The first day of 1957 is a cold busy one at the Shop on the corner of Pratt and Central. Eddie(62) runs his Shop with a crew of of ten including his sons Jack(32) & Ed Jr.(37). Ed Jr. is one of his senior coppersmiths and Jack is close behind him in experience but also helps with expediting jobs and is learning to quote prices. The office end of the business does not interest Ed Jr. who also has a tendency to butt heads with his father. They are very much alike and therein lies the problem. Still, they work together well enough and Jack is happy to help with the business end of the Shop. Jack is a bit more like his mother which makes it easier for him to get along with his father and he wants to learn all he can about the business. His father sees Jack as a good leader and his potential replacement. Today both Kavanagh boys and the rest of the crew are working on a variety of brewery replacement parts. Jack is making a reducer for Gunther’s Brewery. The reducer will be 2 foot long and a 2” diameter at one end and 1 1/2” diameter at the other. With the fire of his torch, some tools and his strength Jack has it finished in a little more than half a day. In January, Jack is happy to have a torch in hand for a few hours.
Like clockwork it seems every winter, the Shop will receive some emergency boiler work from E. J. Codd. Codd has been doing business with the Shop for over fifty years and they send in work every couple of months, and this time of year, they are always busy repairing and replacing boilers for buildings throughout the City. These boilers sometimes need copper liners and the sort of brass and copper fittings the Shop makes. An emergency or rush job means extra hours this week for Jack and four other fellows and they are happy to have it. The liner is passed through the rolling machine they purchased last year and it takes half the time to finish. Jack makes sure his father is aware of that. Eddie had doubts about this machine but he’s slowly being convinced of its value
A set of perforated boiling plates is finished today for A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Sunset Hills, VA. The plates are carefully cut from copper sheet as maintaining the diameter is very critical. They must fit quite tight into the collar which the Shop is producing also. After cutting the plates, Ed Jr. drives them to Renneburg Inc. They are a local fabricator and will take care of the drilling on this one. John Benser, the Shop’s machinist, could drill them but he’s busy with other parts. Renneburg does a nice job on the plates and they fit well in the collar. The plates turn out quite well and Eddie adds $ 50.00 to the bottom of the bill for tools and what he calls a “knowing how to do it” charge.
The Baltimore Orioles play their home opener against the Boston Red Sox on this Tuesday. The crowd of 38,000 strong at Memorial Stadium are disappointed as the Sox beat the Birds 4-2 but it doesn’t dampen their spirits. All of Baltimore is hoping for some big steps toward a better team this year. Eddie and Jack listen on the radio in the office and pass on scores to the crew. The Kavanagh’s are big supporters and their crew are fans too. The workers head home and the only ones left are Eddie, Jack and Ed Jr. but they are still talking baseball.
“It was a good game. You can’t win them all.” Jack says as he locks the office door. His brother, himself and his father are crowded into the vestibule at the front door.
“It was but Boston isn’t that good of a team. It’s not like they are the Yankees. They should win at home against them,” his brother answers with a shrug.
“You want to win them all at home, Ed but you can’t.” Jack fires back as he unlatches the inside lock. “And Boston is a decent team. Maybe not the Yanks but pretty good. It’s nice to win on opening day though and one day, I’m going to opening day.”
From behind him his father says, “You’ll have to work. It’s always a weekday.”
“That’s right.” says Ed Jr. as all three start to file out, “and on opening day it’s always packed. You won’t get a good seat.”
Jack looks over his shoulder at his brother, “One day I’ll have season tickets. I’ll get good seats. Maybe first row or close. You’ll see.”
Ed chuckles and shakes his head as their father chimes in, “That’s gonna be a lot of money, Jack. I’m not sure it will be worth it besides, you’ll have to work. Like I said.”
“He’s right, Jack. You ain’t getting any days off for Opening day.” his brother adds with a glance at his father.
“I don’t care what you think. One day, I’ll have season tickets and I’ll take the girls to opening day. I tell ya. I will.” Jack grins at both with confidence as his brother waves and climbs into his car. Jack and Eddie get in the Chrysler Windsor and head down Pratt Street. Jack is determined now to get to that opening day some day even with working at the Shop. He’ll figure it out. And they will be good seats too. First row. Maybe down the third base line.
A rainy spring day at the Shop is spent fabricating some custom beer lines for Globe Brewery. They are made from 2” copper tube and each requires a 90 deg bend on a 10” radius on one end. Assorted fittings and special threaded couplings are needed. Jack takes care of annealing and bending the tubes, Louis Votta makes the couplings and a couple of younger boys assist them with cutting the long lengths of copper tube. The front door garage door of 201 S. Central Avenue is open to let the cool air in and the crew work away to the metronome like pitter-patter of rain all day. During his lunch Jack is thinking about his wife, Betty. They will be married ten years at the end of the week and they are going out for a special dinner at the Chinese restaurant they frequented when they first met.
Jack and Betty celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary on a warm pleasant Friday night. Eddie and Mimi watch the five girls while seven months pregnant Betty and Jack have dinner at the New Canton Inn like they did when they were dating. Afterward, they want to see a movie but Betty is tired and she wants to get back to the girls. Jack agrees and promises to take her to a film after the baby comes. They won’t do dinner that night but will go straight to the movies then back home. Betty likes that idea and they drive to Lakewood Avenue, collect their girls and share an iced tea toast to each other to celebrate ten years of marriage.
Jack is using the rolling machine the Shop bought last year at his request. It isn’t used every day but at least several times a week. His father’s doubts are lessening and Eddie has encouraged John Benser to make more tools for it. On this Friday, Jack is rolling some 1 1/2” diameter brass tubes for a railing. This type of job is what this machine is made for in Jack’s mind. The rolling process takes less than a third of the time it would have taken using blocks and heat. In addition, the pieces look better. They stay rounder and need very little cleaning or re-polishing which was required using their old way. He’s happy the machine is working out but his thoughts are also on tonight’s ballgame. He is taking his four oldest girls to see the Birds host the Detroit Tigers and Betty is staying home with the youngest Jackie. Betty is pregnant and due next month so she will spend a quiet night at home. Jack doesn’t want to be late and he wants to be sure to keep an eye on the girls plus the Tigers are sending Jim Bunning to the mound. He’s 7-1 and one of the best so far this season. After work Jack eats a quick dinner with his daughters and they drive to Memorial Stadium on Thirty-third Street. It’s a close game and it runs longer than Jack expected. The Birds come from behind scoring three in the bottom of the ninth to win 6-5 while the girls cheer enthusiastically and Jack worries what Betty will say about him keeping the girls out so late.
Betty Kavanagh gives birth to her sixth daughter, JoAnn Theresa. She is named for three people. The Jo part is for her father, John Joseph Kavanagh. JoAnn is to honor Johanna, Jack’s paternal grandmother and Theresa is for his maternal grandmother, Theresa Hartmann. Jack and Betty are as excited about this new baby as they have been for each one of the girls. When they bring her home, her four oldest sisters all want a turn holding her but Betty is careful about the new baby. She will only let them hold JoAnn if she or Jack is right there to help them.
When Jack pulls up to the Shop today, his father and his brother congratulate him on his new baby girl. He is kidded about so many girls, six now but he takes it in stride and can’t wipe the smile off his face. During lunch he helps his father with a quotation for a beer heater for Paul Jones Distillery. His father wants Jack to learn his quoting system and Jack is a quick study. Eddie explains his quoting process, how he figures the labor and how much to mark up any material needed. The quote is discussed amid bites of ham sandwiches then Jack gets back out to the Shop to roll some copper tubes into circles for a fountain they are fabricating. Again, he uses the new rolling machine with tools made by Benser. It is another job that is complete much more quickly with Jack running them through his machine.
The hot but busy summer continues with more brewery and distillery parts along with a few tubes to bend and some small plates to roll. A set of custom couplings are finished today for National Brewery. Eddie made some drawings and Votta and one of the younger smiths, Charlie Owens fabricate the parts to match. A special “Orlando” thread is cut on one end of each coupling. Like most of the parts they make, these are fabricated specifically to match the National Brewery system.
The crew of the Joseph Kavanagh Company remain busy with a mix of jobs but today the focus is on some repairs to a continuous still belonging to A. Smith Bowman Distillery. Boiling plates, a collar and a copper drop bucket have all been made over the last few days. There is cutting, drilling and some annealing and bending on this one as well. The bucket must be rolled from copper sheet. They have been making copper buckets for generations at the Shop. It’s all about using heat and curving copper sheet. It’s old school coppersmith work and easy for the Kavanagh’s. The job will be completed and billed tomorrow. Bowman is becoming another regular customer and Eddie makes note of this. He may have to add the men he deals with there to his Christmas gift list.
On this Saturday night, Jack makes good on his promise and takes his wife to the movies to see “An Affair to Remember” with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. They both enjoy the movie but Betty really loves this one. They hold hands in the dark of the theater as they watch and for a brief time it feels like they are those two young kids, one fresh out of the Navy and the other newly graduated from high school. When the credits appear, they come back to reality and head home to pick up their six little girls still hand in hand as they cruise through the Baltimore streets toward Lakewood Avenue.
Jack drives his father to work on this Thursday and they immediately break into discussion of last night’s ballgame. The Orioles drubbed the Indians 19-6 on the road in Cleveland. Jack really likes this catcher, Gus Triandos, maybe because Jack was a catcher at school when he played ball but he has always felt a certain respect for those behind the plate. Triandos homered twice and hit one of the team’s seven doubles last night. Eddie agrees with Jack that Triandos seems like a keeper and that it was a whale of game. It was exciting from the start when the Birds scored five in the first and never looked back. When they get to the Shop, most of the crew gathers around them both and the same conversation is had but with nine more men. This game is one that is great fun to talk about because in baseball, you don’t score nineteen runs very often.
It’s back to school for the Kavanagh girls. Betty Ann, Nancy, Mary and Jane all return to St. Elizabeth’s school for 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st grades respectively. Jack drives them down the street to the corner of Lakewood and Baltimore where the school is located. He wishes them all a good day as they parade into St. E’s all dressed in their school uniforms. Their father watches them get inside safely then makes the right onto Baltimore Street and heads to the Shop.
A new customer, Thau Manufacturing orders some small stainless steel tubes to be bent. The Climax bender is used for this order. It is a bender that has an arm that rotates around a die. The size of the die determines the radius or the tightness of the bend. By pulling the arm and carefully checking the turret which is marked with each degree of bend, the tube is bent to the proper angle. This machine was originally used for elbows and bends for their distillery work but now they have enough tools to bend for mechanical, ornamental and other applications. Eddie’s idea to have their machinist make more dies is paying off and this leads him to encourage John Benser to make more tools for the new rolling machine that Jack thinks so highly of.
The Baltimore Colts open their season at home by beating the Detroit Lions 34-14. The fans scream and holler with each play. Football has really caught on and the crowds are very loud at each game. The Colts will just miss out on the playoffs by one win this year as they finish with a 7-5 record. They are led by a young quarterback named Johnny Unitas who started about half the games last year, his rookie season. This year he is the team’s #1 quarterback and he leads the league in passing yardage and touchdowns. Unitas’s prowess at quarterback raises the hopes for next year even higher. The Orioles showed a great deal of improvement too. The team wins its last four games to finish the season with a .500 record at 76-76 though that young third basemen, Brook Robinson struggles a bit this year. Overall their youngsters are starting to hit and pitch better and that adds up to more wins. Both Baltimore teams seem to be on the rise and the City is excited for the future.
The Milwaukee Braves defeat the defending champion New York Yankees in seven games to win the World Series. The Braves are led by ace pitcher Lew Burdette, who wins the MVP of the series after notching three complete game victories and young slugger Hank Aaron who bats a lofty .393 in the series and belts three home runs. Eddie still pulls for the Yankees because of his admiration for the great Babe Ruth but Jack is a fan of Milwaukee in this series. He likes the idea of someone different winning the championship and besides New York is an American League rival to the Orioles. Jack can’t wait for Baltimore’s baseball club to get their chance in a World Series. It might be a few years but he knows it will happen.
Jack assists Eddie with another quote. This one for a repair to a bottling tank for Calvert Distillery. The tank needs to be raised higher so a bracing plate will be made and installed under the tank. They discuss how to safely raise the tank and how many man-hours that will take to do. Eddie shows him how he calculates how big of a plate to use and how much margin for error they have. The tolerance is tight on this one because they only have so much room to squeeze this new plate under the tank. Jack comes up with a price and Eddie likes it and the quote is sent to Calvert. In two weeks, the order will be placed.
Jack and Betty drive their six girls to Guilford Avenue to celebrate Thanksgiving with Betty’s family, the Crew’s. Betty’s brothers, Buddy and Bumpsey are there as is Buddy’s wife, Mack, their sons, Barney and Steve. The Kavanagh’s make sure to get there in time for the girls to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC television. The girls sit with their cousins and clap and laugh as the floats and balloons pass across the screen. Betty’s mother Bernardine who is called Nannie by the grandchildren cooks a delicious turkey feast for them all and it’s a great family day. In the late afternoon, they return to Lakewood Avenue and have a second dinner with Jack’s parents, Eddie and Annie who is Mimi to her grandchildren. They eat more turkey with all the trimmings including parsnips, of course. During dinner, the adults discuss the recent health problems of President Eisenhower who had a stroke several days before. Ike is a tough man and all are confident he will be fine. He was a soldier and they feel he will bounce back from this and recover well.
The crew work away on a few different jobs today as the volume of work has stayed strong. A custom “Y” connector is made for Gunther’s Brewery. These connectors are a challenge to make, splitting a tube and soldering two section to it. The reason Eddie knows the Shop gets these parts is the difficulty. He knows his crew is skilled, in fact, he trained most of them and that skill and level of quality precedes the Kavanagh’s and brings them work. Their experience and talent makes these parts easier for them than other metal shops.
The Kavanagh’s throw their annual Christmas Eve Party at 201 S. Central Avenue. After cleaning and decorating, the crowd gathers in the front half of the Shop to eat, drink and celebrate the holiday. A few customers are there but it is mostly family, friends and employees. Both a ham and a turkey were baked by Annie, Eddie’s wife, and sliced for sandwiches. There are pies for dessert, beer on ice and the Kavanagh favorite, rye whiskey. Eddie’s niece Mary and her family are there. Mary and her mother inherited half of the Shop when his brother Leo died several years ago. He misses his brother and partner whom he worked with for so long and he is happy to see Mary, her husband Albert and their small boys Jimmy and Leo. They play in the Shop with his granddaughters. Patsy, Ed Jr.’s daughter and Jack’s girls Betty Ann, Nancy, Mary, Jane and Jackie. Baby JoAnn is being held by her mother while Mimi, her grandmother plays with her and smiles down at the small babe. Eddie sees the family mixing with his customers and workers and he is reminded of Christmas Eve’s years ago in this same room. Family and friends wishing each other well celebrating and singing just as they did when his father ran the place. They do sing a few Christmas songs and there are a few toasts and the party goes well. When the guests leave, Jack gives a couple of workers a ride and Eddie drives Betty and the girls home. As Eddie locks up, he recalls again the parties of the past. He thinks of when his father Joe and his brothers James and Frank owned the place and they brought their families to celebrate. It was a long time ago and his memories have begun to fade. He shakes these thoughts out of his head, drops his cigarette and stomps it out as he climbs into his car and drives down Pratt Street. The Joseph Kavanagh Company has been located at the corner of Pratt and Central for 47 years now.
Dwight Eisenhower is the President of the United States. The first nuclear power plant opens in Pennsylvania. The frisbee, the slinky and the hula hoop go on sale. “American Bandstand” premiers on ABC television. Elvis Presley buys Graceland. “West Side Story” and “The Music Man” premier on Broadway. The films, “The Bridge Over the River Kwai” and “Twelve Angry Men” are released. Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is published. The Asian Flu Pandemic kills over 60,000 Americans. The first American soldier dies in Vietnam. Federal troops are sent to Arkansas to enforce school desegregation laws. Steve Harvey, Spike Lee, Frances McDormand, Patty Smyth, and Donny Osmond are born. Humphrey Bogart and Oliver Hardy die.
There are 48 states in the Union.
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