1925 Jack and Kitty
Another year begins for the Shop. The Kavanaghs hope it is more of a typical year. It starts in a typical fashion. They have a few candy and ice cream kettles to repair and replace. The confectionery work has been a regular part of their winter schedule for years. Something they can usually rely on in the cold months. Jack Hart is back in jail. After being on the lam for the greater part of last year, the Shop does not have to worry about police searches to find him. Kitty, Jack’s wife is in New York. She continues to return to Baltimore to visit Jack once a month. A Saturday visit that she never misses. She clings to the idea that they will be re-united some day and be happy. Jack is serving a life sentence for murder.
The crew works on a few cooking kettles and a brass railing as they listen to Calvin Coolidge’s inauguration on the Shop’s radio. Joe moved the radio from the office and placed it in the Shop proper. All of them pause and listen. This is the first inauguration broadcast by radio. For the first time, Americans, as a group, hear the president-elect sworn in. The Kavanaghs and crew listen attentively and hang on every word. Afterward, there is some brief chat about it but Joe is quick to get everyone back to work.
Kitty visits Joe and his wife, Johanna for a Saturday evening dinner. She has been to see Jack on her monthly visit. She will stay until tomorrow with her sister, Regina. Joe and Kitty play the piano and sing. Joe’s daughter Anna nearly 18, plays as well. They take turns singing and playing some old Irish songs. Johanna makes a ham dinner. The night is a good time and Joe is taken back many years ago when he taught Kitty to play the piano. Long before all this trouble with Jack Hart. After dinner when Anna has gone to bed, Joe and Johanna speak with Kitty about Jack. She updates them that Jack is on his best behavior now and she hopes he makes parole some time soon. Joe chides her a bit and assures her that this will not happen anytime soon. Jack escaped. He’s tried to do so several times. He won’t be making parole. Kitty shakes her head and says that the warden has treated her husband awfully. When he escaped, he just felt he had to get out of there. Kitty truly loves Jack and he her. Their love affair and marriage was a wild one. Traveling around the country to begin. Visiting her father in Chicago. Spending time in New York. They settled in Baltimore and before long Jack is knee deep in illegal activities. Not the least of which was the bootlegging Joe and the Shop did with him. Now he is back in jail for murder having escaped the prior year. Joe listens as Kitty professes and pronounces her love for Jack over and over. Her dream of them being together soon. Joe knows it is genuine. He tries futilely to temper her dream but to no avail. Kitty leaves Collington Avenue. Joe discusses the whole matter with Jo. They both agree that Jack and Kitty have a strong love between them. Strangely enough it seem to bring more trouble than comfort.
Eddie and his cousin James Woods lead a group of workers on a beer vat replacement at National Brewery. The vat has been fabricated over the last week. A large sheet of copper is heated then hammered into a bowl shape. Several men stand under the sheet with large wooden mallets while two more tap and shape the sheet with smithing hammers. Slowly the vat takes shape. Fittings and valves are also made. Today the installation will take 8 men. The vat is hauled in the Shop’s Mack truck to the brewery. With not much more than brute strength, it is carried into the building. The crew goes about setting and balancing the vat. It still needs to be connected to the beer brewing system but that will wait for the next day. The rest of the crew are occupied with some cooking vessels and making more stock valves. It has been a good start to the year for the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Joe and James breath a bit of a sigh of relief. The last few years have been trying ones.
It is a busy hot summer Wednesday. The Shop’s men are making a steam ship smoke stack. More copper sheet to heat and curve. There is some brass work as well. A rush of steamer work from the Philadelphia Navy Shipyard hit in June. It has kept the place busy. They have even been working every other Saturday. A welcome change for both the Shop and its employees. Saturday work means more money for everyone. They hesitate to commit to six days every week. As much as Joe and James want the work finished as quick as possible, they do not want to work themselves out of a job. They do not want to work extra hours to be slow the following week. Every other Saturday seems to be working well.
Joe receives a call Saturday afternoon from Kitty. She is irate and very upset. She is in Baltimore to visit Jack, of course. She tells Joe that she was not allowed to see her husband today. His visitation rights have been suspended. They claim to have found some tools in his cell. They think he was planning another escape. This was not the case at all according to Kitty. They just want to keep punishing Jack for his mistakes. Joe listens but his mind is racing back to last year. He can only pray that Jack doesn’t get out again. Kitty goes on about the injustice of it all. How she traveled to Baltimore. The authorities should have notified her of this suspension. She will do all she can to get this changed. This warden and the MD Pen will not keep her and Jack apart. Joe says very little but for asking her what she is going to do. She is returning to New York tomorrow but will be back no matter what next month. She will make them let her see Jack. She also apologizes because she can not visit Joe tonight. She’s tired and spending a quiet evening with Regina. Joe is rather relieved at this as he hangs up the phone.
A warm Fall day is spent making parts for a large boiler. E. J. Codd Fabricators is the customer. They have been doing business with the Shop for a number of years now. The boiler is for a municipal building and it is a complicated system. Liners must be made and stiffeners to support the tank. A variety of fittings, valves and gauges are needed. This is a good job with several weeks of work for the Shop. In addition, several fellows are curving a brass railing for a church. An ornamental piece that must be cleaned and polished to a near mirror-finish when completed. The crew are busy and the Kavanaghs are happy to have maintained a good amount of jobs so far this year.
The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Washington Senators in seven games to win the World Series. Pittsburgh becomes the first team to come back from a 3-1 deficit and win a 7 game series. It is a rain plagued series with quite a few delays. Game 7 is played in a steady downpour. Senator’s Shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh, the AL MVP this year, commits 8 errors in the Series. A record that still stands. Two were in game 7 to allow 4 unearned runs to score. Both errors could have been attributed to the horrible playing conditions. The defensive miscues contribute to Walter Johnson losing game 7 despite pitching two gems prior to that. Game 1 and 4. Both of which he wins. Senators’ outfielder Goose Goslin claims the winning hit was a foul ball. He says the umpires couldn’t see it through the rain. This is just one of several controversial plays. In game 3, Senators’ OF Sam Rice makes a catch after leaping into the grandstand. He was in the crowd for a few seconds then returns with the ball. Some say a fan stuck the ball in his glove. Rice is dogged throughout the rest of his career with questions about this play. He always replies, if the umpire says I caught it, I caught it. He even leaves a sealed envelope at the Hall of Fame to be opened upon his death. Once opened, it says, “I never lost possession of the ball.” It is certainly an interesting World Series. The Shop’s crew go over each game nearly each play in discussion. Baseball is a welcome distraction at work. In the summer months, it certainly helps the day to pass. The traditional debate of who is best, Cobb or Ruth continues. This year Joe’s man Ty Cobb is back on top with a .378 batting average. His son, Eddie must concede that this year is Cobb’s year. Babe Ruth struggles with injury and some stomach ailments this season. He bats a meager .290 after winning the title the previous year. Joe takes quite a bit of satisfaction from the debate this year. Even he knows that Cobb is close to the end of his illustrious career. Joe figures to enjoy it while he can.
Eddie attends a meeting of Coppersmith Local#80. He stands outside smoking a cigarette greeting the members. Once all are inside, he replaces the cigarette with a stick of Double Mint Gum and enters. As General Secretary, he helps lead the group in discussion of wages, conditions and the volume of work. He has good news from the Shop. They are busy and working every other Saturday. They are not in a position to hire on any more men but this is still good news to the union rank and file. More work and more money for their brothers is a good thing. Afterward, Eddie cruises home on his Indian motorcycle though the chilly night.
The annual Christmas Eve Party is held at the Shop on the corner of Pratt and Central. Kavanaghs, workers, customers and vendors eat, drink and sing. They mingle through the always dirty Shop. The wooden floors are caked in oil and grime. The crew do a clean up but it’s still a metal shop. Tables are laid out and filled with food. A keg of “near beer” is tapped. A Christmas tree has been hastily stood and decorated. Purchased and picked up by Leo and Eddie in the Shop’s truck as it is every year. Kitty is in Baltimore for the holiday. She attends this party and regales the family again on how poorly Jack Hart is treated. How she loves him and always will and how some day, they will be together again. Most of the family knows how deeply she loves him but they all wish she would find some way to move on. They have no doubt that Jack feels the same way. Still, he is bad news for Kitty. They hope as time goes by that she will find some way of accepting the situation. The visits are fine but when they are predicated on this idea that it will lead to a beautiful re-union and a life together, they are a false hope. They give Kitty a very unrealistic dream of her future. The Kavanaghs listen to her and consul her as best as they can but it seems pointless. Theirs is indeed a true love but that is not always enough. Certainly, not in this case. The party kicks into high gear. Joe sings leading them all in Christmas songs and the place is filled with mirth and holiday warmth. They have had a good year. No bootlegging. Nothing illegal. Prohibition is still the law of the land but they have had a good year. The Kavanaghs finally feel that the Shop can continue and be successful without the distilling industry. Joe has found work and new customers. They have found a way to make it work. It is just one year but it was a good one. They will see what the winter brings and hope for the best. Just as Old Uncle Joe did so many many times.
Calvin Coolidge is the President of the United States. Nellie Ross and Miriam Ferguson become the first female governors in the U.S. Governing Wyoming and Texas respectively. The magazine, the New Yorker, and the novel, the Great Gatsby, are first published. The Scopes Trial is held in Tennessee. The Chrysler Corporation is founded. Charles Jenkins performs the first successful radio broadcast of moving pictures. Referred to as “Radio Vision”. The Grand Ole Opry radio program is broadcast for the first time as the WSM Barn Dance. The first motel opens in California. Paul Newman, Yogi Berra, Malcolm X, B.B. King and Johnny Carson are born.