1915 The First Truck

1915 The First Truck

January 17

It is a chilly Sunday evening. Eddie and Anna Hartman double date with Leo and Mayme Smith. Mayme is Leo’s girl. The four have gotten to be pretty close. They attend the St. Leo’s Club Annual Dinner and Dance. The brothers are both members. Eddie has been seeing Anna for the last several months. It is about the same for Leo and Mayme. A pretty big crowd attends and a good time had by all. The Shop is off to a hot start for January. Joe has been bringing work in at a quick pace. More confectionery kettles to be made and repaired this month. Several weeks of repairs for Horsey Distilling. The usual drip pans and a replacement condenser. Fittings and valves are replaced throughout the system. They are always making these for stock as well. The hours are piling up. James and Frank tell Joe they need more help. Several of their “helpers” have progressed to being apprentices. This helps with the volume of copper work they have, but now they need more laborers. Joe agrees and they decide to hire four young men. The Shop’s crew reaches 20.

Notice in the Baltimore Sun. St. Leo’s Dinner & Dance. January 17. 1915.

March 2

Today finds Frank, Eddie and four helpers working on a storage tank for Gwynnbrook Distilling. The tank was fabricated in the Shop then dis-assembled. Now, they are putting it all back together on site and attaching the appropriate valves and apparatus. They will spend the better part of this week there to finish the installation. They load into the cart each morning and reach the distillery by 9. Returning at 4 p.m. for closing time They piece the tank together in two days and spend the next two sealing it and attaching it to the full distilling system. The rest of the crew are working on some general copper work. Some large commercial cooking jackets and a small residential fountain. The copper is heated, turned and curved. Perforated sheets rolled into tubes for the fountain. Whatever is required to achieve the shapes they need. Spring is coming on just as winter has been. Busy.

May 7

This Friday is spent building a replacement continuous still for Baltimore Distilling. It needs to be finished today so Joe puts his best men on it. Frank and Eddie leading the team with five helpers . In addition, James Woods and several fellows are at White Brewery for some repairs. They are fixing some seams and installing some freshly made drip pans. During lunch, the talk of the Shop is that Babe Ruth hit his first major league home run yesterday off of Yankees hurler, Jack Warhop. The Yankees winning the game nonetheless. Ruth went 3 for 5. Eddie again predicts big things for this young local kid. He doesn’t mention that Ruth also committed an error in the game. Joe and the older Kavanaghs again say they look forward to what the Babe will do, but he has a long way to go and a lot to prove.

May 8

Saturday starts at 7:30 am for the Kavanaghs. First thing this morning, Joe drops the newspaper in Eddie’s lap. Opened to box score of yesterday’s Tigers vs. St. Louis Browns game. Joe recounts it before Eddie can take a look. Ty Cobb went 3 for 4. He drove in two and scored two. He also stole two bases. Coincidentally, Joe doesn’t mention Cobb’s error either. Joe makes his point that this is a better day across the board than Ruth’s. It’s a better day for the team and, at least the Tigers won their game. Eddie replies that Ruth will have his days. He is still young. This conversation continues until the rest of the workers arrive and they all get to work. Thus begins a regular Cobb vs. Ruth debate between Joe and his son, Eddie. It will only get worse as Ruth’s accomplishments and stardom rise while Cobb’s diminish. Apart from talking baseball, the crew are fabricating some beer vats. One for Globe Brewery and one for Gunther’s Brewery. They must make the vats and all the attachments by Monday. Joe has promised they will be installed by the end of next week. As always, James and Leo did the engineering and drawings when the order was placed. Today they start building them. It will be a long Saturday at the Shop. After work, the Kavanaghs learn of the sinking of the Lusitania by a German U-Boat the day before. She was on her way to New York from Britain. Nearly 1200 people die. In the next few days, attitudes toward that “far away” war in Europe begin to change a bit. Even the Kavanaghs who were strongly against involvement in this conflict begin to rethink things. The U. S. protests and Germany promises to limit its naval activities to military vessels. A promise they will have trouble keeping.

June 10

The steam ship work arrives to an already swamped Shop. They are as busy as they have been in years. Joe is the one to bring up hiring more men this time. His brothers quickly agree and five helpers are hired within days. The crew are making ballast pump chambers for the ships and the usual brass work that goes with it. They have a backlog of stills to be made and installed over the next several months. Eddie has two boys with him at Brehm’s Brewery for some repairs. Twenty-five men now work for the Joseph Kavanagh Company. All busy and working hard. William Jennings Bryant, the Secretary of State resigns over U. S. handling of the sinking of the Lusitania. This is discussed intently over lunch. Frank is the first to speak up that the U. S. needs to get involved. That our ships will not be safe at sea as long as this war goes on. The rest of the family and crew are not convinced. They are angry about the sinking of the Lusitania, but still not angry enough to want to jump into this war. None are upset about Bryant resigning. Most of them voted against him at least once when he ran for President in the past.

August 15

It is a sunny warm Sunday. After church, Eddie takes Anna Hartman to her first ballgame. The International League Orioles. They ride to the game on Eddie’s motorcycle. Anna holding tight on the back while Eddie cruises through the City on his orange Merkel chewing on a stick of Double Mint Gum. They are keeping quite a bit of company now. Eddie explains the game to Anna. She allows him to do so although she already knows a fair bit about baseball. Her father and cousins are all fans. After the game is over, they have dinner at Joe and Johanna’s on Bond Street. They have a very nice meal and visit. They talk baseball and the family. Eddie brings up the need for a truck again. He tries to convince his father that the horse and cart has to go. A truck is faster, can haul more and costs less over the long run. Joe has privately approached both his brothers about this very thing. With a truck, they will be able to get to and from installs faster. They will be able to respond quicker to customer’s needs and haul more parts easier. The work is there to justify it. They seem to be getting busier and busier. Even with the added help, they are still working six days a week. Joe tells his son that he will think about it.

September 1

The Shop purchases its first automobile. A 1915 new Mack AB Truck with the words Joseph Kavanagh Co. Coppersmiths printed on the side. The bed is open with a rack that can be covered by a tarp. Eddie is very excited about it. Joe is still skeptical, but agrees that this is the way to go. It will be more efficient and more economical. Joe takes Eddie along with him for the purchase. The Shop remains backed up with a great deal of jobs. They have the right combination of customers now. They have a repair at either a distillery or a brewery just about every day. In the Shop proper, they are always prepping for the installs and repairs. They have regular orders for cooking kettles and brass work. Plus, the occasional fountain or railing and the boiler work they do. All these combined are keeping the Shop very busy.

The Shop’s first truck. 1915 Mack AB. Parked at 201 S. Central Ave. Eddie Kavanagh in driver’s seat. Leo Kavanagh in passenger seat.

October 13

The Boston Red Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4 games to 1 to win the World Series. Young Babe Ruth doesn’t pitch in the series. The Red Sox are just too stacked with talent and it only took five games. Ruth’s only appearance is one pinch hit. President Wilson becomes the first president to attend a World Series when he arrives for game 2. Of course, the series is discussed at the Shop. Baseball, Baltimore and family talk keeps the day moving along. The work of a smith can at times be tedious like most jobs. It is a constant rhythm of work and labor. Anything to chat about that makes the time go faster is welcomed. Today a brass railing for a “fancy” home as Joe would call it is made. E. J. Codd has sent in a great deal of work for a large boiler system. With a lot of work and a lot to talk about, the day does not seem so bad. Driving home to Bond Street in the Shop’s truck, Eddie mentions that Ruth finished his first full season batting .315. That’s not too shabby. Joe agrees, but quickly mentions that Cobb won his ninth batting title in a row. Hitting a cool .369 while stealing 96 bases. Eddie never questions Cobb’s abilities or hitting prowess. He is just a Ruth fan.

December 24

A Christmas party at the Shop. The Kavanaghs, customers and employees celebrate the season. Eddie and Leo invite Anna and Mayme. They both get their first experience of visiting Pratt & Central. Most of the Kavanaghs are there except for Frank’s wife Gussie. She is ill with the flu. Frank attends with his boy Charles, but they leave early. The rest stay for a long jubilant celebration of the season. Joe holds court among the crowd. He sings some songs and tells stories. He brags to any customer he can find about their truck. It is the latest model and they took their time in choosing it. He tells them all that he wanted the best deal he could get. They will be quicker to respond to issues at any facility. This will make them even better. Eddie talks mostly to Anna and does his best to not listen to his father praise the truck he resisted buying for so long. It is Joe though. It is his way. His style. Eddie takes it in stride. The Joseph Kavanagh Company has finished off its best year since the old Lombard Street days. Their crew is getting bigger and they are staying consistently busy. They have had no gaps in work this year. The Kavanagh brothers have a very good crew and an excellent group of customers. They believe that things will just keep getting better. There is no doubt about any issues this winter. They have a lot of work on the books to fill the cold months. Things are going very well and they see no reason to think that will stop.



Woodrow Wilson is the President. The Rocky Mountain National Park and the Kiwanis Club are established. A proposal in the House of Representatives to give women the right to vote is rejected. Construction on the Lincoln Memorial begins. D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” is released. The first stop sign is erected in Detroit. WW1 continues as more countries choose sides and it becomes a slow war of attrition. The U. S. remains neutral. Muddy Waters, Billie Holiday, Orson Welles, Arthur Miller and Frank Sinatra are born. Booker T. Washington and Frank James die.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Part of the Shop’s crew. Joe in suit & bowler. His sons Leo & Eddie also in group. 1915. Interior of the Shop. Picture taken from front corner of building at Pratt & Central facing east.


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