The year starts fairly well for the Joseph Kavanagh Company. The Shop is busy but not swamped and Jack and Betty are expecting their ninth child this summer. Betty still spends part of her day across the street at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue taking care of her father-in-law, Eddie. She cooks his meals, makes his bed and cleans his house every day. She does all this while tending to her two youngest children who are not old enough for school yet, making sure the older six girls are doing their homework and getting off to school each day and cooking for her family of ten plus Eddie. In the evening, Eddie walks over for dinner and later one of the older girls spends a couple of hours with him, watching TV or listening to music. The girls take turns and are there to keep him company.
The Shop’s crew of eight are spread over three different jobs, a boiler repair for E. J. Codd, a set of pipes for a railing for a City resident and some stainless steel filters for Majestic Distillery. The boiler job requires some copper sheets be annealed and rolled into a copper liner and there a few brass fittings and vales to go with it. The railing is made from 1 1/2” steel pipe that must be curved to an 8 ft. radius in the rolling machine and kept as flat as possible. The flatness is maintained by a helper who supports the long ends of the pipe that are extending out of the machine. As the pipe passes through the roller, the helper must keep it as even as possible and periodically switch ends. The stainless steel filters are made from perforated sheet that is cut to the proper diameter then machined to Majestic’s specifications: a busy January day for the Kavanagh’s and crew.
It’s a bitter cold Monday on Central Avenue and a heating coil is being made, but it’s not for the Shop though the workers would appreciate it. The heating coil is for the J. E. Hurley Company. Hurley is another local boiler company and this coil is part of their repair on a large municipal building’s boiler. 2” Copper Tube is coiled to two different sizes and the two are connected with brass tees. Jack handles the brazing on this job and ruins one of the tees. He got the brass too hot and it melted a little. Not in the sense that ice melts and becomes liquid but rather in the sense that one spot on the tee is too soft now and can not be trusted as a union between the two sections of tube. Brazing is an exacting job and mistakes do happen. Jack makes a note of it on the job card to clarify the extra cost. He’s not happy about it but mistakes happen and at least he managed a few minutes with a torch to warm him up.
The winter is dragging on and the work with it They have jobs to do but not enough to work more than five days. It’s fine with Jack and his crew to have weekends off, but eventually they need those Saturday half-days. It helps Jack to keep jobs moving in and out, it helps with billing, plus the crew like the overtime. Today they still have some idle time and Jack has the Shop’s machinist, John Benser and a helper, Joe Flaxcomb make some steel flanges for stock. These are used in a variety of their jobs. The flanges are cut, then machined to size in a lathe. They are used in heat exchangers, boilers and sometimes even on large distilling and brewing vessels. These are a good things to keep in stock.
This Tuesday is opening day in Baltimore and the Orioles welcome the Chicago White Sox to Memorial Stadium. Nearly 40,000 fans pack the ballpark, but are disappointed as the Birds lose 5-3. Jack Kavanagh is listening on the radio in the small Shop office and he cheers and groans as he works. He takes the loss in stride; to Jack, a day with baseball, even with a loss is better than a day without baseball. We’ll get them tomorrow he thinks.
The spring has brought an uptick in work and the Shop returns to working Saturdays. Today an emergency repair is finished for F & M Schaefer Brewing. The steam coil for their hot water heater in the Brew Room has a leak and a new one must be fabricated and installed. Both Kavanagh brothers work on this one as Ed and Charlie Owens do most of the work but to help finish, Jack jumps on it for five hours.
A job for Goodwill Industries is finished today. It’s another coil but this one is rectangular. Several 90 degree bends must be made in each piece and there are accompanying brass fittings to make. The Shop is staying busy enough that Jack has to spend at least three hours in the Shop most days. His secretary Julie fields calls for him and takes messages. He returns them all and quotes jobs and expedites, fitting in the Shop time. He is anxious about Betty and the baby. She is almost due and he can’t wait to be a father for the ninth time.
Jack is a lot less focused this morning at work because Betty has gone into labor. Her Uncle John who is a cabby has taken her to St. Joseph’s Hospital. The baby could come any minute. Jack is distracted as he speaks to a representative of National brewery on the phone. They are checking on an order for some fittings. He hangs up the receiver and heads into the Shop. Jack needs to take a look at the pieces. The nuts are not quite snug enough so he decides to hit them with the torch. With a little heat, they will expand ever so slightly and that should tighten things up. Jack grabs a striker and taps the tip of the torch to light it. A glance at the clock tells Jack it’s a few minutes past ten; Betty is in the delivery room and she gives birth to an 8 lb. 12 oz. baby boy. Both mother and son seem fine and Betty calls Jack at the Shop to give him the good news. June 17, 1965 is eighty years to the day of the arrival of the first pieces of the Statue of Liberty in America and the Shop’s founder worked on its assembly. This baby is named Joseph Michael Kavanagh after that founder. When he’s brought home to Lakewood Avenue, the baby is passed around among his seven sisters and finally to his older brother Jack Jr. Little Jack asks if he is really his brother and his parents assure him he is and his name is Joe. Jack thinks for a moment, then asks if we can call him GI Joe. Mom, Dad and sisters all break into laughter and tell him yes, we can absolutely call him GI. The nickname sticks and he is GI for years or sometimes simply, G. In the evening while the baby is snoozing in his crib, Jack has the radio on listening as the Orioles beat the Yankees 2-1 in 16 innings. A long game, but Jack listens and watches over this baby who wakes up in time for the final out. He has good timing, Jack thinks.
Jack brings baby Joe over to his father’s house to meet him. Eddie won’t hold the baby. That’s not his style but he’s glad to meet the wee tyke. He’s surprised when Jack tells him they have named him Joseph Michael.
“Joseph Michael Kavanagh? That’s what you are naming him?” Eddie raises an eyebrow as he puffs on his cigar.
“Yes, Pop. We’re naming him after your father Joe, my friend Mike Berkey and, of course, the original Joe. Three men honored in one name.” Jack clarifies for him, as he was anticipating questions about the name.
Eddie takes a long draw and blows it out, filling the room with acrid cigar smoke. “Joseph Michael huh? You sure you want to do that, Jack?”
Jack’s mouth curves into a small smile. “It’s the name I want for him and Betty likes it, too. I wanted to honor my grandfather and yes, the first Joe, too. It’s a name. That’s all. It’s not a big deal.”
“Yes, true ,but you surprise me is all. Why don’t you just call him Michael?” Eddie flicks the ash from his cigar into the ashtray on the table next to him.
“I told you. We wanted to honor your father, Pop. I really wanted a Joe. We could have just called him Joseph Anthony after your father.” Jack’s grin widens as he speaks.
“Same name as my father?” Eddie’s eyes roll a bit in his head and he quickly re-considers. “Joseph Michael is a good name. Yeah, Jack. That’s just fine.”
“I’m sure he’ll be happy with it, Pop. Besides, he looks like a Joe.” Jack answers as he looks down at his small son.
“Well, at least you have someone to give the watch to now.” Eddie shrugs and leaning forward places his hand on the infant’s head gently.
“That I do. I guess Betty will give it to him on his wedding day.” Jack replies and his grin fades for a second as he thinks of his mother doing the same for him.
Eddie sits back holding his cigar in his right hand. “Yes, that will be good. Like Annie did for you. That’s a good idea. She would love it.” He places the cigar between his lips and the room grows silent. Several minutes later, Jack and baby Joe are heading out the door and back across the street to their home.
Joseph Michael is baptized at St. Elizabeth’s Church on the corner of Lakewood and Baltimore. His godparents are Bill Hoffman, a friend of Betty’s family, and Joe’s sister Mary. After so many children, the Kavanagh’s have begun using their own daughters for godparents. The baby is welcomed into the Church and after mass, everyone walks the four blocks home for lunch. The house is even fuller than usual with cousins and friends from the neighborhood. They eat sandwiches and Betty’s potato salad. People wander through the small row home to chat and perhaps find a chair. The ballgame is on the radio and the Orioles are hosting the Washington Senators. Baby Joe is passed from one person to the next as they eat fresh cantaloupe and watermelon and listen to the Birds build a 5-2 lead. Folks begin to leave as it gets past 2 pm. Everyone had a good time but the baby is tired and Betty puts him down for a nap. He keeps waking up to whoops and shouts from Jack and the girls downstairs. The Orioles explode for eight runs in the 8th inning and blow the game open winning 13-2. Betty is happy for the team but wishes they would all shush while Joe is trying to sleep. Jack is sure Little Joe wants to hear the highlights.
Independence Day falls on a Sunday this year and the Kavanagh’s celebrate as they always do. A crab feast is held on the corner of Lakewood and Jefferson. A bushel of crabs is steamed and is served with corn, potato salad and a few other side dishes. Eddie joins Jack and Betty and the kids for this Maryland tradition. Eddie remains his quiet brooding self but he does love crabs. The ballgame is on the radio and the Birds lose a close one, 4-2 to the Cleveland Indians. The room is full of the sound of mallets cracking crabs as the Kavanagh’s devour the crustaceans. Jack wants to give baby Joe his first taste of crab but Betty will have none of that. He’s not ready she chides Jack. Next year, she assures him. You can give him all you want.
A job is completed today for Bethlehem Steel mill. The mill needed some copper pressurized dished heads. These are similar to the heads or tops for stills or even brewing vats. They will be used for maintaining water pressure at the mill. Copper sheet is cut into circles then annealed and curved very slightly to create the “dish” top. A few fittings and connectors must be machined and fabricated as well. The last part is crating and shipping and Jack’s brother Ed takes care of that.
It’s an unseasonably comfortable eighty degree August day in Baltimore. The crew enjoy it as they work on some brewery parts for Schaefer Brewing, a set of copper U-bends for Stambaugh and a repair for Joseph E. Seagrams Distilling Company. A small copper reflux bottle must be made for the old Paul Jones Distillery on Kresson. Street. Seagrams owns it now and a few repairs and changes are needed. All three jobs are completed and Jack brings out another set of job cards for the boys. Tomorrow they will work on a brass bar foot rail and some replacement copper tubes for Gunther’s will be tinned. The beat goes on at the Joseph Kavanagh Company.
The summer is over and the Kavanagh girls return to school. The four oldest girls are in Catholic High with Betty Ann a Senior, Nancy a Junior, Mary a Sophmore and Jane a first year Freshman. Jackie and JoAnn are still at St. Elizabeth’s Elementary School and Ann, Jack Jr. and Baby Joe are at home with Betty. The older girls take the 22 bus to school while Jack drives Jackie and JoAnn to St. E’s every morning. Betty tends to her three youngest including a three month old baby and yet finds time to take Eddie his lunch and tidy up his home. When she crosses the street to Eddie’s house, the kids go with her. Every day is a busy day for Betty but she manages to get it all done and make it look easy. Somehow, dinner is nearly ready just as Jack comes through the back door every day. No matter what time he gets home.
It’s the first game of the season for the Baltimore Colts and they defeat the Minnesota Vikings 35- 16 with Jack, Bumpsy and Shirley Crew in the crowd. Bumpsy is Jack’s wife’s little brother and Shirley is his wife. They attend a couple of games a year together and are big fans. After the win, Jack drives home and his mind is on the game but also the Shop. He has a few jobs going on; a brass railing, a set of copper tubes for a fountain to be rolled and his brother is repairing a pump for Montebello Liquors. All are in process right now and he’s hoping at least two will be finished tomorrow. He’s fairly certain Ed’s job will be and if it’s close, he’ll help with the final soldering. He and his brother work well together. After thinking tomorrow through, he feels better as he drives down Orleans Street and makes the turn onto Lakewood Avenue. Part of his job is to always be thinking of the Shop, its work and how best to schedule it. It’s not like a 9-5 occupation. Owning and running a place like the Shop is a way of life and the hours are open ended. You must always be thinking, anticipating and planning. Hoping for the best and planning for the worst is an axiom that certainly applies to owning such a business. When he reaches his home, he climbs out of his Plymouth Station Wagon and up the marble steps into 447 N. Lakewood hungry and curious what’s for dinner.
The Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the Minnesota Twins in this year’s World Series. The series goes seven games and Sandy Koufax is the star. He wins three games including two shut outs and is awarded the MVP of the Series. It’s a back and forth matchup between the Dodgers and Twins with the home team winning every game until the visiting Los Angeles takes game 7 in Metropolitan Stadium 2-0. Games 3 and 4 were on Saturday and Sunday and Jack he watched both games in their entirety with Eddie. They talked over the strategy and the players as they have for years. Eddie has been a baseball fan since he was a kid and played himself but his enthusiasm for it has waned since his wife’s death, as it has for all other things. Still, it’s a pleasant weekend for father and son and they do enjoy the Series. They wish it was their hometown Orioles who had another good year but once again have to be satisfied with third place despite winning 94 games. The Twins won the pennant going away with 102 wins.
Three headers are made for Federal Aviation today. These headers are plates similar to what they often make for brewers and distillers to seal their tanks. These are a little out of the ordinary as two are made from cupro-nickel and one is made of monel. Cupro-nickel is a challenge to work with as the nickel is very hard. The Shop gets the job because they are coppersmiths and have experience with this material and the monel is a hard alloy of stainless steel. Monel is tough but also something the Joseph Kavanagh Company has worked with before. The plate is cut, the holes are drilled and all the pressurizing valves, fittings and couplings are made and attached.
After dinner on a Thursday evening, Jack sits in his chair watching the Channel 13 news when he hears an announcement that the Orioles have made a trade as the program goes to commercial. The Birds have just finished dealing Jackie Brandt away which his girls are upset about. They are big fans of Brandt and it seems another exchange of players has been completed. Jack assumes the team has picked up a spare outfielder or something like that. He is holding the baby while Betty cleans up after dinner. Ann and Jack are playing on the floor in front of the television while the older girls are upstairs in the two bedrooms they share. When the news comes back from commercial, he sees a picture of Cincinnati Reds outfielder on the TV and he bolts right up. He hops to his feet, baby Joe in hand, and charges the television to turn the volume up. The sports reporter says the Birds have sent Milt Pappas, Jack Baldschun (who was just acquired from the Phillies in the Jackie Brandt trade) and Dick Simpson to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for the former Rookie of the year, NL MVP and perennial All Star outfield Frank Robinson. Jack is flabbergasted.
He looks down to baby Joe in his hands, “We got Frank Robinson.” Baby Joe coos but offers no sign he understands the significance of this. Jack then tells Little Jack and Ann.
“Who’s that?” asks Ann.
“Who is it Dad?” inquires Little Jack.
Jack’s excitement is getting the better of him and he answers, “Frank Robinson is one of the best in the game!” Finally, he realized the kids are not familiar with Robinson’s numbers but he must tell someone.
“BETTY! BETTY!” he calls out and Betty rushes in from the kitchen “What is it Jack?”
“We got Frank Robinson, hon. FRANK ROBINSON!” Jack exclaims a wild gleam in his eye.
“What, we got who? What are you talking about?” Betty asks puzzled.
Jack takes a quick breath, “The Orioles! The Orioles traded for Frank Robinson!”
Betty suppresses an eye roll, “Oh, baseball. Well, I guess that’s good. Is he Brooks’ brother?”
“Huh, Brooks ? No no. He’s no relation but he’s a helluva ball player, Betty. He’s a great player. He can really hit!” Jack swings his free arm while holding Joe in the other.
“That’s good, Jack. That’s great.” she smiles and shakes her head as she returns to the kitchen.
“Imagine Frank batting behind Powell? Boog will hit 30 homers. You can bank on it.” Jack says to the retreating figure of his wife.
“Yeah, yes, real good,” Jack says to himself then thinks of his older girls. He walks to the bottom of the steps and calls up to them, “Girls! GIRLS! The Orioles got Frank Robinson. You hear me!” There are a few muffled replies as Jack thinks of his father and grabs the telephone to call him. He informs Eddie who is excited but not like Jack is. Jack knows that Frank Robinson is a big big bat to add to the Orioles lineup. He thinks he could make the difference for his Orioles.
Later that night after Jack has calmed down but is still radiating a broad inexplicable grin, the whole family gathers around the television to watch a new Christmas special. A cartoon based on the Peanuts comic strip called “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” All seven girls along with three year old Jack Jr. and their parents, Betty holding baby Joe, spread out over the living room furniture and floor to watch. They all enjoy it and love the singing at the end which seems to catch the baby’s interest particularly as his mother rocks him slowly in the old Boston Rocker. When the program is over, the older girls head to their bedroom or the basement, the rest stay to watch “My Three Sons” after taking any better seats that have become available. Betty hands Baby Joe to his father and heads to the kitchen and makes seven lunches, one for her husband and six for her daughters.
Jack grins at his little boy and holds him up then chuckles and says a few silly nonsensical works like “Boozie Gitzie” to make Joe laugh. Jack Jr. and Ann are gathered around their father’s chair to play with him and the baby. He teases and tickles each of them in turn. The other girls are focused on the adventures of the Douglass family on TV. Jack then whispers in Joe’s ear, “Frank Robinson. I can’t believe it. Maybe we’ll win it all this time.”
This Friday is the Shop’s Christmas Party. It is the annual end of the year/holiday bash for the family, customers and employees. This year not one customer comes by though as it is Friday and most are anxious to get back to their own homes. There is ample food and drink for all and a few Christmas Carols are sung. The baby is passed around a bit so everyone can get a chance to hold Joe. The guests discuss the holiday and the year that is finishing and also football. The Colts are playing the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in a playoff game. They finished in a tie for tops of the NFL Western Conference and they must play one more game to decide who goes to the championship game. Unfortunately, the Colts will lose and end their season on a sour note. The party only lasts a couple of hours compared to the old days when it would last well into the night. After Jack drives two slightly inebriated workers home, he and the family head to their house anticipating a special holiday weekend. Jack and Betty are very happy with their brood of nine in the small row house in Highlandtown. They find a way to make all the children happy and let them all have a special Christmas. Jack and Betty have had their last child. They are the parents of nine as were Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh, Jack’s great-grandparents who lived three generations and eighty years ago. Patrick was the original Joseph Michael’s brother. Jack and Betty have seven girls and two boys now. The inverse of Patrick and Katherine who had seven boys and two girls. This baby is the second son of the second son of the second son of the second son of Patrick & Katherine Kavanagh. This last baby, number nine, is me.
Lyndon Johnson is the President of the United States. Martin Luther King leads a civil rights march in Alabama to support voting rights for African-Americans. Malcolm X is assassinated in New York City. The US increases the number of troops in Vietnam to 125,000. The mini-skirt is invented. The films, “The Sound of Music,” “Goldfinger” and “Doctor Zhivago” are released. The play “The Odd Couple” premiers on Broadway starring Walter Matthau and Art Carney. Frank Herbert’s “Dune” is published. The Beatles release the album and the film “Help!” Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Rock, Viola Davis and Brook Shields are born. Stan Laurel, Nat King Cole and T. S. Eliot die.
There are 50 states in the Union.
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