A Piece of Local 38 History Restored
Leading the Local 38 St. Patrick’s Day Parade contingent was a newly restored piece of Local 38 history, a parade cart which could have been manufactured as early as the turn of the 20th century.
The cart was apparently a mainstay of Local 38’s predecessors in San Francisco’s Labor Day parades, which drew labor union members from throughout the city for years, as well as proudly displaying Local 38’s colors from the local’s creation in 1947 until the Labor Day parade died off in the 1960s.
Discovered in pieces in a box last year, the cart was painstakenly restored under the supervision of Local 38 Business Agent Frank Reardon, with the assistance of apprentice Payden McGuinness.
“We were very proud to be able to lead this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade contingent with this piece of Local 38 history,” said Local 38 Business Manager Larry Mazzola, Jr. “It is a powerful tie to Local 38’s history. It is a remarkable feeling to know that San Francisco’s plumbers and pipefitters have been proudly displaying this cart for a century or more.”
Although there is no record of exactly which Local had the cart manufactured, it was most likely either Local 509, the San Francisco Steamfitters Union, established in 1911, or Local 442, San Francisco’s Journeyman Plumbers and Gas Fitters Union, which was founded in 1913. Both locals were among the four which were merged to create Local 38 in 1947.
Pictured above are two views of the cart, one from this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, and a black and white photo of the cart in a Labor Day parade that was probably around 1950. Local 38 Business Agent Frank McDermott (Business Agent Frank Reardon’s grandfather), who was a local officer from 1947 until his retirement in the late 60s, is pictured at the front, right of the cart.
Both photographs were taken at the at the intersection of Market and Third St.
The cart itself stands 12 feet high, and is made of nickel plated brass, a traditional type of pipe manufactured around the turn of the century. It rides on four wooden rimmed bicycle tires, another clue to the turn of the century estimate. Both the original and the newly refurbished cart were topped with American flags and a proud American eagle.
The original banner, seen in the black and white photo, currently hangs in the Local 38 union hall in San Francisco. A replica banner was created for actual parade use, since there were concerns about the original’s ability to stand up to the elements.