1947 Jack and Betty

January 6

The run of work continues with another strong start to the year. The Shop at 201 S. Central Avenue is flush with regular distillery and brewery work. In addition, they are still receiving ship work from the Navy and their usual winter confectionery work. Leo and Eddie answer calls from customers, quoting and accepting jobs from their small corner office. Once a job is received, Leo does any engineering and makes the necessary sketches while Eddie expedites things in the Shop proper. Occasionally when necessary, Eddie still does some smithing and a few installations.

January 11

On a cold and blustery Saturday, Jack and Betty are planning a wedding. May 17 is the date and they will be married at St. Ignatius Church which is Betty’s parish. They make guest lists and choose the bridal party. Urban(Urb) Rosemary is one of Jack’s closest friends and will be his Best Man while Urb’s wife Jackie will be Betty’s Maid of Honor. The couple are very excited and very much in love. Their love grew quickly and has only continued to do so. They look forward to standing before all their family and friends and declaring that love. Besides the wedding, Jack is also preparing to return to the Maryland Institute College of Art to continue studying drafting and mechanics. His classes will be twice a week and start in February. Jack will go to school then drive to the Shop to work the remainder of the day.

February 27

On a very chilly Thursday, the crew of the Shop heat and hammer, working copper into shapes. Today a job for A. Smith Bowman Distillers is completed. A replacement boiling bottle is made, double-jacketed for boiling and the interior tinned. The tinning process is a part of a coppersmith’s basic skill set. The interior of the copper bottle is cleaned carefully with muriatic acid then quickly coated with boiling hot tin. It is spread as evenly and quickly as possible. The tin protects the contents from copper poisoning.

The Shop’s job book entry. Sunset Distillers, the A. Smith Bowman Company job. February 27, 1947.

March 8

Ed Jr. and Lillian move to 440 N. Lakewood Avenue, three doors down from Ed’s parents. They have wanted to get out on their own for a while but stay close and with Jack and Betty moving in after the wedding, the time was right. They are next door now to Lillian’s cousin, Howard Fetsch so they have family on both sides and that’s how it often was in the neighborhood. In those days when family moved, they didn’t move far.

March 17

This year on St. Patrick’s Day, a copper slop trough is made for Records and Goldsborough Distilling, another of the Shop’s older customers. Mr. Funke, Ed Jr. and Jack heat copper sheet with their torches, hands gloved and sleeves pulled down always for safety. Four very straight seams are annealed on the sheets while the rest of the copper remains hard to maintain the strength of the sides of the trough. With dies and clamps, the three men fold each annealed seam up to a 90 degree angle until all four sides form a rectangle with an open top. The edges all around are then annealed and bent over to form an outside rim. All corners are soldered closed and then a quick clean up of all the surfaces and the trough is completed. A hot job but on a breezy spring day it is not so bad. It is basic coppersmithing and the three finish it with ease.

The Shop’s job book. Records and Goldsborough Co. job. March 17, 1947.

April 16

Joe visits his sons at the Shop as he still occasionally does and he brings up Jackie Robinson. Robinson has just become the first African-American to play in a major league game. This is not truly accurate as there were African-Americans playing in the early years of the National League but to most folks’ memory, Jackie is the first. Robinson is a slick fielding second baseman who can run and he’s a good hitter too. Joe sits in the Shop office with his boys eating lunch, corned beef sandwiches that Johanna sent for the three of them. A small price to pay she told Joe to get him out of the house.

“It’s about time they let some Negro players into the game. Those boys can really play.” Joe opined on Robinson’s first game.

“I see it almost every week, Joe.” Eddie answered, “I see the E-lite Giants and the other teams in their league and they are full of good players. They can hit. They can pitch. They can run. It only make sense for the owner to let these fellows play.”

“Robinson will be the first of many. Not just because he’s a black fellow but because the Negro Leagues are full of talent. I mean it’s like an untapped market of players.” Leo chimes in.

“Well, I say they should have done it a long time ago,” Joe replies, a magnanimous air about him, “The black players are some of the best in the country.”

“Of course they are.” Eddie responds, “It’s not fairness that inspires these owners. They want to win. That’s what it’s all about.” His brother and father grin in agreement.

“Yup.” Joe chuckled. “Sign Satchel Page, Buck O’Neill and one or two others and somebody’s got the pennant. It’s a good thing for the Negroes and baseball. The best should play with the best.”

“Sure, but I gotta wonder what will happen to the Negro teams like the E-lite Giants. Jack and I love going to their games. It’s just good baseball,” Eddie says as he fishes a cigarette from a flattened pack on his desk.

“Maybe a major league team will move to Baltimore.” Leo says as he glances between his father and several orders on his desk.

“It won’t happen. After the Orioles failed and were dismantled, the owners think this town isn’t big enough for a team. It’s a damn shame. The Orioles were champions. Remember that boys. They were the best of the best for a long time. They had bad luck in the Temple Cup but they still won one. This World Series and all that is new stuff. They are trying to sell baseball to the whole country and the big towns like New York and Chicago gotta be featured. I’m not sure they’ll ever think of Baltimore like that.” Joe responds very matter-of-factly as he takes a bite from a sandwich.

“Maybe so, Joe, but I wouldn’t be so sure that Baltimore won’t ever get a team. I think with the newspapers covering baseball so much and radio broadcasting games, like you said, baseball will soon want to cover the country, I wouldn’t be so sure that Baltimore won’t get a team some day. It just might take time. I do think the owners of MLB teams will poach independent and Negro League teams but that’s because the talent is there. I bet the owners will find so much talent that they will add some teams. We will get a team some day. You mark my words.” Eddie declares to his brother and father.

Joe rolls up the remains of his sandwich, tosses it in the trash and answers, “I hope you’re right Eddie.”

May 13

Today the crew of the Joseph Kavanagh Company are attending to their usual variety of parts and repairs for distillers, beer brewers and ship makers. Eddie has been talking to Mr. Brearton at National Distillers for several weeks about two mash tanks and the crew make them today. The copper sheet is heated then run through their rollers to get the curve they need. It is a simple process unless the tank is over five feet high, in which case, the curving must be done more slowly and more carefully; the challenge on such a job is to have the top and bottom of the tank match. The Shop’s rollers are three feet wide so the sheet of copper must be rolled, flipped over and rolled again multiple times until the diameter matches at the top and bottom and is held to the customer’s desired tolerance. This one is a bear as they say and takes many tries before getting the tanks just right.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Distillers job. May 13, 1947.
Jack and Betty's Wedding Invitation
Jack and Betty Kavanagh’s wedding invitation. May 17, 1947.

May 17

Today is the big day for Jack and Betty and it is a beautiful sunny Saturday. It is a joyous and exciting occasion as Jack Kavanagh marries Betty Crew at St. Ignatius Church today. The mass is at 9 AM, as was customary at that time, followed by the Wedding Breakfast for the bridal party and the parents, then a reception for everyone in the afternoon. Father Mitchell Cartwright performs the ceremony assisted by his brother John who are both cousins of the Crew’s. There is some weeping but it is all in joy as both families and all their friends are so very happy for the couple. According to my father, it is the only time that all the Hartmann’s, his mother’s family, and all the Kavanagh’s were together, wishing the best to Jack and Betty. The breakfast is held at the Stafford Hotel in the Mount Vernon Dining Room of the Preakness Lounge. While everyone is enjoying their breakfast, Annie calls Jack and Betty aside to speak to them.

Matchbook from Jack and Betty Kavanagh’s wedding breakfast. Mount Vernon Dining Room at the Preakness Lounge in the Stafford Hotel. May 17, 1947.

“Jack, I have something I need to give to you.” she begins as she smiles at her youngest son and his bride-to-be.

“You’ve given me so much, Mom. What is it?” Jack answers watching her remove a small box from her purse.

Johanna Kavanagh’s father, James Long’s pocket watch. Passed to Eddie, Johanna’s second son then passed by her daughter-in-law, Annie, to Jack her second son.

She hands it to Jack who opens it and sees a very old pocket watch. “This watch belonged to your grandmother Johanna’s father, James Long. When your father and I got married, she gave it to Eddie because, well, she knew that some day her older son would be the president of the company and she wanted her second son to have something special of his own, something of the family’s. The watch doesn’t keep time as well as it did but it’s an heirloom. We don’t know how things will go with your brother, you and the Shop but we want you, our second son, to have the watch”

Picture of the Long family. Johanna Long Kavanagh is the older of the girls. Late 1870s.

Jack turned the watch over several times in his hand as Betty gasped looking down at the old time piece. It had a little weight to it and was made of polished brass. Jack opened it up and inside is a picture of the Long family including a young Johanna. “It’s beautiful, Mom. Thank you.” He wrapped his arms around his mother and she held him tight. Then it was Betty’s turn and Annie pulled her into an embrace.

Whispering in her ear she said, “Maybe some day, Betty, you will give this watch to your second son at his wedding. Johanna started this tradition with Eddie and I am passing it to you two. I want you to think of me and this day when you look at the watch.” she smiled at both Jack and Betty

“It’s truly beautiful and thank you so much,” Betty replied, a teary grin on her face.

“Thank you, Mom. I love you.” Jack said as he gazed back at his mother with his arm wrapped around his girl.

“Congratulations and I love you too. Both of you.” said Annie as she looked into her baby’s face, a man now and soon a husband.

Jack and Betty Kavanagh’s wedding picture. May 17, 1947.

While the wedding party is eating breakfast, Leo and Ed Jr. are moving all of the furniture out of 434 N. Lakewood Avenue but for the piano to make room. The cake is enormous and must be brought into the house through the front basement window. This window was wider and often the best way to move things in and out of the home. The cake is carried through, then up the steps and into the kitchen. While last minute decorating is done, Leo, his wife Maymie and their daughter Mary pick up Aunt Anna, Sister Mary Agnes of the Visitation Order. The family is very happy she will be able to attend. The Visitation is a cloistered order and her trips away from the Convent are limited and infrequent. Jack, Betty and their wedding party arrive and the family has a brief celebration of their own before the party begins. At 2 PM, guests gather at Lakewood Avenue to salute and party with Jack and Betty. The small home fills up fast but no one cares as the reception is full of music and good cheer. The Kavanagh’s including Aunt Anna, who is an accomplished piano player, take turns playing the piano and singing while folks join in, eat sandwiches, and have cake and coffee. Joe’s baritone voice carries over all others as they sing and celebrate together. A few toasts to the young couple are made and the party runs into the evening before they begin dispersing and returning to their homes. As soon as the last guest is gone, the women get to the post-reception clean up while the men haul the furniture back in. It doesn’t take long before the house is set back in order and it was well worth it as a good time was had by all. It was a wedding to remember. Jack and Betty spend one night on Lakewood Avenue before driving to Atlantic City for a proper wedding trip.

Jack & Betty Kav wedding 05171947
Jack and Betty Kavanagh at their wedding. May 17, 1947.

May 19

While Jack is on his honeymoon, the Shop is finishing a continuous beer still for Park & Tilford Distillery. The beer still is what started it all for Old Uncle Joe. He was able to make a still with such perfectly round pots that the quality and efficiency was of the highest level. It’s old hat for the coppersmiths at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Eddie supervises as the fittings and valves are attached and the still is completed. The installation will be tomorrow and Eddie has assigned Funke and two helpers to handle it. The rest of the boys are busy with two different railings and a group of stock fittings for Gunther’s Brewery.

Postcard from Jack and Betty on their honeymoon in Atlantic City. Sent to Jack’s brother’s baby girl, Patsy. May 1947.
The Shop’s job book entry. Parks and Tilford Distillers job. May 19, 1947.

June 17

Jack and Betty are living with Eddie and Annie at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue. Things are a bit crowded but the family deals with it. Eddie and Annie are accustomed to having long term guests; Ed Jr and Lillian lived with them for several years but it is not something that Betty is used to and Jack realizes this quickly. They want a family of their own and they will need a house of their own. For now, they are fine living with Jack’s parents but the couple are already looking for a situation that might help them. They look for a house that is in the neighborhood, close at hand to family but their own place.

Left to right. Lillian, Ed Jr. Eddie, Annie and Betty Kavanagh. Late 1947.

July 4

The Kavanagh’s celebrate Independence Day on Lakewood Avenue. Jack drives out to 33rd Street and picks up his grandparents. Even Johanna is getting a little too old to drive much and it’s simple for Jack to ride out and get them. Ed, Lillian and their baby are there as well. Steamed crabs, fried chicken and corn are served and it is a 4th of July party to remember. They walk to Patterson Park and enjoy the fireworks along with so many neighbors. People sit on their front steps and greet them as they walk back from the park in the twilight. Joe is discussing the newly instituted Maryland Sales Tax with anyone who will listen. Joe Kavanagh is not too happy about it. It’s a travesty and completely wrong in his eyes. To place a tax on a normal working person’s purchases is an affront to Joe. Of course, Joe was an opinionated fellow and a fair few things were affronts to him.

July 20

On a Sunday, Jack drives his father to Bugle Field to watch a couple of ballgames. The Baltimore E-lite Giants face off against the Homestead Grays today. A doubleheader is scheduled between the two clubs. The E-lite Giants are led by center fielder, Henry Kimbro who bats a robust .384 for the season. The teams split the doubleheader with each winning a game. Eddie and Jack have been attending games at Bugle Field for years now and they love it. It is their father/son time but also their baseball time. Both love the game and they talk incessantly about baseball during the games, while driving to the games and while returning from the games. These ballgames will be some of Jack’s strongest memories of his youth and his father.

August 23

A muggy hot Saturday night has Eddie Kavanagh at a meeting of Coppersmiths Local #80. Eddie has been involved in the union nearly since its inception but he will soon step down as General Secretary. He’s always been devoted to the Union and his brothers but he’s been in this position for a long time and he knows he should make room for someone new. The brothers discuss wages and the volume of jobs in Baltimore. Correspondences from other locals are shared and any particular problems brought up by members are addressed.

September 2

Jack continues his studies at MICA in the Fall session, still two days per week as before. He works hard at school but is also working at the Shop where his skills continue to develop. Jack’s mechanical knowledge has grown after his Navy experience and the classes he’s taken. He is very astute at being able to apply them to his job. The Shop benefits from his learning as it does from his skills. Jack has a natural ease with a hammer but he also wants to learn all he can about metal work and mechanics. This does not go unnoticed by his father and his uncle.

September 26

A warm sunny Fall day is a very busy one at the corner of Pratt and Central. Leo and Eddie’s Shop has been contracted by US Industrial Chemicals Company to fabricate two large complicated chemical distilling systems. These will produce alcohol but not for consumption, rather to integrate with other substances in the creation of a variety of chemicals; cleaners, solvents and more. They have been at this one for weeks and are nearly finished. In addition to being a big job to bill, this one also pushes their backlog of work even father back. They are running with over a month’s worth of work ahead of them consistently and the year has been a great one for the Shop.

The Shop’s job book entry. U.S. Industrial Chemicals, Inc. job. September 27, 1947.

October 6

The Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series, winning four out of seven. Jackie Robinson becomes not only the first African-American to play in the major leagues but to appear in the World Series. A young pitcher named Rex Barney makes several appearances for the Dodgers. After Barney’s pitching days are over, he eventually will be a longtime Public Address Announcer for the future Baltimore Orioles. This is another Subway Series ending the baseball season and fans across the country are as excited as if they were all New Yorkers. There is something about New York that draws Americans’ attention. It is, by far, the most populated city in the US and when two teams from rival sections of that City are involved in a ballgame or series of games, Americans take note. Certainly, the Kavanagh’s took note, listening on the radio and reading the box scores in the Sun. They discuss each game after its completion and speculate on the next one. It’s been just about the same for over forty World Series, the Kavanagh’s paying close attention and interested in every detail. Love of the game is such a tradition in this family.

October 24

Leo and Eddie lead their crew through another week with a very full schedule. Today the crew are scattered over six different jobs. Jack and Leo Gianetti are tinning a large gin tank for United Distillers of America. A steady rain falls all day in Baltimore and the hours pass a little slower because of it. It’s another day in the long life of the Joseph Kavanagh Company. The work remaining remarkably similar to what Old Uncle Joe did himself. He too sweated and fretted through rainy gloomy days and also bright sunny days. Three generations of this family have worked here and Ed Jr. and Jack are the fourth.

The Shop’s job book entry. United Distillers of America job. October 24, 1947.

October 27

Television arrives in Maryland as WMAR-TV goes on the air for the fist time, becoming only the fourteenth television station in the country. To start, they are an independent station with no network affiliation, but that won’t be for very long. Their first broadcast is of several races from Pimlico Racetrack. Very few Baltimoreans own televisions, the Kavanagh’s do not, but there is interest in this new device. It is likened to having moving pictures at home instead of the theater. Joe Kavanagh is old-fashioned and he can’t imagine TV replacing radio ever. Of course, Joe had no confidence in radio succeeding either. He felt nothing could replace live performance being an old vaudevillian himself. Still, his sons are curious and wonder if this new fangled way of entertainment will catch on or will it just be a fad that disappears in a few years.

November 27

Jack and Betty have two Thanksgivings this year, visiting the Crew’s for an early Thanksgiving lunch then driving home to Lakewood Avenue for dinner with the Kavanagh’s. As Jack drives them to her Mother’s house, Betty tells him the best news he has ever heard. She is pregnant and is due in April of next year. Jack nearly crashes the Chrysler he is so excited and he kisses her quick at a red light. When they arrive at 1612 Guilford Avenue, they tell Betty’s Mother and her brothers and everyone is thrilled and so happy for them. They eat turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, more sides including, of course, parsnips. The scene is repeated at 434 N. Lakewood when Jack and Betty tell his family. Annie is on the moon with joy because her baby will have a baby. They eat again with all of the above dishes, most certainly including parsnips.

Mom 1947 color
Betty Kavanagh. 1947.

December 3

Six copper coils for mash tubes for National Distillery are the focus of the Shop’s crew today. Another very nice job as they finish out a good year. Thoughts of the impending holiday are on everyone’s mind. The brothers Leo and Eddie are very confident that the future will be good for the company. The work is plentiful and they have maintained a good skillful crew of men. Their reputation and the quality of their work has made them a fixture in Baltimore industry.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Distillery job. December 3. 1947.

December 24

The Shop throws a loud and raucous Christmas Party on this Thursday. It has been another glorious year for the Kavanagh’s and the Shop. There is work aplenty and the family is getting bigger with another generation being born. The younger Ed and Lillian have a baby daughter and Jack and Betty will have a baby in the spring. The Kavanagh’s and their friends talk excitedly of the holiday and the impending “White Christmas” as a blast of snow is expected by the 26th. Leo and Eddie are very happy with the direction the Shop is going. Leo knows that his daughter Mary will never work there. A woman working as a coppersmith would be unheard of at this time but he does hope that she owns half one day and perhaps she’ll have a son to work there. Eddie has both Ed Jr. and Jack working with him and he loves it. He sometimes has his doubts about Ed, they butt heads but so did Eddie and his father, Joe. They still do, in fact, but Ed is more of a good time/partying kind of fellow and his father wishes he would outgrow it. Jack, on the other hand, is more serious about his future, his work and his family. That’s not to say he doesn’t enjoy a good time or even a drink but he is more focused on what he wants to do with his life than enjoying it today. If he can do what he wants with his life, he assumes he’ll be happy for a lifetime not just a day. Eddie hopes both his boys continue at the Shop and he is beginning to think more and more that Jack may be the future leader of the place, the main man. The “Joe,” for lack of a better term, but he knows that will not be determined for some time. A few years will pass but Jack does eventually lead the business for many years and he is aided like his father and his grandfather by a strong supportive and loving wife. When Jack’s time comes, Betty will make the difference.



Harry S. Truman is the President of the United States. The United Nations agrees to create an independent Jewish State called Israel. The automatic camera or “instant camera” is invented by Polaroid. The infamous Roswell incident occurs on July 7. The sound barrier is broken by American Chuck Yeager. “Miracle on 34th Street” is released. The state of Maryland agrees to build a bridge over the Chesapeake Bay. Marguerite Henry’s children’s book “Misty of Chincoteague” is published. Stephen King, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Letterman, Hillary Clinton and Nolan Ryan are born.

There are still 48 states in the Union.

Betty Crew Kavanagh on her wedding day. May 17, 1947.

To read past years, click on the Table of Contents link below:

Table of Contents

1946 Jack’s Girl

January 4

The relief and joy at the end of the war carries over into the new year. Americans seem to have a little more pep in their step and the Kavanagh’s are an excellent example of this. The Shop is humming along with its typical variety of copper work from the shipyards, brewers and distillers. They still receive some confectionery work in the winter. All combined, they start well with a backlog of over a month. The family is very anxious for any word from Jack on the Strickland. They know he is coming home and sailing for California but they don’t know when he will back in Baltimore.

January 25

The USS Strickland anchors in San Diego, California; she is home. The crew are ecstatic to see mainland America and several days will be spent here before the ship is routed to the East Coast for deactivation. The boys will have two days of Liberty then will set sail for Philadelphia. Jack is very excited, from Philly he will take a train to Baltimore and be home at last. He does enjoy a night of Liberty in San Diego, enjoying some good seafood, a few beers and catching any music he and his friends can find.

Dad (Jack) & his mother Mimi
Jack and his Mother, Annie Kavanagh at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue when Jack returned from WW2. February 11, 1946.

February 11

The Strickland docks in Philadelphia where she will stay for several weeks before moving to Charleston, South Carolina. Jack and his Navy cronies disembark from DE-133(the Strickland’s call numbers) for the last time. He and his friends hug, slap backs and clasp hands. Sure they will see each other some day but all are more focused on catching trains and getting back to their home towns. Jack takes a train to Baltimore and calls his parents in the late afternoon. His mother is beside herself with joy when she answers the phone. She tells him to stay right there and Eddie will come get him. Jack says no he has a ride to Patterson Park and will be home as quick as he can. She tells him to be careful, hangs up and begins cooking. Ham and potatoes is one of Jack’s favorites and she sets to it immediately. Eddie calls his parents, Joe and Johanna whose reaction is the same as Annie’s. They will be coming over to see their grandson after Johanna bakes him an apple pie. A friend drove Jack to the park and then he started walking up Lakewood Avenue. The neighborhood looks the same and Jack feels so excited to be home. When he crosses Orleans Street his pace increases as he is almost there. He spies his brother sitting on the steps of 434 N. Lakewood smoking a cigarette. Ed jumps up from the steps, calls to his mother and rushes toward Jack. They embrace in mid step as Annie bustles down the steps and then it’s her turn as she wraps her arms tight around her baby who is finally home. She hurries Jack into the house and Eddie hugs him and slaps his back to welcome him. Annie quickly makes a sandwich for Jack as she is appalled at the state of him. He must have lost twenty pounds she thinks and asks what have they been feeding you? Jack says he’s not really sure and he’s not sure he wants to know. The room fills with laughter mixed with tears. Jack sits at the table eating his sandwich when his mother calls them all outside and several pictures are taken. Soon, Jack’s grandparents arrive and they too hug him close with Johanna’s eyes full of tears of joy. When the ham and potatoes are ready, they sit around the kitchen table and eat, Jack encouraged constantly by both Annie and Johanna to eat up. In their eyes, he has a lot of missed dinners to make up for. He finishes it all with a large slab of fresh apple pie. It is a wonderful welcome home party for Metalsmith 3rd Class Jack Kavanagh. After the grandparents are gone and the parents are asleep, Jack and Ed Jr. sit in the basement, Jack telling tales of where he has been. Ed stands up and says let’s see what you got now. A tough Navy man, Jack gets poked by Ed several times. Ed had often picked on Jack as they grew up. Jack was a little smaller and younger, of course. This time after one poke too many, Jack grabs Ed, flips him down on the ground and “stands him on his head”(Jack’s words). Ed is surprised; clearly his brother has grown up. Jack pulls Ed to his feet and they both chuckle a bit because they are brothers. Henceforth, Ed never picked on Jack again.

Dad Jack Navy Uniform with Ed Kav
Jack and his brother Ed Kavanagh at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue when Jack returned from WW2. February 11, 1946.

February 25

Jack returns to work at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. He is welcomed back gleefully by his co-workers and is put right back to work on a set of drip pans that are being made for Calvert Distillery. The Shop has plenty of work as the winter nears its end and that bodes well for the rest of the year. Jack is thrilled at some news from his father. Eddie has decided to help Jack buy a new car. They can trade in the old Chevy and with some cash get whatever car Jack wants, within in reason. Jack is very excited and they find a good deal on a Chrysler Windsor, a brand new 1946 model and Jack loves the front end and the style in general. So begins a lifelong love affair with Chryslers.

March 4

The Shop’s crew spend a beautiful early Spring Monday working hard at Pratt and Central. Today, Eddie himself is handling a job. The workers are all tied up on other projects so he grabs his son, Jack and gets working on some rectangular copper tanks for Park and Guilford Distillers. Sheets of copper are annealed and then clenched over clamps and corners are bent. The seams are all soldered closed and soon these tanks which look like boxes are completed.

The Shop’s job book entry for March 4, 1946. Eddie Kavanagh makes some rectangular copper tanks.

March 19

Eddie spends another day working in the Shop. Along with a helper, he makes several copper tops for cistern tanks for Carrollton Springs Pure Rye Distillery. The tops are made from sheet which is hammered carefully to form a semi-domed shape to cap the tanks but still allow for easy opening to provide access. The rest of the crew are spread over several other distillery parts, some brewery vat repairs; Eddie’s boys Jack and Ed are tending to these, and a large decorative brass railing for a residence.

April 17

The Kavanagh’s receive some more good news as Ed Junior’s wife, Lillian is pregnant. Eddie and Annie will be grandparents for the first time and another generation of the family will begin. The family are thrilled for the new parents-to-be and wish them all the best as the family keeps growing.

April 29

The Shop remains busy with the boys on a variety of jobs. Jack and Mr. Funke are working on a brass sleeve for Calvert Distillery. It must be rolled into a circle, silver soldered then machined smooth on the inside and outside. It will be used for a spacer or a bushing in their distilling system. The Shop does not have a full time machinist at this time and a few of the fellows take turns using the lathe if it’s necessary. With Mr. Funke’s guidance, Jack gets his first shot at using a lathe to take the very subtle cuts on the sleeve to make it as smooth a surface as possible. It is slow careful work to hold this circle within the desired tolerance of +/- 1/64 inch. Jack learns a lot but makes a note to himself to recommend his father find a machinist to run the lathes and the mill full time.

The Shop’s job book entry for April 28, 1946. A small copper sleeve is made for Calvert Distillery.

May 7

The Shop finishes a nice order from National Distillers in Dundalk. Two tubular condensers are fabricated and delivered. Eddie makes the delivery on this one as he wants to meet some of the folks he’s been talking to face-to-face. He takes Mr. Funke and his son Jack along for the installation which is relatively easy in this case. They drive along Eastern Avenue talking baseball when both Funke and Eddie ask Jack about the Navy. Eddie turns onto Dundalk Avenue as Jack is recounting the numerous places he visited while serving and the things he saw. Eddie meets his counterparts at Calvert and introduces Jack to them. The condensers are installed and in less than an hour they make the return trip. This time Eddie giving instructions on some copper cans to be made for Sherwood Distillers as soon as possible. He wants Funke and Jack to get on these immediately upon their return to Central Avenue.

The Shop’s job book entry for May 7, 1946. Two condensers fabricated for National Distillers.

May 18

Annie and Johanna have decided to have a proper big Baltimore birthday party for Jack this year. They will make a mess of crabs for everyone on this Saturday afternoon. Eddie furnishes some fresh blue crabs and Annie and her mother-in-law begin steaming them in the large pot made at the Shop. They are seasoned with Old Bay, rock salt, black pepper and lots of time according to Annie. Jack is very excited because despite being at sea, he hasn’t had crabs in several years. The table is covered in newspaper, and mallets and knives are laid out. Johanna has been making a large pot of crab soup from odd claws and a few clawless crabs that come out of the steamer. The aroma of these crustaceans steaming fills 434 N. Lakewood Avenue and finally they all sit and celebrate. They drink cold beer or iced tea and wish Jack a happy birthday. He thinks this may be the best birthday ever. He’s home with family and lots of crabs.

June 23

On this Sunday night, Jack drives his parents to a Knights of Columbus Dance. He attends with them assured by his mother there may be some pretty girls there too. He is still happy to be home in the States and a young Navy man in his uniform can often do well to catch a young girl’s eye. Tonight a young girl catches his eye. A brunette bombshell sitting with an older gentleman is the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. He can’t believe here is this vision of loveliness in Baltimore. He musters up all the courage he has and approaches her and asks her to dance. This girl’s name is Betty Crew. Betty lives with her Mother and two brothers on Guilford Avenue. She was not planning on going to the dance but her Aunt Elsie came down sick and called Betty’s mother to ask if Betty would accompany her uncle. Betty was still non-plused to go to a dance with her uncle but her mother persuaded her She agrees to dance with Jack and they talk while they move around the room. Jack had his Navy blues on and he looked very handsome to Betty. They dance each dance that night and chat throughout the evening. By both accounts, sparks were flying that night and they lit a flame of love that will burn for over seventy years. My father said that night he knew he would ask her to marry him.

Mom Betty Crew9 (1)
Betty Crew. Mid 1940s.

June 24

On Guilford Avenue at house number 1612, Betty Crew tells her mother all about the dance and this wonderful young man she met whose name is Jack. He’s an Irish Catholic Navy Veteran who just got back to the US this year. His family has lived in Baltimore for nearly one hundred years and they own a coppersmith Shop at Pratt and Central. Betty’s mother Bernardine listens and can tell that her daughter is already quite taken with this young man. She’s happy for Betty but it was just one dance. Jack has told her that he will call this week to ask her out again. Betty’s two brothers are named Buddy(Lawrence) and Bumpsy(Howard). Buddy is the oldest and served in the Marine Corps and Bumpsy is the youngest of the three and still finishing high school. Their father left the home when Betty was about ten years old. He moved out West and essentially abandoned them. Earlier this year they received news that he had passed away in Arizona. It has been a tough few years for the Crew family but Bernardine makes it work. She is a seamstress and is very skilled, making uniforms for the military, selling dresses and other clothing to support her and the kids. She also has taken in boarders over the years and now a friend of the family, Bill Hoffman, is renting a room. They are close this family and have grown to depend on each other, working together to make ends meet.

Betty Crew. Circa 1940.

June 26

Jack visits Guilford Avenue for dinner this Wednesday at the request of Betty’s mother, Bernardine. If he wants to seriously pursue her daughter, Bernardine thinks it’s only proper for her to meet him. Betty is only seventeen though she has just finished high school. Her Mother wants to keep everything on the up and up. She roasts a chicken and the dinner is delicious according to Jack who tells Betty’s Mother that he is a serious young man. He genuinely likes Betty. He’s just back from the Navy and settling back into his work and his life in Baltimore. Betty is clearly smitten and Bernardine takes a liking to Jack’s honest way and she gives her blessing to further dates.

Mom Betty Crew summer of 1942
Betty Crew. 1940s.

June 28

Jack and Betty have their first date; they go out for Chinese food at the New Canton on North Avenue. This would become their favorite place very quickly. They eat and have a wonderful dinner after which Jack drives them to a friend’s house, a fellow who also served in the Navy. He is having a small party for a few friends and their dates. They talk about Baltimore, baseball and the Navy and then the time gets away from them. When they suddenly realize they have talked almost all night and it’s 3 AM, Betty says she needs to get home. Jack drives her home, and Betty’s Mom is none too happy as it is almost dawn. The couple apologize and assure Bernardine that nothing happened, they just lost track of time. Jack had a very calming nature even at this young age and somehow or other, he soothed Bernardine’s worries and before they know it, she was making them both breakfast.

Jack & Betty 1946 by car
Jack Kavanagh and Betty Crew standing next to Jack’s Chrysler Windsor. Patterson Park. 1946.

July 13

It’s a Saturday date night for Jack and Betty. Jack is so smitten he sees Betty as often as he can. She feels the same way and knows that Jack is something special. They head to the movies to see “The Postman Always Rings Twice” then afterward they discuss the film and anything else they can over egg rolls at the New Canton. An order of egg rolls is only .45 and they split it. They quickly are getting very close. The couple make a point of always having Betty home on time from now on.

Menu from “The New Canton” Restaurant that Jack and Betty Kavanagh frequented while they were dating.

July 22

The Shop finishes a new beer heater for Calvert Distillery. Calvert has become a very reliable customer for Leo and Eddie. They have had regular repair and replacement work for them over the last couple of years. This job is a few days work but today the last of the tubes are curved and inserted into the collar of the header. The crew makes a quick job of it and though quoted at $3000.00, the Shop’s cost was 1800.00. These jobs that are even more profitable than expected are few and far between but they certainly help the bottom line.

July 29

Jack is in New York with some of his buddies for a two day road trip. They drive to Coney Island and have a great day of amusements, rides and food. Jack sends Betty a postcard as she is always on his mind. She thinks of him too and misses him even on this short weekend jaunt but she saves the postcard putting it away almost as she finished reading it.

Postcard from Coney Island that Jack Kavanagh sent to Betty Crew. July 1946.
Postcard from Coney Island that Jack Kavanagh sent to Betty Crew. July 1946.

August 10

A hot and humid Baltimore night finds Jack and Betty at the movies. They are seeing each other every week and taking any opportunity to be together. After the film they drive to the New Canton for their usual egg roll order. They share them and walk out in the heat of the night strolling along North Avenue talking.

Inside of the menu for “The New Canton” restaurant. The Egg Rolls for .45 cents were Jack and Betty’s favorite.

August 18

Jack and Eddie attend a Sunday set of baseball games at Bugle Field. The E-lite Giants host the Newark Eagles who are tops of the Negro National League at this point and will win it all this year. Newark has a great mix of veterans and some stars of the future including a young Larry Doby who leads the teams with a .339 average. Newark prevails over Baltimore then two barnstorming Negro teams face off in a second game. Father and son enjoy a day of baseball like they did before the war. They talk about the Shop and Eddie brings up a distillery install they have coming up They talk about Betty and Jack tells his father that he loves her and she make him very happy. Eddie likes Betty, she’s been over for dinner several times and he wants what’s best for Jack. What’s more, his wife Annie likes Betty and that’s always a good sign to Eddie. Eddie also wants Jack to come with him to the next union meeting. He’d like to introduce him around. Jack is a member and attended one meeting to join but other than that, like most Shop workers, he leaves it in his father’s hands. Eddie is not only one of the owners at the Shop but also General Secretary of Local # 80. Jack agrees; he’s interested to go and learn how the meetings work and meet more of Eddie’s union brothers.

September 2

Jack returns to the Maryland Institute College of Art to resume his studies. He is once again taking a class in drafting but also one in mechanics. He will continue to work at the Shop while going to school as he did before the war. His classes are three days a week and after each one, he drives directly to Central Avenue and gets to work.

September 19

Ed and Lillian Kavanagh welcome a baby daughter, Patricia Lee. Eddie and Annie are grandparents for the first time. Eddie will be called Eddie, of course, but Annie will be called Mimi by the baby and any subsequent grandchildren. The child will be called Patsy. She is the first of another generation of Kavanagh’s. She would be the great-great-grandchild of Patrick Kavanagh who came to America at sixteen. Ed, Lillian and Patsy are still living on Lakewood Avenue with Ed’s parents but are looking for a place in the neighborhood.

September 28

Jack picks Betty up at 1612 Guilford Avenue and drives her downtown for dinner and dancing. They have a wonderful time spending most of the night in each others’ arms, dancing to the latest big band hits and the smooth jazz of the time. They race home to beat the curfew but do make it just in the nick of time.

Jack & Betty 1946
Jack Kavanagh and Betty Crew. 1946. Patterson Park.

October 15

The St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Boston Red Sox to win the World Series. It takes seven games and with the winning run scoring in the 8th inning, Enos Slaughter racing home on a double. Ted Williams, the Boston star, was injured in the series and he bats a meager .200 with only five hits, all singles. As happened last year, the MVP’s of the respective leagues were from the two teams in the World Series, Williams from Boston and Stan Musial from the Cardinals. The series and the baseball season is discussed daily at the Shop. It’s like the old days with no war worries so the focus at the company can be baseball again. And work, of course.

October 27

Jack drives Betty to his house to have Sunday dinner with his family. Annie is cooking a large pork roast for them all. Eddie and she, Ed Jr. and Lillian are there with the baby and Jack and Betty. Annie and Betty get along great and Betty is quick to help in the kitchen. Baby Patsy is oohed and ahhed over and passed around among the family. After dinner, they gather around the piano and sing and play. Jack smiles at Betty when he gets his turn and finally can play for her. They have a nice day and Jack drives Betty home along North Avenue then turning on Guilford. Jack and Betty are very much a couple now. Their friends and family already seeing them as such. They seem nearly inseparable.

October 31

The Shop finishes a large job for United Distillers today. They have made some jacketed cans, lids and stands for several weeks and today they are delivered. It was a long job with multiple steps in making the parts and it’s a good one to get out the door and billed. Leo and Eddie are thrilled with the volume of work so far this year as it is even better than last. With winter on its way, they still are carrying a six week backlog of scheduled work. That is a great place for the Shop to be. Eddie stands at the Shop office door for a few minutes after lunch, surveying the crew loading the United Distillers’ cans, lids and stands onto the truck while off on his own, Ed Jr. is making two 2 inch male unions from brass bushings for the Free State Brewery. Eddie thinks to himself that his son should have had these finished before lunch. Ed has a very meticulous approach to work which sounds good until you start losing money on jobs. Eddie shakes his head and wishes Ed would find a way to work quicker.

Shop’s Job book entry. October 31, 1946. A large job consisting of several small orders is completed for United Distillers.

November 7

A cool Fall day is a busy day at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Leo and Eddie field phone calls from customers, quote jobs and then set the crew to work. They have been busy enough to consider hiring another coppersmith next year. Eddie has taken on jobs himself regularly and that does cause problems in the office. Leo has his customers and Eddie has his. Also, Leo is kept busy with engineering and drafting duties. To most customers, Eddie is the man who they deal with on the phone and in person. Today, a fountain is fabricated along with the usual assortment of distilling and brewing parts including an order from National Brewing.

November 28

Annie is a bit disappointed as Jack leaves her Thanksgiving dinner a little early and a little hungry. He has promised to spend Thanksgiving with Betty and her family for at least part of the day. He arrives and Betty leads him into the dining room where the traditional feast is laid out. Jack scans the bevy of dishes and quickly sees there are parsnips. He has already fallen in love with this girl and wants to spend the rest of his life with her but they serve parsnips in her family too. That is a good omen and Jack has made up his mind.

December 24

The Shop’s Christmas party is a party to end all parties this year. The war is over. Jack is home and he has a great girl who makes her first visit to the Shop. There is a new baby in the family, Eddie and Annie are grandparents and Joe and Johanna are great-grandparents. And, last but not least, the Shop is full of work with jobs scheduled into February of next year. It has been a great year all around for the Kavanagh’s and the company. The dirty Shop becomes a Christmas hall in no time with plenty to eat, drink and many songs to sing. The family welcome their friends, customers and workers and share the joy of the season and of this magnificent year with them. With the addition of the new baby, Patricia called Patsy, there are now four generations celebrating the Yule at Pratt and Central.

December 25

Jack visits the Crew family on Guilford Avenue to take a very special gift to Betty. With her Mother, two brothers and other family around, he places a tiny boot on the mantle with the stockings. Inside is his present for her. He leads her off away from her family for a minute and when she opens the boot, there is a diamond ring inside. Jack looks her in the eyes, tells her he loves her and asks if she will marry him. She says yes and falls into his arms but she must receive her Mother’s blessing. Bernardine knows Jack is a good man and he loves Betty and she gives them her whole-hearted support. Betty and Jack are very much in love and will soon begin planning a wedding. After an hour of celebrating their engagement at the Crew’s, they drive to Lakewood Avenue and tell Eddie and Annie. Jack’s parents are thrilled. They love Betty, she’s so sweet and they welcome her to the Kavanagh family. They need to pick a date but decide to marry in the Spring, hopefully in May.

As Jack drives Betty home that night, she is admiring the ring and tells him, “I love you and I love this ring, Jack. I’ve never seen a ring more beautiful.”

Jack glances over at her smiling and answers, “You’re my girl and I want everybody to know it.”



Harry S. Truman is the President of the United States. Benjamin Spock’s “The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care” is released. The comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis begin performing together. The first drive-through bank teller window is opened. Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” premiers on December 20. John Waters, Reggie Jackson, Dolly Parton, Candice Bergen and Ben Vereen, are born. Gertrude Stein and W. C. Fields die.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Jack Kavanagh and Betty Crew on Guilford Avenue. 1946.

To read prior years, click on the Table of Contents link below:

Table of Contents


1945 Two Sons in the Sunset

January 4

1945 starts with the world at war, Jack Kavanagh serving in the Navy and the Shop is as busy as it could be. The Kavanagh brothers, Leo and Eddie, have work scheduled on the books through February. Eddie’s wife Annie has joined the Red Cross Ladies Auxiliary to support the war effort, her son and to do anything she can to help. She aids in making bandages and care packages to send off to the boys overseas. She worries so much for Jack that she thought this would be a way to contribute to the cause plus take her mind off her concerns. She still writes him daily though some weeks she packs seven letters into a large envelope and sends them off all at once. She has found out from Jack’s return correspondences that he usually receives the letters in a bulk amount whenever mail call reaches the ship.

February 4

President Roosevelt meets with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Leader Josef Stalin in Yalta, Crimea in the Soviet Union. Over the next week, the end of the war is discussed and preliminary plans made for a post-war Europe. There is much good news on the European Front while the war in the Pacific is still being more strongly contested by the Japanese. Allied troops are closing in on Germany from both sides.

February 14

Ed Kavanagh Junior marries Lillian Fetsch at Baltimore’s City Hall on this Valentine’s Wednesday. Lillian is not Catholic and so they can not marry in the church but the family is happy for the couple and welcome Lillian with open arms. Ed and his wife will live with his parents at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue until they find their own place. Ed has finished his time in the Quartermaster’s Corps and is back to working full time at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. He and Lil head to Atlantic City tomorrow for a long honeymoon weekend.

Ed's Wedding2
Ed Kavanagh Jr. & Lillian Fetsch’s Wedding Picture. February 14, 1945.

February 28

Pratt and Central stays very busy with more ship work and jobs from the alcohol industry. Today, two slop coolers are fabricated for Sherwood Distillery, the customer that purchased the first still from the original Joseph Kavanagh so very long ago. A slop cooler does exactly what it sounds like. It drops the temperature of the slop, the fermenting material that are passed through the still to create alcohol. The Shop’s crew make these all the time and they are quickly rolled and hammered into shape, all the apparatus attached and then are delivered as quoted to Sherwood. It’s a cold last day of February but the work keeps them warm and makes the day pass quickly.

Shop’s Job book entry. Two slop coolers fabricated for Sherwood Distillery. February 28, 1945.

March 6

Leo and Eddie read of the Battle of Iwo Jima in the Pacific, a long bombardment and a very difficult amphibious assault on the island. The US Marines and Navy are finally successful and the American flag is raised in victory. Confidence is getting higher that the war may be ending. The Germans are under assault and squeezed between their enemies while Japan’s network of islands under their influence is shrinking. Eddie wonders where his son is; he knows Jack is in the Pacific now having received letters from his son saying so. He puffs on his cigarette in silence while his brother resumes working on some sketches of a still condenser. He prays for his son’s return safely and as quickly as possible. His wife has missed Jack so much, she’s been fraught with worry. Eddie has always consoled her and assured her that Jack would be fine but he has had the same fears and worries. He wants his boy back. He crushes the butt of the cigarette in an ashtray and calls Globe Brewery. They ordered several custom bolts and they are ready and will be delivered this afternoon.

Shop’s job book entry for March 6, 1945 detailing some special bolts made for the Globe Brewery.

March 10

Jack Kavanagh wanders around the machine Shop on the USS Strickland, checking on different crewman’s jobs and the machines they are using. Due to his experience, he has taken on a supervisory role in the machine shop. A variety of parts are made as shafts, gears and many other pieces need repair and replacement on a ship. They have been re-assigned to the Pacific Front and while on their way, the boys long for home but go about their jobs and do their best to keep their spirits up. They love Liberty and have visited some interesting places and they find ways to enjoy themselves on the Strickland. Still, mostly there are day-to-day duties, the now rare and brief air assaults and the longing for their homes. Once he is off duty, Jack settles onto his bunk looking through his notebook/journal. Jack has recorded some details from his time aboard the Strickland, stops they’ve made, repairs he’s done and a careful accounting of his money. Jack records his pay and any expenditures as well as a few loans. Jack is an industrious lad and not one to spend all of his money on Liberty nor does he need to send money home. He’s not married and lives with his parents so he has begun lending out cash to different fellows. He records these transactions carefully in his book and makes a small bit of interest on each one. His friends are grateful to Jack for being able to “spiff” them some cash until payday and there is no ill will. The other boys do tend to go all out on Liberty and they burn through what cash they have. Jack is different. While the other boys are having a few too many and even getting tattooed, Jack drinks with them but at his own pace. As he told me many times, I don’t have a tattoo because try as they might, they could never get me drunk enough.

Jack Kavanagh’s Navy diary entry. A list of some of his shipmates and the money he had lent them. USS Strickland. 1945.

March 20

Allied troops cross the Rhine River in Germany and move closer and closer to Berlin while the Russians approach from the East. The Germans are caught between the two forces. What has been a long slow war in Europe finally seems to be reaching its climax and its end.

April 12

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies, succumbing to polio. Vice President Harry S. Truman becomes the 33rd President of the United States. The news spreads quickly over the radio and the papers are full of the shocking story. The Kavanagh’s grieve with all Americans and experience several days of a nation-wide shock. Roosevelt was in his fourth term and having served as president for twelve years, he carried the nation’s trust whether people supported his policies or not. The Kavanagh’s voted for him and gave him a great deal of credit for ending the Great Depression. Truman is not very well known and he was an outsider in the Roosevelt administration. The country and the Kavanagh family mourn for FDR and will pass that trust onto Truman who must take on the ominous mantle of leading a nation and winning a war.

April 29

The end of the war in Europe seems closer by the day. Today the radio issued a report that former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini had been captured and executed by his own people. Americans hang on every story and tidbit from the war, watching as the Allies take these final measured steps to victory

May 8

Today becomes known as V-E Day(Victory in Europe) as Germany unconditionally surrenders to the Allies and the conflict in Europe is at an end. It is revealed that German leader, Adolph Hitler committed suicide over a week earlier in his bunker, leaving his subordinates to handle the surrender. The United States is mad with celebration and relief. The Japanese are still fighting in the Pacific so there is still war but peace in Europe is welcomed as a just victory for the world. The Kavanagh’s celebrate with the rest of the country but their enthusiasm is tempered by their concern for Jack who is now involved in the fight against the Japanese.

June 13

The Shop rolls on with work lined up for over a month in advance. Leo and Eddie’s crew are working six days a week including a half day on Saturdays. The mood of the country including the Kavanagh’s and crew is very upbeat. They realize that the war is not over but defeating the Axis in Europe has buoyed everyone’s confidence. It’s a hot summer day but the breeze is cooling. It cuts through the front garage door of the Pratt Street building and is a soothing relief to the Shop’s workers. They work on their standard distillery and ship parts but also a fountain is made today. Holes are drilled in copper sheet which is then turned into tube. That same tube is curved slowly into a circle and becomes the sprayer tube of the fountain, controlling and releasing the water flow from it. This is standard coppersmith work and absolutely standard to the Joseph Kavanagh Company.

July 4

Independence Day is celebrated at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue by the Kavanagh’s. Eddie and Annie have invited Eddie’s parents, Joe and Johanna, and his brother, Leo and his family for a cook out. Hot dogs and hamburgers are grilled and the family takes the short walk to Patterson Park to watch fireworks in the warm humid evening. Leo and Maymie’s daughter Mary is there and Ed Jr. and Lillian, of course. Three generations of the family celebrate liberty and the end of the war in Europe. The party is fun but for Annie, with all of them there, Jack’s absence is even more obvious. There is still war in the Pacific Ocean and Jack is in the Navy. She is happy to have family around but Jack is her baby and she misses her son. After the family leaves, Ed Jr. and Lillian head out for the night, Eddie sits at the kitchen table reading the paper while his wife deals with the after party mess. He knows Jack is on her mind.

“Europe is just the start, Annie. The war over in the Orient will be finished soon too. I’m sure of it.” Eddie says to Annie reading her face.

“I’m more worried now than ever, Eddie. The war over there is different than Europe. It’s all these islands and it could take a very long time. We know it will be a lot of Navy fighting and what if they invade Japan? I worry for him.” Annie pauses and shakes her head in frustration. She stands from the table and puts the last of the dishes away.

Eddie unwraps a stick of Doublemint gum, “I know it’s different with these islands but the US and the rest can focus completely on Japan now. It won’t take long, Annie. They will have some plan cooked up. I’m sure. They have had meetings. I am sure they have some great strategy or plan to bring peace to the rest of the world.”

“I know they do.” Annie turns to face her husband, “but I am allowed to worry for Jack and I can’t help it. I want him home. That’s all. He’s been gone too long and I want him home. Whatever they do, I hope it works fast. I want this over fast and I want him home.” She finishes, her eyes dark with sadness but not with tears.

Eddie steps to her and places his arms around her waist, “Let’s pray whatever it is works fast.”

July 27

The USS Strickland is conducting a series of exercises in preparation for the invasion of Japan. They arrived in Pearl Harbor several days earlier and set to readying for an assault. On this Friday night, some of the crew are on Liberty in Hawaii. What will likely be the last one they are able to enjoy before setting off for Japan. Jack draws the short straw and has deck guard duty from 10 pm to 2 am. The men are required to return by midnight and they do, signing in to mark their return. They are all in a festive mood and several are certainly intoxicated. Still off duty, they return to their bunks below deck. Jack stands at his post looking into the darkness when one fellow who is particularly drunk returns to the deck. He takes several steps toward the gang plank as if he was about to leave the ship. Jack quickly steps forward and informs him that he should know he can not leave the ship after returning. He has to stay. That’s the rules. He becomes belligerent and tells Jack he’s going, no matter what. Jack draws his service pistol and tells this crew member that he can not go. The seaman turns on his heel and heads back down the stairs and enters the galley. He pulls open drawers and finds a knife. This time when he climbs onto the deck, he waves the knife around and makes it clear he intends to leave. He wants another drink. He steps toward Jack and lunges forward. Metalsmith 3rd Class Jack Kavanagh has only fired his pistol in training but he has been trained. He pulls the trigger and shoots the crewman in the left shoulder. As the sailor collapses, alarms are sounded all over the ship. Jack is questioned and when the details are sorted out, the wounded crewman is patched up and taken to the brig. Jack is shaken up but he knows he did the right thing. He is congratulated by his superiors, the officers assuring him he did his duty and the rogue sailor will be prosecuted under military law. Jack returns to his bunk at 2 AM for a very fitful sleep. His first and only direct man-to-man combat is shooting another sailor.

An entry from Jack Kavanagh’s Navy Diary with several sketches of ship parts and sections that were repaired and replaced via the ship’s machine Shop. 1945.

July 29

The Strickland’s crew are restless and worried but they are kept busy in training, now sailing in the Pacific. If Japan is invaded by the Allies, it will take a great deal of men and the cost in lives could be significant. Jack and his crew mates know this and they face the reality that is set before them. Japan has not surrendered under heavy bombardment by American planes and is determined to ride it out. Each of the young Navy boys on the ship prepare, in their own way, for whatever could come. Perhaps influenced by the events of two days ago or merely the fear he feels, Jack writes a letter to Mr. and Mrs. America in his Navy diary, a letter he assumes will never be read unless he is killed. He does not finish it but he reveals what is on the crew’s minds. Home. They long for it. They fear this war and the next step in it. but more than anything they miss home. For now, they drill and practice in anticipation of an attack on the Empire of Japan.

Jack Kavanagh’s Navy Diary entry. A letter to Mr. and Mrs. America about what he and his fellow sailors were going through and how they longed for home. August 1945.

August 6

The United States drops an atomic bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. In July, President Truman approved the use of four atomic bombs on Japanese cities if the Empire did not surrender. Despite efforts from the Allies to engage Japan in serious peace negotiations, the war is no closer to an end. At 8:15 am local time, Colonel Paul Tibbets and the crew of the Enola Gay released the bomb and the detonation was successful. A blinding flash of light and heavy shock waves are the result as the initial implosion was overwhelming, equaling twelve kilotons of dynamite. Fifty thousand people die in an instant and another thirty thousand die within days. The world changes.

August 7

Leo and Eddie enjoy a smoke after lunch in the small Shop office. The crew have ten more minutes, then Eddie will be out and getting them back to their tasks. For now, the Kavanagh brothers discuss this atomic bomb that the US used on the Japanese. It’s a big bomb it seems. Bigger than any ever before, a bomb that can destroy a city. Eddie is all for anything that keeps his boy safe. Dropping bombs on cities sounds better than trying to land on them. They do wonder at how so much power and destruction can be put into a bomb but they know it’s science and a new discovery of a source of power. This may just be the tip of the iceberg.

August 9

The US drops a second bomb on a Japanese city, this time Nagasaki. Japan has shown no signs of capitulating and the response is the dropping of “Fat Man,” the second of the US nuclear devices. The devastation is as it was at Hiroshima and the Japanese have no choice but to surrender. At least another forty thousand people die in Nagasaki. The eventual death toll from the two nuclear bombs is approximately 150,000 by the end of the year.

August 14

The war is over and peace is at hand as Japan unconditionally surrenders, the Emperor making a live broadcast over the radio. Today is V-J Day (Victory in Japan) and the country is jubilant, the Kavanagh’s included. They know it is over and Jack will be coming home. They don’t know when yet, but the fighting is done. Annie is more relieved than she’s ever been and she can’t wait to hug her son when he gets back. The nation goes into a frenzy of celebration from coast to coast. Almost as one, Americans cheer our boys and their safe return. World War Two comes to a close and the work of divvying up the peace and planning the future soon becomes vitally important. The Allies post-war work will decide the status of the world for the next fifty years.

August 17

The Shop is working overtime on a 24 hour emergency repair for United Distillers of America. Twelve hour shifts are run for three men until the job is completed. The still has failed and was leaking and the customer needed this done immediately. Union over time wages of $1.50/hr. are used and the U.D.A. is charged time and material for the job which involves replacing twenty-three perforated plates in the still itself. It’s a hot day to work such long hours but the crew push through it. This is what they are trained for but their first choice for overtime would be March or October.

Shop’s Job book entry. Emergency repair for United Distillers of America. August 17, 1945.

September 12

The country is still riding high with excitement at the end of the war and the Kavanagh’s are no different, but they still have the Shop and the day-to-day. Peace puts a smile on most people’s faces even as they work through their normal jobs. The Shop enjoys a warm Fall day of heating, hammering and bending copper. Pump chambers are made for ships, several orders for spare distilling parts are dealt with and three men fabricate a stair rail. Brass moldings are heated carefully then slowly bent around wooden blocks to achieve the railing’s shape. It’s a meticulous job but one that a skilled coppersmith can handle easily. The beat goes on in this year at the Joseph Kavanagh Company.

October 2

Jack and the rest of his crew mates are still celebrating in their hearts the end of the war. When the news hit that Japan had surrendered, the ship bursts into a raucous party. The officers do their best to keep the men in check and attending to their duties but the joyful spirits are tough to quell. They still have jobs to do and there are many things that need to be done after a war. The Strickland continues escorting Navy and commercial ships around the Pacific. Today they arrive in Tokyo Bay to see for the first time, the land of their enemy, the nation that attacked the US and that we have fought against for four years. The Strickland accompanied three merchant ships from the Marshal Islands on their way to Tokyo. Jack looks at Tokyo from the deck of the ship and it is overwhelming to finally be here but not to be at war. They will not have to invade, the fighting is over but still, he stands staring at the place he most dreaded to see. The US is victorious and Jack is proud of his country and the part he and his fellow sailors played, but he has had enough. He wants to go home. He wants to go back to Baltimore.

Dad and crew on deck of USS Strickland
Crew of the USS Strickland on its deck. Water damaged . Jack Kavanagh is crouching down second from the right. 1945.

October 10

The Detroit Tigers win the World Series, defeating the Chicago Cubs in seven games. The Tigers were led by third baseman Eddie Mayo and pitcher Hal Newhouser, the latter besting the former in a close contest for Most Valuable Player of the American League. Newhouser led the A.L. in wins, strikeouts and earned run average to capture the Pitching Triple Crown. The Cubs won ten more in the regular season than Detroit and were led by National League MVP Phil Cavarretta, their first baseman. It will be the Cubs last World Series appearance for over sixty years. The series was a close one with Newhouser pitching a complete game victory in the deciding contest. The Kavanagh’s followed the series, rooting for the Tigers due to the Ty Cobb connection and it was much easier to relax in their favorite past time this year once the war was over.

November 24

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is spent visiting Sister Mary Agnes, Leo and Eddie’s sister Anna, at the Visitation Convent on Roland Park Avenue. Her parents, Joe and Johanna along with their sons and families celebrate Mass with her and spend a chilly but pretty Fall day on the grounds. She tells them about her teaching and her students, more and more she is sure that God’s calling was not only to serve but to teach. Aunt Anna is very joyful that her prayers for peace in the world have finally been answered. They speak of the Shop and the family, so much has happened this year with a wedding and now Jack’s eventual return. They visit Aunt Anna every month and they have grown accustomed to the rules of the order. The Visitation nuns are cloistered and in many ways it is very solitary but Anna always stays close to her family, writing letters frequently in addition to these visits. The Kavanagh’s are a close group and do all they can to keep it that way.

December 20

Jack Kavanagh receives the news he and his crew mates have been waiting to hear. They are just about finished their escort duties in the Pacific, and in January they will sail for San Diego, California. They will be going home. These young brave men are boys again as they find out the news. To a man, they cheer and hug each other then quickly dispatch letters to their loved ones. “We are coming home.”

December 24

The Shop’s party is a joyous one this year because the war is over and Jack will be coming home. He will muster out early next year, and the family, especially his mother, are thrilled that he is safe and wait anxiously for his return. The Kavanagh’s, customers, employees and friends party a little harder during this holiday. Peace and good will toward men really means something this year for them. The usual quick cleaning and decorating transforms the dirty Shop to a festive hall complete with tree. There is ample food, drink and song for all, perhaps even to excess but this year it’s understandable. Leo and Eddie are both in their fifties now and have looked into the future for their families and the Shop. They know they are on the back end of their time there. Years ahead of them but not nearly as many as are behind them. Before they know it, this place will fall to the next generation and the brothers will need to give thought to it. Eddie in particular considers that as their time passes, so soon shall it be his two sons’ time. Ed Jr. is a good coppersmith but he lacks discipline and doesn’t take the job seriously enough for his father, but Jack, he has learned his skills quickly and does take the job seriously while still enjoying it. He genuinely likes what he’s doing and it shows in his labor. Eddie can’t wait for Jack to be home. He wants both his boys with him at the Shop where they belong. The Kavanagh’s greatly enjoy this year’s Shop party and at the end when their father and grandfather, Joe leads them all in “O Holy Night,” his family and all present sing with added vigor and renewed hope for more than a Merry Christmas but for a very Happy New Year.



Harry Truman is the President of the United States. The ball point pen is invented. Sylvester the Cat appears on film for the first time. Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel premiers on Broadway. The United Nations is formed. Jackie Robinson is signed to a contract by the Triple A Montreal Royals. The US and the Soviet Union divide Korea at the 38th parallel essentially establishing North and South Korea. Henry Winkler, Steve Martin, Carly Simon, Diane Sawyer and Divine are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Dad & Navy cronies on Liberty having a beer
The crew of the USS Strickland on Liberty. Metalsmith 3rd Class Jack Kavanagh in the back holding up a beer. 1945.

To read prior posts, click the Table of Contents Link below.

Table of Contents


1944 The USS Strickland

January 4

After work, Eddie drives Jack to a Navy recruitment office and Jack enlists in the United States Navy. Jack is a 19 year old boy and he’s afraid but not too afraid to do what is expected of him. Eddie takes his time on the way home, not anxious to see his wife’s reaction. He assures his son everything will be okay but it will be tougher for Annie. She is heartbroken with concern and fear for her youngest son, her baby.

January 11

Jack Kavanagh takes a train to Chicago to attend the US Naval Training Program in Great Lakes, Illinois. His parents escort him to the station and a bitter tear-filled goodbye is said between Mother and son. A tight squeezing hug from Annie, a pat on the back from Eddie and Jack boards the train. He tries to put the farewell behind him and face what is ahead. He’s pleased to be joining the Navy; he loves the sea, having visited Ocean City, Maryland several times in his youth. He loved the ocean and the beach, he loved the water. It seemed the best fit, plus he heard the food was better. He arrives with a large group of young American boys not sure what to expect or what to do. They are quickly processed and it’s time for chow, beans and bread. Jack was not impressed but he eats it along with the rest of the boys and they are assigned to several weeks of training in Navy specific rules and regulations as well as their areas of expertise. Jack will be attending Metalsmith School which suits him very well after apprenticing and working as a coppersmith for three years. At the Shop, a cold day is spent finishing a copper dome for a condenser from National Distillers. Copper sheet is heated and then pounded into shape, the dome made by one man with a wooden mallet underneath the sheet while two use brass hammers from above. It is completed by lunchtime then delivered and installed in the afternoon.

February 15

Jack finishes his training, becoming a Metalsmith 1st Class and he is assigned to the USS Strickland(DE-333), a destroyer escort. The destroyer escort is a smaller battleship used primarily in support or to defend convoys of ships both commercial and military. Early next month, Jack and the rest of the crew will take a train to San Diego, California from which the Strickland will begin its maiden voyage

Jack Kavnagh’s certificate that confirms his completion of his studies at the Great Lakes Naval Training Facility. 1944.

.March 4

The crew of the Joseph Kavanagh Company work busily through a Saturday morning in anticipation of the weekend. Ed Kavanagh Jr. is particularly antsy to get out of there; he and his new girl, Lillian Fetsch, have entered a jitterbug contest and they need the practice. He met her a month ago and they have been dating steadily since. The crew work a half-day and Ed and the rest take off into the Spring afternoon sunshine, most to spend the day with family, but Ed and Lil will have a night of dancing and music.

March 8

The Strickland is launched on its “shakedown” voyage and heads to Bermuda. After passing all its basic tests and maneuvers she heads to Norfolk, VA. They receive mail call in Norfolk and Jack is shocked and thrilled to have a large bound stack of letters, all from his Mother. As he flips through the envelopes, it becomes clear that his mother has written him nearly every day. He finds the oldest postmark and rips that one open and reads it. The letter is word from home, his Mother’s love and wishes for his safety. He quickly reads it and moves on to the next. Each is a little different with brief updates on the family including news about Ed dating Lillian and the weather in Baltimore. Several of his bunk mates comment on the large pile of letters and kid Jack that he must have a lot of girls. He says just one, my Mother, then he winks and grins as the cabin breaks into laughter.

March 24

The Strickland heads to the North Atlantic as part of a convoy protecting sixty merchant ships. This is their first real military mission and Jack knows he is very far from home now and getting farther away each day. His thoughts often move to Baltimore, his family and the Shop. The Shop is still humming along with a lot of ship work and their standard distillery and brewery jobs.

April 8

Jack and the crew of the USS Strickland reach Gibraltar safely with no contact from the enemy. So far, Jack’s service consists of early rising, bad food and a day of machining and making spare and replacement parts for the ship. He is fine with the early mornings and the long working days but the food leaves a lot to be desired. So much for the Navy having better food or if it’s true, then he seriously pitied those Army boys.

April 11

The Luftwaffe attack the Strickland when it passes into the Mediterranean Sea. As they sail past Algeria, the Germans attack with bombing and torpedo runs. Jack sees his first combat action of the war. The attack occurs early in the morning and most of the crew are awakened from their bunks by the sound of guns and explosions. The rest are at battle stations and the fighting is furious for a few minutes. Jack moves to the machine shop where he works along with his fellow metalsmiths and they wait for instructions. The metal room is a cacophony of explosions and crashes before it all goes quiet and the air raid ends as quickly as it started. The Strickland successfully protected the convoy, taking no damage, and repelled the German assault. Despite all of that, the young Navy boys are shaken up because it was their first time. Jack and his fellow crew members will grow accustomed to the sound of battle from inside the belly of a ship.

Dad Jack Navy Uniform by rock
Jack Kavanagh in his Navy uniform. 1944.

May 11

The Strickland returns to New York and continues escorting convoys back and forth for five months. The ships sail across the Atlantic, then into the Mediterranean Sea. They rarely see any action on the way back to the US but are sometimes harassed by German planes and submarines when they approach European waters, and the pass through Gibraltar is particularly hairy. Jack is adjusting to life at sea and he does love the water so there is a small silver lining. He misses his hometown, his family and his friends but he is seeing some of the world with stopovers in England and France so far. They have yet to have a weekend of Liberty but the boys are all looking forward to getting off the ship soon even for just a few hours. The scuttlebutt has them getting a weekend of R and R in England this summer.

June 6

Operation Overlord begins on what becomes know as D-Day. Allied troops begin the largest sea to ground assault in history. The Axis are dug in deep but the US and British troops will not be deterred and they establish a beach head. The invasion of Europe is on as over 150,000 Allied troops land at Normandy led by Supreme Allied Commander, Dwight Eisenhower. The Germans had received coded transmissions stating that the attack would be at Calais, France but it was a ruse and by the time the Nazis had realized it, they were unable to stop the Allies. The nation listens on the radio and reads the newspapers with a collective baited breath, desperate for any and all details and praying that this is the beginning of victory and peace.

July 13

The USS Strickland is handling some convoy duty mainly in the Mediterranean now and Jack’s days are usually filled with machining and mechanics. The officer on duty is well-trained and a good sailor but he is no machinist according to Jack. He has quickly seen that Metalsmith Kavanagh has skill and experience working metal and has placed Jack as a “go between” himself and the crew. Jack divvies the work between machinists, fabricators and welders, about twenty men total. Even at the young age of twenty, Jack has an eye for talent and a keen understanding of metal work. The system works well and Jack shuffles between machines and crew to be sure the parts they are making are finished properly and as fast as possible. Many things can and do go wrong on a ship, especially one at war thus a machine shop on board comes in very handy. Custom fixes of tanks, shafts and pipes all pass through the Strickland’s Shop as well as a steady stream of stock parts they make. Jack does give thought to the Shop at Pratt and Central while he works in the bowels of the destroyer escort. His duties are familiar but in a strangely unfamiliar environment. Jack and his fellow sailors have by now made the adjustment to sea life, but working in a metal shop on the type of jobs he’d be doing at the Joseph Kavanagh Company is strangely eerie to Jack.

August 20

As has been said before, August is the cruelest month for a smith. Excessive heat and humidity along with torch work turns the Pratt and Central building into a hot box usually for the entire month. The crew deal with it as best they can, drinking water and stepping outside for a smoke once in a while. It’s hot outside but it feels like a relief to stand out in the fresh air for even a few minutes. Today, they finish a 30” tubular condenser for Carroltown Springs Distillery and then ship it on its way. This one is an easy install with the Shop furnishing fittings and the Carroltown’s workers will install it themselves.

Shop job book from 1940’s. Note Carolltown Springs Distillery Job at bottom of page. August 20, 1944.

August 25

Paris is liberated by the Allied forces combined with Free French Units. It is the best news yet from Europe. Progress is being made by all accounts but freeing Paris, one of the Continent’s Grand old cities, is a boost to Americans reading and listening at home.

September 12

The Shop’s crew are finishing an order that is to be freighted to Philadelphia for the Navy Shipyard there. Eddie watches carefully as two large pump-chambers are hoisted up by a block and tackle and swung into the Shop’s truck. Two men stand on each side to support it and finally heave the chambers into the truck. Mr. Funke and Mr. Vincent will transport the chambers and a few other parts to the train station and send it on its way. Eddie thinks back to not so long ago when he did most deliveries, installs and would, certainly, have taken care of any runs to the train station. His mind then wanders to where his son is. Where is Jack in this wide world? He assumes still in the North Atlantic or Mediterranean based on the last letters they’ve received. He shakes it out of his thoughts as Funke approaches for final instructions. Eddie dispatches him and returns to the corner office in the Shop to get back to work.

October 9

The “Streetcar Series” is played with the St. Louis Cardinals defeating the St. Louis Browns, four games to two. It was the Browns first and only American League pennant. Teams throughout the league are losing players to the draft and the talent level is rather depleted. The Cardinals are fortunate as star player Stan Musial has been lucky and not drafted. Musial alone doesn’t make the difference in the World Series but he has a big impact on winning the pennant. The Kavanagh’s follow the season and the series closely but with a little less enthusiasm than they normally have. The war and worries about Jack temper their excitement even for baseball but it is always that welcome distraction from work and the daily grind.

October 11

The Junior World Series is played in Baltimore and the Kavanagh’s are very interested in this one. The International League Orioles defeat the American Association Louisville Colonels and the family follows and roots the team on to the championship. Baltimore’s fans are passionate and in a frenzy when the Orioles take the pennant and local anticipation of the match up is at a fever pitch. Fans come out in droves and the Junior World Series outdraws the MLB World Series this year and the City is jubilant and celebrates with the club as they parade through town surrounded by cheering crowds. Major league baseball team owners take note of the rampant fan base that Baltimore has.

October 23

The USS Strickland is transferred to convoy duty in the North Atlantic now steaming between London and New York with no more trips to the Mediterranean. Jack is homesick as are most of the crew so this news is good news. They will be returning to New York more frequently now and there are hopes of Liberty and R and R but merely being in an American port will lift their spirits. It will be home if not their homes. They were rewarded with their first liberty a week ago in London. The crew including Jack were excited to see the sites and most of all to get off the ship. At the Shop, Eddie is finishing a bid on a brewery repair. He’s double checking his numbers and prices before calling in the quote. The crew are as busy as they can be. Ship parts are made and a fountain is being fabricated today as the work keeps coming. They are working five full days and a half-day Saturday. It’s what Leo and Eddie prefer. If they are doing that, they are making money and things are going right. Eddie’s mind drifts to his son, Jack. He has no idea where he is. The letters his son has written have told them they were sailing to Europe, but Eddie has no specifics. The Atlantic is a big ocean and he assumes his son is somewhere on the Atlantic but is not sure.

Dad Jack Navy Front Row-2nd from the left
Some of the USS Strickland’s crew including Jack Kavanagh in front. 1944.

November 7

Franklin Delano Roosevelt wins an unprecedented fourth term to the presidency defeating Thomas Dewey in a landslide. The Kavanagh’s were staunchly Democrat by now and voted for Roosevelt though with more trepidation this time. The war is going on and it appears to be going well but no end is in sight and the family worries for Jack. They hope FDR and the Allied leaders can find an end and get to it soon.

November 14

Jack lays in his bunk reading his mail. His mother writes every day. Now that the ship has been at sea long enough, letters and anything from home become precious commodities. Jack has a large stash of letters from his Mother chpck full of details about things going on in the States, Baltimore anyway. Sailors and soldiers want to hear from home more than almost anything else. Jack is an industrious young man and is asked for his letters from many of his crew mates. He is more than happy to oblige charging only one cookie to read two letters. Several nights a week, the sailors receive four cookies for their dessert and because of his letters, Jack is able to stock up on cookies pretty well. In Baltimore, the Shop on Pratt and Central is spending a busy Tuesday finishing a job for James Distillery. It has been an ongoing repair and replacement with today a condenser being completed. Leo and Eddie are glad to see this one go out the door as it has been an ever-changing sequence of modifications to the existing distilling system but the customer is rewarded with a good strong product. Still, the Kavanagh’s are ready to move forward while the rest of their crew are laboring away at some pump chambers, valves, elbows and fittings for Navy ships. The Shop is staying busy, never missing a step this year.

The Shop’s job book with several items made for James Distillery. November 15, 1944.

November 23

Eddie and Annie are hosting Thanksgiving dinner at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue. Eddie’s parents are there, Joe and Johanna as well as Ed Jr. and his girl, Lillian. The dinner is delicious with all the holiday standards of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries and parsnips. All ate their fill and the meal was very pleasant if not a little quieter than usual. After some pie for dessert, Young Ed and Lil are gone, out for a night of dancing and fun. Annie and Johanna are sorting through leftovers and cleaning up the kitchen while Joe and Eddie listen to the latest news on the radio.

“There are a lot more to put away this year. More leftovers. I should have expected it. Jack is always such a good eater and he loves Thanksgiving.” says Annie as she frowns down at a plate of parsnips that is still half covered.

Johanna turns to her daughter-in-law replying, “Well, it was a delicious dinner. The turkey was perfect and next Thanksgiving Jack will get to enjoy it all.” She smiled but it felt like she was fighting to do so.

“I can’t even imagine what kind of Thanksgiving he’s having on that ship. I just know they are not feeding him properly and what about Christmas? What kind of Christmas dinner do they have?” She shakes her head then pauses a moment. “I’m so afraid he won’t come back, Mother.” Annie covers her eyes with a dish towel as she turns away from Johanna. “He’s such a good boy and I know he’s smart and I know he’ll be careful but I can’t stop being afraid for him. He’s my baby boy.” She slips into soft tears as she squeezes her eyes tight.

Johanna turns to her and looks into those eyes, “Listen Annie. Our Jack is going to be okay. I don’t know when or how but they are going to win this war. I know they will and I, for sure, know that Jack is coming home. You hear me.” She placed a reassuring hand on Annie’s shoulder and continued, “One thing I know is Jack is going to come walking through that door one day soon.” Sweeping her hand to point to the door that looked over the back yard and alley. “He will come right through that door. I guarantee it, dear. He will.” The two slipped into a hug with Annie nodding her head emphatically.

December 3

The Kavanagh’s attend Sunday mass at the Visitation Convent. They spend the day with Sister Mary Agnes(Aunt Anna) and she is thrilled to hear the latest news. Ed and his girlfriend Lillian are getting married. Ed proposed on Thanksgiving night and she accepted. They are to be married on Valentine’s Day of next year. She congratulates Ed and is pleased to meet Lil and the family is very excited especially with so much wrong at the moment, a wedding is a pick-me-up for them all.

December 23

The Christmas Party at the Joseph Kavanagh Company is held this Friday and it is a more somber and smaller affair than in years past. The Kavanagh’s invite fewer customers because it seems more of a time for family and good friends. Those customers who they have known for years and deal with regularly are there as are the Shop’s crew. There are heaping platters of ham and turkey with assorted side dishes, a few pies made my Johanna and beer and rye whiskey. The family does have something to celebrate and look forward to next year because Ed Jr. is marrying Lillian Fetsch. There is much hugging and back slapping for young Ed and welcoming words for Lil. Apart from the impending nuptials, the talk is about the Shop and the holiday but soon morphs into discussion of our American boys at war. The enthusiasm for the war has been tempered now with a realistic understanding of how many lives may be lost in this conflict. The news is mostly good with France freed and the Japanese seeming to be on the run in the Pacific. The party goers toast our troops and our great nation then pray for an end to this war. Joe leads them all in song and despite the worry hanging over them all, they welcome Christmas and prepare for a New Year. The volume of work at the Shop has kept up steam through the entire year and there is a month’s worth of jobs to start 1945. The business is doing well and there is a wedding next year. The Kavanagh’s need only two things to make things perfect. An end to this Second World War and the safe return of Jack.

December 25

The USS Strickland is docked in Plymouth, England for a few days to observe the holiday. A large Christmas dinner is planned and sponsored by the Junior Red Cross of Kearny New Jersey High School. There is Western Maryland turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and more. The sailors are thrilled at the prospect of a real holiday feast especially after almost a year of Navy food. It is a boisterous dinner with joking and kidding each other. Jack sits with his bunk mates and chats; he does observe there are no parsnips which puzzles him. They speak of war; they have heard that France has been liberated from German occupation and take this as a good sign that things are going well. They talk excitedly of the delicious meal before them but most of the talk is of the US and how to get back there. These young men have a wonderful night and for a while, it feels like they are home, but as it closes, they know that they are not. They miss their families, friends and their country. They are far from home and they still have no idea when they will return.

Menu for Christmas Dinner 1944 served on the USS Strickland.



Franklin Delano Roosevelt is re-elected as the President of the United States. The Academy Awards are held at Grauman’s Chinese theater for the first time with Casablanca winning Best Picture. The Office of Strategic Services or OSS is formed and will later become the Central Intelligence Agency or CIA. Harvard Mark, IBM’s first computer is dedicated. Smokey the Bear first appears in United States Forest Service Ads. “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” premiers on radio. Joe Frazier, Diana Ross, George Lucas, Frank Oz, and Richard Belzer are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Dad Jack Navy1
Several crew members of the USS Strickland on Liberty including Jack Kavanagh who is in the center to the left. 1944.

To read prior posts, click the Table of Contents Link below:

Table of Contents

1943 Two Deaths and the War Reaches the Kavanagh’s

January 11

The Shop rolls on busily as the US is beginning to take a leading role in the war around the world. It’s a difficult time for Americans; there are shortages and rationing but the work is abundant. The US is all in on a war that feels justified. We are doing the right thing and on the right team. Americans rally around like rarely before and work together to fight the good fight and bring our boys home.

January 18

Leo Paul Kavanagh has a heart attack and dies suddenly. The family is shocked and deeply saddened. Young Leo was a baseball player and a good young man by all accounts. He was an athlete and in good health or so it appeared to all, but his heart fails him and he dies at the young age of twenty-five.

January 21

Leo Paul Kavanagh is laid to rest in New Cathedral Cemetery with so many Kavanagh’s who have preceded him. The funeral is held at St. Elizabeth’s of Hungary Church where most of the family are parishioners. His parents, Leo and Maymie, are still in a shocked state. He passed so quickly and so unexpectedly, the grief has hardly hit them yet. It will and it will hit hard. Leo had held out hope that after his boy’s baseball playing days, he would return to the Shop. He would partner with Eddie’s boys and lead the Joseph Kavanagh Company into the future. It won’t happen now and the family decides it is best to remember Leo Paul as the ballplayer he was. A good cheery fellow but a baseball player. He loved the game more than most Kavanagh’s and that’s really saying something.

February 7

The Battle of Guadalcanal comes to a close with the US and Allied forces victorious over the Japanese. Guadalcanal was the first major offensive by the Allies in the Pacific Front and it brings an end to the Japanese offensive movements. The war rages on but this battle turns the table on the Axis and they are forced to go on the defensive.

February 10

Jack continues at MICA and is advancing in drafting, learning the nuances of sketches and point of view for isometric drawings. These are all things he can use at the Shop and Jack thinks about studying Mechanics at MICA as well. If he can afford it, Jack will have to consider it. He’s a strong student and a quick study as he was at Mt. St. Joe’s. After class, he hops on a streetcar to get to the Shop where he must assist his father and Mr. Funke. A large beer vat is being replicated on Central Avenue today. The old one will be returned to the customer, but they want a duplicate. It takes five men to make in five days. It is a lot of work to bang out fast but it is a rush order. The rest of the crew labor on ship parts, distilling drip pans and some boiler parts. A cold day but the Shop is warmed by torches and hard work.

February 14

The US suffers its first major defeat of the war when German troops attack in Tunisia to take back some of the North African territory lost in the prior year. The country follows this war so closely on radio and through the newspaper that a defeat stings Americans, but they know a battle is just a battle and not the entire war. Still, any loss frightens them and drives home how long this war might take.

March 15

The Joseph Kavanagh Company is very busy as more Navy ships are needed and the war pushes the economy on stronger with each passing day. Today, a variety of fittings and parts are made for the pump chambers and associated systems the Shop makes for the shipyards in Philadelphia and Baltimore. The crew cut through the day with rare ease. The weather is pleasant and some days, everything you do seems to go wrong but some days, it all goes right. Leo and Eddie lock the Shop as they both head home feeling confident in their business. The work seems endless and the company has become a fixture in the Baltimore industrial establishment. Their endurance and longevity aid them but their quality makes the difference. The Kavanagh brothers depart and return to their families, Eddie accompanied by his sons; all driving home in Eddie’s Chevy with Jack behind the wheel.

April 3

Leo and Eddie sit in their small office and discuss the news as Leo sketches a large storage tank and Eddie works on a quotation for a distillery. The war is showing no signs of slowing down as fighting continues throughout the Pacific on what are, to the Kavanagh’s, remote islands, and battles rage in North Africa. The Allies have yet to assail Europe and it will only get worse when that happens. The brothers agree that this war will continue for some time. The US has begun rationing more items: metals and even shoes recently. The war effort has priority over everything else in the country now. The hope of a quick end is gone but victory and peace are still the focus. Eddie worries about his son, Jack and his chances of being drafted. He knows they increase every day and he dreads the thought of it. He wants his boy here and he knows his wife will be heartbroken.

Pricing notes on a Continuous Beer Still from 1943. It will be re-quoted in 1944 and the Shop receives the job.

April 22

Today is the anniversary of the 1907 walk out when Joe, James and Frank Kavanagh split from their elder brother Martin. They had had enough of Martin’s mismanagement and his eratic behavior. He was not paying them much and was leading the Shop in a dark direction. After the younger Kavanagh’s formed their own Shop, Martin was bankrupt within three years. This day is also lost to history at this point; it was only discovered after research into old job ledgers, tax documents and newspaper articles that were dug up in 2018. So it is not celebrated in any way and is just an ordinary Thursday with the Shop’s workers making their ship parts while also repairing a still. Four men are on the job site taking care of that while Leo and Eddie field calls. They are getting busier, aided by their large stock of copper block and sheet. The government has put limitations on copper purchases as much is need for munitions for the war. The mint will even make pennies from steel this year to save the copper for the war. The Shop stocked up a good bit last year and they are reaping the benefits now. They have an upper hand on many competing coppersmith shops because they have material on hand. The Kavanagh’s also pride themselves on getting the most out of material. The cuts are precisely made to salvage as much as possible and any scrap is kept on hand and more often then not re-used.

May 12

Winston Churchill meets with President Roosevelt in Washington, D.C. for the Trident Conference and the Axis armies are defeated in North Africa, surrendering to the British and Americans. The War seems destined to be a long one but progress is being made slowly by the Allies.

May 20

Jack Kavanagh turns 19 and the family has a little party for him. His mother makes one of his favorite meals, ham and potatoes. His grandmother makes him a peach pie which is his very favorite dessert. They eat and discuss the news a bit; Churchill addressed Congress to continue rallying support for the war efforts. Annie is quick to change the subject and move things on to lighter fare as this is her son’s birthday. She encourages them all to gather around the piano in the parlor, knowing that the Kavanagh men are always up for a performance. especially her father-in-law. Joe, Eddie and Jack begin taking turns playing and singing. Jack’s brother Ed excuses himself early from the party to go out with his friends. Ed is a little more of a hard partying type than Jack though, of course, Ed is older. It does not go unnoticed by his parents, and his father, in particular, has told him to take it easy on the drinking and carousing. Ed listens but he does what he wants to do. Jack has a great time at his party; he loves family time around the dinner table and especially around the piano.

June 20

Eddie and Jack visit Bugle Field on Edison Highway to watch their favorite local team, the Baltimore E-lite Giants. They have been supporting this team for a few years, attending most Sunday games and the occasional Saturday evening. Jack is a little disappointed as the team is without Roy Campanella who is playing in Mexico this summer. Eddie and Jack watch a doubleheader between Baltimore and the Homestead Grays. They watch two well-played games, talking the whole time about the players and the strategy of the two managers. Jack wishes Campanella was still with the team. He had grown to be quite the fan of this young catcher, watching him develop over several seasons with the E-lite Giants. In fact, through out his life, Jack loved to talk baseball, especially the players and teams he saw. He always said the best he ever saw was Roy Campanella.

July 11

The war in Europe begins in earnest with the Allies, US paratroopers and infantry attacking Sicily. The Kavanagh’s hear the news reports on the radio then read the newspaper account the next morning in hopes there are more details. Americans track what is happening around the world every day as the events unfold. For many, the war seems more real now that there is fighting in Europe. Primarily European immigrants, the battles in the Pacific are far-off islands but Europe is still home in many ways to a lot of Americans. The Kavanagh’s continue working hard at the Shop and they talk baseball more than battles but partly to distance themselves from what they hear on the radio and read in the paper. It is real, very real but while they sweat and labor, they would rather not face it. It will make the day harder whereas the talk of ballgames and family push the minutes by faster.

August 21

A hot Saturday is spent fashioning a long ornate brass railing at the Shop along with a mix of fittings and valves that they fabricate and sell. The railing is heating very carefully as brass is fickle and reacts unpredictably to quick changes in temperature. The railing is then pulled inch by inch around wooden wheels and rings to achieve the long swooping radius required. They work a half-day as this one is a blistering Baltimore summer day. There is little talk of the war or baseball today as they attend to their work but do discuss the heat as that is human nature. They suffer through the day then head home at lunch. The news from the war continues to roll in with Allied bombers attacking Germany and other Axis nations while combined US and British forces have completed the conquest of Sicily. The US forces are led by General George S. Patton and the British by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.

Dad & Eddie (Father)1946
Eddie Kavanagh. 1940s.

September 4

James Kavanagh dies. His son Guy calls the Shop and passes it on to Leo and Eddie who call their father, Joe, to tell him.

“Hello, Joseph Kavanagh,” their father answers as if he were still at the Shop. Old habits die hard.

“Joe, it’s Eddie,” his son replies, then pauses for a moment to think of what to say. “I got a call from Guy about your brother, James.” Another pause and Eddie inhales on his cigarette. “He passed away, Joe. Earlier today. He had been sick but not serious then things turned bad fast for him. I’m sorry.”

There was a long silence then Joe spoke up, “Oh I’m sorry to hear that. I didn’t know he was sick. I’m glad Guy let us know. Thanks for calling, Eddie.”

The phone clicks and Eddie holds the receiver in his hand for a moment then hangs up. He knows his father who’s not one to show much emotion, and James and he were not on speaking terms. After the split with the Shop, James and Joe never spoke. Joe does not attend the funeral. Joe is the last survivor of all of his siblings now. His sister Sally had passed several years before, leaving only Joe and James but now Joe is the last of the nine children of Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh. Joe can’t help but think about all his siblings. Charles Leo died as an infant, and brother, Vincent De Paul tragically drowned at the age of nine. Both sisters, Katherine & Sarah(called Sally) married and raised families but they have passed. Martin, the eldest, after his troubles with the Shop was killed in Chicago in an industrial accident. Eugene died in a train wreck in 1903. Frank died in 1924 at the Panama Canal from malaria and now James is gone, as well. Now Joe is the last survivor, just as Uncle Joe was. Both outlived all their siblings. Joe muses over it all, but is still not moved enough to attend James’ funeral. There was too much bad blood after the split over the Shop from both brothers. Neither made any effort to stay in touch. Joe considers his age, 77, and realizes he is very lucky. He’s the last.

September 8

General Eisenhower publicly announces the surrender of Italy to Allied forces. There is a surge of hope for a quick end to the fight in Europe. It is quickly quelled as the complexities and challenges of the invasion of Italy pale in comparison to what it will take to attack the Germans who are dug in, well supplied and well armed.

October 11

The New York Yankees exacted some revenge on the St. Louis Cardinals when they won the World Series in a rematch of last year’s contest. The Yanks won the Series four games to one and were, again, led by “the Yankee Clipper,” as he was called, Joe DiMaggio. More and more players are being drafted or enlisting in the service so there are challenges for franchises to field a team. The Kavanagh’s follow the series closely as they follow the baseball season. They talk of the games at work, around the dinner table and as they listen to them on the radio. The war is still on everyone’s minds but talk of ballgames is a welcome respite to thoughts of what is going on around the world now. It is as it always has been with baseball being a large part of the Kavanagh’s lives. Love of the game itself is as strong in the family now as it was fifty years ago.

November 25

A large traditional Thanksgiving dinner is held at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue with all the trimmings of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberries and, of course, parsnips. Parsnips are a root vegetable and very much a staple of the Kavanagh diet if not the Irish in general. Cooked with butter and honey or brown sugar, they make their way onto the Kavanagh dining table for every major holiday and some times throughout the year. This love of parsnips is one thing that does not fade from the family as even today, Kavanagh holiday dinners certainly include them. Annie slaves over the stove all day, baking a turkey and attending to the many sides that go with it. Her in-laws, Joe and Johanna, join her and Eddie and their sons for the holiday feast. The food is delicious and they eat and talk through the meal, mostly about the war and the world but also the Shop. Afterward, there is apple pie and cake brought by Johanna. They enjoy dessert with tea then retire to the parlor for music. The Kavanagh’s gather around the piano, singing and taking turns playing. It is a pleasant respite to the normal day-to-day and when Joe and Johanna leave they all make plans to visit Sr. Mary Agnes at the Visitation Convent on Saturday. Sr. Mary Agnes is Joe and Johanna’s daughter, Anna, who has been part of the order for fifteen years.

November 28

President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin meet in Tehran to discus the planned invasion of Europe and the conflict around the globe. After several days of meetings, June of next year is targeted for the incursion into Europe. Details will be discussed and coordinated but the general approach for the invasion is agreed upon by all three.

Dad (Jack) & his mother Mimi
Annie Kavanagh 1940s.

December 17

Eddie arrives home from the Shop and joins his wife at the kitchen table after kissing her cheek. Annie is sitting quietly with a letter clutched in one hand and a handkerchief in the other.

“What is wrong, Annie?” her husbands asks as he fishes through his pockets for his pack of cigarettes.

Annie begins to answer but stops herself then says, “Oh, I’m just worried about our boys and all this terrible news we keep hearing from around the world. This war is a horrible thing.” She dabs her eyes then grows silent.

Eddie pats her arm and assures her, “Everything will be fine. I am sure of it. This war can’t go on forever and we’ve been lucky so far with the boys. Jack has not been called yet and all we can do is hope that keeps up.” He lights his cigarette and unfolds the latest edition of the newspaper.

“I know Eddie but I just worry. I-I can’t help but worry.” She rises from the table and stuffs the envelope into her sweater pocket. “Dinner will be just a few minutes.”

“What’s that? That letter?” Eddie asks though he’s preoccupied with the paper.

“It’s nothing. Something delivered by mistake. A wrong address,” she answers as she tends to a large pot of Irish stew on the stove. “You better call the boys in to dinner. The stew is done and I have biscuits too.”

“Mmm sounds great. Perfect for a December day.” Eddie smiles then walks to the doorway and calls his sons. Ed and Jack join them and they enjoy their biscuits and stew as they talk of the Shop and briefly discuss the impending holiday.

December 24

The annual Christmas Party is a loud boisterous affair this year, much of the worry and concern over the war has been replaced with a heightened enthusiasm for the fight against Hitler and the other Axis powers. The dirty Shop is quickly cleaned and decorated for the party. Customers, vendors, employees and friends join the Kavanagh’s to celebrate the Yule. This event has happened every year on Central Avenue since the Shop moved here. There is food, drink and always music: carols being sung by the group and some holiday favorites sung solo by Joe Kavanagh. The world is at war and it weighs on everyone but the holidays are the holidays and they celebrate appropriately. It has been a successful year for the business but tough on the family. Two deaths; one if not expected was not surprising, James was an older fellow and had lived a long life. Leo Paul, however, was not close to his prime yet and had so much life ahead of him. The family has done its best to be there for Leo, Maymie and Mary, their daughter. A death that occurs so suddenly is hard to grasp much less understand. They pray and rest on their faith and each other to get through it. The family has mourned and now looks to the future, welcoming Christmas and the coming new year. Only one Kavanagh is strangely quiet and detached from the festivities. Annie, Eddie’s wife, carries a sad secret; Jack has received his induction notice to report for training and service. Annie has kept it secret for a week. She hid it and will tell Jack and the rest after the holiday. She didn’t want to spoil Christmas for him but she is grievously worried for her son. She feels certain then when he goes off to this war, he will not return the same if at all. She has yet to confide with her husband but will do so Christmas night after all the celebrating is over. Joe has taken center stage on the dirty wooden floor boards of the Shop and is leading them all in “Oh Holy Night.” The party breaks up and the Kavanagh’s go home as do their customers and workers. Tomorrow is Christmas but it won’t be a holiday like most years. It will be short-lived when reality hits and they all find out that Jack will be going off to war.



Franklin Delano Roosevelt is the President of the United States. The Manhattan Project establishes a base at Los Alamos, New Mexico to develop an atomic bomb. FDR becomes the first president to travel overseas by plane when he attends the Casablanca Conference with Winston Churchill. General Dwight Eisenhower is chosen as Supreme Allied Commander. The Pentagon building is completed. Rogers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma opens on Broadway. The Jefferson Memorial is dedicated. The All American Girls Baseball League begins play. Christopher Walken, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Billie Jean King and Joe Morgan are born. George Washington Carver, Nikola Tesla and Fats Waller die.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Metalsmith 3rd Class Jack Kavanagh.

To read previous years, click the Table of Contents link below:

Table of Contents


1942 World War Two

January 12

Eddie and Leo have decided to hire two more coppersmiths. They may need more helpers too, but they definitely need more smiths. The Navy work from the Philadelphia Shipyard and their winter candy-making work has them falling behind on their jobs. The Shop has some of their steady distillery and brewery repairs to do as well. In addition, they have received some orders for ship parts from the local Bethlehem Shipyard. The Kavanagh’s welcome the work but it has all hit at the same time, mixed with the fears that come with a war. Eddie will find two good men from Coppersmiths Local#80 and hire them immediately.

January 26

The first American troops arrive in Europe, landing in Northern Ireland. The US is now mobilizing its forces to coordinate with their Allies before any invasion or assault plans are made. The Shop remains busy working on ship parts for the Philly Navy Shipyard as well as the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard, the usual candy kettles and alcohol industry work. Plus, today they are fabricating a copper fountain to be placed in front of a hotel downtown. Perforated sheet is rolled into a tube, then the tube is curved into a circle. All seams are soldered and this “sprayer tube” controls and releases the water in and out of the fountain. The crew are working five days and a half-day on Saturday each week, and that is very unusual for the winter and bodes well for the rest of the year.

February 2

FDR signs an executive order to intern Japanese Americans and seize their property. Japanese-Americans are removed from their homes and forcibly housed in internment camps throughout the West. The Kavanagh’s are hardly aware of it, as the focus of the news is the fighting around the world and, like many Americans, they assume the President’s actions are necessary. Most likely, they do not think of it through the eyes of these citizens who have been incarcerated entirely due to their ethnicity. In times of emergency people try to think of the greater good and sometimes, the greater good isn’t good for everyone.

February 16

The latest news about the war is that the Japanese have defeated the British in Singapore, taking control of the colony. The surrender and occupation of Singapore is called the “worst defeat” in British history by Winston Churchill. The Japanese begin a program of ethnic cleansing of the local Chinese population, which results in over 25,000 Chinese deaths. In Baltimore, Leo and Eddie are busy in their small corner office, planning their week. They speak of the war and wonder when the US will get directly involved. It is only a matter of time, and Eddie is very concerned for his son Jack who turns 18 in May. Jack will graduate high school and could soon be a prime candidate for the draft.

March 20

A large shipment of copper block and sheet arrives at the Shop from Baltimore Copper Smelting on this Friday. It is the largest order they have placed in years, but Leo and Eddie have decided they need to stock up for the future. Demand may get high for all metals, prices may rise and limitations may be applied as the war progresses. The sale of new cars has already been banned to save the nation’s steel supplies for military vehicles. The Kavanagh’s want to be sure to have the materials they need especially with this great deal of Navy work that is promised.

April 9

The Shop is busy with a variety of coppersmith work today, the crew hammering away to shape and turn copper sheet. Leo and Eddie lead their men as fire is thrown around, clamps and dies used to bend copper into the desired shapes. It is the 76th Anniversary to the day of the original Joseph Michael Kavanagh opening the Shop for business. They were Kavanagh and Smith then, as Old Uncle Joe had a partner, George Smith. The partnership lasted about ten years when Joe set out on his own. His business passed to his nephews and over time, at last, to the second Joseph Kavanagh, then finally to his sons, Leo and Eddie. This day is not celebrated or recognized at the Shop. By 1942, this date is lost to history. The Kavanagh’s don’t celebrate it, recognize it or even realize it. Only by searching old tax records in 2018 was this date discovered and verified.

May 14

The Shop remains buried with work as the country gears up for war. Eddie looks forward to his second son returning to the Shop to work for the Summer. Young Ed’s training is going well and the Shop could use the help. Today Jack is playing a baseball game for Mount St. Joseph’s baseball team. He’s catching and managing this year because he always loved the strategic end of the game just as much as he loved playing. The idea of managing appealed to him from the start. Jack is excited today because his cousin Leo Paul Kavanagh is watching the game. Leo is a minor league baseball pitcher and an alumnus of Mt. St. Joseph’s. He was the school’s ace pitcher when he was a student athlete. Jack and he are close despite Leo being seven years older and often being on the road with his teammates. Jack loves the notion that even in the minor leagues, Leo is getting paid to play ball professionally.

June 1

Jack Kavanagh has graduated from high school and he is back at the Shop to begin the third year of his apprenticeship. This year he will need to grow more comfortable with a torch, to be more precise with his hammer hits and most of all, he must learn discernment. He must learn to know when you are finished, when the piece is correct, when it is “good enough.” Jack will have to pass the pitcher test this year. It is the final test for a coppersmith at the Shop: to be able to take a flat copper sheet and work it into a pitcher on his own. Jack will also have to register for the draft in the coming weeks, and the family is concerned, but Eddie has some friends on the draft board. Those friends assure Eddie that the first batch of draftees is passed and it’s unlikely that Jack will be called this year. Maybe the war will be over in a year and it will be a moot point but at the least, Eddie is able to console his wife that Jack isn’t going anywhere this year. Annie is very worried for her sons and the threat of war. Her brothers served in the first World War, and she doesn’t want this for her boys. Their oldest boy, Eddie, is serving in the Army’s Quartermaster Corps and will be able to serve here in Maryland and not sent off to war. Jack is the one they are particularly concerned for because if he is drafted, he will certainly go overseas.

June 8

The Battle of Midway began on June 4th as the Japanese planned to hit the US base there hard and push the Americans out of the Pacific Front. This time American cryptographers have decoded the Japanese radio messages and the US is prepared for the attack. The battle takes four days, but by June 7, the US has soundly defeated the attacking Japanese. The US loses one aircraft carrier but sinks four of the Japanese carriers. Over 300 Americans die compared to over 3000 Japanese. Eddie reads the story aloud to his brother as Leo finishes a sketch of a still they’re scheduled to make the following week. Both brothers are heartened by this victory and hope that the war can be brought to an end quickly.

July 4

On a hot summer Saturday, a Baltimore crab feast is held for Independence Day by Joe and Johanna Kavanagh on Thirty-third Street. Their sons bring their families over for the celebration; Leo with his wife, Maymie, his son, Leo Paul and daughter, Mary, and Eddie with his wife Annie and sons, Ed and Jack. As they enter the house, the strong smell of steaming blue crabs fills their nostrils. It is a mix of black pepper, rock salt and a seasoning blend that recently came on the market. Produced locally by a company that opened in 1939, it is called Old Bay Seasoning. It’s perfect for seafood and becomes a fixture in steaming the local Chesapeake Bay blue crabs. Johanna keeps an eye on the crabs steaming away in a very large pot, made by Eddie at the Shop years ago. Her sons and their wives cover the large dining room table with newspaper which is used to keep the assorted crab shells and fallen spices from marring the table. Crab mallets and knives are placed on the table and the family waits, the heightened expectation of something delicious to most Marylanders. The fragrance of pepper and Old Bay is enough to make your eyes water if you pull the lid off the pot but the Kavanagh’s know the result will be perfect. The crabs are pulled out with tongs, then piled high on the table and all the family gather around. Beer is distributed to some and iced tea to the rest and soon the room is filled with the sound of mallets hitting crabs and shells splintering. A Maryland crab feast is very much a social meal with much discussion between mallet hits and bites of the sweet crab meat. The Kavanagh’s talk baseball and the Shop and listen to music and the occasional news break on the radio. They speak of the War in Europe and the latest news but feel a small respite in their worry as all signs indicate that Jack will be safe from the draft for at least this year. After everyone has had their fill, the remaining crabs are “picked” for crab cakes tomorrow. The adults remain around the table while the younger folks sit outside in the backyard awaiting fireworks. One by one the remaining crabs are pulled open and the lump crab meat is removed and placed in a bowl. Crab claws are cracked and yanked open and the meat placed in the same bowl, all to be used the next day. The family continues to chat as they set about their task to get to as much crab meat as possible. Once the crab “picking” is finished, the whole family gathers outside as the rockets begin to explode and light up the night in many different colors. It is Independence Day and despite being at War, it’s a day of celebration.

July 11

Another trip is made to Bugle Field for baseball, but this time Eddie and Jack have company. Eddie’s brother Leo and his son, Leo Paul make the trip with them for a long Saturday night of ballgames. Jack is excited to have Leo Paul along to get a player’s perspective. There are three baseball games scheduled today, the Baltimore E-lite Giants are hosting the Newark Eagles. And that game will be followed by a pair of barnstorming teams who will face off. And finally two local club teams will play. The four Kavanagh’s have a great time and the games go late into the next morning. The final out is recorded just before 2:00 am. Eddie’s wife, Annie, is not thrilled when they arrive home at such a late hour but she knows it’s baseball and she knows how much her husband and son love it. The four Kavanagh men had a lot of fun especially Jack and it was worth pressing Annie’s patience a bit.

August 10

It is a scorcher today in Baltimore, and the Shop at Pratt and Central is a hot box. Young Jack is the low man on the totem pole and his father assigns him the job of annealing some small copper tubes in the annealing oven. The tubes will be bent into a variety of 90 degree and 45 degree elbows. They will be used for several distilling jobs and the rest placed in stock to be used for a variety of applications. It’ s a bad day to be standing in front of the oven the copper bakes. Jack must keep an eye on the parts inside to assure they don’t melt, then quickly pull them at the right time and replace them with a few more, using a shovel to handle them. Ten can be fit in the oven at a time and it is a hot spot to be working on any day but on a hot and humid August day, it’s the worst possible scenario. His father’s only advice is “Don’t get drowsy” and Jack proceeds through the day, sweat sliding down his back even at 9 AM. As the day gets longer, the heat wears harder and harder on him but he does his job. He thinks to himself, maybe some day I’ll make my own son do this sizzling hot crappy job on a summer’s day and get some retribution.

The Shop’s old annealing oven. 2019. Out of service for 30 years bu it still exists.

August 28

Ed Jr. is still in the Army’s Quartermaster Corps but works about every other week for a few days. He still teases and even pushes his younger brother around but he has always done so and Jack has grown accustomed to it. This summer Jack passes the pitcher test. He makes his first pitcher on his own and is a fully-trained coppersmith now. What was once copper sheet is a functional, well-crafted pitcher with a good strong handle. He has gained all the skills necessary, and rather quickly. Both his father Eddie and his Uncle Leo are impressed with Jack’s speedy and successful progression. He seems to be a “Natural” smith if there is such a thing.

The first pitcher made by Jack Kavanagh Sr. to pass his apprenticeship in 1942. Given to his son, Joe on his wedding day. Picture taken 2019.

September 7

Jack begins attending the Maryland Institute College of Art to study drafting. Jack loves it and throws himself into learning all he can. He works at the Shop when he is not in class. Even days when he has a class, he takes a bus to get to work afterward, working five days plus Saturday mornings and going to school for two.

October 6

The St. Louis Cardinals lose the first game of the World Series to the New York Yankees, but then win four in a row to capture the championship. The Cardinals roster consists almost entirely of homegrown talent from their own farm system including the first World Series appearance of a young outfielder, Stan Musial. The Kavanagh’s and crew discuss the Series game by game as they work. This time Eddie has his son Jack at work with him and a large part of the day is spent talking about baseball. The Cardinals did win 106 games this year but still, most picked the Yankees to win the World Series, but it did not work out that way. The young star of the Red Sox who batted .406 last year, Ted Williams, follows that up by winning the Triple Crown in the American League this year, leading all players in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. Williams is again denied the MVP award, edged out this time by Yankee second basemen, Joe Gordon. Gordon’s stellar defense, a cool .322 batting average and the fact his team won the pennant, bring the award to him.

October 23

The Battle of El Alamein is fought starting with a heavy bombardment by the British. The war is heating up in North Africa and the Allies are having some success pushing the Axis forces back toward the Mediterranean. The Kavanagh’s keep track of it all via the radio and the newspaper. The Shop remains very busy and they are still working five days plus a half-day Saturday. Today, Jack is working with Mr. Funke, the Shop’s oldest non-Kavanagh employee, on a copper liner for a boiler repair. This liner is a tricky one as there is very little tolerance in the diameter and it must be held very tight to the diameter of the boiler’s tank. Funke and Jack hammer it gently and continually measure it to hold the standard they need. Leo and Eddie are watching them working and Jack hears his father say that this is a job for Old Uncle Joe. He knew how to get something exact if that’s what you needed. Leo nods in agreement as they both smile. Jack has heard about Old Uncle Joe’s skills for years. By now and into the future, the original Joe has become a nearly mythical figure in the Shop. His talent with a hammer is legendary and the man is held on high to the Kavanagh’s. In their eyes, he is the greatest coppersmith of all time. Eventually, Mr. Funke and Jack finish the liner, the diameter is just about perfect and it looks great. The rest of the crew are busy making ship parts, stock fittings and fabricating a replacement beer vat. A cool Fall day passes quickly due to the amount of work they push through today.

November 17

General Dwight D. Eisenhower and American troops land in North Africa and, combining with British troops, they begin closing in on German units. This seems to be the first ground offensive movement by the US and it is covered in the newspaper where the Kavanagh’s read and follow closely. Again, they pray that this is a sign of a fast ending to the war around the world.

December 3

The US begins rationing gasoline and the war’s impact at home gets more acute. Drivers are given rationing tickets as the military’s need for fuel outweighs the citizenry; sacrifices must be made. The Shop keeps going strong with no end in site. Leo and Eddie lead their crew as they prep today for a distillery installation the following week. Eddie is recounting to his brother a conversation he had with their parents about the gas rationing.

“Joe says that gas rationing will hurt the economy. This is the guy who hated cars when they first came out,” Eddie adds as Leo smirks, “he then says that regular folks like him won’t be able to travel about and spend money. They won’t be able to put money into the economy.”

“Imagine how many less accidents there will be with Joe not driving,” Leo retorts grinning from ear to ear.

“That’s the funny part.” Eddie answered,” Mother chimed in right away that the cost to the economy might be worth the boost in public safety with Joe not driving.” Both fell into laughter as their father Joe was a notoriously awful driver and had been involved in more than his share of automobile accidents.

After a good chuckle, Leo asked, “What did Joe say to Mother?”

“He laughed too.” said Eddie smiling back at this brother. “He could never disagree with Mother. Besides, this time,” he paused and lit a cigarette quickly then shook the match out, “he knows she’s right.” They share another laugh then get back to their work as they recall the days of working for their father, Joe. He was a taskmaster to work for but almost always entertaining.

December 24

The Joseph Kavanagh Company’s Christmas Party is held as it is every year. Joe and Johanna are there with their sons and their sons’ families and Joe is very proud of the job his boys have done. The Shop is busy and even thriving with work scheduled for the first month of the new year, a luxury that Joe rarely had and an assurance of a good start to 1943. Like all Americans, the family worries about the war and what will happen in Europe. They pray for the Americans already there and, yes, they hope and pray that the war is over fast for their own selfish reasons. An eighteen year old boy is a prime target for the draft and none of them want Jack to go to war. The party starts off slowly but soon the usual parade of customers and vendors pass through the doors and the Pratt and Central building is filled with songs and yuletide celebration. The Kavanagh’s and friends enjoy a festive party with good food and good company. At the end, as always, Joe leads them in a joyful version of “Oh Holy Night” and the party comes to a close. Customers and employees depart and the Kavanagh’s disperse for several days. The annual party at the Shop is the family’s big gathering for the holiday. On Christmas Day proper, Eddie and his family are at the Hartmann’s house, Annie’s family, while Leo and his family are with his wife’s folks as well. The Shop is the home of the Kavanagh’s in so many ways, it only seems right to celebrate there. They have their houses and they live their lives in them but the Shop is home. It has been for generations and will be for generations more.



Franklin Delano Roosevelt is the President of the United States of America. Daylight Savings Time is instituted on February 9 of this year. The films “Bambi” and “Casablanca” are released. The first nuclear reactor in America is built by Enrico Fermi as part of the Manhattan Project. Muhammad Ali, Aretha Franklin, Lou Reed, John Irving and Jimi Hendrix are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Jack Kavanagh. Mt. Saint Joseph’s Graduation picture. 1942. Age 18.

To read earlier years, click on the Table of Contents link below:

Table of Contents

1941 Infamy

January 13

As it has been for so many years, the confectionery customers have helped the Shop to start off well in 1941. The Kavanagh’s usually have distilling and brewing work to do each month. The copper candy and peanut kettles make them that much busier. The Shop has made kettles for the candy-making industry nearly since its inception. Leo and Eddie take phone calls, set their schedule for the week and sort out which workers will do what. The crew are heating and hammering, pounding copper sheet into kettles, pots and vats as they do nearly every day.

February 18

Boiler work fills the Shop on a sunny winter day. The workers have kettles and distilling pots to repair but most are working on two sets of boiler parts. Large copper liners are heated and curved while a variety of fittings and valves are made. The heat of torches is the small respite of working at a place like the Shop. You are holding some heat in your hands and, as long as you know what you are doing, that does warm the day.

March 28

Eddie has come to an arrangement with the local draft board that will keep his son, Ed Jr. from being assigned overseas. He will enlist in the Army’s Quartermaster Corps. They build camps and work on infrastructure at military bases in support of combat troops. He discusses it with his son who is twenty-one years old and keenly aware of his situation. Ed Jr. is very relieved that he will not be called into combat service if the US enters this war. He will go along and enlist next month.

April 6

Germany invades Yugoslavia and Greece simultaneously. The Axis seeks to maintain shipping access to the Mediterranean so they take these two nations though there is partisan fighting within both throughout the remainder of the war. Like most Americans, the Kavanagh’s follow the activity in Europe closely, concerned that the US will be there eventually. The Shop’s crew work hard on some brewery vats that need repairing. They are leaking bad enough to require hauling to Central Avenue for repairs. Along with more boiler parts and a brass railing, it keeps the workers busy throughout a breezy spring day.

April 14

Ed Jr. enlists in the US Army Quartermaster’s Corps 104th to avoid being drafted and to guarantee he will stay close to home and not be assigned overseas even if the US goes to war. He is based in Maryland and will be able to work his job when not on duty. The Quartermasters establish and build the infrastructure for military bases. They do the nuts and bolts of building and maintaining and encampment and this one is in support of the 64th Infantry. Ed reports for duty and he will have several months of orientation and training before assignment which will be local in Maryland. When he is off duty, he’ll be allowed to work at the Shop and visit his home. All and all, a very favorable deal for Young Ed and he is grateful.

The Army’s Quartermaster Corps Unit # 104 including Ed Kavanagh Jr. 1941.

April 28

The Shop receives some work from the Philadelphia Navy Shipyard. Eddie will pay them a visit next week to work out details. The Joseph Kavanagh Company will be contracted to make some ballast chambers and bend a variety of copper tubes for the internal ship systems. This job will be long term, spread over an open-ended time frame. The Navy can’t specify just yet how many ships they will be producing but they need to get started soon. Eddie plans to take a train to Philadelphia next week and while he’s gone Leo will have the crew focusing on some more distillery work for Baltimore Rye.

May 27

British ships sink the German battleship Bismark. This is a major victory for the Allies and the newspapers cover it all. Americans are swiftly swinging toward support for the Western Europeans though not quite in favor of direct involvement. The Kavanagh’s are in agreement with most Americans; they see the threat posed by Hitler and his partners in the Axis. They see an attack on freedom in Europe that could grow to endanger all, but their feelings are tempered by the fact that it is still far away. Today, the crew work on a brass railing for a church and a round fountain, standard fare for the Joseph Kavanagh Company, and the crew easily attend to both while they discuss the sudden dramatic victory of the British. The war becomes fodder for conversation across the country as each step is carefully reviewed and analyzed.

June 3

Yankee Great Lou Gehrig has died from ALS at age 37. Joe has stopped into the Shop to talk about it with his boys. Joe has been a huge fan of baseball all of his life and is stunned that such a young man whose career was shortened by this disorder should now lose his life to it. Leo and Eddie feel the same way and the Kavanagh’s think highly of Gehrig, not only due to his lofty statistics, which were lofty indeed, but rather because of his gentle nature toward his gifts, skills and the success he achieved on the baseball diamond. A terrible tragic loss for baseball, the US and most acutely the Gehrig family and the extended family that was his Yankee teammates.

June 9

Jack returns to the Shop for the second year of his apprenticeship under the tutelage of his father. In the fall, he will return to high school for the final time. Jack knows he will be tested this summer to learn as much as possible. His father is a tough teacher but also a skilled coppersmith. Eddie was tougher on his sons than his workers in many ways but if you want to learn how to work copper, Eddie was your man.

June 14

Eddie and Leo sit in the Shop’s office on a Saturday morning discussing more baseball news: Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak. The Yankees’ DiMaggio has managed at least one hit in nearly thirty games. They both believe he has a chance to get to thirty and beyond. That would be an amazing accomplishment. Baseball is a sport steeped in failure. You are considered great if you can hit one out of three times at bat. The odds are rarely in a hitter’s favor, and to successfully hit in thirty or more games takes great talent, hard work and even a little luck. The crew is working a half-day finishing a brass railing and making some of their stock fittings.

June 22

Germany, aided by Italy and several of the other Axis powers, invades the Soviet Union. Hitler claims the Soviets were plotting against Germany with the British. A large scale invasion drives the Red Army back quickly and it is now a two front war in Europe. The Soviets are hit hard and lose men, arms and territory quickly. The story is another shocking turn to the events going on in Europe. The Germans deliberately choosing to engage the large nation to their East seems foolish but they mean to knock the Soviet Union back enough to keep them from entering the war full scale. It will take some time but this strategy will turn into one of Adolph Hitler’s biggest blunders.

June 29

Eddie and his son, Jack spend a Sunday at Bugle Field watching three baseball games. The E-Lite Giants host the Homestead Grays for two games, and a pair of barnstorming teams square off for game three. The Giants rally to defeat the Grays in game one led by catcher, Roy Campanella. The young Campanella has grown into a great hitter who will finish with a .345 batting average this year. Jack has watched him play for three seasons and has witnessed his growth as a player. Jack also is a catcher, on the Mt. St. Joe high school baseball team, so he has a natural affinity for catchers. The second game they see on this day is an exhibition but the biggest draw of the three games. Satchel Paige, the most well known and most talented pitcher in the Negro Leagues has been loaned (for cash) to the Grays for several road games. Everyone in the crowd is anxious to see Paige pitch even in an exhibition. He does not disappoint, striking out seven in four innings of shutout ball. Jack and his father love these days at the ballpark, watching games, comparing players and reliving the games of old. They ride home still conversing and reviewing each game, enjoying some father and son time. Jack was thrilled to see the famous Satchel Paige pitch and has become a bigger fan of Roy Campanella with each season. He has no idea that both will be in the Baseball Hall of Fame some day.

July 4

Joe and Johanna hold an Independence Day Party and cook out at Thirty-third Street for their sons and their grandchildren. Joe and his sons speak first about DiMaggio’s ongoing hitting streak which stands at 45. He is tied with Wee Willie Keeler, the former Baltimore Oriole for the longest streak in history. It is an astonishing accomplishment and all three men heap praise on Joe DiMaggio, and they are all confident that a new record will be set at the Yankees’ next ballgame. They love baseball and enjoy talking about the game but soon the conversation turns to the Shop and Eddie and Leo fill Joe in on what’s going on with the Navy Shipyard work. Joe offers his services. The brothers have already considered bringing their father back before he suggests it. He is good at sales and could help out with phone calls. Leo and Eddie are both very busy and with little time to attend to the telephone but they are hesitant to put their father back on the payroll. The brothers decide to approach the Navy about it. If they can get some compensation from the Navy to bring Joe back as a consultant, they will do it. As they eat and watch fireworks exploding over the hills of Patterson Park, they give thought to whether the Navy will pay to bring Joe back. He can help the Shop and his boys, and all the signs say they will need the assistance. They wait to hire Joe back and proceed with the day-to-day of running the Shop. America celebrates the nation’s birthday as this family does, and this day always brings to mind thoughts of freedom and independence. With the world at war, a quiet concern for the future fills the country with uncertainty. No one knows what to expect but they know enough to be afraid of it.

July 18

Eddie and Leo start the morning talking about Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak which ended at fifty-six the day before. DiMaggio is a special ballplayer both brothers agree and they are mostly impressed with his consistency. Hitting successfully in fifty-six games is one of the most incredible achievements ever in the sport and the brothers shake their heads in near disbelief. Today in the Shop, Eddie begins teaching his son, Jack how to anneal. His first task is how to safely light the torch. It seems simple but like anything else, the hard part is doing it right, every time. Jack learns the subtlety of movement necessary to thorough even annealing of copper. It is all in the control of the heat. If the torch in your hand moves at the same pace throughout the process, the heat is controlled and the annealing is more even. It takes time to become proficient at using a torch and even longer to get comfortable with one. That comfort is the goal, but never while sacrificing attention and due diligence.

August 12

Eddie makes a three day trip to Philly to confer with the shipbuilders at the Shipyard. Firstly, they refuse to pay any consultant fee to Joe who they deem too old because he is in his 70s. Eddie knows his father will not be happy to hear that, but he accepts it. It was worth a shot to try to get some money for Joe’s help. As is, they will try to make it work without Joe but will call him if necessary. Eddie goes over drawings with the Navy men and clarifies what the Shop can do for them, the company’s capabilities and tolerances. Eddie is able to get a good sense of the scope of the work the Navy will need, and he knows the Shop will be busy for sometime due to the Shipyard and also due to the war.

August 18

The Shop begins prep work for the copper chambers and tanks they need to make for the Navy. Jack learns the use of a torch quickly, schooled by his father. First, he learns how to safely light a torch then how to handle it. Safety is not just first but paramount when dealing with fire and gas. The next step for Jack is to learn to control the fire and make it work for you. Next, he will learn different processes and approaches to annealing different metals. Copper is definitely simpler to work with than brass, for instance. The last thing any smith learns, especially in regard to using heat, is discernment. Is it hot enough? Is it completely softened by the heat? A coppersmith can anneal when he knows these things with surety. The crew still tease young Jack as they did last summer but he takes it well and laughs along with them. This garnishes a certain respect from the workers and cuts down on the razzing, because if Jack laughs along with it, what’s the point of teasing. Jack’s brother, Ed, is at the Shop part-time this summer, spending most of these months on duty with the Quartermasters Corps.

Ed Kavanagh Jr. with Army’s Quartermaster Corps Unit # 104. 1941.

September 8

Jack returns to Mount Saint Joseph’s High School for his senior year having learned a great deal in two summers. Eddie is proud of Jack’s work and his approach to work. He took any razzing and kidding in stride and focused on learning and working hard. Eddie is proud of both his boys, and begins envisioning a future with both at the Shop, both being part of the team, the crew.

September 22

Eddie spends another four day trip in Philly as Leo runs the Shop alone. They are busy and doing well with several brewing and distilling repair jobs scheduled through October. The younger Ed is still serving locally in the Army’s Quartermaster Corps. He is able to work part-time as he does have some days when he is off duty. Ed Jr. is advancing, though his father still bemoans his over attention to detail. Ed is meticulous and it slows the work down too much for his father. That being said, Eddie is mostly happy that his son is home and in no danger of deployment overseas. The Shop is humming along and they are working six days every week now.

October 6

The New York Yankees win the World Series defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers four games to one. The media dub this match-up the “Subway Series” with both teams playing in New York. The Yanks are again led by Joe DiMaggio who has an incredible season including the 56 game hitting streak. The Kavanagh’s marvel at this feat. Fifty-six consecutive games of hitting safely is astonishing. DiMaggio hits over .400 during the streak and drives in 55 runs. Remarkably, after this streak ends, on the very next day, DiMaggio starts another hitting streak of sixteen games. The 56 game hitting streak is another record deemed unbreakable by most baseball fans and as of 2019, they are correct. In this same amazing season, a young Boston Red Sox outfielder, Ted Williams eclipses the .400 mark for batting average. Hitting .39955 going into the final day of the season, he does not rest but plays both ends of a doubleheader, going 6 for 8 and boosting his average to .406. Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams will be forever connected because of this astounding season and the shared era in which they played. Despite Williams cracking the nearly impossible barrier of the .400 batting average, DiMaggio wins the Most Valuable Player Award.

November 29

The family visits Aunt Anna, Sister Mary Agnes, at the Visitation Convent on Roland Avenue. The Kavanagh’s try to see her at least once a month and always near each holiday. They talk about the family and the Shop with her and she is happy to hear it all. They discuss the problems in Europe and Sister Mary Agnes is praying for peace for all involved.

December 7

Eddie, Anna and their sons return from St. Elizabeth’s Church after celebrating Mass and prepare for a lazy Sunday at home. They enjoy a light lunch of sandwiches and listen to the radio. A Sunday roast will be made by Annie tonight with all the assorted fixings of roast potatoes, carrots and onions. As Annie prepares dinner, the music on the radio is interrupted by a news report. A US Naval base has been attacked in Hawaii. The Japanese have launched a surprise air assault on Pearl Harbor. It is a shocking first strike and the US fleet is badly damaged. Over 2000 Americans die and over 1100 more are wounded. With hardly a word, Annie has called her husband and son into the room and they all stand aghast listening to the report. The United States has been attacked and taken terrible losses. The nation is going to war.

USS Arizona Pearl Harbor Memorial. Courtesy of US Navy
USS Arizona Pearl Harbor Memorial. Hawaii. Courtesy of US Navy.

December 8

President Roosevelt delivers his “Day that will live in Infamy” speech as America listens on the radio. Americans rally around our nation like rarely before. There is something deeply personal about your nation’s autonomy being attacked. The morality of war can be complicated from an outsider’s viewpoint. All the questions of whether the US should intervene in favor of its allies and make war against the Axis powers are moot now for not only is there justification for war, there is desire for it. Justice must be served and war is what it will take. There is a somberness to the nation’s mood, but also clarity. FDR has made it clear what needs to be done and what will be done. The attack on Hawaii was an affront to all citizens and the public is not only in favor of American involvement, they demand it. The world demands it.

December 14

After church at St. Elizabeth’s of Hungary Church at the corner of Lakewood Avenue and Baltimore Street, Eddie is fooling about on the piano with his son Jack. They take turns playing melodies and chords; both love the piano like Eddie’s father Joe. Jack is a third generation ivory tickler in this family. He has been taking lessons for nine years and is still learning but has become an accomplished player. Eddie leaves Jack to continue playing and steps into the kitchen where Annie sits quietly sipping some tea.

He joins her at the table, lights a cigarette and asks her, “What’s wrong Annie? I know you are worried. What is it?”

Her eyes rise from her tea cup and she answers, “They are going to take our Jack and send him to war, Eddie. I know it.” Tears fill her eyes and she looks away from her husband.

“We don’t know that yet, Annie. We don’t. Things are bad and we are at war but we don’t know how long this will last. We were able to keep Ed out of it but I don’t think we’ll have the same luck with Jack. We can just hope and pray this war ends fast and maybe he’ll be okay.” Eddie tries to re-assure her though the same concerns weigh on him.

“It won’t end fast enough. Jack will graduate from school in the spring and be eighteen. He will have to register and they will make him go.” Annie says in a very matter-of-fact way.

“We will get Jack into some kind of college program, hon. That might help. I spoke to him about attending the Maryland Institute in the fall. He can study drafting and how to read drawings. It will help him at the Shop and in his future. Maybe it will help him get a deferment.” Eddie says, though not in a very convincing tone.

“That won’t work. They will take him. You know it and I know it. I am so scared for him, Eddie.” She begins to weep and Eddie jumps up from his chair, moves to her side and wraps his arms around her.

“We’ll see what happens, Annie. It will be okay. I promise.” he whispers into her ear. He hopes he is right and faces the real fear that his son could go to war. And he might not come back.

December 24

The Shop holds its Christmas party as a good year ends but with a great deal of uncertainty and concern for the future. The US is at war with Japan, Germany, Italy and the lesser Axis powers and everything else takes a backseat to that in importance. The Shop has had a fine year financially and it has been greatly augmented by the Navy work but if all things were equal they would trade that work away for peace. Things don’t work that way and Europe was propelled toward war by Germany’s and its allies’ actions. The moves that lead to the conflict on the continent also were stepping stones to US involvement. The country did its best to stay out of the conflict but Japan played a hand and now war has spread around the globe. A US territory was attacked and in short order the US will move troops and munitions into play. The war that started in Europe is now a true world war with battles in North Africa and the Pacific. The Russians have rallied against the Germans but the battle for the Eastern Front looks to be a long drawn out affair. The Western Front will have to wait for the Allies to find a way to invade the German occupied continent. On the Pacific Front, the US has taken a mighty hit but plans for a swift response in kind. Americans are afraid but they are buoyed by a consistent feeling that they are on the right side of history. Germany and Italy have invaded countries at will in Europe, and Japan attacked Hawaii and that is American territory. It was an attack on our nation, and Americans, including the Kavanagh’s, know now that involvement in this war is necessary. They have brought the war to us and we must protect ourselves and fight back. This year ends full of doubt and concern for the Shop, the Kavanagh’s, their country and the world.



Franklin Delano Roosevelt is the President of the United States. The USO is created. The first issues of Captain America Comics and Wonder Woman Comics are published. The National Gallery of Art opens. The films, Dumbo and Citizen Kane are released. The sculpting portion of Mount Rushmore is completed. Bob Dylan, Emmett Till, Joan Baez, Otis Redding, and Pete Rose are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Jack, Ed and Billy Hartmann
Jack Kavanagh, Ed Kavanagh Jr. in his Army uniform and their cousin Billy Hartmann ( left to right). 1941.

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