The run of work continues with another strong start to the year. The Shop at 201 S. Central Avenue is flush with regular distillery and brewery work. In addition, they are still receiving ship work from the Navy and their usual winter confectionery work. Leo and Eddie answer calls from customers, quoting and accepting jobs from their small corner office. Once a job is received, Leo does any engineering and makes the necessary sketches while Eddie expedites things in the Shop proper. Occasionally when necessary, Eddie still does some smithing and a few installations.
On a cold and blustery Saturday, Jack and Betty are planning a wedding. May 17 is the date and they will be married at St. Ignatius Church which is Betty’s parish. They make guest lists and choose the bridal party. Urban(Urb) Rosemary is one of Jack’s closest friends and will be his Best Man while Urb’s wife Jackie will be Betty’s Maid of Honor. The couple are very excited and very much in love. Their love grew quickly and has only continued to do so. They look forward to standing before all their family and friends and declaring that love. Besides the wedding, Jack is also preparing to return to the Maryland Institute College of Art to continue studying drafting and mechanics. His classes will be twice a week and start in February. Jack will go to school then drive to the Shop to work the remainder of the day.
On a very chilly Thursday, the crew of the Shop heat and hammer, working copper into shapes. Today a job for A. Smith Bowman Distillers is completed. A replacement boiling bottle is made, double-jacketed for boiling and the interior tinned. The tinning process is a part of a coppersmith’s basic skill set. The interior of the copper bottle is cleaned carefully with muriatic acid then quickly coated with boiling hot tin. It is spread as evenly and quickly as possible. The tin protects the contents from copper poisoning.
Ed Jr. and Lillian move to 440 N. Lakewood Avenue, three doors down from Ed’s parents. They have wanted to get out on their own for a while but stay close and with Jack and Betty moving in after the wedding, the time was right. They are next door now to Lillian’s cousin, Howard Fetsch so they have family on both sides and that’s how it often was in the neighborhood. In those days when family moved, they didn’t move far.
This year on St. Patrick’s Day, a copper slop trough is made for Records and Goldsborough Distilling, another of the Shop’s older customers. Mr. Funke, Ed Jr. and Jack heat copper sheet with their torches, hands gloved and sleeves pulled down always for safety. Four very straight seams are annealed on the sheets while the rest of the copper remains hard to maintain the strength of the sides of the trough. With dies and clamps, the three men fold each annealed seam up to a 90 degree angle until all four sides form a rectangle with an open top. The edges all around are then annealed and bent over to form an outside rim. All corners are soldered closed and then a quick clean up of all the surfaces and the trough is completed. A hot job but on a breezy spring day it is not so bad. It is basic coppersmithing and the three finish it with ease.
Joe visits his sons at the Shop as he still occasionally does and he brings up Jackie Robinson. Robinson has just become the first African-American to play in a major league game. This is not truly accurate as there were African-Americans playing in the early years of the National League but to most folks’ memory, Jackie is the first. Robinson is a slick fielding second baseman who can run and he’s a good hitter too. Joe sits in the Shop office with his boys eating lunch, corned beef sandwiches that Johanna sent for the three of them. A small price to pay she told Joe to get him out of the house.
“It’s about time they let some Negro players into the game. Those boys can really play.” Joe opined on Robinson’s first game.
“I see it almost every week, Joe.” Eddie answered, “I see the E-lite Giants and the other teams in their league and they are full of good players. They can hit. They can pitch. They can run. It only make sense for the owner to let these fellows play.”
“Robinson will be the first of many. Not just because he’s a black fellow but because the Negro Leagues are full of talent. I mean it’s like an untapped market of players.” Leo chimes in.
“Well, I say they should have done it a long time ago,” Joe replies, a magnanimous air about him, “The black players are some of the best in the country.”
“Of course they are.” Eddie responds, “It’s not fairness that inspires these owners. They want to win. That’s what it’s all about.” His brother and father grin in agreement.
“Yup.” Joe chuckled. “Sign Satchel Page, Buck O’Neill and one or two others and somebody’s got the pennant. It’s a good thing for the Negroes and baseball. The best should play with the best.”
“Sure, but I gotta wonder what will happen to the Negro teams like the E-lite Giants. Jack and I love going to their games. It’s just good baseball,” Eddie says as he fishes a cigarette from a flattened pack on his desk.
“Maybe a major league team will move to Baltimore.” Leo says as he glances between his father and several orders on his desk.
“It won’t happen. After the Orioles failed and were dismantled, the owners think this town isn’t big enough for a team. It’s a damn shame. The Orioles were champions. Remember that boys. They were the best of the best for a long time. They had bad luck in the Temple Cup but they still won one. This World Series and all that is new stuff. They are trying to sell baseball to the whole country and the big towns like New York and Chicago gotta be featured. I’m not sure they’ll ever think of Baltimore like that.” Joe responds very matter-of-factly as he takes a bite from a sandwich.
“Maybe so, Joe, but I wouldn’t be so sure that Baltimore won’t ever get a team. I think with the newspapers covering baseball so much and radio broadcasting games, like you said, baseball will soon want to cover the country, I wouldn’t be so sure that Baltimore won’t get a team some day. It just might take time. I do think the owners of MLB teams will poach independent and Negro League teams but that’s because the talent is there. I bet the owners will find so much talent that they will add some teams. We will get a team some day. You mark my words.” Eddie declares to his brother and father.
Joe rolls up the remains of his sandwich, tosses it in the trash and answers, “I hope you’re right Eddie.”
Today the crew of the Joseph Kavanagh Company are attending to their usual variety of parts and repairs for distillers, beer brewers and ship makers. Eddie has been talking to Mr. Brearton at National Distillers for several weeks about two mash tanks and the crew make them today. The copper sheet is heated then run through their rollers to get the curve they need. It is a simple process unless the tank is over five feet high, in which case, the curving must be done more slowly and more carefully; the challenge on such a job is to have the top and bottom of the tank match. The Shop’s rollers are three feet wide so the sheet of copper must be rolled, flipped over and rolled again multiple times until the diameter matches at the top and bottom and is held to the customer’s desired tolerance. This one is a bear as they say and takes many tries before getting the tanks just right.
Today is the big day for Jack and Betty and it is a beautiful sunny Saturday. It is a joyous and exciting occasion as Jack Kavanagh marries Betty Crew at St. Ignatius Church today. The mass is at 9 AM, as was customary at that time, followed by the Wedding Breakfast for the bridal party and the parents, then a reception for everyone in the afternoon. Father Mitchell Cartwright performs the ceremony assisted by his brother John who are both cousins of the Crew’s. There is some weeping but it is all in joy as both families and all their friends are so very happy for the couple. According to my father, it is the only time that all the Hartmann’s, his mother’s family, and all the Kavanagh’s were together, wishing the best to Jack and Betty. The breakfast is held at the Stafford Hotel in the Mount Vernon Dining Room of the Preakness Lounge. While everyone is enjoying their breakfast, Annie calls Jack and Betty aside to speak to them.
“Jack, I have something I need to give to you.” she begins as she smiles at her youngest son and his bride-to-be.
“You’ve given me so much, Mom. What is it?” Jack answers watching her remove a small box from her purse.
She hands it to Jack who opens it and sees a very old pocket watch. “This watch belonged to your grandmother Johanna’s father, James Long. When your father and I got married, she gave it to Eddie because, well, she knew that some day her older son would be the president of the company and she wanted her second son to have something special of his own, something of the family’s. The watch doesn’t keep time as well as it did but it’s an heirloom. We don’t know how things will go with your brother, you and the Shop but we want you, our second son, to have the watch”
Jack turned the watch over several times in his hand as Betty gasped looking down at the old time piece. It had a little weight to it and was made of polished brass. Jack opened it up and inside is a picture of the Long family including a young Johanna. “It’s beautiful, Mom. Thank you.” He wrapped his arms around his mother and she held him tight. Then it was Betty’s turn and Annie pulled her into an embrace.
Whispering in her ear she said, “Maybe some day, Betty, you will give this watch to your second son at his wedding. Johanna started this tradition with Eddie and I am passing it to you two. I want you to think of me and this day when you look at the watch.” she smiled at both Jack and Betty
“It’s truly beautiful and thank you so much,” Betty replied, a teary grin on her face.
“Thank you, Mom. I love you.” Jack said as he gazed back at his mother with his arm wrapped around his girl.
“Congratulations and I love you too. Both of you.” said Annie as she looked into her baby’s face, a man now and soon a husband.
While the wedding party is eating breakfast, Leo and Ed Jr. are moving all of the furniture out of 434 N. Lakewood Avenue but for the piano to make room. The cake is enormous and must be brought into the house through the front basement window. This window was wider and often the best way to move things in and out of the home. The cake is carried through, then up the steps and into the kitchen. While last minute decorating is done, Leo, his wife Maymie and their daughter Mary pick up Aunt Anna, Sister Mary Agnes of the Visitation Order. The family is very happy she will be able to attend. The Visitation is a cloistered order and her trips away from the Convent are limited and infrequent. Jack, Betty and their wedding party arrive and the family has a brief celebration of their own before the party begins. At 2 PM, guests gather at Lakewood Avenue to salute and party with Jack and Betty. The small home fills up fast but no one cares as the reception is full of music and good cheer. The Kavanagh’s including Aunt Anna, who is an accomplished piano player, take turns playing the piano and singing while folks join in, eat sandwiches, and have cake and coffee. Joe’s baritone voice carries over all others as they sing and celebrate together. A few toasts to the young couple are made and the party runs into the evening before they begin dispersing and returning to their homes. As soon as the last guest is gone, the women get to the post-reception clean up while the men haul the furniture back in. It doesn’t take long before the house is set back in order and it was well worth it as a good time was had by all. It was a wedding to remember. Jack and Betty spend one night on Lakewood Avenue before driving to Atlantic City for a proper wedding trip.
While Jack is on his honeymoon, the Shop is finishing a continuous beer still for Park & Tilford Distillery. The beer still is what started it all for Old Uncle Joe. He was able to make a still with such perfectly round pots that the quality and efficiency was of the highest level. It’s old hat for the coppersmiths at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Eddie supervises as the fittings and valves are attached and the still is completed. The installation will be tomorrow and Eddie has assigned Funke and two helpers to handle it. The rest of the boys are busy with two different railings and a group of stock fittings for Gunther’s Brewery.
Jack and Betty are living with Eddie and Annie at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue. Things are a bit crowded but the family deals with it. Eddie and Annie are accustomed to having long term guests; Ed Jr and Lillian lived with them for several years but it is not something that Betty is used to and Jack realizes this quickly. They want a family of their own and they will need a house of their own. For now, they are fine living with Jack’s parents but the couple are already looking for a situation that might help them. They look for a house that is in the neighborhood, close at hand to family but their own place.
The Kavanagh’s celebrate Independence Day on Lakewood Avenue. Jack drives out to 33rd Street and picks up his grandparents. Even Johanna is getting a little too old to drive much and it’s simple for Jack to ride out and get them. Ed, Lillian and their baby are there as well. Steamed crabs, fried chicken and corn are served and it is a 4th of July party to remember. They walk to Patterson Park and enjoy the fireworks along with so many neighbors. People sit on their front steps and greet them as they walk back from the park in the twilight. Joe is discussing the newly instituted Maryland Sales Tax with anyone who will listen. Joe Kavanagh is not too happy about it. It’s a travesty and completely wrong in his eyes. To place a tax on a normal working person’s purchases is an affront to Joe. Of course, Joe was an opinionated fellow and a fair few things were affronts to him.
On a Sunday, Jack drives his father to Bugle Field to watch a couple of ballgames. The Baltimore E-lite Giants face off against the Homestead Grays today. A doubleheader is scheduled between the two clubs. The E-lite Giants are led by center fielder, Henry Kimbro who bats a robust .384 for the season. The teams split the doubleheader with each winning a game. Eddie and Jack have been attending games at Bugle Field for years now and they love it. It is their father/son time but also their baseball time. Both love the game and they talk incessantly about baseball during the games, while driving to the games and while returning from the games. These ballgames will be some of Jack’s strongest memories of his youth and his father.
A muggy hot Saturday night has Eddie Kavanagh at a meeting of Coppersmiths Local #80. Eddie has been involved in the union nearly since its inception but he will soon step down as General Secretary. He’s always been devoted to the Union and his brothers but he’s been in this position for a long time and he knows he should make room for someone new. The brothers discuss wages and the volume of jobs in Baltimore. Correspondences from other locals are shared and any particular problems brought up by members are addressed.
Jack continues his studies at MICA in the Fall session, still two days per week as before. He works hard at school but is also working at the Shop where his skills continue to develop. Jack’s mechanical knowledge has grown after his Navy experience and the classes he’s taken. He is very astute at being able to apply them to his job. The Shop benefits from his learning as it does from his skills. Jack has a natural ease with a hammer but he also wants to learn all he can about metal work and mechanics. This does not go unnoticed by his father and his uncle.
A warm sunny Fall day is a very busy one at the corner of Pratt and Central. Leo and Eddie’s Shop has been contracted by US Industrial Chemicals Company to fabricate two large complicated chemical distilling systems. These will produce alcohol but not for consumption, rather to integrate with other substances in the creation of a variety of chemicals; cleaners, solvents and more. They have been at this one for weeks and are nearly finished. In addition to being a big job to bill, this one also pushes their backlog of work even father back. They are running with over a month’s worth of work ahead of them consistently and the year has been a great one for the Shop.
The Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series, winning four out of seven. Jackie Robinson becomes not only the first African-American to play in the major leagues but to appear in the World Series. A young pitcher named Rex Barney makes several appearances for the Dodgers. After Barney’s pitching days are over, he eventually will be a longtime Public Address Announcer for the future Baltimore Orioles. This is another Subway Series ending the baseball season and fans across the country are as excited as if they were all New Yorkers. There is something about New York that draws Americans’ attention. It is, by far, the most populated city in the US and when two teams from rival sections of that City are involved in a ballgame or series of games, Americans take note. Certainly, the Kavanagh’s took note, listening on the radio and reading the box scores in the Sun. They discuss each game after its completion and speculate on the next one. It’s been just about the same for over forty World Series, the Kavanagh’s paying close attention and interested in every detail. Love of the game is such a tradition in this family.
Leo and Eddie lead their crew through another week with a very full schedule. Today the crew are scattered over six different jobs. Jack and Leo Gianetti are tinning a large gin tank for United Distillers of America. A steady rain falls all day in Baltimore and the hours pass a little slower because of it. It’s another day in the long life of the Joseph Kavanagh Company. The work remaining remarkably similar to what Old Uncle Joe did himself. He too sweated and fretted through rainy gloomy days and also bright sunny days. Three generations of this family have worked here and Ed Jr. and Jack are the fourth.
Television arrives in Maryland as WMAR-TV goes on the air for the fist time, becoming only the fourteenth television station in the country. To start, they are an independent station with no network affiliation, but that won’t be for very long. Their first broadcast is of several races from Pimlico Racetrack. Very few Baltimoreans own televisions, the Kavanagh’s do not, but there is interest in this new device. It is likened to having moving pictures at home instead of the theater. Joe Kavanagh is old-fashioned and he can’t imagine TV replacing radio ever. Of course, Joe had no confidence in radio succeeding either. He felt nothing could replace live performance being an old vaudevillian himself. Still, his sons are curious and wonder if this new fangled way of entertainment will catch on or will it just be a fad that disappears in a few years.
Jack and Betty have two Thanksgivings this year, visiting the Crew’s for an early Thanksgiving lunch then driving home to Lakewood Avenue for dinner with the Kavanagh’s. As Jack drives them to her Mother’s house, Betty tells him the best news he has ever heard. She is pregnant and is due in April of next year. Jack nearly crashes the Chrysler he is so excited and he kisses her quick at a red light. When they arrive at 1612 Guilford Avenue, they tell Betty’s Mother and her brothers and everyone is thrilled and so happy for them. They eat turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, more sides including, of course, parsnips. The scene is repeated at 434 N. Lakewood when Jack and Betty tell his family. Annie is on the moon with joy because her baby will have a baby. They eat again with all of the above dishes, most certainly including parsnips.
Six copper coils for mash tubes for National Distillery are the focus of the Shop’s crew today. Another very nice job as they finish out a good year. Thoughts of the impending holiday are on everyone’s mind. The brothers Leo and Eddie are very confident that the future will be good for the company. The work is plentiful and they have maintained a good skillful crew of men. Their reputation and the quality of their work has made them a fixture in Baltimore industry.
The Shop throws a loud and raucous Christmas Party on this Thursday. It has been another glorious year for the Kavanagh’s and the Shop. There is work aplenty and the family is getting bigger with another generation being born. The younger Ed and Lillian have a baby daughter and Jack and Betty will have a baby in the spring. The Kavanagh’s and their friends talk excitedly of the holiday and the impending “White Christmas” as a blast of snow is expected by the 26th. Leo and Eddie are very happy with the direction the Shop is going. Leo knows that his daughter Mary will never work there. A woman working as a coppersmith would be unheard of at this time but he does hope that she owns half one day and perhaps she’ll have a son to work there. Eddie has both Ed Jr. and Jack working with him and he loves it. He sometimes has his doubts about Ed, they butt heads but so did Eddie and his father, Joe. They still do, in fact, but Ed is more of a good time/partying kind of fellow and his father wishes he would outgrow it. Jack, on the other hand, is more serious about his future, his work and his family. That’s not to say he doesn’t enjoy a good time or even a drink but he is more focused on what he wants to do with his life than enjoying it today. If he can do what he wants with his life, he assumes he’ll be happy for a lifetime not just a day. Eddie hopes both his boys continue at the Shop and he is beginning to think more and more that Jack may be the future leader of the place, the main man. The “Joe,” for lack of a better term, but he knows that will not be determined for some time. A few years will pass but Jack does eventually lead the business for many years and he is aided like his father and his grandfather by a strong supportive and loving wife. When Jack’s time comes, Betty will make the difference.
Harry S. Truman is the President of the United States. The United Nations agrees to create an independent Jewish State called Israel. The automatic camera or “instant camera” is invented by Polaroid. The infamous Roswell incident occurs on July 7. The sound barrier is broken by American Chuck Yeager. “Miracle on 34th Street” is released. The state of Maryland agrees to build a bridge over the Chesapeake Bay. Marguerite Henry’s children’s book “Misty of Chincoteague” is published. Stephen King, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Letterman, Hillary Clinton and Nolan Ryan are born.
There are still 48 states in the Union.
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