A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Flynncestry: Ragtime Flynns

Daniel Joseph Flynn goes to Phillipsburg

Daniel Joseph Flynn
This account is based on sundry documents in hand and on a transcript of a conversation with Francis Joseph Flynn, Sr (Pop-pop), May, 1976.  At the time of the recording, he was 76 years old and was talking about when he was a kid.  Those who remember him are welcome to supply his vocal mannerisms and to make metronomic hand-chopping gestures as they read his words.
After John Thomas Flynn was crushed in the railroad repair yards in Washington NJ in 1881, his oldest boys, Martin (12) and Daniel (10) had to go to work to support the family. According to TOF's grandfather, they would hop the freight train when it slowed down through the Yards and ride it through the tunnel to Oxford Furnace, where they worked in the Nail Mill. In the interview taped in May 1976, Pop-pop remembered:
Oxford Furnace, late 1800s
"My dad first worked... he worked in Oxford. They made steel, or rather iron. They cooked up the ore and made ingots, pig iron, until that ore played out. It was the Oxford Iron Mills."
The Merriam Shoe Co. had relocated from New York City to Newton NJ in 1873, and "attracted to the novelty, townsfolk peered inside and wondered at the mechanical wizardry of the modern factory system." Modern, indeed. A steam engine powered the belts that moved the machines. The Sussex Register thought that “the only question that remains to be settled is, will Mr. Merriam be seconded in his efforts by a competent corps of women and children from this county, who are willing to become his employees?” This was just in time for Martin and Daniel to become two of those children, for in...

1884. Oxford Furnace, the last working colonial blast furnace in the country, was finally "blown out" and went cold. Martin and Dan heard of good-paying jobs making shoes in Newton NJ and moved up there. An ad in the Belvidere Apollo (31 May 1889) mentioned that "the Merrian Shoe Co. at Newton are now employing nearly 400 operatives." (Side note: Merriam's family also published Webster's Dictionary, now known as Merriam-Webster.)
Merriam Shoe Factory, Newton NJ, built May 1873. Factories back then
were tall, thin, and many-windowed to maximize the indoor lighting.

Daniel and Martin worked there for a time, but Daniel later moved to Newark NJ. Pop-pop again:
"I don't know whether I heard overheard this or whether my mother [Matilda] told me, but it seems that my mother met my dad in Newark or around the Oranges. It must have been... well, God only knows what year. Originally, [she was] from South Easton."
On the state marriage return, Daniel's 1892 residence is given as "Hunterdon St., City," i.e., Newark. His occupation is listed as "shoemaker," so he was probably working at one of the many shoe factories there. The two closest to Hunterdon St. (and to St. Peter's Church) are Wm.Dorsch & Son (around the corner from the church) and the Johnston & Murphy Shoe Co. about a 14 minute walk away.
TOF doesn't know where on Hunterdon St. Daniel lived. The location shown is about the middle of the street, which runs for several blocks parallel to Irvine Turner (nee Belmont Ave.). The two closest factories are named and the
locations of four others a little farther off are also noted.

1892. 19 May.  Daniel J. Flynn (21) married Matilda Ochenfuss (18) originally of South Easton, PA. The wedding took place at St. Peter's Church, the German Catholic parish on Belmont Ave. (now Irvine Turner Blvd.) The only witness was Kathie Cassiday, who was Matilda's older sister. Thus began the next household in the TOFian dynasty -- introducing a Germanic element into the family. 

Former St.Peter Church, Irvine Turner Bvd.
Newark, NJ. Later Queen of Angels.
 St. Peter's was built by German Catholics in 1861. If we suppose that Matilda Ochenfuss also went to Newark to work in the shoe factories, this would naturally be her parish.   The 1881 History of Essex County (cited here) provides the following description, which would have been current when Dan and Tillie were married there.
The present church edifice was built in 1861, and its proportions are very symmetrical, and give it a fine exterior, which might have been improved by making the front of stone instead of brick. The style is Gothic; the tower square, with pinnacles. The same symmetry is displayed in the interior as upon the outside; clustered columns with carved capitals support the roof of the nave, while the decorations and figures of the sanctuary and chapels are gotten up with that artistic taste for which the Germans are celebrated. The altar is forty-six feet high, and above the tablet are figures representing the Law and the Gospel, Moses and Elias, and the four Evangelists. Above these is a large crucifix, with St. Mary and St. John at the foot of the Cross. In arches on each side of this are figures of saints, while above is a figure of the Godhead, and in the fixed arch a representation of the Resurrection.
In 1958, Queen of Angels, the first African-American Catholic parish in Newark, burned down and the German Catholics invited them to share St. Peter's. When the German population moved to Irvington in 1962, the building became Queen of Angels Church. In 1977, the street name was changed to Irvine Turner Blvd. Recently, the parish was closed, the roof caved in, and all was ready for demolition when someone realized that the Queen of Angels on Irvine Turner was the same as the St. Peter's on Belmont that had a National Historic register designation. Demolition was halted and the decaying building is now in a planning limbo.
Shortly after this, Dan and Tillie moved to Phillipsburg, NJ, presumably to be nearer to Matilda's mother: Mary Ochenfuss Drake, herself newly married.
Ochenfuss. In one way, unusual names are easier for the genealogist; but in other ways not. One can only imagine the number of variant spellings of Ochenfuss that have appeared in the records, from Ochen/Ocken/Ochsen/Oxen/Acken to -fuss/foose/fuse/fusz. Johann ("John") Ochenfuss was born c. 24 Jun 1795 in Baden, probably in Windschläg in the Black Forest. (One finds there a Martin Ockenfuss (1724 - 1788) and Anna Barbara Ockenfuss (Jutz) (1727 - 1781)).  Johann married Anna Maria --?-- b. Aug. 1801, also in Baden, and their first two children were born there as well. (The Grand Principality of Baden is now part of the State of Baden-Württemberg in Germany.)

They emigrated in 1832 and their remaining children were born in PA. John was employed by the
Lehigh Valley Railroad in South Easton for 15 years. He is listed in the Federal Census of 1840 (Oukufuse!) and 1850 (Auckofuss!) in Forks Twp., Northampton Co., PA, and in 1860, as in Palmer Twp., which had meanwhile split off from Forks. Their daughter Mary (27) married John Hetzler of Ackermanville 18 Feb. 1869, but in the 1870 Census, she was living with her parents in South Easton, PA.apparently under her maiden name, with Hetzler nowhere in sight. A year later, she gave birth (as Maria (Mary) Ockenfuss) to Matilda Ockenfuss (12 Nov 1871), who was baptized three weeks later at St. Joseph's Church, South Easton, PA. The baptismal record does not list a father, though Hetzler is credited elsewhere. It is unknown why neither Mary nor her children carried his name. Matilda's grandfather John Ochenfuss (85) died 4 Oct 1880, followed a year later by his wife (80). On 25 December 1889, Mary A. Ochenfuss married a second time, to Joseph S. Drake at Sts. Philip and James Church, Phillipsburg NJ, in the presence of daughter Tillie ("Lilly") and son-in-law Frank Cassidy.
1892. 2 Nov. Catherine Loretta Flynn was born to Daniel and Matilda. The baptismal certificate states that she was baptized "privately" on the same day, with "ceremonies supplied" on 18 Dec. by Rev. Burke of St. Philip and James. The sponsors were Matilda's sister and brother-in-law, Catherine and Frank Cassiday. The implication is that the baby was born prematurely and died a month or two after birth.
1893. 13 Mar. Daniel's older brother Martin married Alice Newitt at St. Joseph's parish in Newton. She was the daughter of Andrew Newitt, farmer, and Mary Ann Dunn of Caddington, Warren Co. NJ.
The peregrinations of Daniel Flynn: Born in Washington Twp., worked in Oxford Furnace after father's death,
then shoemaker in Newton, married a German girl in Newark, then took up residence as a blacksmith in Phillipsburg.

Highways shown are modern, duh? Couldn't figure how to eliminate the driving time placard.
1894. 24 Jun. James John Flynn was born to Daniel and Matilda of 114 Detweiler's Row, Phillipsburg. He was baptized two weeks later at Sts. Philip and James. The sponsors were Daniel's brother, James Flynn, and Tillie's sister, Catherine Cassidy. (Detweiler's Row seems to have vanished from the topography of Phillipsburg.) Pop-pop later remembered that his older brother Jim had wanted to be a fighter. The only way for a poor Irishman to get ahead, he said, was in sports -- boxing or baseball. "He was in the welter weight," he said.
Warren Foundry. Belching smokestacks used to be regarded
with pride as a sign of a town's prosperity. Now they are a sign
déclassé blue-color workers and sweat.

The Phillipsburg City Directory for this year lists Daniel's occupation as "foundryman." Pop-pop remembered that in later years:
My dad worked for the Warren Foundry and Machine Co. [now Atlantic States]. He was what is known as a core-maker.  He was a core-maker, and when I was on my way to school, I used to take his lunch.  I used to go under the railroad here on Stockton St. and take him his lunch on my way to South Main and Stockton where the school used to locate. 
Residences of Daniel Flynn and family, late 1890s to early 1910s. Could not locate Detweiler's Row.
1894. 26 Aug. Anne Marie Flynn was born to Martin and Alice in Newton. She later married James Anthony Pippitt and supplied some of the information used in these histories.

1895. 2 Jun. Martin Flynn died in Newton at age 25 and was buried in Washington NJ next to his father and grandfather. His widow went to work in the shoe factory. Anne Marie Flynn Pippitt had three sons. While there may be Pippitts running around, this marks the end of that branch of the Flynn.

1895. New Jersey State Census lists Daniel and Tillie and son James in the 3rd Ward of Phillipsburg next door to Frank and Kate Cassidy and Mary A. Drake, who was the mother of Tillie and Kate. Don't know what happened to Joseph Drake since the marriage six years ago.

1896. The City Directory lists Daniel Flynn as a foundryman, living now at 120 Detweiler.

1897. 27 Nov. Anna Marie Flynn was born to Daniel and Matilda of 382 Washington St. (per city directory) and was baptized three weeks later at St. Phillip and James. Catherine Cassidy was once more the Sponsor. Notice that there are now two cousins three years apart with virtually the same name.
1898. 28 Dec. Bridget Flynn (17), Daniel's surviving sister, married Thomas Henry Sawyer (28) of Oxford. Within a couple years, they moved to Trenton, NJ, and most of the remaining Flynns moved with them. Their first child, Tom Sawyer, was born in Nov. 1899, about two months before Pop-pop.
1899. ca. Nov. James Flynn (24) married Mamie Flannigan (21). For the moment, they continued to live with the Sawyers.
1900. 19 Jan. Francis Thomas Flynn was born to Daniel (29) and Matilda (26) and was baptized three weeks later at St. Phillip and James. For a change, Catherine Cassidy was not the sponsor.

1900. 2 Jun. US Federal Census lists Daniel Flynn (29), blacksmith, living at 382 Washington St. in Phillipsburg. Tillie (27) is listed as "Lillie" and the three children are James, Anna M., and Francis T. Next door are Frank (41) and Katherine (35) Cassidy and Mary Drake.
1900. 8 Jun. US Federal Census lists Charles Brady, a tailor, living at 143 Elm St., Newton, Sussex Co., NJ. with his wife Rosanna, and his children Andrew and Isabella. Also in the same household were his sister-in-law Alice [Newitt] Flynn (widow of Martin Flynn) who is working at the shoe factory and her daughter Annie (5). Later, Alice will join the others in Trenton, where Annie will meet James Pippitt (now 8), whose family is living at 24 Walnut Ave. in Trenton, about a mile from the Sawyers.

1900. 9 Jun. US Federal Census lists Thomas Sawyer (28), a turner, living at 223 Second St., Trenton, Mercer Co., NJ. with his wife Bridget (20) and his son Thomas (1/12). Also in the same household, erroneously named "Sawyer" by the census-taker, were his in-law Flynns: John (27), Patrick (22), James (24), Mamie (20) [James' wife], and [mother] Annie (53). Patrick and James were also turners at the rubber mill, and John was a presser. 
Records are getting better than in the previous century, but we still find names misspelled, relationships garbled, and so on.

Somewhere along the way, Daniel Flynn and his family moved to 215A Chambers St. 
1901. 26 Jun. Patrick Henry Flynn (23) of Trenton married Margaret Catherine Cooney (22) of Sheffield,  England, at Sacred Heart Church in Trenton. Around 1903, they will move across the river to Morrisville, PA. They will have ten children, of whom four will die within a few years of their birth.

Paddy had been a silk weaver in Washington after his father was crushed by rail cars, and was presently a turner at Vulcanized Rubber in Morrisville, where they made ear-pieces for telephones. The Sonneborn Rubber Comb and Novelty Company manufactured combs, rods and tubes. In 1890, the Goodyear Vulcanite Company purchased Sonneborn to make a broader line of combs, pipe stems and fittings. In 1895 George Pellinger, formerly with the Goodrich Rubber Company purchased an interest in the organization and the company was reorganized in 1901 as the Vulcanized Rubber Company. A new plant was built at Pennsylvania and Bridge St. in 1903.

Paddy was a good
baseball pitcher. He enjoyed gardening -- vegetables and flowers -- and fishing in Scat Creek. This, according to his daughter, Anna Loretta (b. 16 Mar 1902) of Bridge St., who supplied much of the information on the Trenton/Morrisville Flynns.
Vulcanized Rubber, Morrisville PA

1902. 10 Jun. John (Thomas) Flynn was born to Daniel and Matilda and was baptized three weeks later at St. Phillip and James. Catherine Cassidy resumes her role as perennial sponsor.

Francis Flynn recalled this time:
"My mother and her mother had a way with food. This priest... what was his name... Regnery from St. Joe's [pastor 1885-1911] used to come on Sunday, cause if they had something special they used to let him know. 'So if you're interested, just stop by.' I heard my mother say the priest'd get up, walk around a bit, then sit down again and say, 'I'll have another helping of that.' Yeah, they went to... they musta gone to St. Joseph's school in South Easton. 

"And my mother and her mother spoke German, especially when the 'big-eared Flynn' was around, because I didn't understand, y'know. The consequence was that when I did start school, my first nickname at school was 'Dutch.' 'Dutch Flynn!' Can you imagine that? 'Cause I got my wees and wubbleyous all fouled up from listening to my mother and her mother talk. For my 'w' I would say 'v' and the 'v' I would say 'w' until I got untangled. (chuckles) And that was my first nickname."
Pop-pop also, naturally enough, began to pick up bits of German and TOF still remembers times when his grandfather would instruct him on bits of German vocabulary. He especially liked Handschuh. 

1907. 20 Dec. Catherine Flynn was born to Daniel and Matilda and was baptized three weeks later at St. Phillip and James. Catherine Cassidy is not the sponsor! Presumably, her godmaternal plate is full.

1909. 19 Nov. Martin Flynn was born to Daniel and Matilda and was baptized two and a half weeks later at St. Phillip and James.

1913. 26 Oct. Martin Flynn died of diphtheria a few weeks shy of his fourth birthday in the family residence at 161 Lewis St. The doctor -- TOF cannot read the name on the photostat of the death certificate -- had been called to the house, and after examining the child wrote a prescription and handed it to TOF's grandfather, Francis (then 13), saying, "Run as fast as you can to the drug store and bring this back." So Pop-pop set off down the block and reached the drug store out of breath, handing over the prescription. The druggist looked at it and rushed off to make the medicine. He gave it to Pop-pop, who then ran back to the house and breathlessly handed the medicine over to his mother, who was rocking Martin on her lap in the big rocking chair. Martin swallowed the medicine, coughed, and after a while he said, "Sing 'Pony Boy' for me." This was his favorite song. And so Tillie sang to him.

Partway through the song, she fell silent. Then she rose and carried the child to his bedroom. He had died in her arms while she sang. This was the story related to TOF by Pop-pop many years later. Pop-pop could not help but wonder: if only he had run faster...

Although Martin of Loughrea had lived to age 66, his son Martin had died at 36 on the railroad and this Martin's nephew  Martin had died at 25 in Newton. Now, that Martin's nephew Martin had died at age 4. No one on this side of the family has been named Martin ever again.

Pop-pop remembered that
"Anne Lynch Flynn, she was housekeeper for the Sawyers, who operated a bootery, a shoestore. He worked in a rubber mill in Morrisvile (PA, across the river from Trenton), but she used to come up and visit us here in Phillipsburg every year. And I used to go over there and buddy around because Tom Sawyer was my cousin. He was the son of Tom Sawyer who worked in the rubber mill. My uncle Paddy lived a few blocks over across the street and my uncle Jim lived about a block from him. They were all brothers of my dad.
Patrick Henry Flynn (l) and Daniel  Joseph Flynn (r)
year uncertain, but probably in the 1920s or 30s.

l. to r.: Tillie Ochenfuss, Blanche Cantrel, Anne Lynch,
Daniel J. Flynn. In front, Daniel J. Flynn Jr. Photo
probably from 1920 or so.
Everyone remembered what a
a "sweet old lady" Anne Lynch Flynn was, though she's
looking a trifle fierce here.

The Childhood of Pop-pop

Young Francis the Paperboy. Long before your newpaper went on-line, long before it was delivered by contractors driving their cars slowly up and down the street, it was delivered by "newsboys" on foot with a canvas bag slung across their shoulder. The more enterprising could fold the paper up and throw it like a missile to land directly in front of your door. Or not. The newsboy purchased the paper at wholesale and sold it to subscribers at retail, keeping the difference as his profit. Usually, the paper handled subscriptions, but the more enterprising newsboys would periodically canvass houses not already on their list and try to talk them into subscribing so as to increase profits.
"We used to race from 4th Street [in Easton, where the Easton Express was printed] to the Circle [where the trolley to P'burg stopped] because every carrier got one extra paper. I think I had 163 and my route started at South Main and Hudson. I started at South Main and delivered to the proper addresses up to Washington St. Both ways on Washington St... on both sides of the street. All of Chambers St., both sides, and the even-numbered side of Lewis St. The next carrier took the other side of Lewis St."
Young Francis the Barber Boy. 
"I carried the paper until,,, Frank Hinslow, who was barber boy for Harry Wolfram. And Harry Wolfram told his wife that Frank Hinslow was [not] going to be there and wondered where he could get a pretty steady employee to clean up the shop and lather up the faces. He supposedly would be learning the barber trade -- which he never intended to do. She said, "Take our paper boy. He lives next to O'Dells there on Washington St." About ⅔ of a block from his shop. His shop was right off Hudson St., where Hudson crossed (background noise). 

"I worked for Harry Wolfram then until... Tom Murphy, the Phillipsburg Supply and Construction Co. I think he got his inspiration from Fr. Massey. He said, 'Get that kid outta the barber shop. He's hearing too much commotion there.' Because Fr. Massey thought, he thought I would become a priest, that I had a vocation. In fact, he was quite sure of it. He used to talk to me after football games. Anyhow, Tom Murphy, he finally drove around and talked to my mother. I would work for him for I think it was $5 a week." [≈ $120 today]
Young Francis the Stableboy and Accountant.
[Tom Murphy rented horses and buggies. He] stabled the horses out on Stockton St. They called it Stockton Yards. Then, while I was still working for them, they converted from horse-drawn vehicles. They started out with horses and motor cars, then finally the horses went out of the picture.

I remember, I had to get the bills out on the first -- the statements, the accounts receivable. And Tom Murphy, at that time it was his Phillipsburg Supply and Construction firm. There was an open space on what we called Madison Square, where Heckman, Lewis, and Filmore come together. All beyond that, beyond the hotel there, was all open space, and Phillipsburg Supply built all that. We used to go to Chautauqua on the open lot, y'see. They used to put a Big Top up there and I'd [sit] and listen to the lectures that they had there, which they held in the open space and charge a fee. (Anyhow) Tom Murphy and Phillipsburg Supply, he built all that area up; he erected all those houses.
His son, he thought there was some money in chicken farms (and he) erected some henhouses on the lower part of Warren, down near the Lackawana Railroad. The reason I know that is because he asked me one day if I knew the right attitude for the eastern (unintelligible). I told him I wasn't sure, but I thought it was around 43 (degrees). It was near enough, but he wanted to know which angle the coop and the roof should be to get the maximum sunlight. He was quite a smart guy.
He had a brother who had shares in the company, a priest named Fr. Joe. Joe and John, who operated the Stockton Yards, and Tom, who was left-handed, he built the Phillipsburg High School Hall.

He would get certified checks and submit bids for the coal for the Easton schools because... I remember his instructions... He said, "Whenever you're sending coal in Pennsylvania just put the actual pounds on until the last load and then be sure you, ah, divide it by 2240, which is the gross ton, which is legal in Pennsylvania. In New Jersey, the ton is 2000 pounds. It's the net ton. Over there it's the gross ton. I don't know if it's still that way, but it was at that time. I was in high school.
In high school, and he was keeping accounts for a major local contractor? Those were different times indeed. Children in the ragtime era went to work in their early teens in all sorts of after-school and summer jobs. The direct income tax had become legal in early 1913, and would gradually make such informal arrangements more burdensome and paperwork-y. Today, there are not even paperboys, let alone barberboys or stableboys.
"I went to high school at St. Catherine's Academy on S. Main St. (There was no high school out here on the hill.) and the classes were very small.  I think there was thirteen in my class.  It was half of a convent made over into a high school and the sisters moved into the other half."

"In the meantime, we moved up to Lewis St., 161 Lewis, the corner of Fulton and Lewis St.  And while we were living there...  Let me see, we lived there for a time, then we moved back from 161 Lewis St. to 315A Chambers St., a wedge-shaped property that really fronted on Dugan's Alley, which was near Heckman St. The front of the house was on the broad end of the property and it came to a point.

That was in 1917; that was when I graduated from high school. Mary Reynolds had a chauffeured car driving her down and she said, 'I'll stop and pick you up.' And she told the chauffeur 'Stop right here!' And then she told him 'Beep the horn!' cause he'd be ready now. And we were on our way to the graduation exercise. I was salutatorian and Ken Connelly was valedictorian."
TOF has Pop-pop's high school Latin textbook and notes that it made no concessions to entertainment of the student or to "relevance."
Daniel Joseph Flynn
in uniform of the Reliance Hose
During this time Daniel Flynn also volunteered as a fireman, joining the Reliance Hose Company.  Reliance Hose had been organized on February 8, 1887 and moved into its new firehouse on Chamber Street near Ellen in 1890. This firehouse was constructed by the town at a cost of some $5,000 ($132,000 in today's currency). Reliance Hose obtained a Hahn Pumper in 1917 -- painted a bright Kelly green. This was the third motorized unit obtained the Phillipsburg fire companies. Daniel became a supervisor in the Reliance, and can be seen in one picture, not alas digitized, holding his voice trumpet. Also in this same picture is Fernand Ernst Octave Cantrel, of Pas de Calais in France. Daniel's son Francis will eventually marry Fernand's daughter Blanche and carry on the TOFian line.

One old man at the bar in Flynn's On The Hill remembered seeing Daniel with his axe, chopping holes in the roof of the Presbyterian Church to vent a fire that had broken out there -- and grinning with pleasure. He also recalled that Daniel would go from bar to bar -- P'burg had a plethora of bars in those days -- and join in fights for the hell of it. If there had been an internet in those days, he would probably have been a troll.

Daniel left Warren Foundry and "he worked at Martin's Creek for the Alpha Portland Cement Co. as a repairman.  He worked there for a number of years; then he moonlit...  He moonlit for the Phillipsburg police department as a special policeman.  He relieved... ah, Bob Gebhart's dad - his name was Shad Gebhart... his nickname was Shad -- and another policeman by the name of... hmm.  It doesn't come to mind.  But he relieved these policemen as a special duty.  He had a tunic that he wore, and a nightstick, and a high hat like a London bobby presently wears, y'know.  That was the official uniform at that time."   

1915. 31 Dec. Anna Mary Flynn (18), Pop-pop's older sister, married Adam Lewis Schaible (22) at St. Philip and James. They would have thirteen children, two of whom will die young and one will be lost at sea from the USS Bennington in 1955.

1916. 16 Dec. Daniel Joseph Flynn Jr. was born to Daniel and Matilda and was baptized three weeks later at St. Phillip and James.

The Great War

Meanwhile, the Great War had broken out in Europe, and American industry was making armaments for the Allies. In particular, Ingersoll-Rand made shells for the French artillery. [Vulcanized Rubber was making gas masks.]

1917. "So then I went out to Ingersoll," said Pop-pop. "I graduated this evening and I went out to Ingersoll 13 hours a night.  I reported there the next night because the neighbor of mine was a foreman and would take anybody who was available. 

"So I went out there as a dope-mixer.  I mixed the lamp-black with crude oil to put in the dies so the hot metal wouldn't adhere to it.  Aaaah... When I saw....  When I saw what 'luck' I was in, I asked the foreman if I could have another job and he gave me a job inspecting on the basing-in operation.  The Ingersoll-Rand corporation had a contract with the French government for 5-inch shells, shrapnel.  So I was in the inspecting and...  after I inspected a while I saw these fellows marking down 1, 2, 3, ...  They were making piece-work and I was getting paid by the hour.  I said, "Why couldn't I operate the press?"  I was putting in the same number of hours but I'm only getting paid so much per hour and these fellows were really cashing in.  So I operated a hydraulic press." 

"When my Dad saw the money I was handing to my mother -- [$250 a fortnight = $4,630 in 2014 money!] and she'd give me a couple dollars back for pocket money -- he said, "Cripes almighty!  I better take a leave of absence from Martin's Creek [Alpha Portland Cement] and go out there and work on this shell business myself."  And which he did." 

"He was a heater man.  Honus Kaufman, he went out there [too].  They were all heaters in my crew, and I was operating the hydraulic press.  The low-pressure lever and the high-pressure lever.  The basing-in operation.  They would heat the... about four inches down on the shell -- this was after it came back from the machine shop -- it was hollowed out, machined on the inside and the outside; but it still had an extension on the tip of the shell for handling with the tongs, y'know, and they would put it in...  We had those blast furnaces burning up the crude oil.  Each heater had six shells and he would turn 'em to get an even heat, about four inch fairly good heat, almost a white heat.  And then they'd put it on the scaling machine and knock the scales off of it; and this guy would swab around with a piece of burlap on a stick so it wouldn't stick.  And then I would operate the press, the hydraulic press, and turn that steel in.  There was a teat about an inch in diameter and about four inches long that would curl the metal down and put the base on the base of the shell.  It was called the basing-in operation.

"That's where they would put out, standing upside down.  An inspector at that stage, he would check... He had tongs and about... oh, about 3/8 of an inch tolerance.  If it was within that tolerance he would pass it; otherwise he would throw it out.

"They loaded these shells...  After they were sent to France, they loaded them with shrapnel.  Then when they were fired, they would explode and fly in all directions. 

"So my father, he worked on that until... the end of the conflict."

"So while I was working on this piece-work job, the principal of the high school, Sr. Felicita, called me on the telephone and told me, she said, "I sent your credits to Catholic University and you can be admitted without a College Board or any sort of examination, provided you are voluntarily inducted." [IOW it was a cadet program for the Army.]

1918. June.  
"So this was in the month of June [1918] and away I set sail.  I was down at Catholic University then from June until New Years."  [The Armistice was in November, so the government shut down the cadet program at the end of the term.] "My mother wrote me while I was there and she said "Stay on."  But we were snowed into taking an ME course, because they were short on officers.  They said, "If you take this ME course, you will get to Camp Meade quicker.  The seniors will go first, then the juniors, then the sophomores, et cetera, y'know.  But if you take the mechanical engineering course, you'll see action quicker than you would if you took any other course."  [Notice that the prospect of "seeing action" was regarded as an enticement.] "What I really wanted to take was Philosophy and Letters and there was only one guy who held out for that...  He later became a monsignor.  I think in the Scranton Diocese.

"When I went to Catholic University, I took enough time with the man there to fill out the forms and I told him I gave my parents $250 or better every two weeks.  He didn't call me a liar to my teeth, but he as much said, "This I don't believe."  So I said, "All you have to do is correspond with my parents and with Ingersoll-Rand Company and they will bear me out that I made in excess of $250 or better every two weeks.  Because it was piece-work... it was production work.  And we worked seven days a week.  Sundays we tuned up the machinery, and the other six days we were getting paid by the piece."

"My dad was still working there when I enlisted; and I went to Washington DC and told the man there I'd been giving my parents this money.  So my mother got $85 a month [= $1336] from Uncle Sam and I got $15 a month [= $236] on the location.  My mother would send to me the $85 back.  He [the Army man] told me later I was quite right [about the wages at the Ingersoll].  "We got verification." 

"We were sorta the Negroes on the campus.  We had the poorest dormitory.  They called it "the Flag," because we were on government tuition, government books.  We had to respond to the bugle in the morning.  We had one battalion, four companies - A, B, C, and D.  We were an infantry battalion.   

"[Then the war ended and] My mother wrote me to stay on, but I thought, "Why should I be walking around the campus?"  I'm thinking that I'm real smart.  If I'd been real smart, I'd have listened better,  'cause I could've paid her back in no time at all and I could have altered my course.  She said, "We'll make this some way or other."  She said, "Stay right where you are."  Instead of that, I got my one cent a mile ticket back.  She was very disappointed."

After the war, Francis Flynn went to work on the Lehigh Valley Railroad, where he ran the dining cars. "I lied," he said.
"I went over to the railroad when I was twenty years old. I told 'em I was 21. I worked on the railroad from 1920 to 1927, when the hotel opened."
Which brings us to the post-war era. For the exciting conclusion to this history, tune in again next time when we spot the Flynns in the Jazz Age.

Past Episodes:

1. Flynncestry: The Good Old Days of Murder and Mayhem!
2. The Flynns of Loughrea: Martin Flynn
3. To the Shores of Amerikay: John Thomas Flynn


  1. I assume that the Detweiler of In the Country of the Blind, et al., was named after Detweiler's Row, rather than being a cosmic coincidence? Do you draw often on family history to fill odd gaps, or is it just an occasional thing?

    1. Names like Detweiler -- there's a Detweiler St. also in Easton -- or Ochenfuss or Hammontree tend to stick in the memory. In the Country of the Blind also featured a German researcher named Anton Zängle, after a maternal ancestor: Franz Josef Anton Zängle, a man appearing in the records with all possible combinations of his Vornamen. Mae Holloway in "Melodies of the Heart" took the name of some neighbors of the Hammontrees in the East Tennessee hills, and her history mirrored that of the uxorial family. So: occasional, I'd say.

      I've also used places I've been. Chennai, TN, India became the Terran quarter in Port Jehovah, for example, in The January Dancer.


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