1969 One Giant Leap

January 2

The Shop starts the year with some work on the books but not much of a backlog. Jack and his crew of eight men work on their usual mix of brewery and distillery parts and bent pipes and tubes to boilers and fabrications jobs. Jack is forty-four and he has been running the Joseph Kavanagh Company for a few years now after his father finally took a full retirement.

January 12

The Colts lose the Super Bowl to the upstart New York Jets. Jack and most of Baltimore are watching and they can’t believe it. The Colts were heavily favored even with star quarterback Johnny Unitas out for most of the year after a preseason injury. Back up Earl Morrall did a great job all year but can’t get much going offensively in the Super Bowl. At halftime, Coach Don Shula replaces Morrall with Unitas in hopes of jump starting the team. It doesn’t work and Baltimore loses to New York 16-7.

Baltimore Colts souvenir sticker. Late 1960s.

January 20

The Shop completes a set of steel tubes for the Maryland Cup Company. The tubes are thin wall and need to be annealed, filled and rolled to maintain their roundness. It’s lots of welcome torch work for a few cold days in January. After the tubes are annealed, rosin must be melted and poured into them and then they sit for a day. The rosin hardens and supports the tube’s shape. After bending, they are melted back out and it’s more fire being used on Central Avenue. The crew are working hard but today they love the heat.

The Shop’s job book entry. Maryland Cup Company job. January 20, 1969.

February 17

Jack is surprised when he reads in the Baltimore Sun that four hundred baseball players are boycotting Spring Training. They are demanding an increase of owners’ contribution to players’ pension funds.  That makes sense to Jack but he still can’t imagine having an issue when your job is playing baseball. He’d give almost anything for that. He quickly realized that he is looking at it from a romanticized view. These men still have families and children. They do have to retire eventually and having something to live on is only natural. He also realizes the owners are certainly making plenty of money. For a moment, he wonder what his father thinks. Eddie has always been a mad baseball fan but also a strong union/labor rights man. When he thinks of his father, he becomes distracted. Jack has been trying to convince Eddie to have a nurse stop in daily to help him and check his health. Eddie has the money to afford it but he thinks with Betty stopping over a couple of times a day, there is no need. She takes good care of him and she cleans and cooks his meals. Jack knows a nurse would be better as his father’s health is not great. He has emphysema but still smokes cigars. Also, Jack wants Betty to have a break. Even with most of the kids at school, her hands are full and three or four trips across the street only make it worse. Eddie will not relent and a nurse is a no go so far. Jack will keep trying to convince him. He looks back at the newspaper and his thoughts return to baseball. He skims the article again. No matter what happens, he hopes it doesn’t impact the season and happily it doesn’t. Nine days later, the changes and improvements are made to the players retirement fund and baseball will go on as usual.

February 19

Today some stainless steel tubes are bent for E. A. Kaestner Company. The crew have some trouble bending these and it takes more time than anticipated. Jack makes a note on the job record that he was busy on several other jobs and was unable to give enough supervision on this one. He was also on the phone a lot today as they have received some repair work for Schaefer Brewery and the details were being worked out. The tubes are finished and a rod needs to be machined by John Benser on one of the lathes in the second floor machine shop. They use this rod to plug drive the tubes and return them to the required shape. Afterward, the tubes are cleaned and they are finally picked up and out of the Shop.

The Shop’s job book entry. E.A. Kaestner Co. job. February 19, 1969.

March 3

Sirhan Sirhan admits to shooting and killing Bobby Kennedy in a Los Angeles, California courtroom.

March 10

James Earl Ray pleads guilty to murdering Martin Luther King in Memphis, Tennessee. In the space of a week, the two men charged with the assassinations of last year admit to their involvement and guilt. There remain questions on both counts as to why and how they were able to do it. There will be no Warren Commission to sort out what happened in these two cases so those questions, concerns and theories linger on despite both assassins admitting their guilt.

March 19

Jack is home sick in bed for a day. He has the flu and takes a very rare day off. He calls the Shop and gives some instructions to Julie, his secretary. She passes them on to his brother Ed who gives the crew their assignments. Jack is always at the Shop so it’s a strange day in the place and stranger still for Jack. After dinner while he is still in bed, Mary and her boyfriend Handy Brandenburg knock on the bedroom door and want to talk to him. Handy informs Jack that he has asked Mary to marry him.

Jack pauses then looks from Handy to Mary. “What did she say?”

“I said yes.” his daughter answers.

“Well, let me explain the Kavanagh marriages to you.” Jack turns to Handy. “You need a new car, $5000 in the bank and a steady job.” The room goes silent and Handy’s mind goes to his old Chrysler which is a point in his favor because Jack is a Chrysler man He just graduated from Ohio State and does have a job but no money. Jack smiles to break the quiet. “Of course if you love each other you can forget those other things.” They laugh and cry and Jack and Betty will gain a son-in-law next year.

.March 28

Jack watches the evening news and hears that former President Eisenhower has died after a long illness. Jack and the family pray for Eisenhower and his family. Despite being a lifelong Democrat, Jack liked Ike. He was a great leader in World War 2 commanding all Allied Forces and in the White House he presided over a simpler time in America.

April 8

On this Tuesday, Jack takes his kids to Memorial Stadium for the Orioles Opening Day. It’s a different baseball season this year. Each league has been divided into two divisions. The Orioles are in the American League Eastern Division now along with the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Indians and Senators. The winners of each division will play each other in a League Championship Series at the end of the season. The champions from the American and National Leagues will then face off in the World Series. Today’s game is a twelve extra inning affair that doesn’t go the Birds’ way and they lose 5-4 to the Boston Red Sox. The Kavanagh’s are undaunted. Jack, his kids and most of Baltimore are expecting big things from their team this year. They had a rough start to last season but new manager Earl Weaver lit a fire under them and they finished strong. A full season under Weaver’s leadership should lead to success.

1969 Baltimore Orioles souvenir pennant.

April 30

The breweries are keeping 201 S. Central Avenue busy. They have had orders from Carling, Schaefer and now National Breweries. An aluminum dipstick is fabricated and engraved today. The dipstick is a measuring stick that must be engraved with gallon marks. The brewery furnishes dimensions for placement of each gallon mark and Charlie Owens and Benser do the job.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Brewery job. April 30, 1969.

May 9

Today is a special day in the Lakewood Avenue/Patterson Park neighborhood where the Kavanagh’s live. They attend St. Elizabeth’s Church and School at the corner of Lakewood and Baltimore with Patterson Park directly across from the Church. The annual May Procession to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary is held on this day. There is a parade from the church to the park and back. There is much singing and a crown of flowers is placed on the head of the statue of Mary. This year, first grader Jack Kavanagh is a page in the festivities. His parents are so proud. They were very excited when their daughter Betty Ann was chosen as May Queen several years ago and now are equally happy to see Jack Jr. chosen as a page. The pages escort the May Queen and hold her train during the procession. Little Jack looks so cute in his page outfit. Neighbors and parishioners line the street of the parade route. They join in the songs and snap pictures as the kids go by. Betty makes a point of taking some pictures herself this year. It’s a wonderful tradition in the parish and is a way of welcoming Spring.

Jack May Procession1 05-1969
Jack Kavanagh Jr. as a Page in the St. Elizabeth’s May Procession. May 9, 1969.
Jack May Procession3 05-1969
The May Queen and Jack Kavanagh Jr. as her page in the St. Elizabeth’s May Procession. The Church’s Rectory is in the background. May 9, 1969.

May 15

Several 1 1/2” Steel pipes are curved for Jensen Manufacturing Co. The Shop has received several orders from Jensen this year for bent pipes and tubes. Jensen fabricates machines of various types and the equipment occasionally requires some bent parts. In addition, a very large railing that covers several sections of a large garden are rolled from brass tubes and Ed Kavanagh and a helper have started some small repairs at Calvert Distillery.

The Shop’s job book entry. Jensen Manufacturing Co. job. May 15, 1969.

June 7

Jack and the family head to a ball game on this Saturday with the Orioles hosting the Seattle Pilots. The games is a romp as the Birds win 10-0 behind the stellar pitching of right-hander Jim Palmer who throws a complete game shut out. The offense is led by Brooks Robinson who manages three hits including a triple. The Orioles’ cause was aided by two errors by the Pilots. Baltimore puts up four runs in the second inning and never looks back winning easily. This is a fun Saturday night for the Kavanagh’s and the other 13,000 so odd fans in attendance. The Birds are off to a very hot start at 39 wins and only 15 losses. They have established themselves in first place in the AL East and are playing very well.

June 23

Jack has begun bringing the workers in for half-day Saturdays as the summer work has picked up. Some repairs at Majestic Distillery, a railing and a repair to a coil at Schaefer Brewery has the boys working hard on a sunny and breezy Monday. Both of the Kavanagh brothers work on the Schaefer job with Jack supervising the fabrication and Ed leading the installation.

The Shop’s job book entry. Schaefer Brewery job. June 23, 1969.

July 20

On this Sunday night, the Kavanagh’s television along with millions around the country are tuned to watch the first astronauts land on the moon. The night gets later and later but just before 11 pm, two Americans, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin step out of the lunar module and take those first steps on the moon. The family watches in amazement and the kids are happy it’s the summer and they are allowed to stay up late and watch. The youngest two, Jack and Joe are in bed but Jack and Betty’s daughters sit with them and view this “Giant Leap for mankind.” Suddenly, the world seems both bigger and smaller at the same time. The world of man now includes visiting our one natural satellite and men walking on its surface. The scope of mankind’s knowledge and his reach grows so much but at the same time, the great expanse that is space shows us how very small this planet is.

August 7

Jack has closed the Shop and given the workers three days off and he and Betty head to Ocean City for a well-earned vacation with their kids. Bumpsy and Shirley, Betty’s brother and sister-in-law along with their young son, Manuel are there too. The family split a house near the inlet together and stay from Thursday until Monday. They fish, they crab, they enjoy sun and fun at the beach and on the boardwalk. Each night, they take a walk along the boards and visit the arcades playing pinball, skeeball and the claw machines. It’s a great break for Jack and a memorable vacation for all.

Joe & Manuel OC2 1969
Joe Kavanagh and cousin Manuel Crew. Ocean City. August 1969.
Joe, Manuel, Aunt Shirely OC 1969
Joe Kavanagh and Aunt Shirley and cousin Manuel Crew. Ocean City. August 1969.

August 15

A massive music festival is held in upstate New York called Woodstock. Many of the biggest stars of today’s music world are present including Jimi Hendrix, the Who and Creedence Clearwater Revival. It changes Rock and Roll.

August 21

A very humid Thursday is made hotter at the Joseph Kavanagh Company as torches must be used for most of the day. The Koppers Co., a local fabrication ship, has ordered some copper loops made from 1” Tube. The torches are used to anneal or soften the copper in order to make it malleable. It’s a very straightforward job but one you would prefer to do in February.

The Shop’s job book entry. Koppers Company job. August 21, 1969.

September 2

The Kavanagh children are heading back to school except for the youngest Joe and Jane. Jane graduated from Catholic High in the spring and has taken a job in the engineering department at C & P Telephone. The three oldest girls are in college, Jackie is in Catholic High and JoAnn, Ann and Little Jack are attending St. Elizabeth’s Elementary School. Betty still checks on her father-in-law Eddie several times a day taking along Joe. Eddie is still refusing to consider hiring any sort of nurse care so she brings him breakfast and lunch, does the cleaning and the laundry and anything else he needs. Even with caring for Eddie, she does find her home much quieter and more peaceful. She takes advantage of it by spending more time with her baby boy, Joe. He is her youngest and for the first time, there is no baby to share time with, it’s her and Joe.

Joe Lakewood Ave. May 1969
Joe(GI) Kavanagh. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. May 1969.

September 11

A coil is repaired for A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Sunset Hills, Virginia. it’s a small coil but is very precise and must be held to a close tolerance. It is bent in the Leonard Bender while a set of steel bars for Codd Fabrication are rolled in the rolling machine. They will be used for stiffeners in a boiler. The machine can pull it but struggles a little and Jack takes note of this but they do get both orders finished without too much trouble.

September 14

The Kavanagh’s drive out to Thirty-Third Street to watch a ballgame. The Orioles are facing the Cleveland Indians on a Sunday afternoon. The Birds have already clinched the newly formed AL Eastern Division with two weeks to play. The fans are very excited as they know a return to the postseason is guaranteed. Today, the Orioles win 7-3 despite starting a decidedly “B” team. Neither Brooks nor Frank Robinson starts and outfielder Don Buford plays third. Manager Earl Weaver is giving his regulars some rest in anticipation of the playoffs. Left-hander Mike Cuellar throws a complete game and wins his twenty-second game of the year. Hopes are high in Baltimore for another World Series title.

1969 American League Championship Program.

September 21

Jack and Bumpsy and Shirley attend the first Baltimore Colts game of the season at Memorial Stadium. When the club lost the Super Bowl in January, it was very deflating. They had played so well all year and it was a shock when the Jets defeated them. Hopes are high again for another good season but it starts off on a sour note as the Colts lose to the LA Rams 27-20. The Colts will have another good season and win 8 games but finish behind these Rams and Baltimore does not make the playoffs.

October 6

The Orioles are going back to the World Series after sweeping the Minnesota Twins with three wins in a row in the very first American League Championship Series. The Birds win the first two at home with the Kavanagh’s in attendance. Game two is a nail biter but Baltimore prevails 1-0. When the series moves to Minneapolis for game three, the Orioles crush the Twins 11-2. Birds’ fans and certainly Jack and his family are very excited and confident they can take the World Series.

Scorecard from 1969 ALCS Program. October 1969.

October 15

The October Moratorium against the War in Vietnam is held as protests and demonstrations occur in cities across the nation. The largest is in Boston with more than 100,000 people attending. Despite Nixon’s plan to turn the war over to the South Vietnamese, many do not believe it or do not believe it will work. They march, rally and demand US troops be withdrawn from Southeast Asia immediately.

1969 November Moratorium2
November Moratorium. Washington D.C. 1969.

October 16

The Orioles are considered a shoo in to win the World Series Championship this year as they face the New York Mets. The Birds are everyone’s pick to win but as happened in the Super Bowl this year, Baltimore loses to New York. The Mets win four out of five and take the series. It’s a shocking disappointing few days. If the Colts were expected to win in football, the Orioles were expected to cruise to baseball’s championship. It doesn’t happen that way because you have to play the games on the field. 1969 becomes a painful sports memory for Baltimore fans. Jack, Betty and five of their children attend games 1 and 2. They alternate which of the kids go so everyone gets a chance to see at least one game. The Birds win the first then lose four in a row. Jack is at work for the deciding game 5 but his son, Joe, fills in for him and sits with Eddie and watches from 434 N. Lakewood Avenue. Eddie feeds Joe sticks of Doublemint gum while he smokes a cigar. Eddie is mostly silent but he does give a few small pointers to his grandson about the game. It’s a tough series and it seems like nothing goes the Orioles way and perhaps it was fated to be as it was with the Jets and the Colts. There is no championship in Baltimore this year.

1969 World Series Program.
New York Mets’ Ron Swoboda signed baseball.

November 3

In response to the October Moratorium on the war, President Nixon speaks on national television appealing to the “Silent Majority” to support his plan in Vietnam. He believes if we can continue to fight, the US can find a way to get out of the war and also preserve South Vietnam. Before 1969, 34,000 Americans had died in Vietnam and another 10,000 since the implementation of the Nixon plan.

November 5

The jobs keep coming in and Jack’s crew are still working six days and that’s unusual for this late in the year. The crew are split between work for Seagrams Distillery and National Brewery. Ed Kavanagh is working on something on his own, a copper candy pan. It’s for the Southern Candy Company and reminds both he and his brother of the old days at the Shop. For years, generations really, their coppersmith work included confectionery kettles and cooking equipment. As far back as the original Joseph M. Kavanagh, the Kavanagh’s have worked for candy and ice cream companies. This is a small pan that needs to be shaped, brazed and tinned. It’s nothing fancy but it’s almost nostalgic for the Kavanagh brothers.

The Shop’s job book entry. Southern Candy Company job. November 5, 1969.

November 10

A few years ago, Jack wanted the Shop to buy its first metal rolling machine and it has more than paid for itself. He decides to buy a new machine, an angle roller. This machine can roll angle iron as well as bars, pipes and tubes depending on what tools you have. Curving angles into circles has always been a challenge with the old roller specifically keeping the angle straight or flat. This new machine has an attachment that serves the purpose of supporting the leg of the angle and keeping it as close as possible to 90 degrees. It’s a very new style of machine and is very new to the US. The machine is a Roundo from Sweden and Jack purchases it from the Continental Machinery and Equipment Co. or Comeq for short. Comeq is Roundo’s American distributor and the company is run by a gentleman named Irv Lazinsky. Jack and he are contemporaries and they hit it off from the start. The machine is called an R-5 as it is is able to roll angle up to 5” x 5” and it will be delivered in two months.

Continental Machincery & Equipment Co. label on owner’s manual for R-5. Purchased late 1969.
Roundo R-5. Picture taken November 2019.

November 15

500,000 protesters march on Washington DC against the War in Vietnam in what is called the November Moratorium. This is the culmination of last month’s nationwide protests. Betty Ann Kavanagh and many of her friends from Catholic University take part along with people from a variety of walks of life. They assemble and demonstrate in the nation’s capital demanding an end to the war and the peaceful return of American soldiers.

Betty 1969 November Moratorium
Betty Ann Kavanagh. Novemver Moratorium Washington D.C. 1969.

November 27

It is Thanksgiving on the corner of Lakewood and Jefferson and the house is full. The older girls are home from college and Eddie is there as well as Handy, Mary’s fiance. Handy seems to fit in well with the Kavanagh’s and Mary with his family. She flew to Columbus, Ohio and met them earlier in the year. Both families are happy for the couple and plans are being made for their wedding. Little Joe who is Mary’s godson will be ring bearer. He and Mary have a special bond and his involvement is important to Mary. Betty is excited to be planning a wedding but today is Thanksgiving which means her usual thirty pound turkey with all the trimmings including parsnips. There is ample food for everyone even a surprise guest. Betty and Jack’s second daughter met a young man from Pittsburgh at college. Jim O’Neill is his name and after hitching a ride with a friend, he shows up unannounced at 447 N. Lakewood.  He comes from a large family as well so the cacophony that is the Kavanagh household doesn’t faze him one bit. The first of the clan he encounters is Joe who is playing with some of his cars. Joe or GI as his older brother calls him looks up at this tall man as Nancy introduces him.

Joe’s eyes rise to meet the man who seems like a giant to him. Joe thinks he might hit his head on the ceiling. “Do you play cars?” The four year old boy asks.

Nancy grins and Mr. O’Neill says, “Yes, I do.”

“Will you play with me?” Joe’s brow furrows.

“Yes, I will.” He says and immediately sits down to play with the littlest Kavanagh on the floor in the front room. Joe is thrilled. His brother is playing a game with their sisters and he is too young for it. To play cars alone is fine but to have someone to share the excitement is much better.

After a round of Matchbox cars with Joe, Nancy introduces her beau to her parents. Jack and Betty are surprised he would come all the way to Baltimore to see Nancy for Thanksgiving but he is a polite young man and they take a liking to him. He has a good sense of humor and enjoys Betty’s turkey feast as does Mary’s young man, Handy. This further endears both of them with Jack and Betty. Not to mention, they are both Irish Catholics which helps. One or two more at the table never mattered to Betty. She had to make an outrageous amount of food anyway. A couple more hungry folks was of no concern to her. She had a way of making this holiday look easy even when feeding twenty or more people.

December 18

The busy year at the Joseph Kavanagh Company is ending on a strong note. A set of fountain sprayer tubes, a copper liner for a boiler and six copper pressure heads are finished today. The pressure heads are standard parts they make for Bethlehem Steel. The Shop has received a few different orders from the mill but these heads are recurring. The Kavanagh’s make these two or three times a year. A set of 4” Pipes are rolled for Codd Fabricators as well. Codd is one of their oldest customers. They are located about five minutes away on Aliceanna Street.

The Shop’s job book entry. Bethlehem Steel job. December 18, 1969.

December 25

It’s Christmas Day and the Kavanagh’s are celebrating in full force. The front room is filled with a tree and many mounds of gifts for all the children. The kids open their stockings then eat a quick breakfast. A few moments later, they are all off to St. Elizabeth’s Church for mass. When they return home, the waiting game begins for the kiddos. The family must all assemble including Jack’s father, Eddie, then they will all eat a leisurely dinner around noon. When it’s done, the group heads into the front room and presents are distributed. It’s what the young ones have waited for all day. It’s a wonderful holiday for the family and they sing carols to add to the celebration. At the end of the day, when the kids are all asleep, Jack and Betty hold each other close and think they made it through another holiday and it was great. They have nine kids to share the love that has grown between them. They can hardly believe that four of their girls are in college already and growing up. What they don’t realize is that by this time next year not one but two of those daughters will be married. Their family and their lives seem destined to continually get bigger and bigger. They love each other on this Christmas night as they did that first time they saw each other over twenty years ago. The couple have so much happiness which has grown from the love that started as a young girl meeting this fresh-out-of-the-Navy fellow. Jack and Betty can hardly believe it some days. Things are going well for the Kavanagh family and the Shop too. Jack’s foray into rolling and bending has been successful and the business is busy and doing well. The only regret for this year was the failure of both local teams to win a championship despite being the odds on favorites to do so. It has been a very good year overall but a rueful one for sports but there’s always next year.



Richard Nixon is the President of the United States. Protests grow against the War in Vietnam. Nixon’s plan called Vietnamization gradually begins transferring American troops back to the US and replacing them with South Vietnamese. By the end of the year, the US is in secret peace negotiations with North Vietnam. The Chicago Eight trial begins. Meetings are held between the US and the Soviet Union to work on the SALT treaty to limit strategic nuclear arms. The Stonewall Riots in NY occur and are the first modern protests in support of gay rights. The Manson Family commits seven murders over two days in California. The first Gap and the first Wendy’s open. The films “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “True Grit,” and “Easy Rider” are released. The first Trans Am is sold. The Brady Bunch, H.R. Pufnstuf and Sesame Street premier on television. Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jennifer Aniston, Peter Dinklage and Ken Griffey Jr. are born. Magic Sam, Jack Kerouac, Judy Garland, Joseph Kennedy Sr. and Rocky Marciano die.


There are 50 states in the Union.

American Flag on the Moon
Moon Landing. July 1969. Ploto courtesy of NASA.

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

Table of Contents







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