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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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