A new year begins at the Joseph Kavanagh Company with the Shop fairly busy. Jack and his crew of eight men bend and roll metal and make replacement parts and do repairs for breweries and distilleries in Maryland and the surrounding area. Jack lives with his wife Betty on Lakewood Avenue with their nine children. Two are home from college for the holidays, Betty Ann who is studying in DC at Catholic University and Nancy who is attending Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. The other five girls are in school, Mary and Jane at Catholic High and Jackie, JoAnn and Ann at St. Elizabeth’s Elementary School. Their mother Betty is at home with the two youngest, sons Jack Jr. and Joe and she also takes care of her father-in-law Eddie who lives across the street. Eddie is 74 years old and has emphysema and needs a lot of help. Betty cleans and cooks for him and one of the girls spends a couple of hours with him every night keeping him company. It’s a busy life and a busy house at the corner of Lakewood and Jefferson.
The Shop’s crew are spread over three jobs on this chilly winter day. A set of steel tubes are being curved into rings, some boiler parts are made and an order is completed for Bethlehem Steel. The steel mill needed eight copper pressure heads which were made from copper sheet that was purchased from the Brass & Copper Company, one of the Kavanagh’s primary vendors. The pressure heads are similar to those used on distilling equipment and are parts the Kavanagh’s have been making for years. Bethlehem will use the heads to control water tank pressure at the mill.
Tonight on the evening news, Walter Cronkite delivers a report on the war in Vietnam and his personal assessment of it. He believes it is a stalemate. Jack Kavanagh is watching at home and is beginning to agree. He is a veteran and a patriotic man. He has watched the news and supported the Vietnam War effort led by President Johnson. There has been much talk of the war going well and body count numbers favoring the US 10 or 12-1 but there seems to be no real progress and no end in sight. When respected newsman Cronkite infers this conflict may be unwinnable, he persuades a few people who are weary of the war and its ongoing casualties. Jack has had discussions with his older daughters whose friends are being drafted about the validity and necessity of this war and their arguments are sound. Jack sees less and less reason to continue this fight and loss of life.
Bobby Kennedy enters the Democratic Presidential Race. Kennedy is a strong advocate for civil rights and wishes to continue the legacy of his brother John F. Kennedy. Jack and his family are supporters. He respects Kennedy and hopes he can secure the nomination as the incumbent Johnson may be tough to beat.
The work has slowed a little as Spring has arrived. This happens sometimes. A busier winter can lead to a quieter spring. Jack has the men working on some stock parts. He has John Benser, his machinist, making a few steel flanges. They use these as sealing headers for a variety of tanks for distilling, brewing and boilers. Jack isn’t worried about the work. It will pick up certainly. This is the time to take advantage of the chance to make stock parts and clean and organize the Shop.
President Johnson announces on national television that he will not seek re-election. Jack hopes this bodes well for Bobby Kennedy’s campaign. He sees the protests and believes this country needs a way to come together and heal. Getting out of the war in Southeast Asia would be a good start and Kennedy plans to do that.
Dr. Martin Luther King is in Memphis, Tennessee on this Thursday in support of striking black sanitation workers. In the evening, he is standing on a second floor balcony at the Lorraine Motel where he is staying and a rifle shot rings out. Dr. King is struck in the face and goes down. The bullet breaks his cheek and turns down, severing the jugular vein. The renowned clergyman and civil rights leader is rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Memphis where he dies an hour later. A known criminal and white supremacist James Earl Ray is spotted at the scene and his fingerprints are found on the murder weapon. A nationwide search for Ray begins. The news of Dr. King’s assassination quickly spreads over radio and television. Another young leader shot down in the prime of his life. Another young man who brought hope to so many, and that hope is silenced in a flash. Shock gives way to grief then anger and soon rage.
Riots break out in major cities including Baltimore and DC. The collective rage and frustration in urban communities erupts in violence. Jack listens to the radio at the Shop and begins to worry about his crew getting home safely. He closes the place for the day in the late morning and sends his men on their way. It’s a Friday anyway and the end of the week. He drives away from the Shop very aware of the rioting and looting going on in parts of the City and he keeps the radio on during the short ride to Lakewood Avenue. In DC, the city is burning as the rioting spreads. Betty Ann Kavanagh shares an off campus apartment with several other students from Catholic University. She tries to no avail to make a phone call to her parents to tell them she is okay. There is only one telephone for all the students and she can not get a long distance line. She has a friend who is a student in the seminary, Handy Brandenburg, call Jack and Betty to assure them she is fine. Betty Ann’s parents do not know Handy Brandenburg but daughters Mary and Jane met him at a St. Patrick’s Day party thrown by their older sister. Mary particularly remembers Handy fondly and Jack and Betty do appreciate him calling them. Betty and her fellow students’ apartment is close enough to see the fires burning. A fraternity is sent to the apartment building to guard the predominantly female student residents. DC is in chaos with the looting, fires and destruction only getting worse. A molotov cocktail is thrown against their building but it causes no damage. It is a night of not-sleeping and coffee drinking for Betty and her friends.
As the unrest continues at colleges and in cities across the nation, campuses cancel classes. They will close a few days early for the scheduled Spring break. Nancy and Betty Ann must both come home. Nancy is flying home from Duquesne and Jack is picking up Betty Ann at Catholic University. Betty has a few friends who can’t get home including her roommate Michaeleen O’Neill. The airport is closed and they are more or less stranded. Mom says bring them with you. So Jack in the Plymouth station wagon drives Betty Ann and seven friends from DC to Baltimore. A very large amount of spaghetti is made and Betty gives thought to the sleeping arrangements. Jack Jr. and Joe will sleep on the first floor with the college boys and all the girls will be upstairs spread over two bedrooms. The bathroom will be complicated but no more than any family party. Jack has thought for sometime he should put in a basement bathroom. He thinks that again.
When the sun begins to sneak through the blinds of the windows on the Jefferson Street side of the Kavanagh house, Jack Jr. and Joe begin to wake. Betty is up already seeming to have not slept at all, but that was often the case. She is filling bowls with Cheerios and passing them out to Little Jack, Joe and the young college men. They each get their cereal and milk while Joe prefers his cereal dry and has a cup of orange juice. Joe is allowed to eat and drink sitting on the floor which he normally cannot do. The girls begin working their way down as the television is turned on and Joe puts the channel on Bugs Bunny, one of his personal favorites. The room quickly fills with people, yawning, stretching, eating cereal or toast and watching cartoons. The not quite three year old Joe thinks these grown-ups are all right. They like Cheerios and cartoons just like he does. Later in the morning, one of the young men, Bill Cox, picks up Nancy at the airport and Jack and Betty are relieved. All their kids are home safe and sound along with these few guests. There are eighteen people living at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue now. To get a brief respite from the crowd, Jack walks with his boys, Jack Jr. and Joe to Ellwood Park to show them the National Guard camp. The boys marvel at the soldiers and the tanks looking at it from a boy’s view. It was real life army men camped so close to home, the seriousness of what was happening escaping the youths. The City is under Marshall Law with a curfew. The Kavanagh’s and their seven guests must stay indoors in the evenings. Much of the night is spent watching cities aflame across the US on TV. After days of protests, riots and violence, there are many calls for peace and calm. The fires begin to die down and the reality has set in for the nation.
Jack re-opens the Shop at Pratt and Central and they get back to work but not quite work as usual. On Lakewood Avenue, Betty needs to get all these young people out of the house so she takes them onto the sidewalk and teaches them Hopscotch. She has a mob of college kids and her daughters all along the Jefferson Street side of their house flipping heels and playing along. They jump rope out there as well after a disastrous attempt at it inside which prompted Betty to think the floor was going to fall in. It was as if the house needed a break. The place was always full with nine kids but with extended stay guests it is packed. In the evenings between watching the news, they play board games and jacks with the younger kids. The second dining room table and the card/kids table is placed next to the dining room table for each meal. These are reserved for holidays though when all nine kids are home, they do use the kids table. With Eddie eating with them, it is nineteen for dinner and the largest ham that Betty could find barely feeds them all. Eddie is more than dubious of these college kids his son and daughter-in-law have taken in but as he was silent and somber most of the time, it had little noticeable effect on his demeanor. Betty, a mother of nine, knows a lot about stretching a dollar and food but this group is testing her skills. She goes through bags of potatoes every other day and is stocking up green beans frantically. Two boxes of Cheerios and Frosted Flakes are consumed each day along with two gallons of milk. Betty and several of the older daughters make daily trips to the market and emergency trips across the street to Coby’s corner store are common.
It’s Opening Day for the Orioles on this Wednesday. Baltimore is still reeling from the rioting and chaos of the last few days and baseball seems less important. Still the start of the baseball season brings a small sense of normalcy to the city and the country. Jack takes his girls, Mary, Jane Jackie, JoAnn and Ann to the ballgame. Betty and the boys stay home this year with Betty’s friends who are finally making plans to return to their homes now that the airport is open. Jack and his daughters see a close game. The Birds prevail 3-1 and the crowd loves it. Winning the home opener is always special for fans. For at least one day, you are in first pace. Baltimore’s favorite player Brooks Robinson hits one out and the lone Oakland run is also scored on a homer. This one is hit by a young outfielder named Reggie Jackson.
The last of Betty’s friends catch their planes and head to their homes. Things suddenly go back to normal at Lakewood Avenue or some semblance of normal. The house seems strangely empty with just the Kavanagh family of eleven living there. Betty Ann’s friend Handy visits Lakewood Avenue a few times over the rest of the year as he and Betty Ann’s younger sister Mary begin dating.
A group of Roman Catholic protesters who will eventually be called the Catonsville Nine, enter the Catonsville MD Selective Service office and steal draft cards to protest the Vietnam War. One clerk is restrained while 378 draft cards are removed. They are burned in the parking lot using home made napalm. The Nine recite the Lord’s Prayer while the cards burn and they are arrested immediately when police arrive. Both local and national news cover the story extensively and it is the talk of Maryland. The group included several former and current clergy members and their actions inspire other similar protests across the nation.
Bobby Kennedy is shot at the Ambassador Hotel after winning the California Primary. He is shot three times, twice in the back and once in the head. Several others are wounded as well and a Jordanian national named Serhan Serhan is arrested on site. Kennedy is rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital and as the news spreads, the country prays for him and that certainly includes the Kavanagh’s.
Bobby Kennedy dies from his wounds and America is filled with grief again as another leader is struck down. After Dr. King’s death and now Kennedy’s, the nation begins to wonder where will it all end. The Kavanagh family is stunned as they were fast becoming strong supporters of Kennedy. Jack had been a great admirer of his older brother and Bobby was looked on in a similar light. Once again, the Kavanagh’s and most Americans gather around their television and watch as they mourn. Two murders of prominent young men who advocated for civil rights and for peace shock this country and a mix of deep sadness, anger and fear spread across the US. The days that follow bring doubt and uncertainty about the country’s future to Americans from coast to coast. As happened several months ago and in 1963, America buries a young leader and prays this never happens again and that the country can come together and heal.
James Earl Ray is arrested in London at Heathrow Airport. He will be returned to the US to stand trial.
The summer has been busy at the Shop and they are working six days a week including half-days on Saturday. Jack’s crew has a mix of tubes to bend and a few repairs and parts to make for Schaefer Brewery. Today a custom brass bracket is made for a syrup line on the kettle floor of the brewery. This is only one part in a mix of items they have been contracted to make over the next two months for Schaefer. The brewers are good customers and Jack makes sure to keep ahead of the repairs they need and keep them happy.
The Orioles have decided to make a change at manager. With the team scuffling a bit and hovering around a .500 record, Hank Bauer is fired and replaced by his first base coach, Earl Weaver. Weaver is a career minor league ballplayer but has had some success as a manager in the farm system. He wins his first game as Orioles manager. 2-0. Dave McNally pitches a complete game shutout and makes it easy for Weaver who with this victory begins an extended period of success as leader of the Baltimore Orioles.
A long job is finished today for the Jewett Corporation. They need some thin wall 2 1/4” dia. Aluminum Tubes bent to 90 degrees on a 36” Rad. They also require some short couplings for these tubes. Jewett furnishes all the material so it is a labor only job. The tubes must be annealed then filled with rosin before rolling. Afterward, they must be hung up with chains and the rosin is slowly melted out with torches. It’s a long dirty job and a hot one especially in July but they make money on it and it’s the sort of tube bending work they specialize in.
The Shop completes a coil for Allied Chemical Co. Allied produces industrial chemicals but some distilling is required. The coil is made from 1 1/2” Schedule 10 Stainless Steel Pipes. As far as pipe sizes go, Schedule 40 is standard and lower schedules are thinner so extra care must be taken when bending it. The pipes don’t require filling but still must be rolled very slowly to maintain the roundness. Jack makes a layout for the coil for the crew to match. The coil is of the serpentine variety with several 180 degree bends in each piece. The pipes are bent on the Pines Bender and they turn out great. Joe Flaxcomb does the bending and they fit perfectly on Jack’s layout.
Jack has decided to close for two days and give the crew off with pay for a summer vacation. His father thinks it is crazy but Jack reminds him that Eddie himself was the first one to take a paid vacation at the Shop. Jack wants the same for himself and can’t close the Shop and leave his men hanging. He would rather pay them and let them have a long summer weekend. Jack and Betty have made plans to spend these days at the beach in Ocean City. The decision to close even for a few days makes Jack and his workers very busy before this break. Today two coils are finished for Tower Mechanical company. Jack does the bulk of the work on this one. He is doing all he can to get as much finished as possible so he doesn’t worry too much while he’s at the beach.
On this Thursday, Jack and Betty pack the station wagon with luggage, coolers, food and the youngest seven of their nine kids; daughters Betty Ann and Nancy are preparing to return to college. They leave at 5 AM and head East driving across the Bay Bridge to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. A couple of hours later they are unpacking and moving in to the Beachcomber. It’s a small house they have rented with two floors, a kitchen and bath. It’s very basic but perfect for the Kavanagh’s and the kids love it. They are close to the beach and spend part of each day in the sand and water. There will be fishing and crabbing and the boardwalk with amusements and arcades to visit. They will stay for four days and it is the longest vacation they have ever had. Jack has visited OC since he was a boy and his love of the town has spread to his wife and now his children. They leave Monday morning and Jack will stop at the Shop when they get to Baltimore. The crew will be back at work after a long weekend and Jack will check over what’s going on before taking his wife and kids home. The family has so much fun that he and Betty decide to do this every year. They will find a way to do it. The sounds of the surf, the smell of the sea and the feel of sand becomes a major part of what summer is all about to the family.
The Democratic National Convention is held in Chicago and it becomes a mess quickly. Anti-War demonstrators protest outside and clash with police. Mayhem breaks out with arrests and injuries. Jack is a Democrat and is keenly interested in the choice they make but is also shocked at the events going on outside the convention. The party nominates Hubert Humphrey as their presidential candidate.
Jack and his in-laws Bumpsy and Shirley Crew attend the Baltimore Colts opening game. The Colts face the San Francisco 49ers and win 27-10. It’s a great start to what will be another great season for the club though they will have to do it without star quarterback Johnny Unitas who was injured in preseason. Backup quarterback Earl Morrall will lead the team to an amazing 13-1 record for the regular season.
A perforated copper basket is made by Jack today at the Shop on Central Avenue. He handles this job himself as the rest of the crew are busy with more brewery parts for Schaefer and a large railing is being fabricated from brass tube. This basket is definitely old school coppersmith work. It reminds Jack of his days of working for his father when the vast bulk of their work was items like this made from copper. Usually they were for the many distilleries they had as customers in those days. They still do that work but some of the customers are out of business or have moved west. They still have Majestic, Calvert, Bowman and a couple other distilleries as customers. On this job, the Charles T. King Company is making a few structural repairs to Calvert’s building and they need this basket to finish the project.
Jack and Betty watch a new magazine type news program on Sunday night. It’s called 60 Minutes and is aired on CBS. A group of stories of contemporary relevant events are presented along with interviews with the associated persons. They enjoy the show and become regular viewers as do much of America.
Majestic Distillery has an order at 201 S. Central for two stainless steel filters. The filters are cut from 3” Dia. Tube and fabricated for the bottling house at the distillery. They are cut nine inches long and mesh sheet and bar is welded inside to complete the filters. The Shop still has work but the cool weather has brought a down tick in the volume so Jack has returned them to a five day schedule.
The Catonsville Nine are convicted of destroying government property. The trial is in Baltimore and there are large crowds protesting outside the courthouse on Calvert Street. It is a big story on the local news and the judge and prosecutor do their best to focus on the specific charges and avoid the underlying position of protesting the Vietnam War. They are sentenced to a combined total of about 18 years in prison.
The Detroit Tigers beat the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games to win the World Series. The Tigers are runaway winners in the American League though the Orioles did play better under Manager Weaver, the Birds were a distant second. The Tigers are led by ace pitcher Denny McLain who wins 31 games becoming the first man to eclipse 30 victories in a season since 1934. He will also be the last to do so. The Cardinals’ top player is also a pitcher, Bob Gibson who sets a modern E. R. A. record of 1.12 this season. Both of these hurlers will go on to win both the MVP and the Cy Young Award for their respective leagues. St. Louis stakes themselves to a 3-1 lead in the series but Detroit storms back and wins the next three to secure the championship. Jack and his father Eddie watch games 3 and 4 together on Saturday and Sunday. It has always been their tradition to watch a couple of World Series games at Eddie’s house. They enjoy this match up and it’s an exciting one from start to finish. While they are watching the games, Jack brings up the decision of Major League Baseball to split each league into divisions starting next year.
“Pop? What do you think about the leagues splitting into two divisions next year. There will be a round of playoff before the Series from now on.” Jack inquires of his father.
“I don’t like it, Jack. It waters down the season to me. They play 162 games now. That should be more than enough to decide who’s best.” Eddie answers as his gaze remains fixed on the television.
Jack nods his head. “I can see that but with the leagues expanding again and getting bigger, it gets tougher and tougher to get that top spot. There will be twelve teams in each league next year. I’m not sure this playoff thing is a good idea but it will add more baseball to be watched.”
Eddie sits back and puffs on his cigar. “True. That will be fun to watch but what if the fourth or fifth best team wins one division and then the Word Series. You want a team that bad to win the championship? It seems a little crazy to me.”
“Yeah, but that probably won’t happen too often. We’ve seen years where due to injuries and even bad luck the best teams don’t make it to the Series. I bet most years it will be the best that make it to the playoffs. They still have to win their division.”
Eddie shrugs and flicks his ash into the ashtray on the table next to him. “You might be right. I still think it’s a bad idea but it will add more games to watch.” He looks over at his son. “We’ll have to watch some of these playoff games on TV each year.”
“We will, Pop. For sure. It’ll be fun.” He smiles briefly then adds, “I wish you would stop smoking Pop. It’s not good for you and it only makes it tougher for you to breathe.”
“It’s a cigar. It’s way better than a cigarette. I’ll be alright besides I enjoy a cigar still, Jack. I can’t help what I like.” Eddie answers, his attention back on the game.
“Okay okay.” Jack answers quietly. “Think about cutting down anyway. It’s what the doctor wants.”
“I know. I know.” Eddie points his stogie at Jack as he speaks. “I’ll try.” The room goes silent and they return to watching the television, hanging on every pitch and hit.
Republican and former Vice-President Richard Nixon defeats Democrat Hubert Humphrey and Independent Party candidate George C. Wallace to win the presidency. The Kavanagh’s voted for Humphrey because they were life long Democrats and Jack is still an active member of the party. He served in the House of Delegates in the 50s and was supported and aided by his party. Still, he hopes that President Nixon can find a way to unite the country.
Another order is completed for Schaefer Brewery today as a dozen bronze sleeves are made for them. Much of this job is done by John Benser. He takes some smooth cuts on the lathe and converts the 2” bearing bronze into the sleeves they need. The bronze must be machined precisely to ensure a very tight sealing fit for these pieces. The rest of the crew are focused on a large fountain sprayer tube. The copper tube is annealed and rolled into a circle. This time the customer will drill the holes so it is merely a rolling job but still precision is important and maintaining the roundness of the tube is also critical.
The Colts host the Western Conference Championship game at Memorial Stadium. They play against the Minnesota Vikings and win 24-14. The crowd and Baltimore in general is mad crazy for the team. Even led by back up Earl Morrall, they continue to win and will take the NFL Championship next Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, routing them 34-0. The Baltimore Colts will represent the NFL in the Super Bowl in January when they face the New York Jets, champions of the AFL who are led by a young quarterback named Joe Namath.
The kids wake bright and early on Christmas Day at Lakewood Avenue. Wiping sleep from their eyes, they head down the stairs and are not allowed to look to the left over the banister and into the front room. That is where the Christmas Tree is and the gifts are. They sneak a quick peak then look right and see stockings are stuffed and there are eleven spread over and down the staircase. He made it. Santa Claus came. The kids are allowed to pull their stockings down and quickly examine the contents. There are small toys, super balls and candy. It’s a small teaser of the presents to come but a very exciting time for the little ones. Once everyone is dressed and ready, the family heads out the back door and Jack drives them all to St. Elizabeth’s Church for Christmas mass. The Church is always decorated for the holiday with several large trees and wreaths and garland adorning the walls. After the service, they return home and eat a quick breakfast then the three youngest, Ann, Jack and Joe sit with their father and watch “The March of the Wooden Soldiers,” a holiday classic starring Laurel and Hardy. Once the last of the guests arrive, Betty’s Aunt Elsie and Uncle Frank and Eddie of course, the dinner is served. A thirty pound turkey is made and eaten along with gravy, potatoes, stuffing and vegetables including the Kavanagh staple, parsnips. Finally, the kids are on the verge of bursting and all head into the front room and it is time for presents. The room is dominated by a large Christmas Tree but it is surrounded by piles and mounds of wrapped presents of every size and shape. There are gifts everywhere. Under the tree, behind the tree and on every flat surface available including much of the floor. As they are handed out, wrappers are torn and shredded, ribbons are tossed about and the mad glee of a child’s Christmas fills the room. It is a chaos of a much different variety than the chaos that has hit Baltimore and the country this year. It’s a joyful elation not the anger and frustration fueled chaos that dominated 1968. Two great men have been murdered, two young men in whom many had placed their faith and hope for the future. Their ideas were of peace and justice. Their deaths represented the end of those ideas to many. Americans grieved and cried then screamed and fought, desperate to find some justice for them and for their ideas. The nation is torn in pieces with the job of bringing it all together falling to the new president. It is a tall order. For this day though, Jack and Betty watch their kids celebrate the holiday and watch their eyes widen when they find some treasure they wanted. From their two college girls all the way down to little Joe, each child has a good Christmas. They seem to get exactly what they wanted even if that’s not exactly what happened. Jack and Betty sit together and watch for a few minutes taking it all in. Then, Betty hops up. She has another turkey in the oven. A smaller one that they use for turkey sandwiches. Everyone needs leftovers during the holidays but there are so many Kavanagh’s, they need to make extra food or there will be no leftovers. For the Kavanagh’s and America, a tough year ends next week and a new one will begin full of concern for the nation and uncertainty.
Lyndon Johnson is the President of the United Sates but will gave way to Richard Nixon who wins the General Election. The Vietnam Way gets worse and worse with more and more protests against it and no end in sight. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 is passed. 911 service begins. Madison Square Garden opens. The Intel Corporation is founded. Hair premiers on Broadway. The films “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Planet of the Apes” and “Oliver!” are released and singer Marvin Gaye’s “Heard it through the Grape Vine” becomes a smash hit. Will Smith, Tony Hawk, Gary Coleman, Ricki Lake and Mary Lou Retton are born. Helen Keller, Upton Sinclair and John Steinbeck die.
There are 50 states in the Union.
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