1929 The Crash and the Escape

January 2

A snowy start to the year finds the Shop very active working on jacket kettles and the assorted cooking apparatus that goes with them. The annual parade of confectionery work along with some boiler work has Pratt and Central very busy. Joe sits in the small office with his brother James and nephew Guy scheduling jobs and preparing quotations. His mind is also on his daughter Anna. She is due to take her final vows as a Visitation nun next month and he and his wife have mixed feelings. They are resigned to her joining the convent permanently but torn by the separation of the cloistered life. He knows his daughter wants the life of service and he will support her. Joe empties his pipe into the ashtray then returns to his notes.

January 13

On a Saturday afternoon, Joe’s niece, Kitty Connelly, visits Joe and Johanna on Collington Avenue. Joe was surprised to receive a call from her this week informing him that she was moving back to Baltimore. Kitty told her uncle she was not well and couldn’t work anymore. She has moved in with her sister Regina for the time being. Johanna makes them all a cup of tea. Kitty is very upset with the Maryland Penitentiary. They have locked her husband, Jack Hart, in solitary. He had refused to work because they won’t let them kiss when she visits. Kitty is very distraught but finds the strength to continue:

Not even a kiss. We can only talk through bars now. They can’t stop Jimmy and I from loving each other, Uncle Joe.”

Of course they can’t,” Joe answers her while looking at his wife. “They aren’t trying to do that, but it’s prison. They have rules.”

I don’t care about the rules. They have it in for Jimmy. They keep accusing him of having saws and keys in his cell. It’s not true. They plant things there to make him look guilty.” Kitty says as Jo rolls her eyes ever so subtly to her husband.

There’s nothing that can be done about it, Kitty.” Joe pats her shoulder. “You are home in Baltimore with your family. That’s for the best. You spend some time at Regina’s and you’ll feel better soon.”

I’ll do that, and I will be closer to Jack too. That’s the best part.” Kitty offers a soft smile.

Yes, that’s also nice.” says Johanna as she gathers the tea cups and walks to the kitchen. Joe again assures Kitty that it will all be fine and offers her a ride to her sister’s home. Johanna gives Kitty a good-bye hug and Joe ushers his niece out the front door while his wife mouths the word “trouble” to him.

February 11

Anna Kavanagh takes her final vows and becomes a Visitation nun, Sister Mary Agnes. The ceremony is held in the chapel at the Visitation convent on Roland Avenue. Both of Anna’s parents attend, Joe taking the afternoon off from work. The Visitation sisters take vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. Joe and Johanna congratulate their daughter, keeping their reservations to themselves. They are very strong in the Catholic faith but the cloistered life is one of separation from family, a big adjustment for any family as close as the Kavanagh’s, a life of service and devotion to the Lord, with family communication and visits taking a back seat. Anna’s parents enjoy the service and stay for a small gathering afterwards then Jo drives them home. Johanna sticks to her guns and still refuses to get in a car with her husband driving.

Sister Mary Agnes - Visitation1
Sr. Mary Agnes(Anna Kavanagh) at the Visitation Convent. February 11, 1929.

March 16

On a cool Saturday night just before midnight, Jack Hart escapes from the Maryland Penitentiary again, this time accompanied and assisted by another inmate, George Bailey. Jack sawed through three locks to get out of his solitary cell and then released Bailey from his. They climbed carefully onto the top of the cell block. Using a can opener, the two escapees cut a hole in a ventilation shaft. Next, Hart and Bailey climbed onto the roof of the prison and dropped a makeshift rope(made from bedding and fabric) down to the Eager Street side of the building. Jack went down first and then the rope snapped or was cut. The police couldn’t determine which it was. George Bailey finds himself stranded on the roof, where he’s discovered the next day. Without looking back, Jack hastens along Eager and quickly turns down a side street. Jack is out. Jack is free.

March 17

On this St. Patrick’s Day Sunday, the Kavanagh’s read of Jack Hart’s escape. Joe calls his sons and his brother and they meet at Joe’s house to discuss. A corned beef and cabbage dinner is quickly organized and prepared by Johanna. Joe tells them all to be ready for the obligatory police visits and searches. They will stick to their story that they only knew Jack as James Connelly. They knew him as Kitty’s husband and that’s it. Of course, there will be no mention of the bootlegging he did with the Kavanagh’s. After the rest of the family leaves, Joe calls Regina’s house to speak to Kitty. Regina answers and tells Joe that Kitty is resting. She has already received a visit from the police and they questioned Kitty immediately. She told them she doesn’t know anything about it and is as surprised as they are that Jack has escaped. Joe is concerned for Kitty but Regina says she handled it well but is very tired. She tires easily now. Regina is very happy Kitty has moved in so she can be cared for more closely.

March 18

The Kavanagh’s arrive at 201 S. Central Avenue at 7:00 a.m. and the police are there waiting for them. Officers Dawson, Mayo, Springate and McNeil search the Shop top to bottom again. They find nothing and are quick to explain that they are only doing their jobs. They question Joe and the crew about Jack, if they have heard from him. Joe answers for all of them and gives an unequivocal no. He has not and does not expect to see Hart or hear from him. The four officers have searched the place five times over the last few years. They know the Kavanagh’s by now and accept their answer. They do not linger this time as the common belief is that Hart has left the City. The police depart after requesting that if anyone hears of or from Jack Hart, they must notify the authorities immediately. After the police leave, Joe gets his crew back to work but at lunch the Kavanagh’s have a brief chat while eating corned beef sandwiches. They all agree that it went well. The police seem to understand they don’t know where Jack is. If and when the police return, they will just let them search and handle it the same way. Later in the day, Eddie sees his father exit the Shop and step over to the corner of Pratt and Central. Joe would do this often and smoke his pipe while watching the traffic go by. Eddie puts his hammer down and joins Joe. Eddie lights a cigarette and asks his father about his call to Regina’s house. Joe recounts the brief conversation while they smoke Finally, Eddie has a question.

“Joe? Do you think Jack went to see Kitty?” Eddie asks to his father’s surprise.

“I don’t know and I don’t want to know.” Joe answers then takes a slow draw on his pipe. “And neither do you.”

“Do you think Regina would know if they saw each other?” Eddie spits a bit of tobacco out after his second question.

“Nope. Kitty’s too smart to let anyone know.” Joe answers.

“You mean Jack’s too smart.” replies Eddie with an eyebrow raised.

Joe’s eyes widen and he says, “Kitty’s too smart.” He pauses then tells Eddie, “Break is over. Time to get back in there.” He heads to the door and enters followed by his son. Joe turns left into the office while Eddie turns right into the Shop proper. He tosses his cigarette and replaces it with a stick of Double Mint gum then grabs his hammer.

April 24

Over a month has passed and Jack is still missing. The Shop is busy, flush with copper cooking vessels, brass bearings for a boiler and some replacement fittings for Globe Brewery. The crew labors distracted by the cool breeze of a spring day. The sun shines as Joe takes his daily walk onto the corner of Pratt and Central watching cars whiz by. He looks up at the blue sky, lights his pipe and wonders where did Jack get to anyway.

June 17

It is a busy summer Monday. Steamship repairs, boiler work, cooking kettles and ornamental rails fill the Shop. The men begin working a half day every Saturday. This year hasn’t started as well as last but the men have work and they go with the extra hours for now. Joe is always looking for potential jobs and so he follows business dealings in Baltimore and Maryland. He has heard that an aircraft company, Glenn L. Martin has opened a factory in Middle River and wonders if there is any work for them in aircraft parts. He can only hope. Joe is constantly on the lookout for new customers.

August 10

Eddie attends a meeting of Coppersmiths Local #80 on a hot and humid Saturday night. He reports to his union brothers that the Joseph Kavanagh Company is doing well and presently has quite a bit of coppersmith work. They are working at least a half day every Saturday and some times all day. The rank and file are pleased to hear this and hope it continues. Any union shop that is busy is good news for the union. After the meeting, Eddie drives home on his Indian Motorcycle cruising through the streets of Baltimore. He brings along several letters to answer from other Locals tucked in his briefcase that is strapped to the bike.

October 15

The talk of the Shop on this Tuesday is the World Series. Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics defeated the Chicago Cubs four games to one; Joe has known Mack for years and has always rooted for his team. The series was highlighted by two incredible comebacks by the Athletics. In game four, Philadelphia scores ten runs in the seventh inning to win 10-8, a wild inning that included a misplayed three run inside-the-park home run. The last inside-the-park homer in a World Series game until 2015. Once again, in game five the Athletics rally from behind to win the game and the series. Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the ninth, they score three and win the championship. Joe goes over that last inning with delight. Mule Haas tying it with a 2-run home run then several batters latter Al Simmons racing home to win it all on a Bing Miller double. Joe is very happy for his old acquaintance. They’ve seen each other a few times over the years and Joe loves to go up to Philly for a ballgame, though his obligations at the Shop limit his opportunities to do so. Joe’s son Eddie was also pulling for the Athletics. He was always an American League guy, though his true loyalty was with Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees. More of a fan of Ruth than the team, still he rooted for them just to hear more about the Babe. Ruth has a good season, hitting a crisp .345 while mashing 46 home runs. The Yanks finish a distant second to the Athletics: 18 games back.

October 29

The New York Stock Market crashes and this day becomes known as Black Tuesday. The market drops a whopping 70 points in two days. That amounts to a 25% drop in stock prices. There is a rebound but not much of one. Stocks had been on a bull run through the 20s but the market couldn’t bear it any longer. A correction wouldn’t do the trick and panic spreads, causing widespread sell-offs of stock. The U.S. economy had been showing signs of slowing for several months. Steel sales and automobile sales were down but no one expected this. The market fell primarily due to over speculation. The economy was on a tear through the 1920s with many people jumping into the stock market. A large portion of these investors were buying stock with borrowed money and banks were loaning up to 2/3 of the purchase price of stock to investors. When stocks took a tumble first in March and then September, it was a warning of the instability of the market. By October, when stocks fell, chaos reigned, with some stocks being sold so quickly the ticker tapes couldn’t keep up, and banks calling in loans from investors holding worthless stock. The market remains unstable and will continue to fall over the next several years.

November 8

Very quickly, the work slows down. Joe notices within days of the Crash that the phone isn’t ringing much. The Shop has some work on the books but the Kavanagh’s worry about the future, especially with the winter coming on. They work on fabricating a brass railing and some boiler parts today. Joe and James will brace for a rough winter but they have no idea how bad it will get and for how long.

November 30

The Saturday after Thanksgiving Joe and Johanna visit Anna (Sr. Mary Agnes) at the Visitation convent in Roland Park. She tells them that she’s very happy with the life she has chosen and has adapted well. They discuss her brothers’ children, the Shop and the neighborhood. She inquires about Kitty and her mother tells her that Kitty isn’t well. She seems weaker and is having more trouble walking and moving about. Joe and Jo are concerned and have advised Kitty to see a doctor. They touch briefly on Jack Hart’s escape, with Joe doing his best to brush over it quickly. Sister Mary Agnes tells her parents that Jimmy Connelly is a lost soul who needs guidance. She promises to pray for both Kitty and Jack.

The Visitation Convent. 5712 Roland Avenue. Baltimore, MD. 1929.

December 15

Kitty’s condition has worsened and she’s admitted to the Volunteers of America Hospital. Joe drives her there accompanied by her sister Regina. Kitty is diagnosed with spinal trouble and essentially is bedridden. Her sister Regina has done everything she could to care for Kitty and Joe comforts her as best he can, but both are worried for Kitty. This is clearly serious and they can only hope and pray for a recovery.

December 24

The yearly Christmas Party is held. The Shop is quickly cleaned and decorated for the holiday affair. Young Leo, Ed, Mary and Jack play in the Shop, excited at the prospect of Christmas. Three generations of Kavanagh’s welcome the holiday with cheer but there is much concern for next year with the economy so erratic. They’ve already felt the effects and have stopped working Saturdays; their backlog of scheduled work has gotten a lot shorter. Nonetheless, they celebrate, sharing food and drink and song. They hope for the best next year as they have so many times in the past. The family is also concerned about Kitty who remains in the hospital. She grows weaker very quickly when visited and seems to have little strength. As far as her husband goes, there’s no sign of Jack Hart. During his previous escape, there were always rumors or false reports of him but this time he’s gone. Jack is a ghost.



Herbert Hoover is the President of the United States. The Baltimore Museum of Art opens. Seven of Al Capone’s enemies are shot to death on February 14 in what is called the St. Valentine’s Massacre. The First Academy Awards are held. “Wings” wins the Best Picture. The Wickersham Commission begins an investigation into illegal whiskey production. Amos and Andy premieres on radio. JC Penney becomes the first retailer with stores in all 48 states. Foster Grant mass produces sunglasses for the first time. Admiral Byrd flies over the South Pole. Martin Luther King, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly, and Dick Clark are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Joseph A. “Crazy Joe” Kavanagh. Late 1920s.


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.

1927 Vocation

January 3

The year starts well at the Shop. One of their confectionery customers, the Darby Candy Company, is expanding its factory and has ordered a dozen new large kettles to be fabricated, a very nice job to start the year. January & February are the months when the Shop’s candy and ice cream customers get their repairs and replacements done. The Darby order makes for an outstanding month to start the year. Brothers Joe and James take it as a good sign that the year will be as successful as the last.

February 10

Joe reads the newspaper in the small corner office of the Shop. Ty Cobb has signed with the Philadelphia Athletics. Cobb was released by Detroit after a tough year as player/manager. Joe is such a fan of Cobb and to have him playing for Connie Mack in Philly is a chance Joe won’t be able to pass up. He makes plans to take a trip to Philadelphia to see a ballgame this year. The Shop is still busy. They have more kettles for sweets to make, but also several boiler jobs have come along. Copper liners and some flanges are made, as well as valves and fittings for the boiler tanks. The Shop is busy enough that the men have begun working alternating Saturdays already.

March 28

The Shop spends a busy Spring making a municipal fountain and a railing for a school. In the case of the fountain, copper sheet is heated and rolled into tube; then the tube is gradually pulled around grooved blocks to bend it, a slow process but the Kavanaghs and crew are accustomed to it. The railing is bent in a similar fashion, even more slowly. The brass railing is a more irregular curve and is bent inch by inch very gradually to prevent any errors. Eddie leads the crew on this one. He has the most steady hand of all the smiths and also a great eye for the finished product. Eddie had great discernment of what the customer needed and how to give them the best product. The Kavanagh’s continue to work every other Saturday and plan to do so throughout the year if possible.

May 22

On this Sunday, Joe listens to the radio, marveling at news accounts of Charles Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic flying solo. Joe cannot imagine the courage it would take to attempt such a trip. The world is getting a little smaller all the time. Joe gives some thought to the coming week at the Shop. The crew will be working on several beer vats and a large water tank. The tank is 3000 gallons. The Kavanagh’s will have half of their crew working on this one. It must be made, tested, then disassembled before being delivered to the customer next month.

June 18

Joe visits Philadelphia to take in an Athletics game. He wants to see his hero Ty Cobb playing for his old acquaintance, Connie Mack. He would love to meet Cobb but it doesn’t happen. Mr. Mack is busy with game preparation and Cobb is nowhere to be seen on the field until the start of the ball game. The Athletics are hosting the Chicago White Sox. Philly wins 6-2 led by catcher, Mickey Cochrane who homers and drives in three runs. Cobb goes one out of three for the day, a pretty good game, well worth the trip to Philadelphia .

July 17

Eddie attends a Knights of Columbus Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It is a very rare week off work for Eddie but he is an active member of the Knights of Columbus. Eddie belongs to several church and community groups. The Kavanaghs believe in being very involved with the community and especially with the Church. Of course, Eddie is also General Secretary of the Coppersmiths Local. As a natural organizer, he enjoys being involved with these groups. The Shop is flush with steamship work. Stacks, fittings and gauges are made from brass. The crew works in the heat. The conversation is about baseball and Eddie not being at work. A Shop tradition is if someone is not at work for a day or two, especially a Kavanagh, everything that goes wrong is their fault. Eddie receives a lot of blame this week.

August 19

A very hot humid Friday ends the week. The crew has this Saturday off and they’re happy for it. It was a long week of heat and fire at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. The men are working on a large order of Navy replacement parts, some very small copper pipe elbows. The elbows are bent fairly easily but must be annealed first. It is much easier to heat these in the Shop’s annealing oven than by torch, but it raises the temperature in the building to stifling heights. The Kavanagh’s and crew suffer through the week but are happy for the work. It has been a good year so far and now the men enjoy a two day break from their labors.

October 8

The Yankees sweep the Pirates four games to none to win the World Series. The Yanks have an incredible lineup led by Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The media calls them “Murderer’s Row” and they win 111 games. Ruth homers twice in the series to lead New York. The deciding game ends in unusual fashion. In the bottom of the ninth with the score tied, Johnny Miljus uncorks a wild one and Earle Combs scampers home from third to win the game and the series. It is still the only World Series to end on a wild pitch. The annual seasonal debate between Joe and Eddie about Cobb and Ruth continues. Eddie boasts that Ruth mashed a ridiculous 60 homers this year while Joe emphasizes that Cobb has reached 4,000 hits for his career. Ty Cobb is the first to do so and Joe is sure that no one else will ever hit that many in a career again. Also, for the year Cobb bats a respectable .357 besting Ruth by one point. Still, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind including Joe’s that Cobb’s career is nearing the end. Ruth, Gehrig and the rest of the pin-striped Yankees are in their prime.

November 19

Eddie and Anna attend a showing of the new film, the Jazz Singer. It is the latest thing, a movie with sound, a “talkie.” They enjoy the film a great deal especially the musical accompaniment. Their boys, Ed(9) and Jack(3) spend the Saturday afternoon at Collington Avenue with Eddie’s parents. While Eddie’s sister, Anna plays the piano for the boys, Jo prepares lamb stew for them all for dinner. During dinner Eddie and Anna praise the movie and the music. Joe is interested but is sure none of these films will ever compare to live performance. Joe always said there was nothing like vaudeville.

December 3

Anna Kavanagh tells her parents she has received a calling. She wishes to join a convent and become a cloistered Visitation nun. Her mother, Johanna is very upset. She wants her daughter close at home and wants her to have a family. If Anna joins the Visitation, she can not come home. She can only be seen at certain times and under certain conditions. Joe wants his daughter to be happy but defers to his wife on this. Johanna makes clear her feelings without appearing disappointed. Anna has felt this calling and she is decided.

December 23

It is time for the Christmas party at the Shop. The usual festivities are held a day early on a Friday with the Kavanagh’s, their crew and customers. The Shop is decorated in the typical makeshift fashion it is each year, a tree decorated with a handful of ornaments and some odd ends from the Shop: spirals of brass that remain from drilled holes and small copper tube elbows. There is much food and some drink. Prohibition is on but in Baltimore, you can always find some whiskey. The group sings and celebrates the holiday. The year has been successful. They have a steady stream of work again though they have lower sales than before Prohibition, smaller sales and a smaller crew but they are making money again. The same familiar faces, men they have had for years, including family. Joe and Jo are troubled about Anna’s decision. To receive a calling is a great gift in the Catholic faith. Still, Jo feels she is losing another daughter. The parents will support Anna but not without some reservations. The Shop faces another winter but this time with more confidence. They seem to have found their niche again. The Roaring Twenties are on and hopes are high. The future is now with talking motion pictures and airplanes.



Calvin Coolidge is the President but he announces he will not seek re-election next year. The first transatlantic phone call is made. The Federal Radio Commission which will become the FCC is formed. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is founded. CBS Radio is created with 47 stations. The first armored car robbery is committed in Pennsylvania. The musical “Show Boat” premiers on Broadway. Erma Bombeck, Neil Simon, George C. Scott, Eartha Kitt and Harry Belafonte are born.

There are 48 states in the Union

Eddie Kavanagh on the far right with fellow Knights of Columbus at a convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. July 1927.



1926 Tap Dancing at the Brewery

January 7

Ice cream and candy kettles fill the Shop to start the year. Brothers Joe and James are pleased. Last year was a good one. They have had to scale back their crew bit by bit but now they seem to have a balance of work and employees. The crew of 20 including 5 Kavanaghs are spread throughout the Shop and it’s small front office. Joe handles all phone calls from customers, quotations and jobs. James handles the engineering for the kettles, brewing systems and cooking vessels they make. His son Guy does the books. Invoicing and paying the bills. They work primarily in the small corner office during the day. Trips into the Shop proper to check on job progress and the crew keep one or two of them in and out pretty often. Also, Joe enjoys holding court in the Shop for customers and workers a like. Joe’s oldest son Leo is a very skilled draftsman. He makes the majority of all sketches that are used in their work. Joe’s youngest son Eddie is their most talented coppersmith. He has over ten years of experience and the raw skill of a smith. Eddie is assigned the most difficult jobs. He usually leads the crew for installs as well. The Shop’s beer brewery work increased last year. The sale of “Near Beer” has helped the post prohibition beer industry. In January, their focus has been for years on candy and ice cream customers. They fabricate the kettles and apparatus for the production of the sweets. For many years, the winter months are the time of year for the confectionery companies to handle repairs and replacements. A good thing for the Kavanaghs too. The winter would otherwise be a very quiet time for the place.

March 10

A blustery windy day is spent at the Shop making railings. The Kavanaghs have a long complicated railing to make. The curve is irregular turning right then left. With heat, the brass is bent. After one section is completed by a group of five men, then other workers set to polishing it to a mirror finish. Long tedious work but it pays off with a beautiful finished product. The work has remained steady. They do not work many Saturdays during the cold months but Joe and James give thought to it again. Last year they alternated working Saturdays once the weather broke. That seemed to work quite well. The brothers decide to begin doing the same this year in April.

May 26

A spring Wednesday starts with the Shop receiving an emergency call from Gunther’s Brewery. They have a large leak in a beer vat and it needs to be fixed immediately. They are upset and desperate for a solution. Joe thinks it is best if he is there. He grabs his son Eddie and his nephew James Woods Jr. The three quickly climb into the truck with torches, hammers and tools. They drive as fast they can to the brewery on Conkling Street. Once inside, they make their way to the large brewing room full of vats. The floor is wet with wasted beer. The crew are mopping up and cleaning up as best they can. The supervisor approaches Joe and lets him have it. He’s not satisfied at all. These were just repaired a year ago and look at the mess. He is rambling on and firing left and right at Joe. Joe remains strangely calm. He assures the supervisor that they will fix it up in a jiffy. Joe doesn’t mention that the seams are only guaranteed for a year. The change in weather and over-use makes their repair schedule unpredictable. Joe does not want to anger this gentleman further. He pulls Eddie aside as the supervisor continues ranting. He is swearing and cursing now to his workers about the mess.

Joe tells Eddie, “You and James get in there and fix this thing as fast as you can. Run a good bead but make it quick. I don’t want this to leak anytime soon”

Eddie answers, “Sure, we can do that Joe but this guy is crazy mad.”

Joe says,” Leave him to me. Get up in there.”

Eddie and James Woods climb the ladder up into the tank and begin surveying the damage. Joe meanwhile takes the supervisor by the arm and starts speaking to him. Apologizing and assuring him that it will be fixed quickly. Joe tries to calm him down and lead the conversation away from the leaking vat. They talk of baseball and music and the City. Anything to keep this gentleman from exploding with anger. Eddie finds the leaky seam. It doesn’t seem too bad. It is pretty clear due to the size of the crack but he thinks they can fix it without much trouble. The beer leak all happened quickly once the seam is compromised, the liquid is going to pour out fast. He and his cousin examine it closely and begin cleaning and prepping the seam to solder. Eddie notices that it seems quiet out in the room now. He even hears a few laughs. He smiles to himself knowing that his father Joe is working his magic. Joe was a born entertainer and loves any chance to do so. He was a vaudevillian in his youth. Comedy and music are two of his favorite things. James Woods begins heating the copper at the seam. Eddie gets to soldering. He hears a bit more discussion outside the tank though it does not sound angry. As he runs the bead along the seam with his cousin’s assistance, Eddie begins hearing a rhythmic tapping. He ignores it for a moment but it does not stop. It’s a changing rhythm and it continues. He is about halfway along the cracked seam when he decides to find out what is going on. He hands his soldering iron to James Woods. Hoists himself up to the edge and peeks over out into the large room. He sees the supervisor and his crew all gathered in a semi-circle around Joe. Joe is smiling and tap dancing merrily as the workers watch. Eddie can’t stop the smile from spreading on his face. This is so his father, Crazy Joe Kavanagh. Joe glances up to his son and looks at him as he dances. Instinctively, Eddie shakes his head no. The seam is not ready and he hops right back into the vat. He grabs the soldering iron from his cousin and gets right back to work. He hurries because Joe is almost 60. Eddie’s not sure how long he can keep this up. Eddie is close though and he chases the bead farther and in several moments he is finished. He quickly hops up and looks out again. This time Joe is looking for him. Eddie quickly nods and drops back down. Joe does a few more quick steps and finishes with some old soft shoe flourish. The crowd break out into cheers and applause. Eddie recounts to James what has happened. Smiling they pack up and climb out of the vat. Down the ladder and back into the brewing room. Joe is shaking hands with the supervisor who is smiling broadly and thanking Joe for the dance. That was great he says. As Eddie approaches, he informs Joe that they are finished. The supervisor thanks Joe again. That was some great service. Thank you so much for coming right out and getting right to it. And that dance sure made us all happy. Joe smiles back and tells him he is more than welcome. This is what we do. We guarantee quick and reliable service and repair. The supervisor tells Joe to send us a bill and thanks again. Eddie and James toss their tools in the truck and all three climb in. Eddie is in the driver’s seat with his father next to him. Eddie has done his best to suppress a grin.

Finally, he has to ask. “You know Joe, I never knew dancing was part of the job.“

Joe glances over and with a twinkle in his eyes he says,” EVERYthing is part of the job, Eddie. Everything.”

“Well, I can’t really dance.” Eddie answers as he turns onto Central Avenue.

Joe looks at his son and says, “That’s just fine. I can.”

Eddie shakes his head as they head closer to the Shop and the conversation drifts to baseball. They briefly continue their constant debate of who is better Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth. Joe the consummate fan of Cobb and Eddie a fan of Ruth. They pull in at 201 S. Central and return. Seam fixed. Leak stopped. Dance danced. Mission accomplished.

“Crazy Joe” Kavanagh 1920.

July 24

Joe takes a Saturday train to Philadelphia. He is attending a ballgame and hopes to visit Connie Mack

an old acquaintance. Connie Mack manages the Philadelphia Athletics. They met in a vaudeville theater when Mack was a player and Joe was part of a traveling musical troupe. Joe has visited Mack occasionally over the years though not in the last few crazy strange years. He has a seat near the dugout and is able to speak to him briefly before the game. They catch up a bit and talk baseball. Maybe not friends but associates who both probably enjoy thinking back to their meeting as young men. Mack’s Athletics defeat the Cleveland Indians in 10 innings. Jimmy Dykes leads off the bottom of the 10th inning with a triple and is drivein in by Jim Poole to win the game. Joe saw a good ballgame. Lefty Grove gets the win in relief. Mr. Mack’s team has a pretty good year but must settle for thrird place. Joe thinks long and hard about this life on the train ride back to Baltimore. He can still remember his musical days. The Primrose Quartet, the group of men he sang with. The tours of the Midwest, Canada and Europe. He saw the world. Yet, it was a long time ago. It is more than 30 years now since his wife asked Old Uncle Joe to give her husband a job. Get him home and off the road. It is a rueful memory for Joe. Which is not to say he doesn’t regret it. He just knows it was the right thing to do.

August 5

Today is one of those sweltering humid days that makes smithing a challenge. The Shop’s crew are busy with some steamship parts, a variety of kettles and several beer vats. The work is plentiful but the heat makes every move difficult. They torch copper and twist and turn it. All the while fighting against the temperature. A 100 degree day can feel like 200 with a torch in hand. The Kavanaghs have dealt with the dog days of summer for years at the Shop. All that experience and practice, still adds up to working men sweating and laboring through the stifling day. You get used to not getting used to it.

October, 11

The St. Louis Cardinals beat the New York Yankees in the World Series. Winning 4 games to 3. This series has Babe Ruth all over it. Good and bad. The good being in game 4, Ruth crushes a record three home runs. News accounts state this is after promising a sick boy, Johnny Sylvester that he would hit one out for him. The other two I suppose were bonuses. According to legend, the boys’ health dramatically improved after the home run. Modern research finds this event in doubt but nonetheless it has passed into the lore of baseball and Babe Ruth. One of those Ruth stories that will never cease to be told whether facts dispute them or not. On the bad side, Ruth is thrown out attempting to steal in game 7 for the final out of the game and series. His detractors including Joe Kavanagh find great delight in criticizing this ill-advised attempt. The Kavanaghs and crew discuss the series for days after its completion. Joe needles his son Eddie about Ruth’s gaffe in the final game. Still, Ruth easily wins the season compared to Ty Cobb. Ruth bats a robust .372 with 47 homers. Cobb settles for a meager by his standards, .339 while missing about half season due to injury and age.

December 24

This Friday brings the Christmas Eve Party at the Shop. The annual party is a festive one. Three generations of Kavanaghs celebrate and welcome in the holidays. Kitty does not visit this year but her sisters Regina and Mary attend with their families. Leo’s son, Leo Jr. plays with Eddie’s son, Ed Jr.. while their toddlers Mary(Leo’s daughter) and Jack(Eddie’s son) wander about the dirty Shop. Frequently scooped up and held by one relative or another. Song fills the Shop lead by Joe and his daughter Anna. It is a wonderful evening. Another year in the books for the Kavanaghs. Joe, James and their sons are more relaxed and confident that things are going in the right direction. They have managed two good years in a row. They do not have the volume of work they had before Prohibition but they are making some money. As always, they will see how the winter goes.



Calvin Coolidge is the President of the United States. The first liquid-fueled rocket is invented by Robert Goddard. Congress passes the Air Commerce Act which licenses pilots and airlines. The National Bar Association is incorporated. Iconic Route 66 is established. The NBC Radio Network is formed from 24 local stations. Jerry Lewis, Mel Brooks, Harper Lee, Chuck Berry and Tony Bennett are born. Harry Houdini and Annie Oakley die.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Pratt and Central building. 1990.


1925 Jack and Kitty

1925 Jack and Kitty

January 5

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.

March 4

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.

April 11

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.

May 13

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.

July 15

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.

August 12

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.

September 22

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.

October 16

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.

November 21

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.

December 24

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.


There remain 48 states in the Union.

jack and kitty
James Connolly and Kitty Kavanagh Connolly. AKA Mr. and Mrs. Jack Hart.


1924 A Pair of Jacks

1924 A Pair of Jacks

January 4

The year has started somewhat mediocre. The Shop has a few copper kettles to make that were ordered last year. Joe and James anticipate receiving some candy and ice cream kettles to repair and make as they always do in the beginning of a new year. That should help to increase their volume of work. Still, the brothers believe they need to reduce their crew again. The Shop has made it through the first few years of Prohibition via bootlegging then relying on what they saved from the bootlegging. That cannot go on much more. They must keep some cash in hand for emergencies. Both the Shop and the Kavanaghs. The brothers, Joe(57) and James(48) along with Joe’s sons, Leo(30) and Eddie(29) and Guy(20) each were able to sock away a stash of cash from their fore into whiskey making. The Shop also has some cash in hand but they must accept that they will not be able to increase their sales any time soon. Joe has managed to find several new venues for their coppersmithing work. With the loss of the distilling work, Joe found more customers to purchase the commercial cookers they make. He has found more boiler work which they have done for years. He has even brought in some Navy work from the Philadelphia shipyard. The reality is they have a few too many men. This Friday a meeting is held with the brothers and their sons. Joe opens things up by informing the younger fellows that they have no choice now but to lay off a few men. They will cut three coppersmiths and three helpers. Leo, Eddie and Guy are not surprised. They have each come to this conclusion on their own. Eddie, who is the General Secretary of Coppersmiths Local#80 and very active in the union, usually puts up resistance to any cuts. This time he briefly petitions his father, Joe to save one or two men, but accepts quickly that his father and Uncle James are decided. They are the owners and can make this call. The meeting is more to inform then to ask. The Kavanaghs have these meetings when necessary on Fridays. Even though Joe and James can make any decisions, they all work together. If there are concerns both brothers want to hear them. Besides, Joe likes to talk. Eddie will take care of the necessary paperwork with the union. The size of the crew is down to twenty including these fives Kavanaghs and a cousin, James Woods Jr. As always with the union, if they need extra workers they can bring them in quickly. Eddie hopes it is not long before that happens.

January 13

Joe reads a late edition of the Sunday newspaper. His worst fears having come true. Jack Hart has escaped from the Maryland Penitentiary. Just before midnight, he and William Tilson, a thief who was held nearby, make their way out of their cells. Tilson breaks the lock to his cell. Jack’s was opened with a key. They walked down a corridor. Down a flight of steps to the main floor. The number of guards was reduced at night. They were able to remain unseen. Hart and Tilson scale a wall to reach a window. Using a large piece of iron, they pry the bars open wide enough for one man to climb out. Once on the outside of the window. they begin climbing down the wall using the bars on the lower windows as a make shift ladder. They find themselves standing on Forrest Street. They disappear into the Baltimore night.

They remain undetected until after 7 a.m. Their cell doors are found unlocked. Dummy heads made from cloth are found on each pillow. The general alarm is sounded. The Baltimore City Police are quickly notified and soon alerts are sent to Washington, Philadelphia and New York. Jack Hart has escaped.
The guards begin a thorough search of the prison as the police arrive. Officers pan out over the neighborhood. They search and they question neighbors. Several who live on Forrest Street. On the opposite side of the penitentiary report vehicles heard on the street at the time. One specifically describes a truck with a piano playing very loudly. He took particular note due to the hour and the oddness of such a thing. As the police continue their investigation they theorize the piano was used to cover the noise of the bars in the window being bent. After examining the window, the police are not only impressed by it but also sure that doing such a thing would create a lot of noise. The police are sure that Jack and Tilson had some outside help to pull this off. Prison Guard William Carter is blamed by Warden Sweezey. He was on guard of Jack’s cell block at the time. Carter insists they must have escaped later during a change in guard. Sweezey believes all other evidence points to approximately midnight. Warden Sweezey is on the hot seat quickly. He was held accountable for Jack’s disappearance into a prison wall the prior year. He was gone for over 10 hours and sent the City into a panic. This escape will bring more accusations of lax security and poor oversight at the warden.

As the news spread of Jack’s escape, Kitty was contacted in New York where she has been living. She rented an apartment there. She was told of Jack’s breakout and was interviewed by a reporter. She says she has no knowledge of the escape but is happy Jack is free. Joe puts down the paper puffing on his pipe. He speaks to his wife, Johanna. Filling her in on the story. She is taken aback as much as he was. She tells him not to worry but that he should call James and then his sons. He expects the Shop to be raided tomorrow. Searched again as they have been through the last several years. They will all be questioned. They will keep to their story. They knew Jack by his real name, James Connelly. They knew him as Kitty’s husband but not much more. They will do their best to distance themselves from him as they have each time the police ask. Jack is out for real this time. They will come.

January 14

The police are waiting at the Shop at 7:00 a.m. Officers Dawson, Mayo, McNeill and Springate again. They repeat the search of last year. McNeill and Springate charge up the steps and search the Machine Shop. Dawson and Mayo check every corner on the first floor. They look over the Kavanaghs and crew. Comparing their faces to Jack Hart’s description. When McNeill and Springate return they descend a ladder into the basement finding it as empty as it was the prior year. Joe and James stand with their crew and wait.

Officer Dawson speaks up, “We are looking for Jack Hart. We are searching everywhere. Have any of you seen or heard from him?”
Joe replies, “No, we have not. He won’t come here. I tell you this over and over. And none of us have heard from him. He won’t come to us.”
“Would he go to Kitty?” Dawson asks looking down to Joe.
Joe rocks up on to his toes and stares back at Dawson replying, “I really can’t say. I wouldn’t know. She’s his wife. Maybe.”
Officer Dawson takes a step back and glances at the other officers. “The New York police will be talking to her. I am sure.” Dawson turns back to the Kavanaghs and crew who still stand gathered in a semicircle around Joe and the police. “If any of you are contacted by Hart, you get in touch with us immediately, right?”
Joe sighs and suppresses a glare but replies, “Yes, of course.”
Officer May steps to Dawson’s side and says, “You four are the Kavanaghs, correct?”
As a group they nod wordlessly. “Do any of you play the piano?” Glancing at each other Joe, James and Eddie raise their hands.
Leo alone speaks up. Saying “I play the mandolin.”
“I guess you’re innocent then.” Eddie quickly says sending the crew into laughter.
Dawson quickly step toward Eddie, “There is nothing funny about a prison escape. A murder!”
Joe moves between them and addresses Dawson, “We read the paper. So, we play the piano. Thousands do. We had nothing to do with Hart before and we sure had nothing to do with his escape. You’ve searched. You found nothing. We got nothing to hide and we had nothing to do with this.”
“There’s no reason to get smart with us. We are just doing our job.” Dawson answered staring at Eddie who looked back impassively.
“Well, this is just getting a little old now.” Joe said answering for his son who he watched carefully.
Mayo speaks again with another question for Joe. “What about Kitty? Does she play the piano?”
Joe nods that she does even though he assumes the police know that already. Kitty was interviewed many times by the police. At her house, they no doubt saw a piano. Also, she was interviewed by the press. She presented herself as someone wanting to study music and she certainly had a theatrical way about her. She sang as well as playing the piano.
Joe is quick to say, “Kitty lives in New York now. She’s been staying there. She’s even taken a job in New York. She could not have been involved and would not do such a thing anyway.”
“Fair enough.” May replies. “As Dawson said, the New York police will talk to Kitty. Thanks for your cooperation.”

The officers seem satisfied for now or at least out of questions. The police call the station and are told to leave. They also are told to inform Joe and the rest of the Kavanaghs that they may be back. If Jack contacts the family, they are to call the police immediately. After the police leave, Joe sets his crew to work. It takes a few minutes. There is quite a bit of chatter about Jack Hart’s escape. The arrival of the police has only highlighted it, but the story in and of itself was conversation enough. The crew are distracted as they begin heating some copper sheet. They curve it between three cylindrical rods. The sheet is passed through until it reaches the desired size. They solder seams and then set to work making tops and bottoms for the kettles.

After work, the Kavanaghs stay at the Shop to talk. They were all involved in the bootlegging with Jack Hart. All had contact with him, but James’ and especially Guy’s was limited. Jack is out and until he is recaptured they will have to deal with the police showing up. James is worried about Kitty. They all are. James is just the first to raise the subject. Joe is her godfather and he should use his influence to keep Kitty quiet. She is in New York, but she is already in the Baltimore Sun yesterday commenting how happy she is that Jack is free. In today’s paper is an excerpt of a letter from Kitty to Jack pronouncing her unending love and devotion to him. The letter was received yesterday at the MD Penitentiary. It had been mailed from Trenton New York Saturday night. Arriving special delivery. Joe agrees that Kitty could be a problem, but there is nothing he can do about it. He is happy that Kitty is in New York now. She is far away and couldn’t have been involved. This piano playing while they escaped is something the police may use to connect Kitty to it. Joe continues that they did the same thing during the Norris trial. They did their best to link Kitty to the crime, but she was not involved. Fortunately, she was far away when Jack broke out. The reports say that Jack is probably out of Baltimore. If the paper is right, then perhaps we won’t be bothered too much. It really depends how long Jack is out. James still wants Joe to call Kitty. To try and persuade her to not talk to reporters. Joe will call her though he doubts if it will make any difference. They will have to wait it out and do their jobs. If the police show up, we’ll deal with them and answer their questions. Eddie asks what will they do if Jack shows up? A pause is ended by Joe saying it is the same as before. If Jack visits the Shop, they will help him and then get him out of here as fast as we can. They do not want Jack to have any grudge against them. That evening after dinner on Collington Avenue, Joe calls Kitty in New York. There is no answer. He tries several times, but she is not there.

January 15

The Sun reports that the police are searching New York and Brooklyn for Kitty Kavanagh. New evidence has appeared that Kitty was in Baltimore Saturday night within hours of Jack Hart and William Tilson’s escape. The Sun itself presents the evidence. A photographer Mr. Meltor? formerly employed by the Sun, has revealed to the newspaper that he encountered Kitty on Eutaw St. at 7 pm Saturday evening. She stopped him on the street to discuss a picture he had taken of her during Jack’s trial. She wanted the photo. She was dressed in a dark dress with a heavy veil. She confided to him that she was trying to conceal her identity. She did not want the police knowing she was in Baltimore. They had been giving her a terrible time since the trial. Even worse since Jack tried to escape last year. She asks that he not tell anyone he has seen her as she hands him an envelope with her address on it. She removed a letter from Hart from the envelope.This was the only paper she had. She asks Meltor? to send her the picture in this envelope. There is some suspicion that Kitty may have assisted in the escape now. Kitty has not been seen since she gave an interview to a New York reporter on Sunday. Joe sighs as he puts down the paper in his office. He hands it over to James and thinks while his brother reads the story. Joe has not been able to reach Kitty. He tried calling her again this morning. Still no answer.

The Kavanaghs meet again in the Shop office after hours. They discuss this latest news about Kitty. They are convinced she was here in Baltimore. They go over it all but can’t come to any conclusion as to whether or not she was involved in the escape. Joe insists she would not but even he has his doubts. The big questions is. Where is Kitty?

February 7

Joe receives a phone call at the Shop from Kitty. He is relieved. No one has heard from her in weeks. She acts as if there was nothing to fuss about. She was moving about New York. Staying with friends and looking for permanent work. She downplays the police’s search for her. Again, stating that she was around. She just wasn’t checking in with the authorities since she did not think this was necessary. She knows nothing of Jack’s whereabouts. She hopes he is safe. They were treating him awful in the Maryland Penitentiary. She hopes he is never found. She misses him but is glad he’s free now. Joe listens and does not say much. He is just happy to have heard that she is safe and sound. Finally, he asks her about the report she was in Baltimore on the night of the escape. She vehemently denies it. She tells Joe that the photographer has his weeks confused. She was in town the previous Saturday. That was her scheduled day to visit Jack. She visits twice monthly. Taking the train from New York now that she lives there. She acts unconcerned. Joe bids her goodbye. After hours, he passes it all on to the rest of the Kavanaghs. None of them know what to think. Whether to take Kitty’s word for it or not. Joe still does not believe Kitty would assist in an escape. He does believe that Kitty has seen Jack. He can only assume that her absence for this period of time means she was with Jack. The rest of the family concurs.
February 14

Florence Regina Harris is born to Harry Harris and Regina Kavanagh Harris, Kitty’s younger sister. A “Sweetheart Baby” as she was called because of being born on Valentine’s Day. The third child born to Regina. The family is thrilled for some good news after the last two months. They welcome another member of the next generation.

February 25

Two Baltimore Police Detectives visit Shop. They interview all the Kavanaghs. Again. This is a repeat of the prior interviews before Jack Hart’s trial. They sit with them individually in the Shop’s office. They ask each one if they have seen or heard from Jack or Tilson. How much does Kitty know? The family all stick to the same line. They tell them they have not seen Jack. They knew him as James Connelly, Kitty’s husband. They socialized, but not much more. They, of course, do not mention their bootlegging with Jack. They avoid any details they know about Hart. None of them know anything about Tilson. After questioning the Kavanaghs, the detectives roam around the Shop a bit. Looking around, but not seeming to know what they were looking for.

April 16

The Shop’s crew work through a cool spring day. A brass railing is fabricated and curved for a bar. Sleeves and fittings for a boiler are made. There is more talk among the Kavanaghs about Jack Hart. There are rumors reported in the paper that Jack has been in New York. Then moved on to Canada to join in the whiskey trade between that country and ours. Rejoining his bootlegging partners. The Sun says. Joe rolls his eyes at this claim. There was a report that he was spotted in Hagerstown, MD. The police run all these leads down but can’t find him. Joe believes that Kitty has seen Jack. He assumes the police believe the same thing. The common theory seems to be that they met in New York soon after the escape while Kitty was missing. She claimed to be looking for work throughout the boroughs. Joe thinks otherwise. He does not know if she is still in touch with Jack or not. The New York police had been keeping her under surveillance for a time but have given up on that. Joe hopes that Jack has indeed moved on to Canada. Never to return.

May 20

On this Tuesday, John Joseph Kavanagh is born to Eddie and Anna Kavanagh. The family is very excited. Eddie and Anna lost a girl just over a year ago. She died at 3 months. This boy is welcomed with much love. He is named after John Guy Kavanagh who goes by Guy, Eddie’s cousin and the baby’s godfather. Unbeknownst to the family, the birth certificate is filled out incorrectly. His name is actually Joseph John Kavanagh. He is a Joe, but this is not discovered until he applied for Social Security after retiring in 1986. He was a Joe but was not aware of it. He is the Unknown Joe. His parents believed his name was John, but they decided to call him Jack.

Jack Kavanagh will someday be the finest leader the Shop has ever had. He was trained as a coppersmith but adapted the business as it was needed. He was skilled as a smith and in business. He knew about metal and how to work it. He was both smart, hard-working and very compassionate toward others. He was a man who was able to solve problems and care about people at the same time. He was my father.

John ( Big Jack ) Kavanagh’s baby picture. 1924

June 16

A hot Monday begins the week at the Shop. They have some ship work from local steamers to do. Several pump ballast chambers are made along with some brass stacks, gauges and fittings. A very active start to the summer. The police pay a visit to the Shop again. Joe and James are getting pretty mad about it now. The Kavanaghs are interviewed again. They ask the same questions basically. It’s more for show then to find anything out. The police do not want it to appear as if they have given up on finding Jack. It is a brief interruption to the day. They leave when they realize the Kavanaghs know nothing more. Joe receives a call from Regina. They have all received another round of interviews from the police. Mary Rachel, Regina and Mary’s homes have all had police visits in the last couple of days. Joe and James have had enough. They don’t know what they want the most. Jack to never be seen again or captured for good.

August 23

The monthly Saturday evening meeting of Coppersmiths Local# 80 is held. As General Secretary, Eddie attends. There is the usual discussion of wages for different locals around the country. The Locals compare their situations. It’s helpful in negotiations and it assists the brothers if they decide to relocate. They know what the pay is in different parts of the nation. Another of Eddie’s duties is to answer any inquiries from other locals and passes along questions from the members of #80. The meeting is a brief one and the members return home on a particularly sticky humid evening.

October 13 Monday Game Friday

The Washington Senators have beaten the New York Giants to win the World Series in seven games. The final game requiring 12 innings to decide. Senators’ great, Walter Johnson, at last reached the Series. He spent his career with perennial non-contending Washington. He started two games and lost them both but he gets the win in game 7 as a reliever. Along with many fans, the Kavanaghs were pulling for the Senators. To see a gentleman and talented pitcher such as Johnson win a championship was rewarding. Both Joe and Eddie held the Dutchman in high regard. They agreed on the Series, but the Cobb/Ruth debate raged on. Joe’s favorite player being Ty Cobb and Eddie’s being Babe Ruth. Cobb settles for a .338 batting average. Ruth has another monster year. He wins the batting title which Eddie never let Joe forget with a crisp .378 average. Also walloping 47 home runs. Cobb is aging and Ruth is in his prime. Joe’s and Eddie’s argument about these two players is beginning to be clearly one-sided.

November 4

Calvin Coolidge defeats Democrat John Davis and Progressive Robert Pollette Sr. to retain the presidency. Davis needs 103 ballots to secure the Democratic nomination. The Democratic field was wide open throughout the election. Even MD’s Governor Ritchie campaigned for the nomination. Progressive Pollette had served as the Senator representing Wisconsin and also as its governor. The Kavanaghs were no fans of Coolidge. They wanted a change. A change back. They wanted Prohibition repealed despite that being out of the president’s scope of power. They voted for Davis.

November 25

Frank Kavanagh dies of malaria at the Panama Canal. He had contracted it several weeks prior. Joe receives a telegram at the Shop. James and Joe are very upset. Their youngest brother is dead. They stand for a moment in stunned silence. They pass the news on to their sons and the rest of the crew, some who knew Frank. Eddie takes it hard. He was trained by Frank and close to him. Joe soon ushers the men back to work. He and James return to the small corner office. Situated at the very corner of Pratt and Central. Three desks and a small safe crammed into a 10’ x 15’ room. They speak of Frank for a few minutes until the phone on Joe’s desk rings. He answers with the customary, “Joseph Kavanagh Company.” And the day goes on.

All Kavanaghs but one. Left to right: James Sr., Eddie, James Jr.(standing), Frank, Leo(standing), Joe, Guy(back to camera), Anna. Mr. Fairbanks(Shop employee) on the far right.
Frances Aloysius ( Frank ) Kavanagh 1883-1924

November 26

Arrangements are made to bring Frank’s body back to Baltimore. The funeral will be at St. Elizabeth’s of Hungary Church on Baltimore Street. The family parish. Only three of Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh’s nine children remain. Joe is the oldest than Sally (Sarah) and the youngest is now James. Frank was the ninth of nine. He was the baby.

December 18

Jack Hart is captured in Chicago after an attempted silk robbery. Jack and an accomplice are spotted in a car by a policeman. He is suspicious and searches the vehicle. He finds over $30,000 in silk in the car. They are arrested for robbery immediately. Jack quickly admits to be wanted in MD. Baltimore authorities are notified as fast as possible. The news is met with excitement in Baltimore. Particularly, at Pratt and Central Avenue. The Kavanaghs are happy to hear of Jack’s re-capture. This should put an end to visits from the police.

December 19

The B & O Railroad donates the use of a special car to ship Jack Hart back to Baltimore. He waives his right to an extradition trial. Anxious to get on with it. He jokes with police officers and detectives Smoking cigars and cigarettes with them as he travels back east. Hart displays a friendly demeanor at all times. Upon arrival in Baltimore, he is jovial and jokes with reporters he recognizes. He is happy to be out of Chicago. Warden Sweezey once again vows that Jack will never get out again. He will spend the rest of his days in the Maryland Penitentiary. As Joe reads this in the paper, he hopes Sweezey is right. He sure hopes this is the end of the craziness of the last few years.

December 20

Today is Frances (Frank) Aloysius Kavanagh’s funeral. He is buried on a Saturday. The family gathers, prays and grieves for him. They find support in each other and their faith. Frank was a very skilled coppersmith. The last coppersmith trained by Old Uncle Joe. He played the violin and enjoyed playing music with his brothers and nephews and nieces. He was married to Gussie who pre-deceased him as did one of his sons, Christian. He is buried at Loudon Park Cemetery on Wilkens Avenue with them. Frank was survived by son Charles who lives with his mother’s sister. They soon relocate to Philadelphia to be closer to her family. Eddie Kavanagh was an apprentice to Frank. They were close. Eddie regarded Frank as the nicest and kindest of the Kavanagh brothers including his father.

December 24

The annual Christmas Eve party is held at the Shop. As always, customers, workers and Kavanaghs mingle together to celebrate. They have made it through another year, but their hearts are heavy for Frank. Joe and James were his older brothers. Much older especially Joe. Joe was 17 years older than Frank. Frank was still a young man. Yet, there is another generation being born. Babies, Jack and Florence, Leo’s boy is 8 years old and his daughter Mary is 1. These children remind the family of the future. They bring a sense of hope and wonder at what they might do. Meanwhile, Jack Hart is back in jail after ten months on the lam. The mystery of the piano playing on the truck is never solved. The police searches, questions and the newspaper reports are all finished though. The family is relieved. They can focus again on doing their jobs. The Shop’s crew is a little smaller. Twenty men from over thirty before Prohibition. They will continue to try to find other work if possible. So far, they are making it work without the whiskey distilling industry. The Shop is adapting and surviving. The Kavanaghs right with it.

Calvin Coolidge is the President of the United States. In Nevada, the gas chamber is first used for an execution. IBM and MGM are founded. J. Edgar Hoover becomes leader of the FBI. The Leopold and Loeb murder occurs in Chicago. The Indian Citizenship Act gives citizenship to Native Americans. The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is held. Marlon Brando, Carrol O’Connor, Truman Capote, Shirley Chisholm and Rod Serling, are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

jack hart 1924
James Connelly/Jack Hart. Courtesy of Baltimore Sun.


1923 The Aftermath

January 5

Eddie and Anna’s baby Alice passes away. She was not expected to live long with her health issues. She was a “blue baby” which essentially means she had a defect in her heart. As layman called it, a hole in the heart. The family tries to rally around her parents. It is a tough blow for both Eddie and Anna.

January 9

The funeral for Alice is this morning. It is a Tuesday, but Joe does not close the Shop nor does he attend the funeral. Eddie and Anna bury their child. Eddie arrives at the Shop at noon. The crew is busy with some candy and confectionery kettles and a small rail job.

January 12

The Kavanaghs hold a meeting after work on this Friday. They have to address the Shop’s situation. They will no longer be doing any bootlegging so, they must determine their next move. Joe and James inform Leo, Eddie and Guy that they will need to cut their crew back. The work isn’t there. Eddie argues against it. He believes that they should try to push more into brewery repairs. The breweries are still making “near beer” and it seems to be selling. Joe is adamant that this will not be enough to make the difference. They do have one older coppersmith who retired at the end of the year. He moved south to live with his family. After much discussion, they decide they will cut two coppersmiths and four helpers from the crew. This will bring their crew down to 25 men. They will see how the year goes, but they may need to cut more. Eddie will have to smooth it out with Union Local #80. They have kept their crew intact for a long time. It should not be a problem to have a reduction in the number of workers needed. When Eddie receives his pay after the meeting, he learns that his father has docked him for the time missed at his daughter’s funeral. He can’t believe it. Anna can not believe it. Eddie’s brother Leo can not believe it. Joe and Eddie have never been close and butted heads frequently, but this causes a distance between them that lasts for the rest of Joe’s life. To not close the Shop and not attend his granddaughter’s funeral is one thing, but to dock his son for going seems egregious and unnecessarily cruel. Eddie never discusses it with his father. He never tells his mother and asks Anna not to do so. He returns to work as if nothing has changed, but it has.

February 16

Another cold week passes at the Shop. The candy and ice cream kettles are keeping them steady if not busy. Copper sheet is heated and curved into cylinders for each kettle. The tops and bottoms are fabricated and attached. The same is done to any necessary fittings and valves. They are avoiding working Saturdays if at all possible to stay busy during the week.

March 17

A St. Patrick’s Day party is held at Joe and Johanna’s house on Collington Avenue. Today is a Saturday and the Shop is closed. They not only celebrate their heritage, but Joe’s and James’ brother Frank has returned for a visit. He has been working as a coppersmith at the Panama Canal for several years. He comes home when he can which is not often. The Kavanaghs gather for a large party. Frank’s brothers are there with their families as is his sister, Sally, with her family. His brother Martin’s daughters, Kitty, Regina and Mary are there. Martin had passed several years prior. They play music and sing together as they have not in years. Eddie plays the piano, Leo the mandolin and Frank the violin. Joe leads the singing in his deep baritone while the rest of the family joins in. They play some Irish favorites like Cruiskeen Lawn and Irish Exile. There is much food and a little drink. It is Prohibition, but Joe always seems to have some stash of rye. Enough for a few toasts. Joe’s niece and god-daughter, Kitty tells Joe that she has been visiting her husband, Jack Hart as much as she can at the Maryland Penitentiary. Twice a month is the most permitted. She says she misses him a great deal and he feels the same. He still insists he will come for her some day. Joe shakes his head and tells her that she and Jack should accept that he will be in prison for a long time. The family catches Frank up on the Jack Hart situation. They do not tell him about the bootlegging they were doing with Jack. They tell him all about the Norris murder and Jack’s involvement. Otherwise, the focus is on how Frank is doing and how long will he stay. His sister-in-law brings his son, Charles. Frank misses his family, but his son most of all. Frank tells his family that he will stay for about six weeks. He will then return to Baltimore for good next year.

April 23

A warm spring day starts this week at the Shop. The crew work on some brass bearings and fittings. Several beer vats are being fabricated for National Brewery. The crew is still steady, but not swamped. . At noon today, Frank comes in to visit the Shop. He walks around and takes a good look at the place. He worked here for about five years until resigning in 1916. He needed to move on after his wife’s death which followed his older son’s death. He has a long lunch with his brothers, James and Joe. They speak of their older brother Martin and how the three of them walked out on him and formed their own company. It was 17 years ago yesterday when they broke off on their own. Of course, it proved to be the wise move as Martin was out of business in less than three years. They reminisce further. Talking about their brother Eugene who was killed in 1903 in a train wreck. It’s hard for them to believe that it has been twenty years since the accident. They speak of their family. Their mother who now lives in Philadelphia. They all wish she were closer, but it was her wish to move back to where her side of the family live. James and Joe will visit her this year. They try to take the train up at least once a year. Last year was a crazy one and they did not have the chance. They call her often and she writes letters regularly as she always has done.

May 7

Frank leaves Baltimore again. He boards a train to New York and will sail from there to Panama. His brothers escort him to the station and bid him farewell. Joe and James then head to the Shop. Eddie and several boys are laboring on an installation at National Brewery. The beer vats are installed one at a time. The vat is hauled in the Shop’s truck. Then it is muscled into the building. They balance the vat then begin attaching it to the existing brewing system. Each vat takes several days to complete. While part of the crew are at the brewery, the rest are prepping the next vat. It is a nice bit of work for the Shop.

May 10

A fountain is being shaped and curved today in the Shop. A typical spring day is interrupted at 1:30 p.m. Two police cars drive along Central Avenue and pull to a stop in front of the building. Four officers, Dawson, Mayo, McNeill and Springate rush into the Shop. They call out loudly to anyone who can hear that they are looking for Jack Hart. Joe hurries out of his office as the crew stare in disbelief. Officers McNeill and Springate climb the stairs to the second floor. Joe asks the two who remain why they are looking for Jack. He is in prison. Officer Dawson replies that he has escaped. The Kavanaghs are stunned. They can not believe it. Joe quickly begins telling Officer Dawson that they have not seen Jack Hart. He is not here. Officer Mayo is looking over the faces of the crew. None fit Hart’s description. Officers McNeill and Springate return from the second floor after finding nothing. They ask about the basement and Joe points to the wood sheets covering the entrance. McNeill and Springate immediately pull those up. Eddie Kavanagh brings them a ladder and they climb down. There is nothing there, but some old wood and some tools. Officer Dawson tells Joe and all the workers that if they see or hear from Jack Hart they are legally obligated to turn him in. Joe assures them they will. They want no parts of Jack Hart. Officer Mayo uses the Shop’s phone to call their superiors. When Mayo returns, he informs Joe that they are staying. They believe Jack may show up here looking for help. Joe bites his tongue and says this is fine, but he’s sure Jack will not come here. The officers stand out front of the Shop’s doors smoking while Joe gets his crew back to work. He returns to his office. He would like to call Kitty, but does not. Probably not a good idea with the police right outside the door. The Kavanaghs and crew get very little done the rest of the afternoon. At 4:30 p.m. when the Shop’s doors are locked up, the Kavanaghs and crew head home.

Central Avenue side of the old Shop. Picture taken September 8, 2018.

May 11

The Shop spends Friday abuzz with the talk of Jack’s attempted escape. The crew chat about it and the Kavanaghs do to, but choose their words carefully. When the day ends and the workers leave, Joe calls a meeting to discuss Jack and Kitty. She has called Joe and told him that Jack will not stop until he is out. He is coming for her. Joe tried to changer her mind, but without success. He asks her if she knew about this attempted escape. She vehemently denies knowing anything about it. She was simply there for a regular visit. She knows that Jack misses her and wants to be with her. The Kavanaghs are worried she will bring more publicity to the situation. Last year she was interviewed and pictured throughout the manhunt. James tells Joe he has to handle Kitty. She’s a loose cannon, but she will listen to her Uncle Joe. Both Leo and Eddie agree with their Uncle James. Joe is the only one that Kitty every listens to. Joe shakes his head and tells them this is no longer the case. Kitty seems so devoted to Jack now almost to the point of disregarding anyone else even herself. Joe will try to convince Kitty to tell her husband to stay where he is. He doesn’t expect her to take his advice, but he will try. Another issue they discuss is what to do if Jack does show up at the Shop. It does seems as if Jack will try to escape again according to Kitty. They need a plan for this possibility. They discuss their options. They would consider turning him in, but that would certainly give Jack every reason to rat them out. To tell the police everything about the bootlegging they did at the Shop. Even if they are not prosecuted, this would damage their reputation. It could hurt the company. They come to the conclusion that if Jack Hart shows up, they will help him. They will do what they can and get him out of the building as fast as possible. They have to be generous and supportive to him if he does make an appearance. Then, they have to get him to leave as fast as possible. They all hope this never happens. Being ready is a good idea though. The Kavanaghs disperse and head home. After dinner, Joe calls Kitty. He tries to persuade her to tell Jack to just serve his time and not cause trouble. To wait and see if he makes parole some day. Kitty listens but his ideas fall on deaf ears. She tells Joe that she doesn’t want trouble for Jack, but he will do what he wants. That’s how it is and they both want to be together.

June 16

Katherine Lubre Kavanagh dies in Philadelphia on this Saturday. Joe and James were planning a trip to see their mother next month. Instead, they take a train the next day to bring her body back to Baltimore. The family grieves, but knows that Katherine lived a long full life.

June 20

Katherine Lubre Kavanagh is laid to rest at New Cathedral Cemetery with so many other Kavanaghs. The funeral service is held at St. Elizabeth’s of Hungary Church on the corner of Lakewood Avenue and Baltimore Street. She was of French-Swiss and Irish decent. She was the matriarch of the Kavanaghs despite moving to Philadelphia for those last few years. She lived 20 years longer than her husband, Patrick. She outlived five of her nine children. When she passed, she had nearly twenty grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. She was the last of her generation. The original Joe Kavanaghs’s generation. She was 77 years old.

Katherine Lubre Kavanagh. (1845-1923)

August 2

President Warren G. Harding suffers a heart attack and dies while on a speaking tour in San Francisco.

Vice- President Calvin Coolidge becomes the 30th president. Joe reads the story in the newspaper the next morning. The Kavanaghs and the country mourn. History doesn’t treat the Harding presidency well, but his death was very sudden and a shock to the nation. Harding is the sixth U. S. President to die in office.

August 18

On the one year anniversary of the Norris murder, Leo’s wife, Maymie gives birth to their second child, Mary. The new baby girl and mother are doing well. The family is happy for another member of the next generation. Joe and Johanna are grandparents again.

September 15

Eddie attends a Saturday evening Coppersmiths union meeting of Local #80. There is the usual discussion of wages and work conditions. He handles several correspondences from Locals around the country. Eddie is happy to take care of these things. It’s part of the General Secretary’s job. Afterward, he returns home for a quiet night with his wife and son.

October 15

The Yankees beat the Giants in the World Series. 4 games to 2. Babe Ruth hits 3 home runs while a young Casey Stengel hits two in a losing cause. The ever present debate between Joe and Eddie over Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb goes Ruth’s way this year. “The Babe” has a huge year. Hitting .393 with 41 homers and an incredible 170 walks. Henry Heilmann wins the batting title with an average of .403. Cobb has a disappointing year hitting a meager .340. Even Joe has to admit, Cobb’s better days may be behind him.

November 26

Today another chilly winter week begins as the crew starts fabricating another large fountain while several workers, led by Eddie, attend to another repair at National Brewery. This one is unrelated to the vats they replaced. It is just some seams to solder and fittings to replace. Several days worth of work in this one. The rest of the crew finish some small brass parts for a boiler.

December 24

The Shop’s Christmas Eve Party is held. Aunt Sally, Kitty, Mary, Regina are all there. The Kavanaghs and customers mingle with employees. Kitty has a long chat with her Uncle Joe and Uncle James about James Connelly/ Jack Hart. She has continued visiting him twice a month in prison. She still seems to think that he will find a way to get out. Joe does his best to discourage her from talking about this. Her Uncle James wanders away and leaves her with Joe who continues to encourage her to tell her husband to stay put. To serve his time and hope to make parole. Kitty is unmoved and remains convinced that Jack Hart will come for her. Her Uncle Joe lets her ramble on about it. She also mentions that she will be spending some time in New York in the new year. Visiting the Connellys, her husband’s family. Joe likes this idea. It will get her out of Baltimore and away from the penitentiary. That has to be a good thing. The party carries on around them. There is music and good cheer for the holiday overall. They have managed to get through another year and have a little work for the start of the next. They are not making the money they were when they were in the rye business, but they aren’t breaking any laws either. They celebrate another year of the Shop as a family. As the party winds down, Eddie and Anna make an announcement that is welcomed with great joy and excitement. They are expecting another baby in the new year.



Warren G. Harding dies in office and Calvin Coolidge becomes the president. The first issue of Time Magazine is published. Yankee Stadium opens. The Hollywood sign is inaugurated. Originally, it was Hollywood Land. The Walt Disney Company is founded. The Equal Rights Amendment was submitted to Congress for the first time. Suffragist Alice Paul who was instrumental in the passing of the 19th Amendment is at the forefront of it coming before Congress. It does not pass. Rocky Marciano, Hank Williams, Charlton Heston, Bob Barker and Jean Stapleton are born.

There remain 48 states in the Union.

Letter from Katherine Lubre Kavanagh to her grandson Eddie and his wife Anna. January 19, 1919.