36 year old Jack Kavanagh takes calls in the small office of the Joseph Kavanagh Company and spends part of the day working in the Shop. His father Eddie is still despondent over his wife’s death and he shows up every day at work but is distracted and defers to Jack to take calls. He helps Jack quote prices and does the schedule for each week but is not quite up to talking to customers. He was married to Annie for forty-two years and his grief is deep. Jack does what he can for his father, working more hours and spending what time he can with him at his father’s home at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue. Jack and his family live across the street so he is close and is able to check on him every night. The Shop has a typical start to the year with most of their customers slow but the occasional boiler job or heating coil does roll into the place. They continue to receive more pipe and tube bending jobs. Steiner-Fulton Co. orders some 1 1/2” Aluminum pipes to be annealed and bent for a railing. The customer has the rails in stock and sends them to 201 S. Central so the Shop has no material costs. It’s just a labor job. Jack and two other fellows get the pieces annealed and bent in a few hours.
John F. Kennedy is sworn in as President of the United States and Jack listens on the radio. He’s a great admirer of Kennedy and is excited that this young Irish Catholic man has taken the highest office in the nation. Jack is a loyal Democrat having served in the Maryland House of Delegates and run for City Council in the 1950s. He has high hopes for JFK and believes he will do great things for America.
Jack suggests to his father that they hire a secretary to help in the office as the crew work busily on a cold winter day. Several workers are with Charlie Owens at Montebello Liquors. They are installing two bottling tanks the Shop has re-tinned. February has been busier than usual with some emergency work, one for a boiler and this one for Montebello. Eddie thinks a secretary is unnecessary but Jack needs the help answering the phone and taking messages. Some help with the books would be welcome too. Eddie knows both of these things are true and the only other option is for him to be more involved with both so he agrees. Jack is surprised his father is convinced so quickly. He makes some calls in search of someone with a clerical background to help him.
The Shop hires a young woman named Julie as a full time secretary. She comes highly recommended by a friend of Jack’s and will answer the phone and take care of the office when Jack is out in the Shop. Eddie prefers to quote only the brewery and distillery jobs that come in and record the time and material on past jobs. He’s always been a stickler for records and both he and his son use them for bids. Jack suggests his father work in Eddie’s father Joe’s old office upstairs. Joe would make calls and review old jobs while he was up there. Eddie surprisingly likes the ideas and he starts spending most of his day in the upstairs office of the Shop. It is used primarily to store records and drawings. Eddie begins typing them into job books and noting the cost and time necessary to do each job. He thinks these will make a good reference for future quotes and jobs.
The younger Harvey Stambaugh calls Jack and tells him he’s got some tubes he needs made into U-bends. U-bends are used in heat exchangers and are as described, tubes with a “u” or 180 degree bend in the middle of them. Harvey needs them in a day and he wants to bring them over tomorrow. Jack says they can take care of it, but Harvey needs a price first. He tells Jack he always needs a price before preceding. One of Stambaugh’s estimators, Mr. Newkirk calls with the specifics. Jack quotes him a number and first thing the next morning, Stambaugh’s truck is carrying the tubes from Woodall Street through downtown and to Central Avenue. They jump on this tube job quickly and they are ready for pick up by early in the afternoon. Stambaugh has become a regular customer in the last few years besides Jack really likes Harvey. He’s about 20 years Jack’s senior but his youthful looks make the age difference seem much smaller. Harvey is a jovial and gregarious character and Jack usually gets a laugh from his phone calls.
The Orioles home opener is today and they face off against the new expansion Los Angeles Angels. The Birds get beat by this upstart club 7-2. The game is on the radio in the Shop and the office as Kavanagh’s and crew follow closely. The fans are disappointed but it’s only one game. Last years’ second place finished has increased their hopes for this season. Confidence in the Birds is high this year in Baltimore and that definitely includes the Kavanagh’s.
Jack reads the newspaper story about the Bay of Pigs. An attempted counter-revolution in Cuba that ends in disaster after two days of fighting. Jack shakes his head at this story. It’s a terrible waste of life and worse yet, a complete failure. The Fidel Castro regime in Cuba had nationalized American industries there last year and now they are firmly entrenched and they have even more reason to oppose US interests and influence in the region.
Alan Sheppard becomes the first American in space today. Americans watch and listen as the first of the Mercury astronauts is successfully launched into orbit. This first brief flight into space is only a stepping stone to far greater things.
President Kennedy announces plans to land an American on the moon by the end of the decade. Jack can’t believe it. It was amazing to send a man into space but to land on the moon seems far-fetched. Jack is a big supporter of JFK and if Kennedy says we should do it, Jack is sure we will. It still seems like the stuff of his childhood matinee films and dreams but a trip to the moon will be a reality soon enough.
The work at the Shop has stayed steady as the summer starts. Today a job for Majestic Distillery is finished. A dump strainer is fabricated per Eddie’s quote. Julie received the call and Jack told her to speak to his father. These are the sort of quotes Eddie still enjoys doing. Julie is helpful to both father and son. She keeps thing going along well when Jack is in the Shop and she keeps an eye on Eddie upstairs and gets anything he needs. Eddie still gets a bit of a charge out of a quote that becomes a job but otherwise he focuses on those old jobs. Typing them up and notating whether the Shop made money or not and how that occurred. They will prove useful over the years but part of Eddie’s interest is nostalgic. It’s as if he is reviewing the years of work at the Shop, going over it all in his mind.
Eddie tells Jack he will retire at the end of the year. He will keep recording old jobs but thinks he’ll be finished by December. He tells his son it is his time and he has all of Eddie’s confidence. Eddie feels very old suddenly and he can’t do it anymore. He has worked at the Shop for over fifty years and is sixty-six years old.
“It’s a good thing, Pop. You did your part. You have worked here longer than anyone ever has even the first Joe. You earned a good comfortable retirement.” Jack tells his father.
Eddie pauses at his desk, “I guess. I mean I don’t know what I’ll do, Jack, but there is no point in my working here anymore. I’ll finish recording these old jobs. I think it’s important to have them as a reference point for quoting. After that, I’m gone. I’m tired too. I really am.”
“I know you are. I do and you really have given all you can to the place. Plus, you have set me up to succeed, Pop. I’ll be fine and the Shop too. I’ll take care of everything. You can relax finally. Take it easy at home. Listen and watch ball games. You can finally spend all day playing the piano if you want.” Jack says to encourage his father.
Eddie holds his hands out in front of him with a small frown on his face, “I can play some but I can’t play all day. Not like I used to. My hands aren’t as good, Jack. They get sore and tired but, yes, I’ll play.” his frown turning to a small smile. “Any night you come over, we can play together too. That’s always fun, Jack. It will be okay. I’ll find other stuff to keep me busy too.”
Jack’s brow furrows a bit at the thought his father can’t play as well anymore and the sight of his aged hands then he answers resolutely, “Sounds good to me. I love playing and we can do that. You can do whatever you want. Like I said, you earned it.”
“Maybe but what’s for sure is, you don’t need me anymore.” his eyes rise and scan the small office, “the Shop doesn’t need me anymore. It’s time I got out of the way and got out of here. It’s your time, Jack”
“You’re not in the way, Pop. You’re not but I am ready for this. I am” Jack assures his father.
“I know it, kid. I know it.” Eddie smiles broader then heads up the steps to the second floor office. Jack sits in silence as Julie records the hours from the prior day sitting at her desk across the room. She was not listening in to their conversation but certainly heard it. She is working out well. Julie helps Jack with payroll, the books and answering the phone. Jack is sure he’s ready but he worries about Eddie. Despite their chat, he knows it will be tough for Eddie to not work and if he’s limited on the piano now, that will hurt. They both love the piano and Jack can’t imagine not being able to play. His biggest worry is that Eddie will be lonely and restless without the Shop. If you work somewhere for over fifty years, it is all you know. Factor in, it is your company and it’s that much harder to walk away. Jack is concerned for Eddie but hopes he can adjust.
Jack, Betty and their girls attend an Orioles afternoon game on this Sunday. The family sees a great game as the Orioles defeat the Kansas City Athletics, 8-0. Pitcher Steve Barber throws a four hit shut out while the offense put up three runs in the first two innings, leading throughout the ball game. There are no home runs hit but both Jackie Brandt and Whitey Herzog triple while Brooks Robinson, Jerry Adair and Jim Gentile all hit doubles. The team is off to its best start ever and the excitement and hopes for a successful season continue. The Kavanagh girls have a blast as they eat fried chicken and drink iced tea made by Betty. They rarely buy food at the game. With so many children, it’s just too expensive but they always bring food from home. The kids love going to Memorial Stadium as their father does. Betty is becoming a big fan too. The Kavanagh’s go to at least a couple of games every month as this connection and allegiance to the Birds grows.
Another order for Majestic Distillery is completed. This is also from Eddie’s quotation. A set of boiler plates are drilled and cut to size. This is their old school distillery work and they knock the plates out fairly quickly. The diameter of each plate is most critical. They must fit snugly into a tank that is pressurized. It must be sealed very tightly but it’s not an issue for Kavanagh’s and crew. The plates are fabricated and installed at Majestic in quick order.
Eddie and Jack stand in the Shop surrounded by the crew at 9 am. The usual morning break is full of chat bout the Orioles. They are in hot pursuit of the Yankees and have won five in a row. The breaks are usually times to talk and relax for a few minute but they are rarely this loud and boisterous. The team is on a roll. After a few minutes, Eddie is quick to get the boys back at it. That’s Jack’s job these days but old habits die hard. A set of 2 1/2” pipes are bent for Washington Aluminum Co. The roller is used and the radius is achieved easily. The pipes match very close to each other and this job will be wrapped up by the end of the day. As father and son eat their lunch, they discuss the two Yankee sluggers who are chasing Babe Ruth’s single season home run record of 60. Eddie was a huge fan of the Babe’s during his playing years. Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris are both making a run at this record that seemed unbreakable. The American League season has been increased from 154 games to 162 and those extra eight games will help their cause. In addition, the AL added two expansion teams this year. Teams that are certain to perform poorly and this may add to the M & M boys’ home run totals too.
“Both Mantle and Maris got a shot at Ruth’s record, Pop.” Jack says as he balls up his napkin and tosses it in the trash.
Eddie snorts, “Neither of these guys can compare to Ruth. I don’t see them hitting 60 homers, Jack. 60? Come on. They have 8 more games to do it with and they still won’t make it.”
“Maris has 49 already, Eddie. He’s close and Mantle is right behind him. Mantle is the better hitter in my opinion. He’s just been injured a lot but he can knock the heck out of the ball. I think they both got a legitimate shot.” Jack replies in a matter of fact way.
“Even at 49, he’s got 11 home runs to get. Late in the season with games counting so much, he’ll face the toughest pitchers. They will pitch around him. It’s not gonna happen, kid.” Eddie answers with the same assurance in his voice as he places a match to the end of his cigarette.
Jack waves off the cloud of smoke, “You just don’t know, Eddie. These guys can hit and they CAN’T pitch around Maris because of Mantle. I think that’s helped him some already. I’m not saying the Babe’s record will be broken. I’m saying it’s possible.”
“No matter what. These two can’t compare to Ruth. Ruth was a slugger. The greatest slugger of all time. Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris. They are good hitters and players, Jack but they ain’t the Babe.” Eddie answers emphatically punctuating his statement by breathing out a large puff of smoke.
Jack leans back away from it, “I hope you’re right for the Orioles sake. We’re playing great but still nine games back. If either or both get close to 60 or pass it, the Birds are in trouble”
“No matter how many homers those two get, the Birds are already in trouble. We’re playing as good as we can but the Yanks look unstoppable this year, kid.” Eddie flicks his ash as his son nods.
“Yeah Eddie, it sure looks like its New York’s year…. Again.” Jack stands up from his desk quickly, “I better get out there and get them started.” he heads out the Shop door and checks on the crew.
Jack and his buddy Urb Rosemary drive out to Memorial Stadium to watch the first Colts game of the season. Baltimore defeats the LA Rams 27-24 and the two friends join in with the wild crowd of fans. The Colts are cheered on loudly and enthusiastically on every play. The team will have a pretty good year finishing 8-6 in their division. Unfortunately, that’s only good enough for a tie of third place and they miss the postseason for the second straight year.
Roger Maris hits his 61st home run today on the last day of the season breaking Ruth’s record. Mickey Mantle falls short partly due to a hip injury at the end of the season but still hits an impressive 54 home runs. Roger Maris’ 61 in ‘61 is an astonishing accomplishment. Eddie and Jack can’t believe it though Eddie still says he’s no Ruth. If they thought Ruth’s 60 would never be broken, they feel even more so about Maris’ 61. The Orioles are in the race for the pennant all season and win 95 games but that’s still not enough. They finish in third behind the Tigers with 103 wins and the Yankees who take the American League pennant with a whopping 109 victories.
The New York Yankees win four out of five to take the World Series over the Cincinnati Reds. The Yanks feature AL MVP Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle and the rest of their vaunted office. The Reds are led by NL MVP Frank Robinson and Wally Post. New York dominates the Series on both sides of the game. Their pitching was anchored by Whitey Ford who wins the MVP of the Series. Ford wins two games and throws fourteen innings of shutout ball. This combined with his past World Series starts breaks Babe Ruth’s record for scoreless innings in the Series. That’s two of Ruth’s records that fall this year. New York also out played the Reds on offense scoring 27 runs to Cincinnati’s 13. It’s a lopsided championship and ends with New York winning its 19th World Series in 39 years. The Kavanagh’s are big fans and watch the series closely. They are pulling for the Reds but there is no stopping the Yanks this year.
Universal Machine Company is installing some equipment at the Maryland Cup company. Both are customers of the Shop and they need a quick bent tube fabricated. A 3”OD thin wall steel tube needs to be filled and rolled. Jack and two helpers, Schaech and Lipscomb tackle this job. His helpers have filled the tube the day prior and now Jack rolls it to the necessary radius and degree. Shaech and Lipscomb melt it out under Jack’s supervision and after some adjustments and some cleaning, it is ready to be delivered.
The Shop on Central Avenue finishes a nice order for Structure Components today. Thirty-two aluminum pipes are annealed and bent. The tolerance is tight on these but the finished pieces are spot on the dimensions. It’s a nice bit of work that helps to make a good end to the year. The precision is something you can always charge more for but you have to be able to hold that tolerance consistently throughout the entire piece. All of these turn out very well and the customer is very happy.
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Eddie, Jack, Betty and their girls visit Aunt Anna(Sister Mary Agnes) at the Visitation Convent on Roland Park Avenue. She is very happy to spend some time with her family. They catch up on her teaching duties and discuss the holidays. She loves hearing from the girls about what they want for Christmas. Eddie tells his sister Anna he is retiring from the Shop. She is surprised but seems pleased. She tells her brother it’s a good idea. He needs to rest and enjoy some time away from the Shop. It’s a very pleasant visit and afterward they pile into the station wagon and drive back to Lakewood Avenue.
On this Saturday, the Shop’s Christmas Party is held and it is a quieter affair this year and a little shorter. After a morning of work, the place is cleaned and decorated including a tree. Jack runs out in the morning to get one then picks his family up for the party. Eddie comes along and he shakes hands with the employees and a few customers who stop by. This is the end for him and his friends and business associates wish him well. There is food and drink and the guest mingle and chat together. A few Christmas songs are sung but not like in the past when the old building would be filled with music. Jack drives a few members of his crew home afterward then returns quickly to the Shop because Jack and Betty are spending all day tomorrow celebrating with Betty’s family. Her mother Bernardine or Nanny as the girls call her has moved in with her son Bumpsey and his wife Shirley. They live on Bucknell Road and are hosting their first big holiday party. The girls are thrilled at the thought of Christmas Eve with Nanny. Everyone has a great time at Bucknell Road and when they get home, Jack walks across the street to see how Eddie is. He is okay and promises to spend as much of Christmas Day with the family as he can. The next day is festive on Lakewood Avenue as the girls find presents under the tree and enjoy a turkey feast with all the trimmings including parsnips, a Kavanagh staple. Eddie is there and he loves seeing the girls so excited but he wearies quickly. After a couple of hours, he walks home to take a nap. Jack checks on him later and he is fine but still seems a little lost. Without Annie and without the Shop, Eddie finds very little to do with his time. He misses the Shop but he can’t work there anymore. He’s too old and has done his part. He has worked there since he was a teenager and it really was all he knew. He settles into a life of playing a little piano, watching TV, smoking cigars and chewing Doublemint gum. The gum is his favorite and there is a pack on every flat surface in his house along with an ashtray. The Doublemint reminds him of Annie. She worked at a candy store where he first tried it and then asked her on a date the same day. He loves this gum and, in fact, 434 N. Lakewood always smelled of cigars and Doublemint Gum even after his death years later.
John F. Kennedy is the President of the United States. He sends 14,000 military advisers to Vietnam then 400 troops with helicopters. The Vietnam War has begun. Construction of the Berlin Wall begins. Bomb shelters become popular. The Freedom Riders begin their rides in the South. The Peace Corps is founded. The 23rd Amendment is ratified granting citizens of Washington D.C. the right to vote in national elections. The electric toothbrush and the disposable diaper are invented. The films “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, “West Side Story” and “The Hustler” are released. Eddie Murphy, Barack Obama, Melissa Etheridge, Wynton Marsalis and Henry Rollins are born. Ernest Hemingway dies.
There are 50 states in the Union.
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