some time. He lives at home so his expenses are not too bad. He buys the bike knowing that his parents will not be thrilled. Joe is rather dubious of automobiles, but in particular motorcycles. The price tag also bothers Joe who was always rather frugal. He is upset with Eddie, but this is nothing compared to Johanna. She is sure Eddie will be killed on this bike. Eddie assures them this is a very safe model and he will abide by all rules and laws. He promises he will be safe. Joe accepts it and chalks it up to the second son being the most troublesome. Johanna reminds Joe that he was a second son so perhaps he is right. She begins saying a nightly prayer for Eddie and his Merkel.

Eddie Kavanagh’s motorcycle license. November 5, 1913.

November 19

Another busy day for the crew of the Shop. Frank, Eddie and a helper are at National Brewery doing some repairs. They fix leaky seams, replace some fittings and re-shape some vats that have been damaged. Careful hammering and tapping is all it takes. At the Shop, a brass railing is being bent and fabricated for a local school. James and Leo are at Monticello Distilling taking some measurements for another repair. Some columns of the stills need to be brazed and some need to be replaced. It will be an extensive fix once the job is quoted and they are given the go-ahead to proceed.

December 24

The Shop holds a Christmas party at 201 S. Central Avenue. Over time, this event will become a tradition. A large gathering of Kavanaghs and their families and their customers. The brothers, their wives and children are all in attendance. They are joined by several of their brother Martin’s daughters, Kitty and Regina. In addition, their employees are there and customers show up through the afternoon and into the early evening. It is a fun holiday affair full of food, drink and song. Christmas songs and Irish classics are sung. The three brothers join together to sing “O Holy Night” once again. They have much to celebrate. Things are going well with the business and the family. They have moved on from the craziness that was Martin. They are established now at Pratt and Central. Their young workers are learning and developing their skills especially Leo and Eddie. Both have come a long way in a short time. The Shop has a bevy of customers and seems to have settled down to a reliable level of work. They can only hope for more of the same. They face the winter with very little uncertainty. Joe has made a point of scheduling work that they can count on through the cold months. The Shop was able to begin re-paying the loan from Johanna. She is glad of that, but still not happy about Eddie tooling around on his “Flying Merkel”. Eddie spends a great deal of time at the party trying to convince his uncles to invest in a truck for the Shop. Automobiles are not the way of the future anymore. They are the present. A horse drawn cart is archaic in his eyes. The uncles will give it some thought. Even Joe seems to have softened his skepticism about these vehicles. They will see what the new year brings, as always.



Woodrow Wilson begins his term as the 28th President of the United States. The 16th amendment to the Constitution is passed allowing for Federal Income Tax to be levied. Basic construction on the Panama Canal is finished. The first automobile highway is completed and named “Lincoln Highway”. The first crossword puzzle is published in NY World. The Federal Reserve is created. R. J. Reynolds produces the first packaged cigarette, a Camel. The National Temperance Council is founded. Richard Nixon, Rosa Parks, Jimmy Hoffa, Vince Lombardi and Burt Lancaster are born. Harriet Tubman and J. P. Morgan die.

Reverse side of Eddie’s motorcycle license.

There are 48 states in the Union.



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