Jack Kavanagh Sr. returns to the Shop on Central Avenue along with his crew. The New Year’s holiday lead to a long weekend but now it is back to business. Jack’s father, Eddie, passed away last year and he is more on his own than he has ever been. He was running the Shop for all intents and purposes for the last fifteen years but Eddie was always there to consult. Jack must use his judgment now and his alone on the running of the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Mary Donnelly, his cousin, does own 50% of the business. She inherited it from her father as Jack did from his. She receives money each month for rent of the building. Mary and Jack get along well but she has nothing to do with the day-to-day of the business. Jack’s older brother, Ed, works for him but does not own any stake in the Shop. He was never interested in owning. Jack does have a good secretary, Julie, who mans the phones when Jack is out of the office, does the books and manages payroll. He also has a fine crew of eight men who are a mix of skilled old school coppersmiths and younger metalsmishts and helpers. The year starts with a few holdover jobs from 1970 and a handful of orders on the books. Overall, not a bad bit of work to come back to after the holidays.
On this chilly Tuesday night, Jack and Betty are taking in a new television program called “All in the Family.” It stars Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton. It quickly becomes one of their favorites.
Americans tune in to watch Super Bowl #5. Jack and all of Baltimore are cheering on the Baltimore Colts who are facing the Dallas Cowboys. The Kavanagh’s and the rest of the City celebrate as the Colts win 16-13. Jack is exuberant and he leads the younger kids in cheers and a brief parade around the block banging pots, pans and anything they can find. Baltimore parties like the champions they are for both their baseball team and their football team have won it all.
Jack’s crew finishes a set of custom stainless steel adapters for Schaefer Brewery. They are made from 3” Pipe and required several bronze fittings and house couplings be made by John Benser, the Shop’s machinist. Jack drives to Schaefer himself to take some measurements and get a better idea of what they need. Four trips back and forth to the brewery are needed before the adapters are completed. The brewery parts and repair work has dropped slowly over the last several years but it remains one of their regular sources of work. Because the R-5 machine is working out so well for him, Jack has ordered another Roundo roller, an R-3, from the Comeq Co. This one is not as large as the R-5 but it will help with small diameter rings.
The R-5 is used today to curve some aluminum flat bars for Gar-Ron Plastics. The bars will be used in one of Gar-ron’s machines and it is another job that could not be done without the Roundo. Jack is waiting patiently to receive the new machine next month. He knows both these rollers will be money makers for the company.
The Shop’s crew spend most of the morning unloading and setting the new Roundo R-3 up for operation. It’s placed closer to the front of the Shop about twenty-five feet from the R-5. The machines both need at least that much clearance to load twenty foot lengths of material. Most steel is sold in twenty or forty foot sections. The Shop on Central Avenue is not wide enough to accommodate forty foot pieces and generally work with twenty foot sections. Jack guides his fellows as they stand and prep the roller but mostly he stays silent watching them closely but with a thoughtful gleam in his eye of how best to use this machine now that he has it.
Jack hangs up the phone in his small corner office. He called Warren Pardo of the J.C. Pardo & Sons Compnay to let him know a set of flat bars were ready for pick up. The bars were rolled in the R-5 by Mr. Wacker and a helper, Jerry Purnell. Jack’s been pleased with the year so far. They have stayed steady and both Roundo machines are being used on most days. These machines are much faster and easier to use than their old equipment. He continues to have Benser make tools whenever possible for both machines. Jack has something else on his mind today. With the winter over, Jack has to deal with his father’s house. After Eddie’s death, Jack and his brother Ed Jr. received the house and Jack has agreed to buy his brother’s half. Jack and Betty have discussed what to do about it, how to put it up for sale and if they know anyone who might be interested. They tabled the discussion until the spring and it’s here now so they must figure out what to do with the house at 434 N. Lakewood. Betty insists that before they do anything to sell it, it must be thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom.
The Orioles Opening Day is on this Wednesday and the Kavanagh’s are there. Jack leaves work at lunch after a pick up by General Ship Repair. They needed an emergency set of tubes to fix a heat exchanger. The exchanger is on a ship that is only docked for three days. Jack had to get this job finished and the crew did not let him down. He leaves his brother in charge and he drives Betty and the youngest four of the kids to the game. The 1970 World Series Championship Banner is raised and the crowd is hyped up for another good year. The team is basically the same and there are great hopes for another World Series run. The Birds win today beating the Washington Senators 3-2. Pitcher Dave McNally throws a good one and he gets the complete game victory.
With the school year ending, the Kavanagh girls spend a couple hours each day cleaning their grandfather’s old house. Daughter JoAnn recruits her friend Gina French to help out. The French’s live on the same block as Jack and Betty but at the other end. They are about ten doors from the Orleans street corner. The families have gotten to be friendly with the kids playing together. Tom and Angie French have six children, Joe, Gina, Tommy, Angie and Theresa who are twins and Ray. Ray is Joe Kavanagh’s age, just a month older, and they play together nearly every day.
A baseball/wiffle ball team called the RobinBlairSons is formed by Jack Jr. and Joe Kavanagh and Tommy and Ray French. They take the name from three Orioles players. Frank Robinson who is Tommy’s favorite player, Paul Blair who is Jack Jr. and Ray’s favorite player and Brooks Robinson who is Joe’s favorite. They play wiffle ball in the backyard, in the street and on the Jefferson Street side of the Kavanagh’s house. When they head to Ellwood or Patterson Parks, they play baseball. The Robin-Blair Sons take on all opponents they can find. Sometimes they are pick up games and other times it’s games against groups of boys from different blocks such as the Pep Boys and the Stricker Stars. Often, the foursome of the French and Kavanagh brothers will grab another several boys to play a bigger team but usually, it’s just the four. Joe and Ray are only six but they love the game of baseball. Their older brothers, Jack and Tommy, look out for them and help school them in hitting and fielding. By the end of the summer, the Robin-Blair Sons have jelled into a fine squad. They spend endless hours playing together, enjoying baseball and breaking a few windows in the neighborhood.
The summer has been a good one so far and the crew are working half-days on Saturday. They appreciate the extra hours and Jack likes being busy. Jack has passed the word to his customers about the new machine and the new tools they have and he is getting more and more rolling and bending jobs. The brewery and distillery customers are still calling and the combination of old customers and new keeps the volume of work strong. Twenty fittings are tinned today for Seagrams. Tinning is old school coppersmithing if anything is. Copper must be coated in tin to avoid poisoning when used for food or drink. It’s lunch pail work for a coppersmith and they’ve been tinning at the Shop for a century.
Independence Day is a warm Sunday this year and the Kavanagh’s celebrate as they usually do. A bushel of Maryland blue crabs are purchased and steamed and served with a variety of sides including corn on the cob and Betty’s potato salad. The entire family is on hand in this corner rowhouse that was nicely crowded when the kids were all young. Now with four of the girls being adults and adding two son-in-laws, the house feels a little packed and even louder than before. It’s fine with Jack and Betty. They wouldn’t have it any other way. They talk and listen to an afternoon ballgame on the radio as they crack claws and pull open the shells to get to the meat inside. The Birds have started well and are in first place in their division. They are in Detroit today playing the Tigers and they win another close one 3-2. First baseman Boog Powell and catcher Elrod Hendricks homer to support starter Mike Cuellar who goes the distance for the win. Crabs and baseball on a 4th of July is very much a Kavanagh tradition. As afternoon turns to evening, they walk to Patterson Park and set down on a blanket to watch some fireworks. The park offers a good view of the exploding bright lights and many neighbors are scattered through the grass on blankets of their own.
Jack stands in the Shop with Jerry Purnell and another young worker, Bill Schmidt in the early afternoon. Purnell has been working for the Joseph Kavanagh Company for a couple of years and he’s learned a lot. Jack is giving him some training on the R-3, specifically how to roll angles. The Pittcon Company has ordered 7- 1 1/4” angles to be curved to an 8 ft. Dia. This size angle is too small for the R-5 and are a good test for the new machine. Jerry does very well and after the first three are rolled, Jack heads back into his office to call Pittcon and tell them the job will be ready tomorrow.
Tommy and Angie French have talked to Jack and Betty about 434 N. Lakewood. The house is a little bigger than their home now and they would love to move to Eddie’s old house. The Kavanagh’s are happy it is going to someone they know and like. Arrangements are made as the last of the cleaning is finished and the French’s will move in next month. They will rent at first but with intent to buy when they can.
Jack gives his crew a full week of paid vacation. It’s something his father would have never agreed with but in Jack’s mind, this is the best way for him to get a vacation in his favorite place, Ocean City. The crew are all pleased to get a week off during the hottest month of the year. Jack and Betty pack the car and drive across the Bay Bridge and to OC. They arrive very early on Saturday morning and leave the following Sunday. It is a very fun week for the kids. It is full of fishing, crabbing, amusements, arcades and the beach. Jack and Betty love this town and they relish every moment there together and with the children. They begin to think they would love to find a way to buy a place of their own in Ocean City instead of renting every year. A place they can visit during the summer and a home for their retirement some day.
After a nice vacation, its back to the corner of Pratt and Central for Jack and his crew. Jack, his brother and the rest of the boys catch up on what everyone did during the week off. Jack has already decided to make this a yearly tradition and he does it for himself but also for his men. He enjoys the break and the time with Betty and the kids. He knows it is the same for them. They want and deserve some time with their families.
The Shop’s phone has been ringing off the hook this week. Jack let his customers know they were going to be closed and now jobs that were needed last week are very hot this week including an order for some sprayer tubes for the Fountain Craft Company. Fountain Craft makes fountains for businesses, residences and public buildings. This sort of work is old fare for the Kavanagh’s who have been making parts and tubes for fountains for generations. The tubes are knocked out in five hours and will be picked up first thing in the morning.
September is back to school time for Jack and Betty’s children. Jackie and JoAnn are still in Catholic High, Jackie a Senior and JoAnn a Freshman. The youngest three, Ann, Jack and Joe are at St. Elizabeth’s where their sisters and father attended. Ann is in sixth grade, Jack in the fourth while little Joe starts first grade.
Jack’s secretary Julie informs him that she must stop working at the end of the year. She has an older family member she needs to care for. Jack understands and wishes her the best. He relies on Julie when he is out in the Shop and particularly on those few occasions when he is not at work at all. She has a sister who she recommends and Jack is thrilled. He had no idea how he would replace Julie. Her sister, Helen Glodek will start in the new year. A relieved Jack walks into the Shop to check on a job for Koppers Fabricators, a small order of bent copper tubes.
Jack attends the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Colts home opener along with his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Bumpsey and Shirley Crew. It’s a raucous celebration to welcome the champs home and the crowd cheers to see another banner raised at Memorial Stadium. The Colts get a little revenge for their loss in the Super Bowl two years ago by beating the New York Jets 21-0. Baltimore fans are excited for another good year. With the Orioles having clinched their division and the Colts starting well, the City is in a sports-crazed frenzy. Expectations are high for both clubs.
For a third year in a row, the Orioles sweep the American League Championship Series winning three in a row. This year they face the Oakland Athletics. Baltimore will be going on to face the NL champion Pittsburgh Pirates. Confidence is high in Baltimore as the Orioles are led by one of the best starting pitching staffs in baseball. They boast four 20 game winners, Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally and Pat Dobson. No pitching staff since the 1920 Chicago White Sox has had such a foursome.
The Baltimore Orioles lose the World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games. It’s a very even series with the first six games won by the home team. The Birds lose game 7 in Baltimore and the Pirates are champs. The Kavanagh’s go to all four games at Memorial Stadium, the first two and the last two and it’s a bitter finale to watch for them. Jack assures his children that you win some, you lose some. He tells them we should still be proud of the team making it to the World Series for three years in a row. There’s always next year and he hopes they can get there again.
A mix of brewery parts for National, several sets for angle rings and a large order of bent pipes for F. H. Klaunberg are the focus of the Shop’s crew today. The pipes for Klaunberg are bent in the Pines Bender while both Roundo machines are used on the angle jobs. Jack’s men work hard for him and he knows it. He’s fair and doesn’t ask anything of them he wouldn’t do himself. He’s a much easier man to work for than his father and at least the older workers know that themselves. Jack has put together a very strong and efficient crew.
It’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving and the Kavanagh’s visit Aunt Anna, Sister Mary Agnes, at the Visitation Convent on Roland Park Avenue. Aunt Anna is Jack’s father’s sister and the family makes a point of seeing her once or twice every month and always close to the holidays. Betty purchases some small things for her. Toiletries and such but mostly they talk about the family, the kids, the Shop and how Aunt Anna’s teaching is going. She loves being an educator and works at the Visitation’s school. She’s the last Kavanagh of her generation now and the oldest Kavanagh.
Jack is stunned to hear on the news that Frank Robinson has been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He shakes his head at this one as Frank is the player who made the difference in taking the Birds to a higher level of play. He’s one of the best but Jack knows it’s baseball. Trades happen and you have to live with it. His boys, Jack and Joe, are disappointed and they discuss it with their friends, the French boys. They decide to keep the name, Robin-Blair Sons. They still have Brooks and Paul Blair plus they all decide to remain fans of Frank Robinson. He did so much for the team. They can’t stop rooting for him.
Jack creeps down the hall in the bright plastic red suit intent on granting his youngest son’s Christmas wish. He leans over Joe’s bed and the boy’s eyes flutter open. They recognize Santa and nearly bug out of his head and he sits bolt up.
“Santa!” Mr. Claus places a finger over Joe’s mouth and hushes him.
“Don’t wake anyone up. You have to be quiet.” Jack looks over at his older son Jack Jr. who is sawing wood pretty good in the bed closer to the window.
Joe whispers to Santa quickly. “I knew you would come see me. I told my Mom that most of all I wanted to see you tonight. The real Santa not just at a store.”
“Ho Ho Ho!” Jack chuckles softly. “Well, I wanted to say hi to you but now you have to go to sleep. I can’t leave anything if you are awake now. Can I?”
Joe smiles brightly up at Santa Claus.”Okay. I know you are busy. Thanks for coming to see me.”
“You’re welcome and merry Christmas, Joe.” Jack grins under the white beards and once he is sure Joe is back to sleep, he tiptoes back to his room. Moments later, he and Betty are carrying gifts down the stairs and assembling what will be the Kavanagh Christmas morning.
It’s Christmas Day at the Kavanagh’s house and there will be presents, food and family. Jack and Betty took the kids to midnight mass at St. Elizabeth’s last night. They like the idea of being home for the holiday and the late night mass is quite beautiful and very much in the Christmas tradition. Since they do not have to head to mass, Jack sits and watches a holiday film or two with the children while Betty stays busy cooking and fretting over the house. While watching “March of the Wooden Soldiers,” Jack’s mind is on the Colts who have made the playoffs and will face the Cleveland Browns tomorrow His hopes for a victory will be rewarded and the Colts will move on to the AFC Championship game in January. He looks about the room with Betty bustling about, kids setting the table and someone constantly going up and down the stairs. Jack thinks back to all the Christmases they have celebrated here. It’s been over twenty years since they moved to 447 N. Lakewood. His oldest girls are growing up. Betty Ann is in graduate school in DC, Nancy has graduated from college and moved to Denver, Colorado with her husband Jim, Mary is married to Handy and they have an apartment while they look for a house and Jane is working at C & P Telephone and she is looking for an apartment of her own. Jack can’t believe how they have grown. Nancy and Jim won’t be here today and it will be the first time one of the kids isn’t home for Christmas but Jack and Betty knew it would happen. The older girls are adults now and have lives of their own. Jack is content but he hopes the other five stay kids as long as they can. In the late morning, Betty Ann, Mary and Handy arrive and dinner is served at noon A turkey is roasted with all the trimmings, parsnips included and sauerkraut, a Baltimore tradition. The dining room table is made longer with a fold up table they keep in the basement and a card table at the end for the kids. The meal never goes fast enough for the youngest of the Kavanagh’s but when it is done, they retire to the front room with its piles of gifts, brightly lit tree and garland and holly. Jack and Betty love this time as the kids’ eyes widen with each open present. They seem to always get what they wanted the most and no one ever feels slighted somehow. With a family of nine children, you might think that would happen but not on the corner of Lakewood and Jefferson. The room is filled with torn and balled up wrapping paper soon and Betty calls for a mass clean up. The kids spread around the house taking a closer look at the goodies they have received. They will all gather again for supper and then around the piano for music. Christmas carols, Irish tunes and old classics are played by Jack while the rest of them sing along. Jack is at his happiest with his hands on the keys of a piano and his family about him. He can relax and enjoy it all. The house on Lakewood Avenue is filled with song and merriment just like the Kavanagh homes of old. Even as far back as Albemarle Street where they lived long ago.
Richard Nixon is the President of the United States. The New York Times publishes the Pentagon Papers. Protests against the War in Vietnam continue to grow across the nation. A Harris Polls states that 60% of the country are against the War. A revolt breaks out at Attica Prison resulting in 42 deaths. The 26th Amendment goes into effect lowering the voting age to 18. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act is passed making certain federal holidays always occur on a Monday. The Libertarian Party is established. Email and the floppy disk are invented. Satchel Paige becomes the first Negro League player voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Walt Disney World and the first Starbucks open. The films “Shaft,” “Dirty Harry,” and “the French Connection” are released. Tupac Shakir, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Lance Armstrong, Pete Sampras and Kristi Yamaguchi are born. Thomas Dewey, Igor Stravinsky, Louis Armstrong and Jim Morrison die.
There are 50 states in the Union.
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