Another year begins for the Shop. The Kavanaghs hope it is more of a typical year. It starts in a typical fashion. They have a few candy and ice cream kettles to repair and replace. The confectionery work has been a regular part of their winter schedule for years. Something they can usually rely on in the cold months. Jack Hart is back in jail. After being on the lam for the greater part of last year, the Shop does not have to worry about police searches to find him. Kitty, Jack’s wife is in New York. She continues to return to Baltimore to visit Jack once a month. A Saturday visit that she never misses. She clings to the idea that they will be re-united some day and be happy. Jack is serving a life sentence for murder.
The crew works on a few cooking kettles and a brass railing as they listen to Calvin Coolidge’s inauguration on the Shop’s radio. Joe moved the radio from the office and placed it in the Shop proper. All of them pause and listen. This is the first inauguration broadcast by radio. For the first time, Americans, as a group, hear the president-elect sworn in. The Kavanaghs and crew listen attentively and hang on every word. Afterward, there is some brief chat about it but Joe is quick to get everyone back to work.
Kitty visits Joe and his wife, Johanna for a Saturday evening dinner. She has been to see Jack on her monthly visit. She will stay until tomorrow with her sister, Regina. Joe and Kitty play the piano and sing. Joe’s daughter Anna nearly 18, plays as well. They take turns singing and playing some old Irish songs. Johanna makes a ham dinner. The night is a good time and Joe is taken back many years ago when he taught Kitty to play the piano. Long before all this trouble with Jack Hart. After dinner when Anna has gone to bed, Joe and Johanna speak with Kitty about Jack. She updates them that Jack is on his best behavior now and she hopes he makes parole some time soon. Joe chides her a bit and assures her that this will not happen anytime soon. Jack escaped. He’s tried to do so several times. He won’t be making parole. Kitty shakes her head and says that the warden has treated her husband awfully. When he escaped, he just felt he had to get out of there. Kitty truly loves Jack and he her. Their love affair and marriage was a wild one. Traveling around the country to begin. Visiting her father in Chicago. Spending time in New York. They settled in Baltimore and before long Jack is knee deep in illegal activities. Not the least of which was the bootlegging Joe and the Shop did with him. Now he is back in jail for murder having escaped the prior year. Joe listens as Kitty professes and pronounces her love for Jack over and over. Her dream of them being together soon. Joe knows it is genuine. He tries futilely to temper her dream but to no avail. Kitty leaves Collington Avenue. Joe discusses the whole matter with Jo. They both agree that Jack and Kitty have a strong love between them. Strangely enough it seem to bring more trouble than comfort.
Eddie and his cousin James Woods lead a group of workers on a beer vat replacement at National Brewery. The vat has been fabricated over the last week. A large sheet of copper is heated then hammered into a bowl shape. Several men stand under the sheet with large wooden mallets while two more tap and shape the sheet with smithing hammers. Slowly the vat takes shape. Fittings and valves are also made. Today the installation will take 8 men. The vat is hauled in the Shop’s Mack truck to the brewery. With not much more than brute strength, it is carried into the building. The crew goes about setting and balancing the vat. It still needs to be connected to the beer brewing system but that will wait for the next day. The rest of the crew are occupied with some cooking vessels and making more stock valves. It has been a good start to the year for the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Joe and James breath a bit of a sigh of relief. The last few years have been trying ones.
It is a busy hot summer Wednesday. The Shop’s men are making a steam ship smoke stack. More copper sheet to heat and curve. There is some brass work as well. A rush of steamer work from the Philadelphia Navy Shipyard hit in June. It has kept the place busy. They have even been working every other Saturday. A welcome change for both the Shop and its employees. Saturday work means more money for everyone. They hesitate to commit to six days every week. As much as Joe and James want the work finished as quick as possible, they do not want to work themselves out of a job. They do not want to work extra hours to be slow the following week. Every other Saturday seems to be working well.
Joe receives a call Saturday afternoon from Kitty. She is irate and very upset. She is in Baltimore to visit Jack, of course. She tells Joe that she was not allowed to see her husband today. His visitation rights have been suspended. They claim to have found some tools in his cell. They think he was planning another escape. This was not the case at all according to Kitty. They just want to keep punishing Jack for his mistakes. Joe listens but his mind is racing back to last year. He can only pray that Jack doesn’t get out again. Kitty goes on about the injustice of it all. How she traveled to Baltimore. The authorities should have notified her of this suspension. She will do all she can to get this changed. This warden and the MD Pen will not keep her and Jack apart. Joe says very little but for asking her what she is going to do. She is returning to New York tomorrow but will be back no matter what next month. She will make them let her see Jack. She also apologizes because she can not visit Joe tonight. She’s tired and spending a quiet evening with Regina. Joe is rather relieved at this as he hangs up the phone.
A warm Fall day is spent making parts for a large boiler. E. J. Codd Fabricators is the customer. They have been doing business with the Shop for a number of years now. The boiler is for a municipal building and it is a complicated system. Liners must be made and stiffeners to support the tank. A variety of fittings, valves and gauges are needed. This is a good job with several weeks of work for the Shop. In addition, several fellows are curving a brass railing for a church. An ornamental piece that must be cleaned and polished to a near mirror-finish when completed. The crew are busy and the Kavanaghs are happy to have maintained a good amount of jobs so far this year.
The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Washington Senators in seven games to win the World Series. Pittsburgh becomes the first team to come back from a 3-1 deficit and win a 7 game series. It is a rain plagued series with quite a few delays. Game 7 is played in a steady downpour. Senator’s Shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh, the AL MVP this year, commits 8 errors in the Series. A record that still stands. Two were in game 7 to allow 4 unearned runs to score. Both errors could have been attributed to the horrible playing conditions. The defensive miscues contribute to Walter Johnson losing game 7 despite pitching two gems prior to that. Game 1 and 4. Both of which he wins. Senators’ outfielder Goose Goslin claims the winning hit was a foul ball. He says the umpires couldn’t see it through the rain. This is just one of several controversial plays. In game 3, Senators’ OF Sam Rice makes a catch after leaping into the grandstand. He was in the crowd for a few seconds then returns with the ball. Some say a fan stuck the ball in his glove. Rice is dogged throughout the rest of his career with questions about this play. He always replies, if the umpire says I caught it, I caught it. He even leaves a sealed envelope at the Hall of Fame to be opened upon his death. Once opened, it says, “I never lost possession of the ball.” It is certainly an interesting World Series. The Shop’s crew go over each game nearly each play in discussion. Baseball is a welcome distraction at work. In the summer months, it certainly helps the day to pass. The traditional debate of who is best, Cobb or Ruth continues. This year Joe’s man Ty Cobb is back on top with a .378 batting average. His son, Eddie must concede that this year is Cobb’s year. Babe Ruth struggles with injury and some stomach ailments this season. He bats a meager .290 after winning the title the previous year. Joe takes quite a bit of satisfaction from the debate this year. Even he knows that Cobb is close to the end of his illustrious career. Joe figures to enjoy it while he can.
Eddie attends a meeting of Coppersmith Local#80. He stands outside smoking a cigarette greeting the members. Once all are inside, he replaces the cigarette with a stick of Double Mint Gum and enters. As General Secretary, he helps lead the group in discussion of wages, conditions and the volume of work. He has good news from the Shop. They are busy and working every other Saturday. They are not in a position to hire on any more men but this is still good news to the union rank and file. More work and more money for their brothers is a good thing. Afterward, Eddie cruises home on his Indian motorcycle though the chilly night.
The annual Christmas Eve Party is held at the Shop on the corner of Pratt and Central. Kavanaghs, workers, customers and vendors eat, drink and sing. They mingle through the always dirty Shop. The wooden floors are caked in oil and grime. The crew do a clean up but it’s still a metal shop. Tables are laid out and filled with food. A keg of “near beer” is tapped. A Christmas tree has been hastily stood and decorated. Purchased and picked up by Leo and Eddie in the Shop’s truck as it is every year. Kitty is in Baltimore for the holiday. She attends this party and regales the family again on how poorly Jack Hart is treated. How she loves him and always will and how some day, they will be together again. Most of the family knows how deeply she loves him but they all wish she would find some way to move on. They have no doubt that Jack feels the same way. Still, he is bad news for Kitty. They hope as time goes by that she will find some way of accepting the situation. The visits are fine but when they are predicated on this idea that it will lead to a beautiful re-union and a life together, they are a false hope. They give Kitty a very unrealistic dream of her future. The Kavanaghs listen to her and consul her as best as they can but it seems pointless. Theirs is indeed a true love but that is not always enough. Certainly, not in this case. The party kicks into high gear. Joe sings leading them all in Christmas songs and the place is filled with mirth and holiday warmth. They have had a good year. No bootlegging. Nothing illegal. Prohibition is still the law of the land but they have had a good year. The Kavanaghs finally feel that the Shop can continue and be successful without the distilling industry. Joe has found work and new customers. They have found a way to make it work. It is just one year but it was a good one. They will see what the winter brings and hope for the best. Just as Old Uncle Joe did so many many times.
Calvin Coolidge is the President of the United States. Nellie Ross and Miriam Ferguson become the first female governors in the U.S. Governing Wyoming and Texas respectively. The magazine, the New Yorker, and the novel, the Great Gatsby, are first published. The Scopes Trial is held in Tennessee. The Chrysler Corporation is founded. Charles Jenkins performs the first successful radio broadcast of moving pictures. Referred to as “Radio Vision”. The Grand Ole Opry radio program is broadcast for the first time as the WSM Barn Dance. The first motel opens in California. Paul Newman, Yogi Berra, Malcolm X, B.B. King and Johnny Carson are born.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The first Saturday of the year is spent meeting with Jack Hart. He picks up some whiskey and passes along some cash to the Kavanaghs. Jack wants to cut back production a little. He is still selling, but the market is a little inflated right now. Also, he has run into some new competition. He doesn’t go into specifics and Joe doesn’t ask for them. The Kavanaghs are fine cutting things back. They have been going full bore on whiskey production for almost a year. Also, their actual coppersmith work began to return at the end of the year. Jack will start picking up every other Saturday.
A cold Friday turns snowy fast. The Shop’s crew are working on some new kettles for several Washington D. C. candy companies. The confectionery work has returned. They are also working on some rye. The workmen are very busy through the day as the snow piles up. Joe keeps a wary eye on the weather. Snow is something that generally can be worked around. They do their jobs then deal with it on the trip home. This time, however, the storm is very heavy. Blasting Baltimore and the surrounding area with snow. The snow reaches six inches by mid-afternoon. Joe and James have a brief chat. Tomorrow they are not working. This is one of the weeks when Jack does not come up to the Shop. They quickly decide to close up and send everyone home. If this keeps up, they will be buried this weekend.
What is now called the Knickerbocker storm(named for a theater in Washington D. C. that has a roof collapse during the blizzard) dumps approximately 26 inches of snow on Baltimore. It has snowed all through Saturday and into Sunday. When it is finished, the City will be effectively shut down for nearly a week.
The Kavanaghs are finally able to reach the Shop. Travel in the City has been non-existent for three days. Blowing, drifting snow is everywhere and there is nowhere to put it. Joe sets his sons to work immediately. They start shoveling just to get the door open. Once inside, Joe calls his workers and lets them know that they are open. He needs them at the Shop to help dig them out. The crew arrives in several waves. All get right to shoveling. The building is checked out for damage. The roof has held up well which is good news. Joe spends the bulk of the day on the phone with customers. Everyone compares notes on how they made out through the storm. Joe informs them all that they are open and will be the rest of the week.
A cool spring Saturday is spent at the Shop. Whiskey is distilled. The Kavanaghs see Jack. He picks up what they have ready and pays them. He has two boys with him, John “Wiggles” Smith and Charles “Country” Carey. They assist Leo and Eddie in bringing the barrels up from the basement. Then they load five barrels on Jack’s truck while everyone else chats and smokes. Jack passes along greetings from Kitty to Joe and Eddie. She misses all the Kavanaghs since her and Jack relocated to D. C. They visit regularly, but it’s not the same as living in the City. Joe sends along his best to his god-daughter. Jack assures Joe she’s doing well and he is taking good care of her. Jack tells Joe things are going very well. He has some other side jobs going on. He has invested his money and will soon have a big payoff. Joe nods, but doesn’t ask any questions. Jack and his friends leave followed soon by the Kavanaghs.
This Saturday the Shop is closed. The Kavanaghs and crew enjoy a day without work. Eddie takes his parents, Joe and Jo shopping. They are going to buy the latest thing. A wireless radio. Radio broadcasts have just begun earlier this year in Baltimore. Eddie purchased one from Westinghouse for $ 12.00. He chauffeurs his parents off to buy the same. Joe is not one to jump into the latest trends, but when Eddie spoke about this device, Joe and Jo were both intrigued. They purchase their radio and Eddie sets it up for them. Suddenly, nights gathered around the radio for news, songs and stories becomes a thing.
The work week begins with Eddie pulling up in front of the Shop on his brand new Indian Chief motorcycle. He bought it over the weekend. He will miss his old Flying Merkel, but the Indian was a bike he could not turn down. Plus, the Shop and the Kavanaghs are flush with cash right now. They have all got some in reserve for bad times. The year has started off well. Even with the cut back in production and sales of whiskey, they are still making money. The Shop is busy in its own right. Kettles to be made and they have been busy with some ornamental brass work. Eddie is proud as he can be on the Indian. Joe shakes his head and mutters something about it being a death trap.
Eddie and Anna are very excited. Anna is pregnant with their second child. Young Ed, their son will be three this year and a big brother.
Another busy work week begins. The Shop’s crew are working on several pump-chambers for the steamships and they are making a still. This one is a legal one. A small 40 gallon still for Sharpe & Dohme. One of their oldest patent medicine customers. Since their alcohol is for medicinal purposes, it is legal. There are attachments and fittings to go along with it. Eddie and several men are at Baltimore Dry Dock as well. There is some copper and brass work to be fabricated there. On top of all that, they are cooking some mash for rye. It is a busy start to the summer for the Joseph Kavanagh Company.
A hot Saturday is spent passing whiskey and dealing with Jack. Everything seems to be going well. They are all making money and the Shop is busy. The crew have been working the Saturdays when Jack is not visiting. Today, Jack takes his rye and departs. The Kavanghs finish up for the day and head home.
Jack Hart, “Wiggles” Smith and “Country” Carey arrive at the Shop late in the morning. They chat for a few minutes with the Kavanaghs. “Wiggles” and “Country” load their truck. Jack finishes his business and they depart. The Kavanaghs put some more cash away. They are making some money and have a reserve to fall back on. Joe and James knew that bootlegging would be profitable for them. They did not know how profitable. The brothers and their sons have all made a nice bit of money. Their crew have been paid and have had no shortage of hours. They knew working with Jack could help them, but they did not expect this level of success. They did not know Jack could deliver on his promises like he has. Another thing they did not know is that Jack was a career criminal. His first gang was the Canary Island Gang in New York. Now, he leads a group called the Hart-Sapperstein Gang in Baltimore. They did know he had been in prison, but did not know that he had served time in Sing-Sing for murder. Jack killed a small time gangster, “Jumbo” Wells after a dispute over a woman. Kitty knew, but not her family. They did not know that those same fellows that accompanied Jack to the Shop on Saturdays were part of his gang. They did not know that Jack had been looking for a big score for some time.
A Thursday evening meeting of the Hart-Sapperstein Gang at 909 S. Broadway. “Buddy” Blades has a scheme for a payroll robbery the next day. He has most of the details worked out even down to the minute. Jack Hart, “Noisy” Socorow, “Wiggles” Smith, “Country” Carey, Frank Allers, Benny Lewis, John Keller, George Heard and John “Fats” Novak listen as Blades fills them in on his idea. A construction company payroll is moved on Friday. It will be easy pickings since they know the schedule and the route they take. After most of them leave, Blades, Hart and Socorow stay and go over the details more thoroughly. Jack Hart is very interested and he knows he can pull this one off.
At approximately 9:30 a. m. William Norris and his bookkeeper, Frederick Kuethe, of the Hicks, Tate and Norris Construction Company are returning to their offices with the company payroll of $7,263.00. Norris carries a satchel while Kuethe has a small tin box. The two are walking along Madison St. They pass a dark blue Hudson. Inside are Jack Hart, “Country” Carey, “Wiggles” Smith, “Noisy” Socorow and Frank Allers. After the two gentlemen pass the car, Jack, “Noisy” and “Wiggles” jump out and charged at Norris and Kuethe. Hart and Socorow draw pistols and Jack orders them to hand over the money. Norris holds the satchel tight and begins scuffling with Socorow. As Socorow tumbles to the ground, he fires a shot that wounds Norris in the thigh. Kuethe panics and tosses the tin box into the street. “Wiggles” strikes him in the head with a black jack and he falls unconscious. Socorow stands up as a crowd begins to gather. Jack turns to them holding his gun to keep them at bay. As Norris reaches for the dropped satchel, Socorow fires three more shots into him. The thieves grab the satchel and tin box as Frank Allers pulls the Hudson next to them. Hart, “Wiggles” and “Noisy” hop into the car. Allers guns the engine and heads east on Madison Street at high speed. One person in the crowd is able to write down the license plate of the car. Norris and Kuethe lay in a pool of blood on the street. People are screaming and the police are being summoned. The crowd closes tighter around the two men. Kuethe is seriously injured. William Norris is dead. A few moments later, a police officer sees the car driving very fast at the intersection of Eager and Patterson Park Avenue. He spots “Noisy” in the Hudson and recognizes him as a young hoodlum and member of Baltimore’s criminal underworld. He quickly writes down the plate number. Jack and his men stop at a NE Baltimore home to divvy up their cash. After splitting the money, the men take off and go their own way except “Wiggles” and Benny Lewis take the Hudson to a garage and exchange it for Jack’s Mercer. The garage is rented by Jack. They drive Jack’s car to Essex to hide out, but Jack’s car breaks down. “Wiggles” and Lewis begin arguing about whose fault this is and get into a fight about it. The police are called and they are arrested in the late afternoon for disturbing the peace. The Baltimore Police have been flooded with calls and tips about the robbery and murder. They have the plate number and are pursuing all leads. When they hear of the two men in Essex being arrested, the City police send for them both. “Wiggles” is quickly identified in a lineup by one of the witnesses. He is still angry with Benny about their fight and immediately implicates him.
A hot sweltering Saturday at the Shop is spent on several large pump-chambers. Copper pots that can be pressurized and used to pump out water. The work has been strong and steady. They pass some whiskey through the still. The full crew are busy, but they are distracted by the news. There was a murder in broad daylight yesterday morning. The Kavanaghs and crew are shocked to read about it. Joe passes around the paper and then regales them on what it says. A payroll robbery that went bad. One man shot dead. Joe shakes his head and wonders what the world is coming to. Like all of Baltimore they pray the culprits are captured as soon as possible. Best to have such violent men off the streets.
The police are piecing together what happened under intense scrutiny and criticism from the public. They have “Wiggles” Smith and Benny Lewis in custody. Soon, “Country” Carey and Billy Blades are picked up based on their past records and in a sweeping search of Baltimore’s underworld. An unidentified man has called the police and said the car is his. He claims it was loaned to Frank Allers for a bootlegging run. He knows nothing of the murder.
Another week starts at the Shop. It could be any other Monday for the Kavanaghs. They heat and hammer. They bend and curve copper. They make whiskey. It is a typical day for them. Jack Hart and “Noisy” Socorow have been hiding out at Jack and Kitty’s house in D. C. When they arrived on Friday, Jack explained to Kitty what happened. She was upset, but Jack told her not to worry. They were miles away and no one knows who they are. Kitty was still worried, but happy that Jack was there with her. The robbery and Norris’ death were causing quite the stir even in Washington. Jack and “Noisy” stay inside. Kitty acts as if nothing unusual is going on. She opens a safe deposit box at a Washington bank. She places some of the money from the robbery there. Jack does not want that kind of cash laying around. He does not want it at Kitty’s. In Baltimore, Frank Allers calls an attorney to confess his involvement in the robbery and murder. He is seeking a deal to save himself.
Jack receives a phone call from Baltimore. The police have taken Frank Allers into custody. It sounds as if they may be on to them. Jack doesn’t know what will happen, but he knows he can’t stay with Kitty. He won’t drag her into all this and this is the first place they will look. He tells “Noisy” and they gather some supplies. Cigarettes and some food. Jack breaks the news to Kitty and she becomes upset. She is worried Jack will be caught. He will go to jail or they will never see each other again. Jack swears to her he will keep in touch. He will always find her. He loves her. Jack promises Kitty he will call her. He will call and let the phone ring once then call again. That way she will know it’s him. She will be here waiting she tells him. She will help him in any way. He tells her to call her Uncle Joe and tell him that there might be trouble. Jack and “Noisy” leave and head to Baltimore to see if they can pick up any news about the investigation. They hide out in a burial vault at Home Sweet Home Cemetery on Biddle Street. They will hide here and see how things go. If they are lucky, it might just blow over. Kitty calls Joe at noon. She tells her uncle that James may be in trouble. She is as vague as she can be, but she tells Joe that the police may be looking for Jack Hart. Jack wanted to give Joe a warning that the police might be looking for him. Joe asks Kitty if this has anything to do with the Norris murder of last Friday. Kitty says it does, but Jack didn’t do it. Joe cuts her off and asks where Jack is. Kitty says she does not know. Joe tells her he must hang up. He has a lot to do. He tells her to keep him up to date and if she needs something, she should call him. Joe sits back in his chair and holds his hands to his face for several moments. He then heads to the Shop and calls James, Leo, Eddie and Guy into the office. He closes the door and quickly tells them about Kitty’s call. The Kavanaghs slip into a bit of a panic before Joe continues. He lets them know they have got to cover themselves. They have to get rid of the whiskey and the stills. They can not have anything to do with Jack Hart. Everyone agrees on this, but how can they cover their tracks in this building full of evidence. They will stay late tonight. They will work all night if they have to do so. They finish out the day as if it was any other. The rest of the crew are told to head home a little early due to the heat. They were too happy to wonder why when it was just as hot yesterday. When they exit the building, the Kavanaghs get to work. They bring up three barrels of whiskey from the basement. They gather all the mash and dry ingredients they have. The truck is loaded with all of this contraband. Next, they start on the stills. Leo, Eddie and Guy disassemble them as quickly as possible. They are in pieces quickly, but then they hammer on them. In this case, they are misshaping the copper. Trying to change the shape of the pots. Joe searches his office for receipts. They have receipts for the ingredients they have purchased, barrels and even bottles from when they started. James and Joe burn these and destroy several empty barrels. There is no more room on their truck so the pieces are tossed into the basement. Finally, they search the Shop, they look in every corner, under every stair and behind every door. They make sure there is no more incriminating evidence laying around. It is late in the evening when they look around and see a very empty Shop. The two stills are reduced to piles of copper. The truck is loaded with rye barley, corn and illegal whiskey. Joe instructs Leo and Eddie. They must take the truck and empty it as far from the City as they can. Some isolated spot outside of the city limits. His sons are nervous, but they know they must dispose of it all. They drive off into the darkness. James and Guy head home. Joe remains in the Shop for a few minutes alone. It is nearly midnight. He goes over it all in his head. He takes one final check all over the Shop. He hopes they have done enough.
Joe reads the newspaper at his desk. There is now a widespread manhunt for Jack and “Noisy”. They are searching for them up and down the east coast. Joe is sure they will be found soon. He worries, but knows there is nothing he can do about it. The Shop’s crew arrives and notices the sudden absence of the two stills. They question Joe and he shrugs it off. He tells them that they have been trying to get away from all of that. Making a point of never saying what he was talking about. He says that the work is here now, they are busy and there is no need for all of that as he motions to the pile of copper. He puts them to work. They are still fabricating some pump chambers along with some brass work. The Kavanaghs confer mid-morning. Joe has not heard anything else. They will go about their business and deal with whatever happens. Also, Joe makes this very clear to all of them. If asked, they do not know Jack Hart. They know no Jack Hart. They know James Connelly. He insists that they all be sure to stick to this. He says to make no mention of bootlegging. James Connelly is Kitty’s husband. We don’t know much more. He looks around from his brother to his sons then to his nephew. We must all say the same thing to avoid any problems. Each of them nod in agreement. They all will take Joe’s lead on this. They hope they don’t have to worry about it but if they do, they are prepared.
The investigation takes a wild turn as a young man, John Keller, tells Assistant States’ Attorney John Leach that the robbery and murder were perpetrated by men from Chicago and Boston. Hart and Socorow are innocent. After following Keller’s lead, they find the license plate and the tin box. This does not refute his story so they interrogate the 17 year old Keller further. In short order, he breaks down. He confesses that Jack and “Noisy” have asked him to make up this story and go to the police. Now, the police are sure again that Hart and Socorow are the men involved. Keller admits to helping them. Taking them food and news to their hiding place. He reveals it is the Home Sweet Home Cemetery.
An early Friday morning raid at the Home Sweet Home Cemetery finds nothing. Jack and “Noisy” are gone. They have split up and gone their separate ways. The police claim they have strong evidence to focus north and west of the City. They receive a tip from a taxi driver that he drove Hart, Socorow and Keller to the home of Harry Wolf, an attorney, at Park Heights and Slade Avenues on the night of August 23. Wolf is a well known criminal defense lawyer. Jack and “Noisy” came seeking advice and representation. Harry Wolf invited them in and to dinner. They ate and discussed the case. At the same time, Wolf received a visit from Police Detective Harry Hammersla. He speaks to Wolf on his front porch asking for help in finding Hart and Socorow. All the while that this porch chat is going on, Jack and “Noisy” are enjoying dinner inside. After the police learn of all this, Wolf is questioned and the cops hint at obstruction of justice from him. The police keep searching and sorting through tips and information. They know they must be getting close to finding Hart and Socorow. At Pratt and Central, the Shop’s crew are finishing the last of their pump-chambers and beginning a large brass rail job. Kitty calls Joe again. She is very worried about Jack. She does not know where he is and is concerned something will happen to him. Joe does his best to calm her down. He tells her that Jack will get in touch with her. He will call when he can. Joe offers her any help if she needs it. After the crew leave, Joe calls another meeting. He and his brother, his sons and his nephew Guy sit in the office and talk. Joe, again, implores them to keep to the story they have. Joe is certain the police will show up here. It is just a matter of time. In the interim, the problem may be work. They are busy in the Shop at the moment, but with no bootlegging, there is no guarantee that this will continue. James speaks up that we have to just hope that work comes along. We do have cash. They all nod for they have stored away some money for emergencies. This would definitely qualify. After a bit more discussion, they decide to keep paying everyone as they have been. They will not work Saturdays unless it is absolutely necessary. They will break into the Shop’s cash stocks and everyone will be paid. They will adjust as they need to.
Another work week begins. They focus on the brass railing and the attachments for it. They also have a repair at Gunther’s brewery to attend to. Eddie, James Woods and three helpers are dispatched. While they are gone, Kitty calls again. This time she tells Joe that the police visited her today. They questioned her. They are convinced that Jack is involved and they seem to think she knows where he is. She adamantly denied this, but she tells her uncle she doesn’t think they believe her. Joe listens then tells her that it is only normal procedure for the police to question her. She should not read too much into it. She should just tell the truth. She does not know where Jack is and knows nothing of this crime. Joe pauses then says that she should not mention any of Jack’s other activities. He would genuinely appreciate it if she left out the whiskey activities that involve the Shop. She quickly tells him not to worry. She won’t say a thing about that nor will Jack. Jack is the one who told her to call Joe and give him fair warning. He wanted to be sure the family was okay and protected. Joe thanks her and again offers any assistance he can give. At lunch, he passes all this on to the rest of the Kavanaghs.
The Shop’s crew are busy heating and hammering. A replacement beer vat must be made for Gunther’s. The repair was successful, but it was a temporary fix. A new vessel must be fabricated. At approximately, 10:00 a. m. several Baltimore City Police officers arrive. Two patrolmen and two detectives. Joe greets them and welcomes them. They ask Joe if he knows where Jack Hart is. Joe replies that he knows no Jack Hart. The police say he is James Connelly. That name Joe recognizes. He tells them that is his niece, Kitty’s husband. They ask again if Joe or any of the Kavanaghs know where he is. He is a wanted man. Joe plays dumb as he can. Telling them that he does not know James Connelly very well. He has known Kitty since she was a child. They have been married for a few years. Connelly has been to family parties even the Christmas Eve Party at the Shop, but Joe does not know him beyond that. He assures the police that this is true with the rest of the family. He calls the rest of the Kavanaghs over and they agree with all he said. They know James Connelly through Kitty, but they don’t know much more about him. They believe he works as a streetcar driver, but are not sure. The police question them for a little over a half hour. They wander through the building. Not really searching, but certainly looking around. They regard the pile of disassembled still parts with some interest. They ask what this is and Joe shrugs it off as an old copper still. They took it apart and are waiting to re-use the copper. They accept their answers and seem to believe them. They depart, but tell Joe they may be back. Joe tells them to come by any time. The police leave and the Kavanaghs breathe a sigh of relief.
Another call to the Shop from Kitty. This time she informs them that the police escorted her to the station today. They questioned her again. Repeatedly asking where Jack is. She is very frightened that they don’t believe her. Joe does his best to console her. He says good bye and updates the family on what Kitty said. The phone rings again. This time it is Kitty’s sister, Regina. She tells Joe the police just left her mother’s home. They have questioned her, her mother and her sister, Mary. They ask the same thing. Where is Jack Hart/ James Connelly? None of them know where he is. Joe tells Regina that they were visited by the police as well. She is very upset and worried about Kitty. Joe assures her he is in touch with Kitty. He will help Kitty any way he can. He says that Regina and her mother and sisters should just tell the truth. Tell the police they do not know where he is if asked again. Joe hangs up. He calls his brother, sons and nephew into the office. He lets them know about Regina’s call and says we need to expect another visit from the police.
A typical Friday is broken up by the return of the Baltimore City Police. This time they ask to speak to several of the Kavanaghs individually. They want to talk to Joe, James, Leo and Eddie. Joe and James are the owners so that is understandable. As far as Leo and Eddie go, the police may believe they know Kitty and Jack better. Being closer in age and contemporaries. One by one, the Kavanaghs in question sit in the Shop’s office and speak to the detectives. They ask them all general questions about their knowledge of Jack and Kitty. The Kavanaghs stick to their story. They are close to Kitty as she is family, but Jack not so much. They have socialized with them, but mostly during the holidays. They see them even less now that Jack and Kitty live in DC. The final question is always, “Where is Jack Hart/James Connelly?” They all answer they have no idea. When asked if Kitty knows, they say no to that also. The police leave with answers but none of the ones they want.
Kitty Kavanagh is taken into custody as a material witness and for possible involvement in the crime either before or after the fact. The police have discovered her safe deposit box with some of the money from the robbery inside. In addition, there are varying stories of Kitty’s whereabouts on the day of the crime. She insists she was in Washington DC, but her mother, Mary Rachel Kavanagh, told the police they had spent several hours together that day in Baltimore. Mary Rachel assumed Kitty was spending the night in an apartment in her home town. Kitty responded that her mother was mistaken. She and Jack did keep an apartment in Baltimore to use during visits, but she was not there on August 18. Several witness have said they saw a woman in the getaway car on that day. This has given the police enough evidence to hold her in custody. She is not allowed to leave as they interrogate her every day. They ask the same questions of her and she gives them the same answers. She does not know where Jack is. When Joe hears about her being taken in by the police, he is very concerned. He is worried for Kitty. He can not believe she was involved in this robbery. He hopes that the evidence clears her. Joe does worry that the bootlegging might come out. If so, he is prepared for something bad to happen. He discusses it with the rest of the Kavanaghs. They will deal with any problems that come along. At the moment, they worry for Kitty.
The police visit the Shop for a third time. This time they conduct a comprehensive search of the building. They spend some time in the basement with Leo and Eddie. They pick through the broken barrels that were left there. When they return to the first floor, one detective says it sure smells like whiskey down there. What were those barrels for he asks. Joe quickly answers that they did a lot of distillery work before Prohibition. They had barrels for storage of sample whiskey for their customers to taste. The detective answers that was several years ago. Does the smell last that long? Joe responds that must be it. They were in the basement which is out of the air and it’s a little stifling down there. The detectives move on from the basement and ask Joe if he thinks Kitty knows where Jack Hart is. He says he is absolutely sure she does not. If she knew, she would tell them. The police seem unconvinced of this, but the rest of the Kavanaghs concur with Joe’s opinion. The police leave the Shop. The crew returns to work and finishes the day.
Jack Hart is arrested. The police find him in a DC apartment approximately six blocks from the White House. He is sitting smoking a cigarette with another man, Bernard Livingston who is wanted in an unrelated jewelry heist. He is taken immediately to Baltimore for incarceration. A crowd has formed outside the courthouse on Calvert and Lexington as news spread that Hart has been captured. A loud and boisterous crowd to welcome Jack back to Baltimore. The Kavanaghs read about it the next day, Sunday in the newspaper. They are relieved, but still concerned. They must wait and see if Jack is a man of his word. Does he keep them out of it? Or does he spill the beans on the bootlegging? Joe is convinced they will be fine. The police do not seem interested in the bootlegging issue. In fact, when they smelled whiskey in the Shop’s basement they were curious, but they did not push it. Jack is arrested for robbery and murder. That seems to be the focus of the investigation.
“Noisy” Socorow is located and arrested in New York. He is buying a copy of the Baltimore Sun at a news stand at 6th Avenue and 42nd Street. Two detectives take hold of him from either side and he is captured by the New York City police. He will be held for an extradition hearing and then returned to Baltimore to stand trial.
Today “Noisy” Socorow’s extradition hearing is scheduled. He has a lawyer and this is cause for concern for the Baltimore City States’ Attorney, Herbert O’Conor. He wants Socorow back in Baltimore. He is ready to proceed with the trials. The citizens of Baltimore are clamoring for justice after this bold murder in broad daylight. O’Conor and three Baltimore City Detectives take the train to NY and attend the hearing. They are given the use of a New York City Police vehicle while they are in town. One detective waits in this loaner police car while O’Conor and the other two detectives sit in court. A pre-trial meeting of the lawyers in judge’s chambers reveals that Socorow’s lawyer will submit a writ of habeas corpus. He is claiming that Baltimore has the wrong man. This is a case of mistaken identity. O’Conor is outraged and insists that Socorow be turned over into his custody. The judge tells them both to plead their cases during the trial then he will decide. As the trial begins, O’Conor begins to feel as if the judge will side with the defense. He will demand more evidence before turning “Noisy” over to the Baltimore authorities. At the conclusion of the trial as NY State Supreme Court Judge Martin orders “Noisy” remanded to NY, O’Conor leaps up and shouts to the detectives to grab him. They both take hold of “Noisy” Socorow and drag him out of the courtroom led by State’s Attorney Herbert O’Conor. The judge begins yelling at them to leave that man lone. Several bailiffs step in the way. They push through them. The defense attorney is knocked to the ground in the chaos that ensues. They rush down the stairs as they are pursued by court officers and bailiffs shouting for them to halt. Before they can be stopped, they reach the door and hurry to the police car. The detectives toss Socorow in and all climb inside. They race away with “Noisy” in custody. More loud shouts and cries from police and court officials are ignored as they drive off. They drive to the New Jersey Ferry. They take a train the rest of the way and deliver “Noisy” Socorow to Baltimore City Jail. The state of New York threatens sanctions. An outraged Governor Miller of NY demands his return to New York. Governor Albert Ritchie of MD refuses and there are some harsh exchanges between them. No sanctions are filed though and in time the dispute between the states passes over.
The trials for “Country” Carey, “Wiggles” Smith and Frank Allers move very quickly. Allers is given immunity for his testimony. He implicates both in the crime. Carey and Smith are found guilty and given life sentences.
Kitty Kavanagh is released from police custody. The witnesses that claimed a woman was in the Hudson used in the getaway are refuted. Other more believable witnesses are sure there was no woman at the scene. Obviously, with Jack in jail, they felt no need to ask Kitty about him anymore. Her mother, sisters and younger brother welcome her home. She calls her Uncle Joe. She tells him that she would never turn on Jack or her family. She is glad to be home, but very worried that Jack will be found guilty. She says Jack is considering pleading guilty, but she does not want this. Nor does Jack’s lawyer want him to do this. While Joe listens, he thinks to himself that he does not want that either. A guilty plea would involve a full statement. Though the Kavanaghs and the Shop are not involved in anyway in the Norris murder, the full statement could be embarrassing for them or worse if the bootlegging comes out. He tells Kitty she is right. He should plead not guilty and trust his lawyer. He emphasizes that Jack should trust his lawyer.
The Giants beat the Yankees again in another all New York World Series. The Series is cut back to a best of seven this year. The Giants win four of the first five games to capture the championship. Game two ends in a tie. A somewhat suspicious tie as the game was called due to darkness although the sun was still out. There is speculation that the game was called to extend the Series and increase gate receipts for both teams. To avoid any controversy, Commissioner Landis orders all money received for game two attendance be donated to WW1 veterans. The Kavanghs discuss the World Series as they always do. Joe is happy for the former Oriole John McGraw who wins his third World Series as a manger. The season comparison of Ruth vs. Cobb is gone over too. Ruth misses some time due to injury. He bats a modest .315 and hits 35 home runs. A disappointing year for him. Cobb has a great year. Hitting .401. Eclipsing that magic .400 plateau. He does not win the batting title however as George Sisler tears up the American League with a .420 average.
Anna Kavanagh gives birth to a girl, Alice. Another Alice named for the original who brought this family to America. Sadly, Alice is not well. She has health problems. She is what they called a “blue baby”. There are problems with her lungs and breathing is very difficult for her. The doctors are honest. There is little chance she shall survive long. Eddie and Anna are crushed, but pray for their baby.
Walter “Noisy” Socorow’s trial begins in Towson after his request for a change in venue. He is found guilty and also sentenced to life in the Maryland Penitentiary.
Finally, the day of Jack’s trial arrives. The testimony of witnesses recounts the events of August 18. Frank Allers testifies to Jack’s leadership of the gang and the attack. He walks them through the events leading up to the robbery and murder. Finishing with how Jack gave his gang their cut and headed to Washington, D C. Martin Kavanagh, Kitty’s 17 year old brother, is called to the stand. He answers questions about Kitty. He provides a solid alibi to corroborate her statement. He is asked about Jack, of course. He answers all questions, but clearly knows nothing of Jack’s illegal activities and nothing about the Norris murder. After a quick deliberation, Jack is found guilty. He too is remanded to MD Penitentiary for the rest of his life. He breaks into tears and declares he will be a model prisoner As they walk out of the courtroom, a weeping Kitty lunges to Jack to embrace him. Jack tells her not to worry. He will come for her. When he arrives at the penitentiary, he informs the warden that “There is no prison that can hold me”.
Things at the Shop seem finally to be back to normal. The Norris murder will become one of the most bizarre strange but true criminal tales in Baltimore history. For the Kavanaghs, it is a tale told to children for generations. Some details slipping away with each telling. A family story that explains what is quite possibly the strangest year in the history of the Joseph Kavanagh Company. At the Shop there is no whiskey to make, but the economy has held strong. They have several large commercial cooking vessels to make and E. J. Codd has brought in a large boiler job. This has quite a bit of copper and brass work. Liners, valves, fittings and bearings are fabricated. The Shop is filled with the sound of hammers and the heat of torches with nothing illegal going on.
The Shop’s Christmas party is held a day early. Christmas Eve is a Sunday so the party is today. It is a quieter affair than the last several. After the strange year with Jack, the end to their bootlegging and the sad news about Alice, they celebrate but without the same enthusiasm. Customers, vendors, employees and the Kavanagh family mingle together. Kitty and her sisters, Mary and Regina are there. Joe has remained very supportive of Kitty, his god-daughter. She has moved back to Baltimore to be closer to her family. Jack and all his cohorts are in the Maryland Penitentiary just several blocks away from the scene of the Norris murder. The attorney, Harry Wolf, who advised them is disbarred. The Assistant States’ Attorney Herbert O’Conor becomes a rising star in Maryland politics. The whole strange sequence of events is over and the family is very relieved. The Shop’s Kavanaghs are happy they have work. They are glad to be safe and not in jail, obviously. They are happy that they have some cash put aside for tough times if they come. They worry for young Alice. The family rallies around Eddie, Anna and their baby. They pray and support them. They do not hold out much hope for her. They rest on each other and their faith to guide them. Before the last song is sang and the party breaks up, Joe calls his sons, Leo and Eddie, and his brother, James into his office. They drink one toast of rye together. Apparently, Joe has several bottles of their own rye that he managed to save. He asks them all to think about the future. They will be challenged to stay busy in the new year. He wants them all to give it some thought. He assures the three others that they will find a way to keep going and to stay open. He knows they will or at least the Shop will. The Shop always does.
Warren G. Harding is the President. He delivers the first presidential speech by radio this year. The Lincoln Memorial is dedicated. The Hollywood Bowl opens. The Molly Pitcher Club is formed with its goal being the repeal of Prohibition. A 20 ton meteorite lands in VA. The California Grizzly Bear becomes extinct. Betty White, Jack Kerouac, Carl Reiner, Charles M. Schulz and Stan Lee are born.
There are 48 states in the Union.
Special note of thanks to the Baltimore Sun, New York Times, Washington Post and the Daily Record. Articles from all were used to verify the facts of the Norris Murder case.
A cold Saturday finds the Kavanaghs at the Shop meeting with Jack Hart. Jack is also picking up some whiskey and bringing them some money. The usual cycle, but they are discussing increasing their volume of production and sales. Jack wants to move to at least 3 barrels per week. Joe, speaking for the Shop tells Jack they will need to make a bigger still. It can be done. The family has discussed this over the holidays. They have agreed to make a new still. In fact, James and Leo have started designing it. Joe wants some assurance that if they step up their output that it won’t just be left at the Shop. This is something they do not want. Jack is very clear. He is planning on moving some of this whiskey out of state. He begins to explain his plan, but Joe cuts him off. He tells Jack that they don’t need to know his plan nor do they want to know it. As long as he can keep selling the rye quick, they will build a bigger still and proceed. Jack will continue to pick up every Saturday. He will take 3 or 4 barrels per week if they can make it. As before, Jack lets them know that he is taking all the risk. He will not bring trouble to the family if he runs into any. They shake hands and Jack leaves after Leo and Eddie load the whiskey onto his truck. The Kavanaghs prepare to leave for the day after agreeing to get to work on the still as early as they can next week.
The Shop has started the year rather slow. The usual confectionery work has arrived, but not nearly as much as they are accustomed to getting. It has been mostly repairs and no new kettles. The economy has slowed around the country. It is a cause for concern for Joe and James. They must always worry about work and the Shop. It is a part of the job. They can look on the positive side though and that is this may make increasing the whiskey produced easier. Leo has finished the drawings for the new 100 gallon still for Pratt and Central. They have the copper sheet and block ready. If there is nothing else to do, they will focus completely on making the still. At the very least, it is something to keep the crew busy.
The new still is finished. Jack visits for his usual exchange of cash for whiskey. They show him the new unit and he is impressed. Using a copper “whiskey thief”(a small tube with holes on each end), they draw out some of the rye and give Jack a taste. He approves. They will be able to step up to 3 barrels in several weeks. The Shop is still slow. Due to this, they have managed to make this new still and have started using it in a short time. Jack brings several fellows with him this time for assistance. They load the truck while the Kavanaghs and Jack confer. Before leaving, the Kavanaghs check some mash that is fermenting and plan their schedule for next week.
It’s a Saturday evening St. Paddy’s Day party at Joe’s house on Collington Avenue. Two days after the actual day, but the Kavanaghs are celebrating. Johanna makes corned beef and cabbage. Joe’s brother James’ family is there. Joe and Johanna’s boys, Leo and Eddie are both there with their families. And Jack and Kitty are there. They take turns on the piano and they sing. They eat and drink and celebrate their heritage. Jack and Kitty make an announcement. They are moving to Washington D. C. They will still be close and will visit regularly. They simply wanted a change and a move to a bigger home. The family toasts them and wishes them luck. Earlier in the day, Jack and his boys had picked up 3 barrels. The Kavanaghs were paid. Now, they party, but there is no discussion of what they are doing. As far as the Kavanagh men’s wives, they all know what is going on. Johanna is not happy, but she does trust Joe to do this safely. She knows there is one thing he is particularly good at and it is running the Shop. James’ wife Honora is of a similar mind. She trusts James. Leo’s wife, Maymie and Eddie’s wife, Anna are a bit more worried about it. They both are concerned that this could lead to trouble. They accept it as it seems the only way they can make money. Anna, of all the wives is the least happy. She is someone who is pro-temperance. She does not like being on the other side of this. She passes on her worries to Eddie, but supports him. If he thinks this is the only option, then they must do it.
The Shop is still focused on whiskey at the moment. They are making mash and passing rye through the still every day. There is little real work in the Shop. They are fabricating a long ornamental brass railing. They are also making a copper liner for a boiler. They are all busy, but without the whiskey work, they would be doing a lot of standing around.
Jack shows up with his boys and loads his truck quickly. He and Kitty are moving today to their new home in D. C. He has moved more rye and it’s working well. The Kavanghs are able to replenish their petty cash. They have enough money to cover their expenses for several months including payroll.
Eddie attends an evening meeting of Local # 80. There are a lot of coppersmiths out of work at the moment. The slow down in the economy has effected most businesses. Some of the brothers ask Eddie about the Shop. It seems to be the only place that is unaffected. They have maintained their crew of 14 coppersmiths through the last several years. They wonder if Eddie can find some work there for his brothers. They ask how they are staying busy. Eddie deflects a little bit. He says they are doing a lot of stock work. Making fittings and valves. Waiting for the work to pick back up, but they are not in a position to hire any one else. His fellow members accept that and congratulate him on having enough work and faith to do that.
Eddie asks Joe to call a meeting. Joe, James, Leo, Eddie and Guy drink coffee in the Shop’s office. Eddie fills them in on what happened at the meeting. They all agree he handled it well. Eddie tells them that the union may not be the only group wondering how they are staying busy. It is bound to be a question that comes up with other businesses. How can they explain the money they are making without revealing the bootlegging they are doing? James suggests they could just say they are doing some side work. The crew could be anyway. Eddie nixes that right away. We can’t be doing side work. We belong to the Coppersmiths Union. We have our wages set and our hours monitored. James nods in agreement and casts an eye to Joe. He says to Joe you’re not in the Union. Joe puffs on his cigar and replies are you saying I should get a job. Eddie speaks up and says that may be the only option. Not a job, but something that can help explain how we are keeping our crew intact. We trust the crew. They will back us up, but we better find a way to explain the money. Especially, if we keep making more whiskey. Leo chimes in that it has to be you, Joe. We can’t do it. Joe answers them all. You aren’t talking about me getting a job so much as me making up a job. Joe breaks into a small chuckle. You mean a dodge. I can come up with a dodge. He grins and tells them he will think of something. Something believable that will infer another income for him. He even offers to lower his salary on the Shop’s books. That will show that I was willing to take less money to keep our crew paid. Everyone will think I am magnanimous laughs Joe. Eddie quickly says that no one will believe that. The rest all break out into laughter including Joe. They return to work and Joe begins thinking of his dodge.
The League of Women Voters of Maryland is formed. Johanna Kavanagh is quick to join. She worked long and hard to help get the right to vote. She is pleased to join a group that supports like-minded women.
Joe announces to his sons and brother that he is now the manager of Marine Hardware and Supply. He is selling hardware and running the place out of his home he says with a twinkle in his eye. Leo chuckles and asks if they can work there too. No, of course not. You fellows are union he answers. Joe begins making some handwritten receipts for his salary from the non-existent Marine Hardware and Supply. He even takes an ad in the Polk’s City Directory for next year stating his involvement with this company. Joe loves this kind of thing. He was a former vaudevillian and a chance for some chicanery certainly appealed to him. It was a chance to act for him. A dodge indeed.
Another Saturday brings Jack and several of his friends to the Shop. He has made another run of whiskey and he has their money. His boys load his truck with 4 barrels of rye. The Kavanaghs put some more money aside for their expenses and their crew. Still, they have cash to split. Each man leaves with $ 200.00. A big windfall at that time.
The Shop is busy making whiskey. Some of the crew are actually working on several kettles, but most are either cooking up mash or running the stills. They have both in operation now. Staggering their output so that they can optimize their time. As they work, the Kavanghs are chatting about the so-called Black Sox. The White Sox team that lost the World Series to the Reds in 1919. They are on trial for fraud after allegations of fixing the Series have come to light. Several players have confessed their involvement. The men debate and discuss. What will happen if they are found guilty? Will they go to jail? Most of the crew doubt that will ever happen.
The talk of the day is that the Black Sox players have been exonerated. During the trial, some of the evidence disappeared from the Cook County prosecutors office. The evidence included confessions by pitcher Eddie Cicotte and outfielder Joe Jackson. The Kavanaghs are not surprised. They couldn’t believe that any court would convict ball players. They are still shocked that a player would throw the Series, but they felt sure they would not be convicted of a thing.
First thing in the morning the Shop’s crew are talking about the latest turn in the Black Sox story. Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landas has banned all eight of the accused players from baseball for life. He made a statement that regardless of the court outcome any player with any level of involvement in fixing games will never play major league baseball. The integrity of the game is to be maintained and respected. Some players appeal over the coming years, but none of those eight ever play in a Major League Baseball game again.
They are finally pressed for hours now as the work has begun to come back. They have some kettles to make and E. J. Codd has brought in a good-sized boiler job. They have copper liners, copper tubes, valves and fittings to make. On top of this, the whiskey production has been upped further. Jack is moving their rye faster and faster. More money comes their way. They decide to save some of their cash. They want to be prepared for a slow start to next year. That is what happened this year so they best be ready for it. Nonetheless, they all receive 200 dollars again. Eddie buys his family a car to his wife’s delight. Anna loved riding with Eddie on his motorcycle when they were dating. Now that they are married and have a child, she is a lot less enamored with his bike.
This Friday includes the annual recap and discussion of the World Series. It is an all New York affair this year and every game is played at the Polo Grounds. The Giants defeat the Yankees 5 games to 3. Babe Ruth hits his first World Series home run in this Series, but he injures his elbow in game 2 on a slide while stealing third. He is hampered for the rest of the games. The Giants take the championship. For the season, Ruth has a monstrous year. He hits 59 home runs breaking his own record again. He sports a .376 average as well. Eddie, the Ruth fan is very pleased. Joe’s favorite player, Ty Cobb does pretty well too. He rebounds from a poor 1920 season by hitting .388. Joe is quick to remind Eddie that batting average is the best barometer of a player’s abilities. Eddie brings up the home runs, but Joe just shakes him off. It is hits that make an offensive player. Not how far the hit goes. The debate continues as it has for years.
It is election day in Maryland. No presidential election but local races abound. Joe and Jo head to the polls. This time Johanna insists that their son, Eddie drive them. She has already determined that driving in a car with Joe is a dangerous move. She will learn to drive, but for now Eddie delivers them to the polls. Johanna is particularly happy to vote for Mary E. W. Risteau. She is running for the House of Delegates. She wins and becomes the first woman to serve there. Johanna loves it and she doesn’t hesitate to tell her husband that this is what government needs. More women to have their voices heard. More women to hold public office. Joe agrees with her because he knows better not to.
The Christmas Eve Party is on a Saturday this year. They do no distilling today. Rather, they move their barrels and mash into the basement. They hide any buckets or pots they they have been using. The place is cleaned up. A tree is stood and decorated. The Shop looks like Christmas. The usual mix of customers, employees and family gather in the late afternoon. Jack and Kitty drive up from D. C. in their Hudson. The building is filled with the sound of carols and rejoicing. Joe sings his seasonal favorite, “Oh Holy Night” in his booming baritone. They eat, drink and sing. The Kavanaghs are happy. They have had a good year. The Shop’s work has picked up and the whiskey business is treating them well. They have made money this year and there seems to be no end in sight to it. The Shop has a stash of cash to fall back on and so do all of the Kavanaghs. The good times are here as the Roaring Twenties begin. What could possibly go wrong?
Warren G. Harding is the President of the United States. Charlie Chaplin’s motion picture, “The Kid” is released. Howard Taft is sworn in as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court becoming the first and only person ever to hold this position and the presidency. The first radio broadcast of a baseball game occurs in Pittsburgh as the Pirates host the Phillies at Forbes Field. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is diagnosed with polio. The first Miss America pageant is held in Atlantic City. The First White Castle restaurant opens. The Tomb of the Unknowns is dedicated by President Harding. Betty Friedhan, Nancy Reagan, John Glenn, Gene Roddenberry and Steve Allen are born.
It is a Sunday dinner at Joe and Johanna’s house on Collington Avenue. Joe invites his brother and sons for a ham dinner and to talk. Joe, James, Leo and Eddie discuss the upcoming meeting with James Connelly. They will produce rye whiskey and Connelly will sell it for them. They won’t be able to age it properly, but it will be whiskey. They have had a still in the Shop for years. A demonstrator used for display and occasionally for use for customers. To make any volume of good rye whiskey and keep it a secret will take some planning. Joe knows the best results come from good Maryland rye barley. They are familiar with the process of distilling. It takes a few days for the full process. They are fortunate. The men who work for the Kavanaghs have done so for some time. They can be trusted. Eddie can guarantee that they always have their regular crew due to his involvement in Local# 80. He has spoken to them as union brother and co-worker. He has explained the situation. They are doing what they have to do to survive. The crew promises to keep their secret. They want to have jobs. As Eddie has told them, if this works everyone can still be full time. There will be no salary cuts. Everyone gets paid. The crew are in. One thing Eddie does not tell them is who they are working with on this. There is no mention of James Connelly. It has been agreed that his name will stay within the family. Also, they will conduct all business with Connelly on Saturdays. No crew, but the Kavanaghs will be there. Joe, Leo and Eddie will have to experiment a bit to get the right recipe and the proper procedure to get a consistent good rye. They are sure they can do it. Joe makes a point of letting them all know that not one of them can enjoy their product too much. He is clearly referencing his older brother, Martin. Martin had done some bootlegging in the past, but his love of the drink and his mismanagement turned it into a disaster. All four agree on this. They certainly enjoy a glass of whiskey. Each of them, but none to excess and particularly with Martin’s mistakes in mind. The money will be used firstly for expenses and to maintain everyone’s salary at the present level. They all agree that anything beyond that will be split evenly among them. James insists that his son, Guy receive a share. He has been working the last several summers as Joe’s assistant in the office and will be full time in June. After some discussion, everyone agrees. The money is settled. They decide to begin their test runs of whiskey as soon as Joe can acquire the proper ingredients. They have an agreement. They will put all sales in James Connelly’s hands. They will make the liquor but have no involvement once it leaves the Shop. They will cover their expenses first. Then, they will pay themselves and their crew at their normal rate. Any funds leftover will be divided evenly five ways.
The Kavanaghs and all baseball fans are shocked to read of the sale of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. He is sold for $ 100,000 cash. Joe reads the story first and quickly heads out to the Shop to inform his crew. His son, Eddie a big Ruth fan is floored. He can not believe the Red Sox would give up on a guy like Babe Ruth. A talented pitcher and a great hitter with tremendous power. This event is discussed throughout the coming days. They are working on their standard winter work. Confectionery kettles and the associated equipment to go with it. The valves and fittings which they make. It is a cold day in the Shop, but it seems to pass quickly as they speak of the surprising sale of Ruth to the Yankees.
A chilly Saturday finds Joe, James, Leo and Eddie Kavanagh at the Shop. Today they meet with James Connelly. James is married to Kitty Kavanagh, Joe’s niece and goddaughter. They are nearly inseparable. They are usually together, but today is business so Kitty does not accompany James. Joe speaks for the Kavanaghs. He tells James that they can produce a good rye. They have the experience and they have a still. They can make it all here. They can bottle or barrel it here. Joe makes it clear that once it leaves the Shop they want no involvement. James is fine with this idea. He assures Joe and the other Kavanaghs that he is familiar with this market. He has done some bootleg whiskey sales before. He has many contacts that would sell to pubs and after hours clubs. In addition, there may be a market outside of Baltimore. James will do all the legwork and handle finding the market and all sales. He thinks they should start fairly small and find some customers who are interested. We can always make more he tells them all. Joe wants some assurances that there will not be any legal issues. James says not to worry he will take care of all of that. There is no state level enforcement of the Volstead Act so James does not anticipate any problems. He promises that if the situation changes or if he runs into trouble, he will keep the Kavanaghs out of it. He impresses on them that they can trust him on this as Kitty is a Kavanagh. He would not want any trouble for her. Joe is pleased to hear this. James has some associates that will help him with moving and selling the rye. They are tough fellows, but he trusts them. They will keep everything quiet as they can. Finally, he tells the Kavanaghs that his friends in the whiskey trade know him by a different name. It is a nickname or work name. His friends know him as Jack Hart. He brushes it off as Jack is just an Irish nickname and the Hart comes from his days as a ladies’ man. He quickly adds that those days are in the past. He loves Kitty and always will. The name has just stuck. It is what he is known by on the street or with most of his contacts. He asks that they call him Jack around his associates, but around the family he wishes to be called James. He likes this separation of his “work” and his regular life. The Kavanaghs are a bit puzzled by this, but not stupid. They know that Jack Hart must be a pseudonym to protect his true name. Not just to keep his name from any illegal connections, but perhaps to keep it unknown to any police or authorities. Joe agrees. He even tells Connelly that they will swear they know no Jack Hart. Jack likes that. They shake hands and all agree on meeting again soon. The Kavanaghs will make some rye and Jack will find a market for it and determine how much money they can make.
On this Friday, Prohibition goes into effect. The law was passed a year ago on this date and today the ban on strong spirits is official. No whiskey, wine and only low alcohol “Near Beer” can be produced or sold in the United States. Most states have a mini-Volstead Act that provides for enforcement of the law. Maryland stays a “wet” state. Never passing a mini-Volstead and much of the bootlegging and such was ignored. Any legal concerns could be avoided with the use of discretion. If a violation is found on the federal level, that would be another matter. The Shop has work. No distillery work as that stopped last summer. The distilleries worked hard to produce all they could before this day arrived. They were not doing any repairs or replacements though. Prohibition’s effect on the Joseph Kavanagh Company started last year. They do have some cooking kettles for sweets and they are also working on some brass parts for a large boiler. Leo and Eddie begin the process of cooking down the corn and rye for their whiskey. They are making the mash or slop which begins the distilling process. It is cooked and then must sit and ferment for several days. The crew work around them. The usual day of heating and hammering now mixed with the smell of mash cooking.
The Kavanaghs finally have their first run of rye. A rye that they consider to be pretty good quality. They do two passes to get the taste and potency they want. They can tweak it on the next batch. They are looking to sell and this is a fair quality whiskey. That will do for their purposes. They use well charred riveted barrels for storage. They fill one and leave for the day.
Joe calls Jack and he stops by for a taste test. Two weeks of aging is hardly aging, but it’s the best they can do. They fill a glass for Jack. He likes it. For bootleg alcohol, this is a good whiskey. They fill several bottles. Jack takes them for samples. He will begin finding a market for their rye. Leo and Eddie have repeated the process this week. They fill another barrel.
Jack Hart visits the Shop. He has begun pushing their rye whiskey to several after hours clubs and some individuals who are interested. Many folks have stocked up prior to Prohibition going into effect, but these supplies will not last long. He fills a crate with twelve bottles of whiskey. He guarantees to Joe, James, Leo and Eddie that in a week he shall return with some profits for them all. After he leaves, Leo and Eddie get another barrel ready. Joe mentions a new baseball league has been formed. This is the Negro National League. African-American players who are banned in Major League Baseball will have their own chance to play on the big stage. The Kavanaghs are interested. Baseball is baseball to them. Joe and his sons, in particular, are huge baseball fans. All three hope that perhaps Baltimore will field a team in this league. The chance to see more baseball locally is something they would love.
Jack has found a market. He has put the word out and there is interest. He passes along some cash and leaves again with 20 bottles of rye. The Kavanaghs are relieved. They didn’t make much, but the opportunity for money is there. They check on the mash from last night then refill the first barrel.
Another Saturday spent making whiskey on a lovely spring day. The Kavanaghs work and test their product to be sure it remains consistent. Jack Hart arrives with their whiskey pay. He says things are going well. He has several clubs or speakeasies as they will be called that are buying. He is hustling and trying to sell anywhere he can. Jack fills his crate with bottles and passes along their money. They have more than they need for supplies. They put the rest into petty cash for now to be sure they can all be payed as well as their crew.
A beautiful spring day is spent at a local park. The Kavanaghs have gathered for a picnic and a farewell to Joe’s and James’ brother Frank. Frank has been visiting for a few months. He works as a coppersmith at the Panama Canal. He may not be back for several years. He returns to visit his family including his son, Charles who lives with his sister-in-law. He misses his boy and the rest of them, but he is payed very well to work at the Canal Zone. They eat, drink and play cards. The attached picture has survived nearly 100 years and is dubbed “Cards with the Kavanaghs”. In the picture are Joe, James and Frank. The three brothers. Also, Joe’s sons Leo and Eddie and his daughter Anna. And James’s sons, Guy and James Jr. The only non-Kavanagh in this picture is Mr. Fairbanks. A long term employee of the Shop. He worked for the original Joe. He is one of their most trusted men. He is not a full smith, but more of a general helper. Though he lacks some smith training, he makes up for it with knowledge and years of experience working copper.
Another Saturday of distilling whiskey. Frank has returned to the Panama Canal. The work has stayed fairly consistent though at a markedly lower level than in the past. So far so good. Jack comes by every Saturday. Drops off money and picks up rye. They have doubled their output due to increasing demand. Jack has made more connections with the local whiskey market. The Kavanaghs are making more and more money each week from their rye. They have a stash of cash for supplies. They have petty cash to back up their crew’s salaries and a bit more this week. For the first time, the last of the cash is divided up five ways. It is approximately $100 so each man gets $20. Not a bad bonus for a week’s work in 1920.
Guy returns to work at the Shop. He is Joe’s assistant in the office. He is full time now that he is finished with school. Another decorative fountain is made. They drill holes in copper sheet then after heating it, they roll them into tubes. The tubes are then curved into the desired diameter. Once installed, water is pumped through and sprays from the holes. It is a complicated process, but one they have done many times. In addition to this fountain, Joe has brought in some steamship work. The typical pump ballast chambers that they make. The still is working as well. Leo and Eddie are finishing up another run of whiskey. Every day now they are either cooking mash or distilling to keep a steady flow of product. A busy day at the Joseph Kavanagh Company.
At a Saturday evening meeting of Local # 80, Eddie receives a letter from Bartholt H. Hubbert. They are a coppersmith and contracting company in Baltimore. They are registering some complaints about two apprentices that have been assigned to them by the union. It is one of Eddie’s duties to deal with such issues. He quickly reads the letter. He adds it to his list of things to do. Eddie is a big supporter of the union and his brothers. He will have to find some fair solution for both the business and the apprentices.
Today, the Shop is focused on some repairs at Gunther’s Brewery. Eddie is on the job with James Woods and three helpers. In the Shop, they are making some kettles and doing some more ship work.
It is a hot July day. They are accustomed to this and work through it. Some rye mash is cooking. The bootlegging has become more profitable. They are still nervous with this new enterprise, but they have had no problems as yet.
Joe reads a shocking story in the newspaper today. He rushes out to the Shop to tell his sons and the rest of the crew. Cleveland Indians shortstop, Ray Chapman, was hit in the head with a pitch the day before. Carl Mays of the New York Yankees was the pitcher. Chapman was horribly injured as the ball struck him in the temple. Very early this morning, he dies. It is the first and only fatality to occur during a baseball game. The Kavanaghs are stunned. They have never heard of such a thing. Having a ball thrown at a batter is always a dangerous thing, but part of the game. This was a tragic event. The crew discuss this through the day and they follow the story in the newspaper after that.
Eddie and Joe spend part of the day at Arrow Brewery. Eddie and several helpers working on a repair while Joe talks to the foreman about work. He is scouting for more jobs. The brewery is not as busy as it has been in the past. They can make the “Near Beer” which sells, but not as well as typical beer. They assure Joe that if they need anything at all, they will call him. As they drive back to the Shop, the topic of baseball comes up as always. Joe and Eddie discuss the situation with the Chicago White Sox. They won the World Series last year, but now are accused of throwing the championship. Losing on purpose. Apparently all part of some scheme by gamblers to make money. The story is that the gamblers paid the players and they deliberately lost. Both Joe and Eddie have trouble believing it. They have such a love of the game. Eddie does say that the White Sox certainly seemed like a better team on paper. It was a surprise that they lost to the Cincinnati Reds, but it is not unheard of for the favorite to lose. They both will have to wait and see how the story plays out.
Eddie, Anna and baby Ed move to 434 N. Lakewood Avenue. After a Saturday morning of making whiskey, Eddie packs the Shop truck with their belongings from Collington Avenue and they move to Highlandtown. They are thrilled to be out on their own and out of Joe’s house. The Kavanaghs will live on this street for 67 years. When Jack Hart came to the Shop this morning, he spoke to the Kavanaghs about increasing their volume even more. He is considering running some of their rye down south to other states. This could really make some money fast. The Kavanaghs are interested, but would have to plan how to do more distilling. Joe tells Jack that they will consider it while he explores the idea.
Joe and Johanna buy their first automobile. Joe has resisted, but he knows it is way past time for them to buy a car. He purchases a Ford Model T. His son, Leo accompanies him. Leo drives and gives his father his first driving lesson. It does not go well. Joe seems to have trouble coordinating clutch and gas. He stutters and speeds and finally has Leo drive him home. Joe will practice on the street with little success.
The Cleveland Indians defeat the Brooklyn Robins in the World Series. Winning 5 game to 2. The Series is discussed at the Shop just as it is every year. The yearly Cobb/Ruth comparison is all Ruth this year. The Babe hits .376 while walloping 54 home runs for the Yankees. He shatters his own record and out homers several teams. He leads the league with 150 walks and accumulates 99 total extra base hits. His pitching days may have passed as he only starts one game. His value as a hitter outweighs anything he can do as a pitcher. Cobb has a good year. He bats .334. Good for tenth in the league. Ty Cobb misses some time due to injury and showing his age. Regardless, this is a far cry from Cobb’s typical season. Along with Cobb, all other players’ stats this year are dwarfed by the explosion of power displayed by Ruth. This year Eddie wins the Cobb/Ruth debate with his father easily. The Series and Ruth’s numbers are still over-shadowed by the Black Sox Scandal as it is now called. The Kavanaghs and crew like much of America find it hard to believe a ballplayer would throw a game for money. The evidence says otherwise and the money must have been tempting. The Shop’s crew are baseball fans and this is something almost unfathomable to them.
The Eight members of the so-called Black Sox are indicted on nine counts of conspiracy. A grand jury was convened to investigate gambling and fixing games. Eddie Cicotte and then several other players confessed to their involvement. Joe cannot believe it, but all the evidence reveals that a conspiracy was in place. A few key players including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson admit to accepting money. Jackson’s performance in the Series conflicts with any notion that he was not trying to win. Still, he took the money. All will stand trial next year. The men of the Shop shake their heads at the idea. To them, these ballplayers are paid to do what they would dream to do. To be paid to play a game you love must be incredible. It is not that simple and players were still underpaid. The crew return to their work still wondering about it.
Jo votes for the first time. Joe drives her on a rather wild ride to the polls. He is a new driver and shows it at every corner. They bump and swerve their way to vote. Despite this, they arrive early. Johanna becomes one of the first women to vote in Maryland. She feels a great sense of satisfaction. As a member of the Fair Government League, she and her fellow members have campaigned for years for suffrage. She proudly casts her ballot. Joe and Jo vote for Warren Harding who defeats James M. Cox to win the Presidency. The Kavanaghs are Democrats at this time, but they felt a certain dissatisfaction with President Wilson and his handling of the war. This cast a bad light on Cox. Much of the country felt the same. As they make their way home, Joe asks his wife if she enjoyed voting for the first time. Johanna answers that she did. She declares she will vote in every election. Only next time she will drive.
MLB owners hire Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis as commissioner of baseball. The owners feel they need to hire a leader. An authority to answer fans’ questioning the integrity of the game. He is given full power to discipline players and teams for rule infractions and behavior. The Kavanaghs take this as a good thing. Landis is a federal judge and highly regarded. Hiring a man to safeguard the game seems like a good plan.
Christmas Eve is always a party at the Joseph Kavanagh Co. In the middle of the afternoon, work is stopped. The crew begin making space for the party and setting out tables and chairs. Guy is dispatched to pick up food. Leo and Eddie take the truck and buy a tree. It is quickly stood and decorated. The party starts as customers, family and friends visit through the afternoon into the evening. Rye is served and “Near Beer”. James and Kitty Connelly are there. Songs are sung including a duet between Joe and Kitty. A festive party. Leo, Eddie and Jack Hart step out into the street. They have a smoke on the corner and Jack tells the Kavanagh brothers that he thinks he has a buyer out of state. He can take care of getting it there. It would be barrels of whiskey and not bottles. Jack emphasizes that he will take all the risk. They produce it and he distributes. It would be an opportunity to make a lot of money with one sale. Leo and Eddie are interested, but both know that they will have to discuss it with their father and their Uncle James. They return to the party mid song and Jack finds Kitty in the crowd. Leo and Eddie join their families. Joe and James are enjoying their party. They have found a way to keep the Shop open and they have made some money. They have been smarter than Martin. Joe and James are bootlegging as he did, but they are doing it better. Martin was alone. They have each other. They trust each other. They feel safe and insulated by Jack Hart. They can trust him. He loves Kitty and she is a Kavanagh. She loves them especially her Uncle Joe. As Christmas toasts are made, Joe thinks of Martin. Maybe Martin wasn’t sloppy. Maybe he just had no one he could trust.
Woodrow Wilson finishes his second term as President. Warren G. Harding wins the general election defeating James M. Cox. The 1920 census puts the U. S. population at over 100 million for the first time. The Senate votes against joining the League of Nations. Congress fails to ratify the Treaty of Versailles. The League of Women Voters and the National Football League are founded. The first commercial radio station opens in Detroit. Westinghouse sells the first home radios for $ 10.00. DeForest Kelley, Bella Abzug, Shelley Winters, Ray Bradbury and Mickey Rooney are born.
Martin Kavanagh was born in Baltimore on September 16, 1862 to Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh. He was their first of nine children. They lived on Albemarle Street. Patrick was a ship’s carpenter. Patrick’s brother was Joseph Kavanagh. Owner of the Joseph Kavanagh Co. usually called the Shop by his family and workers. When the Shop had grown enough to begin bringing in several apprentices, Martin was hired and trained by Joseph as a coppersmith. He started at the Shop at 15 in 1877. He was the first of five brothers to work for their uncle. Martin learned his trade well and became a full coppersmith within 3 yrs.
In 1884, he married Mary Rachel Uhlberger, They had a child together several months earlier. It was certainly a scandalous thing at the time. The girl was named Katherine called Kitty. She was the first of eleven children for Martin and Mary Rachel. Martin grew in Joseph’s trust. He became Joe’s senior man by the 1890s as brothers Eugene, James then Joseph A. are hired. The Shop grew even more. A crew of over 25 including Uncle Joe, nephews Martin, Eugene. James, Joseph and finally the youngest, Frank. Frank apprenticing as a coppersmith and the last man taught by Uncle Joe.
By the turn of the century, The Joseph Kavanagh Co. had prospered. Installing and maintaining stills from Connecticut to Florida. The nephews all making the periodic trips up and down the east coast. Martin included. When he was at the Shop in Baltimore, Martin began occasionally running a pass or two of rye whiskey in the company still. They had constructed a still as a demonstrator for customers. They made some rye for their own consumption, but not often and nothing more. Martin slowly begins a somewhat regular production after hours without his uncle’s or his brothers’ knowledge. Selling what he makes to friends who were in the illegal whiskey trade. This is before Prohibition, but there was always a market for illegal cheap whiskey. The Shop is very busy with their distillery repairs and installs but also working for breweries and fabricators and steamship companies in Baltimore. Martin was Uncle Joe’s second in command. Uncle Joe leads a strong crew of smiths including his nephews all with their own contributions to the business.
In 1903, Eugene Kavanagh is returning to Baltimore via train from Connecticut. He was there to take measurements of the building to give an appropriate quote on a still installation. The train crashes at approximately 5 p.m. Eugene is killed. Uncle Joe and the family are shocked and deeply saddened.
February 7 1904. The Great Baltimore Fire destroys the building on Lombard Street. Joe and his four nephews witness it from the East side of the Lombard Street bridge. Uncle Joe wants to continue. He invests in temporary facilities. Briefly at Hawk & 7th Streets then at Gough & 7th. Uncle Joe takes ill six months later. He dies on December 10, 1904.
In Joe’s will, Martin is named his successor. Martin(unbeknownst to his brothers) has already been gifted 50% of the company by Uncle Joe. The will passes the rest of the company and its name to Martin. The surviving nephews and several nieces are all named in the will. Martin receives the lion share of the estate. The other beneficiaries received $1000-2000 in cash. Martin receives the business and $25,000. Martin owns the Shop now. His brothers, Joe, James and Frank work for him.
Martin leads the business in its rebound from the Fire. It is a difficult time in Baltimore. Most companies are in the same state as the Kavanaghs. Recovering from destruction. The City has been cleaned and the rubble removed very quickly, but the economy is still struggling to bounce back. Commerce in and out of the City takes some time to return to normal. The brothers all agree to take less money until the Shop can get back on its feet again.
Martin’s crew at Gough & 7th is at 15. His brother Joe struggles to find work to cover them all. He pushes and scrounges for work in any distillery, brewery or fabricator that is open. Martin has a solution. He has the crew build a 100 gallon still in the building. He and some of his friends begin running passes of whiskey on a more and more regular basis. The brothers are aware of it and Martin does not hide it, but he doesn’t share much of the specifics. Joe and the brothers take any money they can get and they assume it will be temporary.
By 1906, the Shop’s work has increased a bit. The days of their still work up and down the East Coast are gone. In the time since the Fire and the Shop re-establishing itself in their new building, local smiths have stepped in for many of their out of state customers. Some distilleries hire them on full-time. The business of Joseph M. Coppersmith, Martin J. Kavanagh Successor must focus on local work. Joe makes calls and jobs continue to arrive. Slowly they begin to get busier. Martin considers hiring more men. His brothers are very much against any more hires. They are still waiting for Martin to increase their pay. He continues to tell them that the money is not there. Martin and his friends keep making and selling rye on the side. New men that the brothers do not know arrive at the Shop. Running whiskey or transporting whiskey. Martin seems to be making more money though his brothers are not. He tells them he will raise salaries to the Pre-Fire level as soon as the Shop can afford it. Brothers Joe, James and Frank are restless. They are opposed to hiring more men. They would rather work more hours and make more money individually. Martin is more and more focused on the whiskey operation than their coppersmith work.
Christmas Eve 1906. Martin is having drinks with his friends in a local pub. His brother, Joe has agreed to join him. Martin was jovial and dressed in a new suit. Holding his Uncle Joe’s gold watch while they spoke. Joe sipped his rye as Martin bought a round for his friends and sundry. A jolly lot they were, but not Joe. Joe watches his brother hold court and buy several rounds for all. Joe leaves and returns to his home. He speaks to his wife about his brother. He confides in her that he is not sure he can trust Martin anymore. At least, not to run the Shop and pay he and the other brothers properly.
Early in 1907, Joe meets with his younger brothers to discuss breaking from Martin’s Shop and forming their own. They all agree to do this. They must time their move right. They make notes of jobs, customers’ names, vendors’ names and prices. They take a few tools, some of their uncle’s old hammers. Not enough to be noticed, but enough to help with a new business. Joe finds premises for them on Central Avenue. They are ready.
April 22, 1907 at 9 a. m. Joe, James and Frank step into Martin’s office and inform him that they are quitting. They are starting their own Shop which they will call the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Martin is outraged and calls them ungrateful. A large argument begins as Martin asks one then another of his brothers to reconsider. They are determined. They are tired of not getting properly paid and they can not work for him anymore. Martin saves his strongest victrol for his brother, Joe. They were always close, but Joe has had enough of Martin’s mismanagement, drinking and money squandering. Martin screams at Joe that he is not even a coppersmith. He is certainly not Uncle Joe. Joe answers that neither is Martin. They walk out to cries of “You are not Joe!” from Martin. They make their way to Central Avenue and get right to work.
So, begins several years of battle between the two Shops. Martin calls customers and passes on that his brothers have abandoned him. Martin tells his customers his brothers do not have the experience to succeed. Joe makes calls to introduce the new company. He lets those folks know that he has Old Uncle Joe’s best men with him. He has the best smith and best engineer the Shop had working for him. It is an ugly battle of words. Meanwhile, Martin’s work quality starts to suffer. His skills have deteriorated in the last few years. The drinking and high-living seems to be playing a part. Slowly, his brothers’ Shop begins to draw in more and more work. Customers of Martin’s begin coming to them due to slow deliveries and slipshod work. Martin continues to focus on bootlegging and illegal whiskey instead of basic coppersmith work. Things at Martin’s Shop go down quickly with less skilled men and with Martin’s erratic leadership.
In August of 1909, Martin declares bankruptcy and his Shop closes. The Joseph Kavanagh Co. is doing much better. Upon receiving word that Martin’s business is closed, Joe makes quick calls to any of the old customers to bring them into the fold. Martin’s future is in doubt. He owes many creditors both legal and illegal. He visits his brother Joe in the Spring of 1910. He admits that Joe’s way was the better way. The better Shop. They have a drink in Joe’s parlor and talk. Martin blames everyone, but himself. He blames the Fire, he blames the City and he blames his creditors. Joe listens quietly without responding. His brother is very shaken and disheveled in appearance. He confides in his brother that he is concerned for his safety. Joe lends him a pistol he purchased a few years ago for protection. He doesn’t offer money, but passes along the gun. His brother leaves.
On Christmas Eve 1910, Martin Kavanagh is spending the evening at the Plaza Hotel. He is nodding off at the cafe at approximately 9 pm. The bartender wakens him to tell him he can not sleep there. Martin and this bartender, Clarence Keen, get into a loud argument. Martin is told to leave. Keen escorts him out. On the front steps, the fight turns physical. Martin pulls the revolver from his pocket and fires at Keen. Wounding him in the throat. Keen collapses against the steps. He is gravely injured. On a Christmas Eve night, many folks are out and about. There are many witnesses to the shooting and Martin is apprehended several blocks away, He is booked for assault with intent to kill.
Martin stands trial. He is found guilty and sentenced to six months in jail and required to pay Keen, who recovers, $ 500.00. Martin serves his time while his brothers’ company flourishes. Joe, James and Frank buy a lot at the corner of Pratt & Central Avenue. They use money borrowed from Joe’s wife Johanna(she owned and operated a boarding house for a few years). They have a large coppersmith facility built. The brothers carry on the legacy of their uncle. A family coppersmith Shop that will do business from that corner for over 90 years before the next move.
After Martin’s release from prison, his wife has divorced him. He spends a brief time in Baltimore. He remarries. Wedding Marie Roman and they both move to Chicago. The only contact the brothers have with him is through his daughter Kitty. She is Joe Kavanagh’s goddaughter. She visits her father and brings word of him home to Baltimore. He is working in Chicago in construction and is happy with his wife and her family. He dies November 6, 1919. He was hit in the head by a brick that fell from a building on a construction site. He is buried in Chicago.
He is for all intents and purposes the first villain of the story of the Shop. Corrupted by power and addled by drink. He nearly took the business down with him, but his brothers had other plans. With the money and help of Johanna Kavanagh, they move forward. They thrive and they succeed. Joe’s sons soon are hired and the next generation begins its training and smithing. Joe and his brothers speak rarely of Martin. They were left with many questions. The obvious one being what happened to that $ 25,000 that he inherited. How did he start with so much and fall so fast? The brothers wondered, but there were no answers. They got to work and did what was necessary. Martin was gone and the three picked up the pieces so the Shop could live on. It did and still does.