It’s a very cold start to the year and another slow start for the Shop but Eddie has grown accustomed to it. They keep busy making stock parts and attending to a few small jobs. They lost a helper who moved over the holidays and Eddie is a little relieved. One less man to keep paying and they can always find a helper through the Sheet Metal Workers Union.
As Jack reads the morning paper before driving the girls to school and himself to work, he notices a story about three musicians being killed. The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens all die in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa. He doesn’t know any of them and reads that they are rock and roll performers which is not his style at all. Still, he thinks it’s a terrible tragedy, especially when he sees how young they were. In a minute, he is hustling out the door with his girls to get on the road. He waves goodbye to his girls at the corner of Lakewood and Baltimore when they make their way into St. Elizabeth’s School. He turns right and arrives at work in less than ten minutes. Several orders for brewery fittings and parts are filled and the Shop has received another order from the Sweetheart Paper Company in Chicago. They require several 3 5/8” O.D. steel tubes to be bent. In the past, they have filled these with sand to bend them, but they are trying something different. It takes a great deal of time to pound the sand in to make it fit tightly inside the tube and keep it round during bending. A friend of Eddie’s has recommended they use rosin. Rosin is a tree gum and it can be melted, poured into a tube, and it will solidify and support the tube. It’s the same stuff that pitchers use to dry their hands. It’s messy and takes heat to melt the rosin back out. It does work and the tubes turn out very round and look good. Despite the heat and the mess, using the rosin is far better than the sand and cheaper. Eddie believes this is how they should do it from now on and Jack agrees.
Ed Jr. and his helper are at Gunther’s brewery for a repair on one of the beer vats. The job seems to go well and both men are back at the Shop in a few hours, just before quitting time. Eddie gets a call and is informed the work was done quite satisfactorily and an off hand comical remark about the boys sharing a couple of beers afterward sets Eddie off. He does not condone drinking on the job. He isn’t happy and questions his son, and Ed Jr. admits he did have a taste of the beer. He doesn’t see the harm because it was nearly quitting time but his father is angry and he doesn’t understand how Ed could forget the rules. It’s simple. We work for breweries and distillers and we have a drink but we never mix the two. Ed is flippant and dismissive to his father and stalks out of the Shop at the end of the day. It gets very tense between the two of them over the next few days.
Jack and Betty take the Kavanagh girls to see “Sleeping Beauty,” Disney’s latest animated film. Jack has purchased a Plymouth Station wagon and it is at last easier to squeeze the growing kids into a vehicle. Betty Ann, Nancy, Mary, Jane and Jackie climb in the car with their parents and head to the movies while JoAnn, still just 1 ½ years old, stays with Mimi and Eddie. They return two hours later and all the girls are chattering to Mimi about the movie.
The volume of work at the Shop continues a little slow but the crew are busy. Several fellows are cleaning up the place, especially the area where they melt the rosin. The rest are making some stock parts and a coil for the Chesapeake Instrument Corp. Three-eighth inch O.D. copper tube is bent into a serpentine coil. These coils are bent 180 degree back and forth several times to create the shape needed. It is not a hard job but it does take multiple bends and that is a little complicated to keep straight. Jack and Charlie Owens handle the coil.
National Brewery needs a few fittings installed and a coupling changed and Eddie dispatches Funke and a helper. He tells Ed he prefers to send him, but he can’t trust him now because of the experience at Gunther’s. His son grows angry quickly. They argue in the office with Jack out in the Shop. Jack had a strong feeling this was serious as his father closed the door and he could see the red in their faces. Ed proclaims he is tired of his father’s admonitions and feels Eddie is too demanding. He expects the impossible. His father believes Ed thinks he shouldn’t have to follow the rules and his work is slow and not up to standards. Ed Jr. quits. He tells his father he can’t work for him anymore and walks out. Ed heads through the office door then right out the front door of 201 S. Central Avenue. Jack gives it a few moments, then walks into the office and his father informs him that Ed is gone. He seems almost relieved to Jack, as if his father is tired of the frequent sparring between himself and Jr. In the evening, Ed Jr. calls his brother and speaks to him about it. Ed Jr. is promised a job at Sparrows Point from a friend and he will be fine. He is too tired of Eddie’s hard ass ways he tells Jack. He says his father is his father and he can deal with it. He just can’t work with him anymore. Jack wishes Ed well and accepts the change.
The fellows on the corner of Pratt and Central are throwing some heat around early on this chilly spring morning. A job for Universal Machine Co. calls for some annealing and that takes the chill out of the air. Five 1 1/2” Type K Copper tubes are to be bent so each must be heated first to soften them. Jack and Owens take care of this one while Funke and a helper are cutting some tubes to prepare for a fountain job.
Jack and Eddie are attending a Sheet Metal Workers Union meeting and Jack speaks to the group. Over the last two years, the union has been sending some of the copper pipe work in the breweries to the Pipe Fitters Union. It’s a show of brotherhood and the union supporting its rank and file. The problem is this work was formerly given to the Coppersmiths Union which has been absorbed by the Sheet Metal Workers. Now, they want to guarantee all the pipe work be passed to the Pipe Fitters. There are a lot more pipe fitters than coppersmiths in the union and the resolution passes. Jack made an impassioned plea not just on the Shop’s part but the other small coppersmith companies out there but the union’s decision stands. Eddie and Jack are angry. This will have a lasting impact on their business. Eddie did a great deal to start this union and it stings him that they would take work from the Shop. Eddie has always been a strong union man and his efforts helped establish and expand the Coppersmiths Union before it joined with the SMW. He won’t let himself blame his union brothers but it is a bitter pill to swallow. The Shop is fortunate they have begun to expand into pipe and tube bending. They can still bid replacement fittings and couplings for the breweries but both father and son wonder if eventually that will be taken from them as well.
It’s a windy opening day for the Orioles in Baltimore. As always, this first game draws a big crowd and the Kavanagh’s are listening on the radio at the Shop. The Birds face the Yankees and get hammered 13-3. New York scores nine in the 3rd inning and this one is over early. Fans are disappointed but it’s only one game. Eddie and Jack discuss the game as they lock the Shop up but there isn’t a whole lot of good things to talk about from this opener.
Jack and Betty take all the girls to an Orioles Saturday afternoon game. The girls cheer and root as hard as they can and the Birds respond by beating the Detroit Tigers 6-1. Kuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm pitches a complete game victory to move to 5-0 and he lowers his ERA to 1.49. Wilhelm is the Orioles’ best starter this year and he usually gives his team a chance to win. The other player having a big day was center fielder, Willie Tasby. He hits a triple with the bases loaded for the big knock of the game and he also throws out two men on the base paths, one at home and one at third. The girls have a great day at the ballpark and Jack certainly enjoys the win.
The summer has brought some more work to the Shop including another pipe rolling job. This one is from Washington Aluminum Co. They need some 2” Aluminum pipes 20 ft. long curved to a 13 ft. 8” Rad. The first thing that needs to be done is a template must be made to that radius. Jack and a helper put a long stick together from wood. They tie a pencil to one end and a metal pin to the other, making sure they are 13 ft. 8” apart. One man holds the pin point tight while Jack on the other end draws an arc on a spare piece of wood. The wood is cut on a band saw along the line creating a template that can be matched. The pipes are rolled to this template with special attention given to making them match each other, and the pieces roll fine. While Jack takes care of this one, Eddie gets a call from Majestic Distillery about a repair to a mash cooler The caller gives some details of what repairs and adjustments need to be made and Eddie prepares a quotation for them.
The Kavanagh’s celebrate Independence day on this sunny Saturday. It’s a beautiful mid 80 degree day with a slight breeze. It’s perfect for a crab feast in the backyard of 434 N. Lakewood Avenue. Mimi, assisted by Betty steams a bushel of fresh crabs purchased by Jack in the morning. The house is filled with the aroma of crab, black pepper, rock salt and Old Bay Seasoning. The family sits around two card tables that serve as picnic tables today and eat their fill. Jack shows his girls the proper way to eat steamed crabs. He’s pulls the back off a crab and then pulls off the claws. Most of the pulled claws have a nice bite of crab meat. He offers one to each of his daughters and they love the sweet crab meat. He then shows them how to pull the bodies in half and apart and then it’s just picking meat out of each half. The girls pay close attention and have their own go at cracking the crabs open. Mimi and Betty enjoy watching the girls learning and eating while Eddie fiddles with the radio trying to get the ballgame to come through in the yard. After a few minutes, he’s got it and they listen to the Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox 11-5. It’s an exciting game for the Birds and their fans including four home runs, two by first baseman Walt Dropo. As the evening comes on, Betty and the girls walk to Patterson Park to see the fireworks while Eddie and Jack pick some crabs for crab cakes tomorrow.
“That was a helluva ballgame.” Eddie says, his teeth clenched around a cigar. He pulls a chunk of meat from a crab and tosses it into the bowl between them.
Jack nods, “Dropo had a good day. He’s a good hitter and he’s got some pop.” Jack hits a claw with a mallet and pulls crab meat from it. “I’m still not happy about losing this brewery work. The beer lines are some of the bigger jobs to come out of there. It’s not fair. It would be different if we did a bad job but we handle it every time. You know better than me, Pop.” Jack is certain this move by the union has to bother his father. Eddie was part of building this union from nearly the beginning. He served as General Secretary for years.
Eddie sits back in his chair and takes a long puff from his cigar. “Jack, the Shop will be all right. The union had to do what they thought was right for the members. I guess.” He pauses and his son can see it clearly does bother him. “I was still surprised but it’s a good thing we got that roller. That stuff will help us to keep jobs coming in.”
“I know but I am still going to keep talking to the union and the breweries when I can. We did a lot of work there and the steam fitters won’t be able to do their repairs like we did. Eventually, yeah but right now we’re the best for those jobs. I don’t understand it but that’s all we can do. And yes, the Shop’s got work. There is a demand out there for bending and rolling for mechanical parts, signs, all kinds of stuff. The more we use that machine. The more we’ll learn about it, get more jobs and make more money.” Jack says, tossing a couple of clumps of meat into the bowl.
“Yeah, son, we can keep petitioning the union about it and as long as Gunther’s and National are ordering our parts, we’ll be talking to them. It never hurts to bring it up.” He takes another puff and pulls the back off another crab.
The room is silent for a moment or two til Jack says quietly, “Crabs are heavy. A lot of meat in them.”
“Oh yeah. Real heavy and they were good too.” Eddie answers. Both stay focused on the crabs and pick in silence for several minutes when Betty and the girls burst into the house. Mimi rushes in to welcome them back and the room is filled with multiple descriptions of the sights and sounds of the fireworks.
A. Smith Bowman has sent in a repair order to the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Several boiler plates need to be replaced and repaired. The plates need to be cut to the proper diameter then they are drilled. It’s very typical distillery repair work and the kind of things that Eddie wants in the Shop. This is what they have done for years but times are changing. Eddie has accepted that Jack is right and they need to be more diverse. Still, the distillery work is what reminds him of the old days and the old work.
The Kavanagh girls return to St. Elizabeth’s School on the corner of Lakewood and Baltimore with another sister starting kindergarten. Jackie is five & starts her schooling at St. E’s while her sisters all move up a grade. Betty Ann, Nancy, Mary and Jane are in 6th, 5th, 4th and 3rd grade respectively.
Baltimore celebrates the Colts first game at home after winning the NFL Championship last year. Jack and Urb Rosemary are there to welcome them home and watch them beat the Detroit Lions 21-9. The fans are very loud throughout this game. After last year’s championship, the fans are even more fanatical about the Colts and they want to give them a clear home field advantage. The City’s other team, the Orioles are supported strongly too but they suffer through another tough year. The Birds finish in sixth place, twenty games back.
The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago White Sox in the World Series, taking four out of six games. This is the Dodgers first pennant since moving to LA and Chicago’s first since the infamous Black Sox scandal of 1919. The White Sox clinched the pennant with three games to play while the Dodgers ended in a tie with the Milwaukee Braves. This called for a three game playoff between those two clubs. LA won the first two games and thus the pennant. This World Series shatters attendance records with all three games in LA drawing over 92,000 fans. The Dodgers play in the LA Coliseum and the fans pack in to see the Series. Larry Sherry is named MVP of the World Series. He finishes all four of the Dodgers’ wins in relief, earning two wins and two saves. The Kavanagh’s follow this one and Jack and Eddie watch Sunday’s game 3 together. They are amazed by the huge crowd. It’s like nothing they have ever seen before. Jack pulls for the Dodgers to win and he gets his wish while his father just hopes for a good entertaining series which Eddie gets too.
The Kavanagh’s and crew have stayed busier since the summer and Eddie is happier. Today some parts are made for the Paul Jones Distillery and 2- 2” extra heavy steel pipes are bent for Maryland Baking Co. The wall thickness of these pipes is 3/8” and that takes a lot of power. The rolling machine can handle it but the pipes must be passed through a few extra times to bring them down to the desired radius. The heavier or tougher the piece, the more passes through the machine it requires.
The approaching end to the year seems to have brought a glut of work into the Shop. They suddenly have a two week backlog of brewery and distillery parts to fabricate while they continue to receive more bending and rolling work. A new customer, Wolfe & Mann Manufacturing Co. needs some 2 1/2” Aluminum pipes bent on a fairly tight radius. They anneal the aluminum carefully and then bend them in the Climax hand bender. Even annealed aluminum that is this size takes several men to pull around. Jack approaches his father with another idea for a machine purchase. He wants them to buy a pneumatic Leonard Bender. It is powered with air and will make most of their bending jobs easier and quicker. There will be a lot less laborious pulling and straining to move the arm of the machine. This machine can put a stop to all of that. Eddie has learned his lesson and trusts his son. Jack makes a call and buys an “air bender.”
Jack, Funke and a helper are working through the morning while others are cleaning up around them in anticipation of the Shop’s Christmas Eve Party. Jack and his crew are working on a job for Harvey A. Stambaugh. They need some 3” Sch. 10 Stainless Steel Pipes rolled and Sch. 10 means they are very thin. The pipes must be filled with rosin to maintain the roundness. Jack and Funke rush through the morning to get the pieces filled. They keep the rosin melted, bubbling in a cauldron. They fill them as quick as the rosin melts. Rosin needs time to cool and harden. With the holiday tomorrow, anything filled today will be very hard the next day and ready to roll. Just before noon they finish and clean up before the party. There is no time to get a tree this year but they are ready before guests arrive. A few customers come by and celebrate but it is mostly family and employees. Ed Jr. and his wife and daughter are not there. He seems to be getting along better with his father now that they aren’t working together but he doesn’t make an appearance at 201 S. Central Avenue. The guests eat ham and turkey sandwiches made by Mimi and they have cold beer and tea. A couple toasts of rye are made both to the holiday and the nearly completed year. Both Eddie and Jack are worried about the loss of brewery work. They have a large stock of fittings and parts and they will sell them while they can. They are both concerned they may lose the fittings sales to the breweries too and wonder if they should continue making them for stock. They will have to wait and see. One final toast is made for the Colts in hopes of another NFL championship this Sunday. Their wish will be granted as Baltimore beats the Giants in a rematch of last year. This time it is played at Memorial Stadium and the Colts win a much easier contest 31-16. When the party has broken up, Jack drives a couple fellows home or to the bus stop then returns to the Shop to pick up Betty and the girls. His mind does drift to his brother. They have worked together for almost twenty years and the Shop is the biggest thing they have in common. He knows his brother and father have rarely seen eye to eye. They are too alike. Hard-headed and set in their ideas and Jack will stay out of of it. He turns the station wagon left onto Lakewood as the girls break into “Jingle Bells” behind him and Jack thinks of Christmas. He will be Santa tonight, the suit is ready and he loves every bit of being St. Nick. The chorus behind him comes to an end as he pulls onto the Jefferson Street side of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue and parks. Betty and he prod the kids into the house and everybody prepares for Santa’s arrival.
Dwight D. Eisenhower is the President of the United States. The first Daytona 500 is held. Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” album is released. Rod Sterling’s “The Twilight Zone” premiers on television. Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” opens on Broadway. The film “Ben-Hur” is released. Magic Johnson, Weird Al Jankovic, Florence Griffith Joyner, Linda Blair and John McEnroe are born. Cecille B. Demille, Lou Costello and Billie Holiday die.
With the admission of Alaska on January 3rd and Hawaii on August 21st, there are now 50 states in the Union.
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2 thoughts on “1959 The Two Eds”
If only labor rates were that cheap nowadays, lol.
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Ha! Yes, it would be a different world. When I came to work at the Shop, I made $ 2.40/ hour. It was a big deal when in about 3 years I made mechanic’s wages. $ 4.00/hour.