1928 The Visitation

January 2

The first Monday of the New Year is a bitter cold one. The crew are thrilled to get the torches lit and the annealing oven hot. Anything to get some warmth into the Pratt and Central building. The Kavanagh’s and their workers attend to their usual candy and ice cream kettles. The Shop once again is full of replacements and repairs for their confectionery customers. These cold days are tough to work through but over the years, you get very accustomed to never getting accustomed to it.

February 11

Anna Kavanagh visits the Visitation convent in Roland Park. She meets with the sisters and informs them of her decision to join them. She must spend a year living a cloistered life as they do before she can take her final vows. Her parents, Joe and Jo are saddened. They feel a certain pride as they are very devout Roman Catholics but that is tempered by the reality of not seeing their daughter very often. The cloistered life is one of service and devotion to the Church. The Sisters and their families have limited opportunities to see each other and socialize. Still, it is Anna’s wish and her mother and father respect that.

February 25

On this Saturday, Joe and Johanna drive their daughter to The Visitation Convent at 5712 Roland Avenue where Anna will begin her first year of living the cloistered life of faith and service. The Visitation nuns are very devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Anna feels this same dedication already. Her parents escort her into the convent building and hug her goodbye. Johanna weeps but does her best to play it down for her daughter’s sake. Anna wants this life and her mother will not stand in the way, and neither will Joe. He will miss his daughter greatly. They have played piano together regularly, singing and loving their duets. Joe takes Johanna by the hand and they leave Anna to the trusted sisters of the Visitation. The drive home to Collington Avenue is a quiet and somber one.

Sr. Mary Agnes ( Anna Kavanagh ) on the Visitation convent grounds. 1971.

April 9

The Shop’s crew spends a busy day on some brewery repairs for Gunther’s: valves and fittings to make and replace as well as some seams on vats to repair. Part of the work is done on Central Avenue and some is finished on site. Eddie leads a crew of five men at the brewery. They do not encounter any unexpected problems or angry supervisors. No dancing is necessary this time.

May 12

On this Saturday, Joe and Johanna Kavanagh spend several hours at the Visitation convent with their daughter Anna. Visits are infrequent and they take advantage of the time together to discuss the family’s activities. They also speak of the commitment Anna is about to make. Her parents do not try to dissuade her but she knows they are not happy with her choice.

July 27

The Kavangh’s hold a brief meeting at the Shop after hours. Brothers Joe and James are there. Joe’s sons Leo and Eddie along with James’ son Guy are present. They discuss the upcoming execution of Charles “Country” Carey who was one of Jack Hart’s gang and accompanied Jack to the Shop on several whiskey runs. Carey was also part of Hart’s group that murdered William Norris in 1922 during a payroll robbery. Jack and the rest were all convicted of the robbery and murder of Norris but avoided the death penalty. All were sentenced to life terms in prison. Last year, Carey attempted to escape with another inmate, Benjamin Spragins Jr.. A prison clerk, Alfred Walker was shot and killed during the attempt. Neither Carey nor Spragins have revealed how they acquired a gun in the penitentiary and the escapees never made it out of prison. Both were sentenced to death for the murder of Walker. The story has been in the paper but without the deep coverage that Jack Hart always received, which is good news for the Shop and the family as they have no known association with Carey. There have been several appeals in support of Carey, one coming from another member of Jack’s gang, Walter “Noisy” Sokorow who claimed to have important information about the events. The governor was unswayed and so far, both men are to be hanged at the Penitentiary on August 3. The Kavanaghs hardly knew Carey but feel compelled to go over the events again. They knew “Country” just enough to feel the strangeness of knowing precisely when he will die.

August 3

Charles “Country” Carey and Benjamin Spragins Jr. are executed by hanging just after midnight at the Maryland Penitentiary.

August 4

The Shop is full of hammering on this mild summer Saturday. The crew work on some ballast pump chambers they are building for the Philadelphia Navy Shipyard. Joe sits in his small corner office and reads the Baltimore Sun account of the Carey and Spragins execution. According to the Coroner, it did not go well. Both men were left dangling and most likely were strangled to death. Joe can not imagine such a way to die. The same news story includes several opinions promoting the electric chair or lethal gas for executions as more humane ways to kill a man. Joe folds the paper and walks out to the Shop. He puffs on his pipe and watches sheet copper being pounded into a lid for one of the pump chambers. The Kavanagh’s close the Shop at noon and head home for the weekend.

September 11

The crew at Kavanagh’s are very busy today as the Shop is loaded with work. A large boiler replacement job has been brought in by E. J. Codd Co. In addition, they have two small ornamental railings to bend and several very large cooking vessels. The large jacket kettles are for a cafeteria in Baltimore City. Joe is thrilled at the volume of work and while chatting with the crew breaks into his celebratory jig. The boys clap their hands and get a few laughs out of the old vaudevillian’s dance. He chuckles as well but is quick to get them all back to work.

October 9

The New York Yankees sweep the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series. It is the first time any team has swept two series in a row. Ruth hits .625 in the four games and belts three homers in game four, the only man to achieve such a feat twice. Lou Gehrig hits four home runs and drives in nine in the series, a very lopsided affair as the Yanks outscore the Cards, 27-10 in the Fall Classic. The Kavanagh’s discuss each game and marvel at the incredible Yankee lineup. Joe and Eddie have their annual debate over Cobb and Ruth. In some fitting fashion, this one is perhaps a tie. Both players hit exactly .323 for the season though Ruth hit 54 home runs to Cobb’s one. Cobb was never one for the long ball. He was more of a singles and doubles hitter who got many of both. Ty Cobb’s career comes to an end this year. He made a public announcement to that effect just before the end of the season. His age and some small injuries limited him to 95 games played. Joe Kavanagh will miss cheering for him and following his statistics. At age 41, Cobb is too old for baseball. Joe will always considers Cobb the greatest baseball player of all time. Cobb set over 90 batting records during his playing days and his career batting average of .366 has never been approached in the modern game and never will be.

November 2

Meanwhile, a few miles from The Shop, on this Friday, Oliver Lawrence and Bernardine Crew welcome a baby daughter, Bernardine Elizabeth. Their second born child and only daughter is born at home at 1612 Guilford Avenue in Baltimore. Lawrence was a plumber’s helper and sometimes chauffeur. They don’t know the Kavanagh’s, but in twenty years the families will be bound together. The baby is called Betty. She grows to be the most compassionate and loving person I have ever known. She was wise, witty and as down-to-earth as anyone could be. She was my mother.

November 6

Herbert Hoover defeats Alfred E. Smith to win the presidency. Hoover wins by a large margin and the Republican Party retains the presidency. The Kavanagh’s voted for Smith. He was the first Roman Catholic to be nominated by a major party for the highest office. This alone probably delivered their votes to Mr. Smith though they were not fans of Calvin Coolidge either. Coolidge was not running but they assumed Hoover would govern in a similar fashion.

December 22

The Christmas Party at the Shop is held this Friday. In a flurry of tree-purchasing and decorating, 201. S. Central Avenue is ready for the holidays. Employees, Kavanagh’s and customers mingle. They eat, drink and sing to celebrate Christmas. Joe and Johanna’s daughter, Anna is at the convent and is unable to attend the party. Her absence is keenly felt by her parents. They will visit her on Sunday, Christmas Day. She has made her choice and will take her final vows next year. The Shop has had another good year. They have managed to stay rather busy throughout and they continue to work alternating Saturdays. This works well as it makes everyone a little more money and still avoids burning the crew out with too many hours. The Kavanagh’s are slowly but surely building the Shop back to the level of work it used to attain. Positive steps in the right direction seem to be leading them to better days. It is still the Roaring 20s and the good times are here. What could possibly go wrong?



Calvin Coolidge finishes his term as President of the United States. The first television station goes on the air in New York. WGY Television. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse appear in their first films including Steamboat Willie. Richard Byrd begins his first exploration of the Arctic. Arnold Rothstein, the gambler long blamed for the 1919 Black Sox Scandal is gunned down in a Manhattan hotel. The Boston Garden is opened. Eliot Ness assumes control of the Prohibition task force in Chicago. Grammar school education becomes mandatory in Maryland. Fred Rogers, Maya Angelou, Shirley Temple, Andy Warhol and Bo Diddley are born.

There remain 48 states in the Union.

Mom Betty
Betty Crew Kavanagh’s baby picture. 1929.

2 thoughts on “1928 The Visitation

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