1954 Leo Kavanagh

January 11

Jack returns to Annapolis to finish his term in the House of Delegates and gives thought to what he will do next. He could run for re-election but he misses being home. He has to talk to his wife Betty about it and will decide before April when the Legislative Session comes to an end.

January 18

The Shop starts the year strong but not swamped. They are busy but not working on Saturdays which is understandable for the winter. Today a few repair parts are made for stock while a copper liner for a boiler is fabricated. Eddie gives Calvert Distilling an estimate on a vapor pipe repair. Large copper tubes have to be made then bent to 90 degrees in several spots. It will be a nice job to get and Eddie has a good feeling about it.

Quotation for Calvert Distilling. January 18, 1954.

January 30

On this Saturday, Leo M. Kavanagh has a sudden and fatal heart attack at 4 am in his home. The family is stunned as Leo was a healthy man and only sixty-one years of age. His wife, Maymie and daughter Mary are devastated and in a state of shock. The Kavanagh’s rally together and work to get through it. Eddie is hit hard by this as well. Leo was his older brother and they had worked together day in and day out for over forty years. They had only begun to even consider their retirement but now Leo is gone. He was not just Eddie’s brother but his partner at the Shop, his co-worker and co-owner and friend. Eddie won’t be able to grieve for long as decisions will have to be made about the Shop. Leo’s will must be read and his wife and daughter will inherit his half of the Joseph Kavanagh Co. Leo’s funeral is held at St. Elizabeth’s where his family and friends including many of his fellow Knights of Columbus members mourn and say their farewells. Leo is buried at New Cathedral Cemetery where his parents and other ancestors are laid to rest.

February 10

Jack, Betty and their girls, Betty Ann, Nancy, Mary and Jane have Sunday dinner with Jack’s parents, Eddie and Annie. Annie loves anytime she can get with the girls and they feel the same way. They love Mimi as they call her and she welcomes each with a hug and a kiss as if she hadn’t seen them in weeks. Eddie and Mimi live across the street and see the girls almost every day. The girls call Eddie, Eddie. It is his preference just as his father Joe didn’t go by Grandpa or Pop. Eddie is the same. He is called Eddie by his granddaughters and his sons generally. Jack called him Pop as a boy and occasionally now but never at the Shop where he was always Eddie. Annie bakes a ham and there is pie for dessert which is the young girls’ favorite part. After dinner, Eddie pulls Jack aside into the front room to talk while the girls play with their mother and grandmother.

“Jack, Leo’s will was read and Maymie and Mary get his share of the company. They won’t be involved in the day to day but will be paid some rent for the property. They own half of the building.” a slight shrug of his shoulders as he pauses, “We’ll keep doing what we do and it should all be fine.”

“What can I do to help, Pop? I know without Leo you will have a lot to do,” Jack offers, realizing that his father’s work will just about double.

“I might need some help with drawings and I’ll be glad to have you back from Annapolis. That’s for sure but I know you gotta focus on being a Delegate, son. You do your job in the House and I’ll be fine. If it’s busy, that’s a good thing. You know how it is at the Shop.” Eddie assures Jack.

Jack glances over his father’s shoulder as he hears Mary’s voice rise from the next room, “I’ll be back full time in April. I’ll do whatever it takes to help.”

His father smiles at him, “I know, Jack. I know you will. It’s strange already without Leo. It’s not the same without him. We worked together our whole lives in that building.” A somber frown crosses his face, “He was my brother but we’ll get it worked out. I know you’ll help. I will need you more in the office part of the day but you should be doing that anyway. You gotta get used to dealing with customers,” a pause as he taps a cigarette from its pack, “and doing everything else.”

“What about Ed?” Jack asks. It’s his turn to frown as he watches his father with the cigarette.

His father places the cigarette to his lips, “He doesn’t want any parts of the owning and running the Shop. He told me so and, Jack, he doesn’t have the demeanor. He’s not serious enough. He….,” Eddie seems to think better of complaining about one son to the other when he finishes, “You’re better suited for it, Jack and honestly, Ed, is more of a Shop guy: a good coppersmith, and that’s what he wants to be.”

Jack takes his time, then answers his father, “If you say so, Pop. You know best. I’m ready to learn all you want to teach me. I want to help out and help the company. I did go to school for drafting and mechanics so I can handle the drawings. Whatever it takes, I’m ready for it.”

Eddie nods and pats his son on the shoulder than calls for the ladies to come in and gather around the piano. It’s Eddie’s way of telling Jack he’s happy he’s willing to help and the conversation is over. Eddie begins to play the piano and soon the girls are dancing and singing along. Jack takes his turn playing too and they all join in together. The same sort of Kavanagh Sunday dinner with song that Eddie had with his parents.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Brewery job. March 11, 1954.

March 25

Jack has decided to run for re-election in the 2nd District of Baltimore City. He and Betty discussed it and though she would prefer to have him close to home, she understands it is important to him and will support him 100%. He and his father confer with Jack Pollack, one of Jack’s mentors in the party and Jack Kavanagh will be on the ballot for re-election. On Central Avenue, the Shop received an order for the vapor pipe repair job that was quoted to Calvert Distilling earlier this year. It takes a week to finish the tube and then find a way to work the bends with the proper radius. Eddie has been having John Benser, the Shop’s machinist make a few bending dies when he can. This makes it simpler to achieve the specific curve needed. In the case of this order, the tubes are over ten inches in diameter and their only choice is to made a new set of tools from wood. Benser machines a die and clamp block while the tubes are filled with sand. The sand is poured in, then pounded down with a pipe. Once full, the tubes are carefully pulled around the die. It’s a very slow process for each bend but a good job and Eddie is happy to see this one billed.

The Shop’s job book entry. Calvert Distilling Job. March 25, 1954.

April 1

Some of the Shop’s distillery work is not related to the whiskey industry. Today a dished copper top for a column still is finished for US Industrial Chemical Co., a chemical producer who requires alcohol distilling. The top is made from copper sheet and weighs over four hundred pounds when finished, so most of the crew have been working on this order for the last two days.

The Shop’s job book entry. US Industrial Chemical Co. job. April 1, 1954. Page 1.
The Shop’ job book entry. US Industrial Chemical Co. job. April, 1, 1954. Page 2.

April 10

The House of Delegates session closes and Jack returns to the Shop full-time but is running for re-election. On a Saturday, the crew are not working, but Jack is in the small corner office with his father. Eddie and Jack are there to plan the schedule for the week. Since Leo’s passing, Jack has tried to help his father at the Shop and now can do more. He will handle expediting jobs while Eddie focuses on taking calls and making quotations. The absence of Leo is felt, as the drawings as well as any engineering on stills and brewing vats, falls to Jack now. He can handle it but it is more work. It is a transitional period with Leo passing but they are managing and each day is focused on the jobs at hand.

April 15

The Baltimore Orioles play their first game in Baltimore at Memorial Stadium. Thousands line the streets as the team leads a parade to the game. Players sign autographs and speak to fans as the crowd cheers. The Orioles beat the White Sox 3-1 in their first home game in Baltimore before 46,000 excited fans. The Kavanagh’s have the game on the radio in the Shop’s office and they work but keep an ear on the game through the afternoon. It’s the first Opening Day in Baltimore and tomorrow it will be discussed in depth throughout the City and most certainly at the Joseph Kavanagh Company

May 9

Jack takes his father to their first Orioles game on a fine spring Sunday. Eddie and Jack can hardly contain themselves. Two true lovers of baseball at a major league game here in Baltimore. They sit and talk as they wait for the game to start. Bob Turley is the starting pitcher for the Orioles facing Art Houtteman of the Cleveland Indians. This game is a true pitching duel with the game tied at one through nine innings. Turley pitches ten innings and in the bottom of the tenth, his sacrifice bunt sets up Center fielder Gil Cloan who lines a single to center scoring the winning run. The crowd goes wild and Eddie and Jack are both whistling and cheering. It’s a very exciting game and a great first trip to Memorial Stadium for baseball. Father and son talk on the ride home about the game and the players. Jack decides he will bring the whole family out to a game or two and he can’t wait to bring his girls to see the Orioles and share some baseball with them.

June 22

The Shop is busy fabricating a railing for a residence. The usual array of brewery and distilling parts are made as well. Jack is working but also campaigning with his fellow Democrats. The Primary is next week and influence in the party seems to come down to two camps, Jack Pollack leading one and gubernatorial candidate George Mahoney the other.

June 28

Jack loses his re-election bid to the House of Delegates, He and two of the other Pollack men were defeated by the Mahoney group in the Democratic Party. Jack seems to have fallen victim to some political infighting. The people have spoken and Jack does not receive a nomination to return to the General Assembly. He is disappointed but at the same time he’ll be happy to be home with his family and to devote more time to the Shop. Betty is quietly relieved though she would have supported Jack no matter the result.

July 2

Jack, Betty and their girls attend their first Orioles game on a Friday night. Betty is eight months pregnant but going means so much to Jack and the girls, she wants to be with them. Jack told her he would take the four girls and she could stay home but she would have none of it. So they take in a ballgame on a warm summer night. Sitting in the lower box on the third base side, they watch Baltimore welcome the Detroit Tigers to town. The Orioles, though still in the bottom of the standings, win tonight in another close well-pitched affair. Joe Coleman out duels Art Aber and the Birds beat the Tigers 2-0. The girls cheer on the Orioles and Jack is in high heaven to be watching a game with his wife and kids.

July 9

Betty meets a young woman from the neighborhood named Katherine. Jack and Betty have been looking for someone to help with the girls on a more regular basis. Katherine fits the bill perfectly. She lives in the neighborhood and is a friend from the Kavanagh side of the family. Betty grows to trust her quickly and Katherine will keep the girls whenever Betty has errands, trips to the store, doctor or school.

The Kavnagh girls in the backyard of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Mary, Betty Ann and Jane(left to right). Mid 1950s.

July 21

Betty Kavanagh gives birth to another girl, Jacqueline who is called Jackie. She is named after Jack her father and he is as thrilled as he could be. He loves his Daddy’s little girls. The family is excited for another baby in the family. Her older sisters are all excited to hold her, and Mimi and Eddie along with them. Jack and Betty are also very happy they have found Katherine because with a new baby and four older girls, they will need all the help they can get.

Betty Kavanagh and baby Jackie.

July 31

The Summer at the Shop is busier and they are back to working Saturday half-days. Calvert Distilling has been keeping them busy a lot this year with repairs and replacement parts. Calvert needs some baffles replaced in an evaporator and today they are completed at the Shop. Copper sheets were cut and drilled and the ends annealed. The old baffle plates are pulled from the evaporator and the new ones installed. Five men handle this one while the rest are busy on a few boiler parts.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Brewery job. August 10, 1954.

August 16

Gunther’s Brewery orders some replacement unions. This is a repeat job. They made these last year and now they make another set. Gunther’s is another customer who sends work to the Joseph Kavanagh Company nearly every month and they have been doing business with the Kavanagh’s for decades. The small fittings whether stock or custom parts flow out of the Shop regularly. Repeat jobs are welcomed because if they did it once, they know they can do it again.

August 22

Jack takes his girls to a Sunday afternoon Orioles game. Betty stays home with baby Jackie this time and Jack corrals the girls into his Chrysler Windsor and heads to Memorial Stadium. The Orioles are hosting the Cleveland Indians today. The Indians are at the top of the standings and the Orioles are mired at the bottom. The game goes as most would guess with first place Cleveland pounding the Birds 12-1 today. The girls have a good time and cheer when they can as Jack explains to them that baseball is a game and sometimes you lose. Jack drives his girls home and they chatter to him and to each other. He saw his team get beat pretty bad but doesn’t care. He has a soft smile of contentment on his face as he answers his daughters queries and listens to them discussing the game.

September 6

Betty Ann and Nancy start their school year at St. Elizabeth’s, Betty in first grade and Nancy in kindergarten. Jack drives them down Lakewood Avenue to where the street is interrupted by Patterson Park. The school is on this corner at Baltimore Street. He drops both girls off and wishes them a good day. At lunch, Betty will walk down to pick up Nancy then return several hours later to pick up first grader, Betty Ann. Katherine will stay with the girls while Betty is at school. Katherine is a great help to Betty and the girls all love her.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Brewery job. September 10′ 1954.
The Shop’s job book entry. Gunther’s Brewery job. September 10, 1954.

September 13

More fittings, unions and adapters are made for both Gunther’s and National Brewery in the Shop, and Eddie has his own project to work on today. He has begun making a copper pitcher for his sister to honor her twenty-five years of service as a Visitation nun. He will make a pitcher like others have been made at the Joseph Kavanagh Company since Old Uncle Joe started it in 1866. Eddie will anneal a piece of copper sheet, then hammer and bend, shaping the sheet into a bowl at first, then a pitcher. The inside will be tinned and a small handle annealed, bent and soldered to the pitcher. Eddie does a special cleaning with acid to finish this particular pitcher giving it a very handsome look. He engraves his sister’s name and the years of her vocation and involvement in the Visitation Convent.

The Shop’s job book entry. Gunther’s Brewery job. September 13′ 1954.

September 26

The Baltimore Colts begin their second season at Memorial Stadium. They play in the same place as the Orioles and will do so for a long time The two franchises share the space and make many memories for Baltimore sports fans but not so much so far. The Orioles finished their season yesterday losing 11-0 for their 100th loss of the season. The Colts are crushed today 48-0 by the Los Angeles Rams. Both clubs are new and not expected to compete at this point. Things will change in a few years.

October 2

The New York Giants sweep their way to the World Series, winning all four games against the Cleveland Indians. The Indians had taken the American League Pennant by winning a record-setting 111 games. They were favored to win it all but the Giants were up to the task. In game one, Willie Mays makes one of the most incredible catches ever on a long drive by Vic Wertz. It is remembered as one of the greatest defensive plays of all time and is symbolic of this series. Leo Durocher wins his first World Series and the Kavanagh’s enjoy the games. They also assumed Cleveland would win easily, but that’s why they play the games, because you never know. If possible, they may be even more interested in the Series this year with a home team in the league. Jack hopes some day to see the Orioles play for the championship. If you have a team, you can dream.

November 13

Jack and Betty go to the movies on a Saturday night for the first time since the baby was born. There is a new holiday movie out with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye called “White Christmas.” Eddie and Annie keep the girls including baby Jackie while their parents go out for the night. They love the movie and the music and mostly love getting out for a couple of hours. They would love to go for egg rolls as they used to but Betty wants to get home to the baby. Five young girls (Annie has cousin Patsy at her house every Saturday night) and a baby is a lot to handle for Annie. Both Jack and Betty don’t want to tire her out. Eddie is there and he will play a little on the piano with the girls and watch some television but eventually he’s likely to disappear behind the newspaper. When they get to 434 N. Lakewood Avenue, they tell Jack’s parents and their girls all about the movie and the girls tell them how much fun they had with Mimi. In a few minutes, the Kavanagh girls are walking down the street and back home for the rest of the night.

Betty, Nancy, Patsy2 (1)
Nancy, Patsy and Betty Ann Kavanagh(left to right) on the grounds of the Visitation Convent. Mid 1950s.

November 27

After celebrating Thanksgiving with both Jack and Betty’s families, the Kavanagh’s visit Aunt Anna, Sister Mary Agnes on the following Saturday. She is celebrating her Silver Jubilee having been part of the order for twenty-five years. After Mass at the Convent, Eddie presents Anna with the pitcher he made for her. She thinks it’s beautiful and is very touched that her brother would do this. It reminds her of the Shop and her father and all the family that worked there. She thanks him and she thanks God for giving her the calling that has changed and enriched her life for so many years. Eddie loves his sister dearly and she feels the same. They are that much closer to each other now with their brother Leo gone.

Sister Mary Agnes(Anna Kavanagh) on the grounds of the Visitation Convent.

December 15

Eddie sends out a few Christmas gifts to customers. He has decided that some of his friends in the industry deserve a small token. Most get ties but a few get a bottle of whiskey. It is becoming an industry custom as he receives some too. His wife Annie shops for the ties and he takes care of the lucky few who get rye.

Thank you note from one of the men from Gunther’s Brewery that Eddie Kavnagh knew. He received a tie and whiskey. December 26, 1954.

December 24

The Shop’s annual Christmas Eve Party is thrown on a cold Friday. The place is converted from messy Shop to less messy holiday party in a couple of hours. The front room of Central Avenue is full of people eating, drinking and celebrating. Customers recognize and greet each other, shaking hands and wishing each other well and a fine party is held. The guests talk of the Colts who had another tough season and the hopes for the Orioles next year. The new baby, Jackie, is held and passed around while the older kids play about. The party is just like every year but Eddie misses his brother. Leo and Eddie worked together for so long and his death was so unexpected. Eddie goes over it in his mind quite often and today certainly. He feels so many unresolved issues as he never said a proper farewell to his older brother and he has trouble getting past it. When a few folks call for some songs, he puts it into the back of his mind. They do sing and toast the Shop, the holiday and the future. After the party, two employees are a bit inebriated and Jack offers to give them a lift home. Eddie is not too pleased with the workers but seems fine once his son decides to drive them home. Eddie and Annie take Betty and the kids back to Lakewood Avenue while Jack drives the two workers, each with a Christmas turkey in hand, to their destinations. One is driven to his house and the other just needs a ride to a bus stop and he will take a bus to West Baltimore where he lives. Finally, Jack drives East across town headed back home. He can’t wait for Christmas with all his girls. He even has a red and white suit picked out to wear later tonight.

Thank you note from one of the men from Gunther’s Brewery that Eddie Kavanagh knew. He received a tie. December 31, 1954.



Dwight Eisenhower is the President of the United States. Elvis Presley records his first record. The first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus, is launched. Mass vaccinations of children for polio begins. The Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision rules segregation in schools is unconstitutional. The words “Under God” are added to the Pledge of Allegiance. The Tonight Show hosted by Steve Allen premiers. The first Burger King opens. The films “the Caine Mutiny” and “On the Waterfront” are released. Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington, Condoleezza Rice, Ron Howard, and Stevie Ray Vaughan are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Copper pitcher made by Eddie Kavanagh to honor his sister Silver Jubilee. 1954.

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

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