It’s Super Bowl Sunday and Jack watches the game drinking a National Premium beer. The Miami Dolphins are facing the Minnesota Vikings and Jack enjoys the game. The Colts weren’t in it but he roots for the AFC Champion, Dolphins. He looks curiously at the beer bottle as he drinks. National was a good customer for many years. It wasn’t so long ago the Shop’s primary work was servicing the brewery and distillery industry. That work has diminished greatly. They still make a few occasional customer parts and fittings but it is more and more infrequently. Brewers and distillers are moving west or closing completely in Baltimore. Fortunately, the bending and rolling has become the Shop’s main function and Jack’s customer list grows every year. There are many applications for curved metal and this seems to help keep the work steady. If one industry is slow then it is likely some other company will need something bent. It’s a somewhat small niche but with a wide array of customers. It was Jack’s idea to buy the machines they use every day now and his father opposed it. Jack was right on that score and his father wrong. He takes another swallow of beer as the Dolphins celebrate on the field after winning 24-7.
A few different sizes of angles are rolled for McNamara Fabricators. Inflation and recession has hit the country and Jack has noticed a drop in work. It’s the winter and that is to be expected but it’s a bit more pronounced this year. The Shop has work but only about a week’s backlog. That’s okay but two weeks or more gives Jack a little more security. He’s happy with what he has and is most grateful that he has a good hard-working crew. His brother Ed and eight other gentlemen work hard for Jack. He relies on them and he treats them well in return.
Jack and Betty purchase a summer home in Ocean City. Royal Palm Court at 1231 St. Louis Avenue. Jack has squirreled away a little money since his father’s death and they put the funds into this house in OC. They will rent it out when not on the Eastern Shore to help cover the mortgage but now they have their own place to stay when they take their vacation and weekend trips.
With a recession hitting the nation, the Shop has been buoyed a bit by the Housing Authority of Baltimore City. After several years of repairing and replacing heat exchangers, the Shop is starting to be a regular supplier for them. Jack receives several calls every month from Mike Winchester, who handles their maintenance, and the Housing Authority sends in at least one exchanger each time. It’s annealing and bending copper tube which is the Kavanagh’s forte. After bending, the tubes are inserted into a thick plate used as a header. The exchangers are slid into a boiler and mounted, then are used to generate heat or hot water depending on the boiler.
Three 4” Pipes are rolled for a drilling apparatus for Ocean Drilling & Exploration Company. Jack is not sure what the application is, apart from knowing it’s part of their equipment. The Shop often receives one-off oddball jobs if they require bending too. Sometimes these are repairs or replacement parts as the Shop did in the past for brewers and distillers. The parts are either so old or so custom that replacements aren’t available so they must be made. If there is custom bending involved, people call Jack Kavanagh.
This chilly breezy Friday finds the Kavanagh’s at Memorial Stadium for opening day. The Orioles are hosting the Detroit Tigers and win 3-2. Jack, Betty and the youngest of their children see a good game with Baltimore ace Jim Palmer outdueling Mickey Lolich for the win. Palmer runs into some trouble in the last inning and reliever Grant Jackson steps in and gets the save. The kids chatter on the way home about the game and their hopes for another playoff season. Jack drives the car in silence but is thinking the exact same thing.
Jack sits in his recliner in the living room watching Monday Night Baseball with his sons, Jack Jr. and Joe. He sips a beer and talks to the boys about the game. This one could be special he tells them. The Los Angeles Dodgers are facing the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium. Braves’s slugger Hank Aaron just tied the great Babe Ruth for most career home runs at 714 four days ago. Jack’s father was the biggest Ruth fan you could imagine. Ruth was from Baltimore and Eddie Kavanagh held him in high reverence and that admiration passed to Jack when he was a boy. The Babe was Jack’s favorite when he was growing up. He even had the chance to see Ruth play once in an exhibition game in Baltimore. There was no local MLB team so any chance to see a big leaguer was a thrill but this was Ruth. That was something Jack would never forget. He regales his boys on the feats of Ruth and those days, then talks of how amazing it is that another man has finally passed the 700 plateau and tied the Babe. Jack and the boys watch as LA jumps out in front early and the three hope they get to see Aaron surpass the Babe’s record in person. Jack wishes it more than his boys as he truly recognizes the historical significance and how big this event could be. Jack Jr. and Joe pepper their father with questions about the game and Babe Ruth as they watch, but all of them grow silent as Aaron steps to the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning. Pitcher Al Downing’s second pitch is a fast ball and Hank Aaron does not miss it. Hammerin’ Hank certainly hammers this one and it sails high into the air heading toward left-center field. Three sets of eyes on Lakewood Avenue grow large and they watch in awe as the ball lands on the other side of the fence. Henry Aaron has done it. He is the new All-time Home Run Champion. The boys whoop and holler while for a brief moment Jack takes this in. Ruth’s record has fallen and a black man receives one of the loudest standing ovations ever before a crowd in the Deep South and is named king. The significance eludes the boys but Jack is keenly aware of it. The moment ends in a flash and Jack hops up from his recliner and rushes up the stairs. His boys assume he has to go to the bathroom or something as few things made their Dad run at home. He returns with a bag and pulls something from it. Two somethings. He hands each of his sons a souvenir baseball commemorating Aaron’s 715th homer. The boys are amazed and then hold each ball up high as if it were the actual ball hit by Aaron. They hug and jump up and down while Jack’s thoughts are a whirlwind. He wants to remember it all and does. He memorizes these seconds of glee shared with his boys and so do they. His thoughts travel to his father and all those years of being a Ruth fan. Jack thinks of his youth and how Ruth was the man that all boys looked up to and wanted to be. Now there is a new home run king and Jack is happy for Aaron and for the game of baseball. How he managed to have those two balls and work it out so the three of them could watch this incredible accomplishment together, I’ll never know. The man had a way about him. He had impeccable timing. It will be a memory etched in the three Kavanaghs’ minds forever.
The winter is over and the usual step up in work has arrived with the spring. The Shop finishes a set of pipe rings for the Fieldsboro Welding Company. Welders are becoming a larger percentage of the Kavanagh Company’s customers. A welder invariably will need pipes, tubes or angles bent at some point. Some he can do himself by hand but it will require lots of grinding and clean up. A good pipe bend or angle ring saves time and welders are coming to the Shop for them. Fieldsboro had ordered a set of these rings last week and came back with a bigger order to follow. That’s a good thing for Jack.
Despite the arrival of better weather, the Shop is still not particularly busy. Jack wonders if he’ll be able to work Saturdays this year. His workers have come to count on it as extra money in the summer and he has come to expect the same. Jack will have to wait and see. They have a fountain they are working on, some angles for Codd Fabricators and a long railing. There is work but Jack would very much prefer to have more on the books.
The Kavanaghs drive to the Eastern Shore of Md and spend the Memorial Day weekend at their new vacation home, Royal Palm Court. Royal Palm is a long line of small rowhouses connected together. There are two small bedrooms and one bath but to Jack and Betty it is a dream come true. They have wanted a home of their own here for a long time. They truly love Ocean City and having their own place will make visiting easier. The family gets in its usual mix of crabbing, fishing, beaching and boardwalking then rush home around noon to reach Baltimore before dinner time. It’s a fun weekend and Jack and Betty will do all they can to visit as often as they can.
The work has stayed steady but not busy enough to warrant Saturday hours. Jack prefers to work half day Saturdays but this year the volume of jobs isn’t there and he wants to be sure to keep everyone busy during the normal forty hours. The boys are putting together a heat exchange for the Baltimore City Housing Authority. Jack watches as the bent tubes are slid into the holes in a tube sheet. The sheet is 1” thick and is the header for the unit. The exchanger itself fits into a boiler but it is the copper tubes that furnish the heat. After the tubes are inserted. They are expanded to a very snug fit. A handheld machine that is similar to a drill is used. Instead of a drill bit an expander is pushed into the tube. When used the expander does exactly as the name infers, expanding or stretching the tubes diameter to seal the holes. When tube is expanded to the proper fit, a slight whistle is heard from the machine as the engine stalls for a second. Jack stands thinking and listening to the off and on whir and spin of the engine broken up by this soft high-pitched whistle over and over.
Jack sits in his office at 201 S. Central Avenue. He’s finishing his morning coffee and talking to his secretary Helen Glodek. Helen comes in at nine and leaves at two, sometimes making a bank deposit on the way home. She keeps the work hours straight for the employees and does the payroll. Just as important as the time and the pay are taking messages for Jack and keeping customer up to date on their orders. As they finish their coffee, Gichner Ironworks calls and asks about an order for a 2 1/2” Aluminum Pipe bend. It’s a custom piece being made to match a template furnished by Gichner. Jack lets them know it is in the machine and will be ready in less than an hour.
In addition to gaining more welder customers, Jack has had good luck with the local metal fabrication shops both small and large. Most can do some bending maybe even some rolling but with the Roundo machines and the pipe benders Jack has, he can do these things easier, quicker and make a better product. The Fab shops also have limited tools whereas the Shop has been making tools for their machines for decades. These many tools widen the range of curves and bends they can do. F. H. Klaunberg is one such fabricator customer of the Kavangh’s. A dozen 1 1/2” steel angles are rolled into small diameter half-rings for them today. It’s probably something they could do but not as well or as cheaply as Jack and his rollers can.
The Kavanagh’s are having a big family summer vacation in Ocean City. The Shop is closed and the family is at the beach. Enough Kavanagh’s are on hand that Jack and Betty need to rent another place for the week. Jack and Betty’s daughters, Nancy and Mary and their husbands, stay at Royal Palm while Jack and Betty rent a dockhouse right on the Bay. It’s five minutes from Royal Palm with a back porch for fishing. Jack has always loved the idea of waking up and tossing a line out from the back of his house. There is even more family down for the week as Betty’s brother Bumpsey and his family are in OC as well. It’s a busy week with a lot of fishing but today the family takes a break from their vacation to watch the news coverage as President Nixon resigns. The walls were closing in on the Nixon presidency. The nation is shocked to watch it unfold but perhaps not too shocked. The Watergate scandal has dominated the media and the country’s attention for over a year and in the end, it led all the way to the top. Vice-President Gerald Ford assumes the presidency and before the end of the year, he will give Nixon a complete pardon.
Jack walks from the back of the Shop where 3” angles are being rolled for Codd Fabricators. He had a quick chat with Jerry Purnell who was rolling them with a new helper, Mike Glenn. Mike’s brother Forest has been at the Shop for several years and brought him in to replace a young fellow who has moved on. Jack’s brother Ed hired both Glenns and he has taken quite a liking to them. Jack feels he can trust them but then again that is true of all his employees. If he didn’t trust you, you couldn’t work for Jack. He heads toward the office and passes the Leonard Air Bender where some 1” OD steel tubes are being bent for the Chesapeake Canvas Co. by Eddie Buckingham. After the tube is clamped tight in the machine, a lever is flicked and a hiss of air is released as the pressure pulls the arm around. These are u-bends and very standard fare for the tube bending Kavanagh Shop.
Jack and Betty are on another return trip to Baltimore. They spent the last weekend of summer at Royal Palm with JoAnn, Ann, Jack and Joe, the last four of their children and the only ones still living at home. The kids return to school tomorrow. JoAnn for her last year at Catholic High, Ann in her first year at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel High School and Jack & Joe continuing at St. Elizabeth’s.
“I sure love this place, Betty.” Jack glances over at her in the passenger seat. The boys are chattering to each other while the girls are in the far back of the station wagon listening to music. Luckily, it’s low enough that Jack can’t hear that “racket” as he often calls it.
Betty smiles over. “Me too. This is our dream. It’s peaceful. There’s beach, sun and the sea.” her smile widens to the corners of her eyes. “The kids love it.”
“This kid too.” Jack chuckles “Best money we ever spent. I know it’s going to stretch us for a few years but it will be worth it.”
“Jack, you know we’ll make it work. We’ll do this and that. We’ll rent the place out weekends we’re not there and it will all be fine. Then it will be all ours, soon enough.” Betty replies as her eyes roll left to see what the boys are up to.
Jack’s eyes stay focused on the road. “Yes we will. We will.” His voice trailing off with those last words to be replace by Jack singing softly to himself. “Fly me to the moon. Let me play among the stars.” He turns again to Betty. “We’re on Ritchie Highway, hon. We’ll be home to see the end of the telethon.”
“Good. I have to see the end. I always hope Jerry does at least a little better each year.” She stares out the window watching the road go by and thinks of dinner and lunches for tomorrow to be made when they get home.
The Baltimore Colts first home game is against the Green Bay Packer and Jack Kavanagh is there with his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Bumpsey and Shirley Crew. The Packer win 20-13 and the rest of the season is just as bad. The Colts finish in last place with a dismal record of 2-12.
The Orioles lose the American League Championship Series to the Oakland A’s for a second year in a row. The final game, game four, is in Baltimore and the Kavanagh’s are there. The Birds are trailing 2-0 in the final inning and rally to score one but Rollie Fingers strikes out Don Baylor and the game is done. It’s a disappointment but it’s baseball. The Orioles have been on a strong run for ten years. Jack and his kids are not happy about it but they enjoyed the season and hope the team can keep it up. The Kavanagh’s love their teams and will be fans no matter what. As the Orioles’ season ends, the first steps of another of those teams is taken. For this very same evening, an expansion hockey team the Washington Capitals play their first game losing 6-3 to the New York Rangers in NY. A rough start to a very rough first year for the franchise. It’s met with little fanfare in neighboring Baltimore but soon Jack Kavanagh Jr. will become a fan. Evenings will be spent listening to games on the radio in his bedroom and daylight hours are often spent on street hockey then eventually, Little Jack gets a pair of skates to play on ice. His allegiance to the team and the sport grows quickly then spreads to his brother, his sister, his father then soon most of the Kavanaghs become strong Caps fans. It will take a few years for the team to find any success but Jack Jr. is as faithful and supportive a fan as any team could ask for.
The A’s win their third straight World Series defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers. The A’s establish themselves as one of the great modern dynasties with three championships in a row. It’s a rueful dynasty in the sense that twice they downed the Orioles in the ALCS. The Kavanaghs watch the series despite the Birds absence from it. Jack and the kids pull for the A’s due to their loyalty to the American League. It also lessens the sting of losing to them when they beat everybody else and go on to win it all.
The crew on Central Avenue have a little more pep in their step on this Wednesday, Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and Jack and his men are anxious for the holiday and the four day weekend. A few things are finished up before they can get out of there including some galvanized pipes rolled for Jensen Manufacturing. AT 2:15 pm, Jensen picks the pipes up and Jack sends everyone home. Happy Thanksgiving’s are hurriedly wished to one and all as the building empties in minutes.
The Joseph Kavanagh Company is barreling toward the end of another year. They haven’t been swamped and there was no working on Saturdays for the crew but it could have been worse. The number of jobs didn’t require much overtime this year but they had work consistently. Not a good year but not a bad one either. Some 6” structural channels are completed in the R-5 today. The customer, MLM Company, needs some channels curved and a few straightened then re-rolled. These are used as concrete forms and often are re-used thus they need the straightening first. The straightening takes longer than the rolling. It’s a challenge and must be done carefully and slowly. Also, they must be taken out of the machine after each pass to check the progress. It’s labor intensive and a good job for the rush to the end of 1974.
The Kavanagh’s celebrate Christmas at Lakewood Avenue on this Wednesday. It’s a day full of happiness, togetherness and caring. Gifts are piled in mounds in the front room though they are not as numerous as in years past. Most of Jack and Betty’s children are grown but the youngest still clamor and wait for this morning with great anticipation. The kids feel fortunate. They get two Christmases these days. One on the Sunday before the big day with Betty’s Mom, Nanny and her family then this one. Little Joe feels particularly lucky as he received four Star Trek action figures from his godfather, Bill Hoffman. Mr. Hoffman was a long time border at Nanny’s old house and he is now a very close family friend. Joe also suspected this would mean the Bridge of the Enterprise play set would be under his tree and it was. It’s a Christmas he won’t forget as he can be Kirk, Spock, Bones or Scotty or take turns being all four. Jack grins wide in silence as he watches his little boy playing out pretend adventures full of that unbridled happiness a child feels from getting that most wanted gift. A large turkey feast is prepared by Betty. Two turkeys are baked. One thirty pounder for the noontime meal and the second smaller is necessary or there would be no turkey sandwiches. That would we unacceptable in the Kavanagh household. Their children gather with some other friends and the usual mob of about twenty people eat together and welcome the holiday. Jack plays the piano and everyone sings along as they do on every holiday. Betty speaks to daughter Nancy who lives in Denver with her husband Jim O’Neill. They talk of the holiday and a special Christmas present. As things wind down at the end of the day, Jack thanks Betty for another wonderful perfect Christmas Day. After the last of the children have gone to bed, the couple discuss Christmases past and even those to come. They have shared many good times and some bad times together. They made it through deaths in the family, several miscarriages and Betty’s bout with polio. Their bond of love has been unwavering and despite the world around them has always been the least of their concerns. This year they faced a recession like all of the country yet managed to achieve one of their dreams. They have a place at the beach in Ocean City now. A place they can call their own they can stay at whenever the mood strikes them to get away. It’s a small place but they are accustomed to that. They made the rowhouse at the corner of Lakewood and Jefferson work for nine kids and this will work for them too. Jack and Betty are happy. They have managed to live their dream life so far and have received an abundance of happiness to more than balance out those bad times. On top of all this, Jack and Betty are on-the-moon with excitement. Nancy gave Betty some news. Next year, they will receive an unexpected but long wished for gift, their first grandchild.
Gerald Ford is the President of the United States after Richard Nixon’s resignation. The 55 MPH Speed Limit is implemented. President Ford gives Vietnam War draft evaders amnesty. The MRI is invented. Construction on the Alaskan Pipeline begins. The films “the Godfather 2,” “Blazing Saddles” and “Serpico” are released. Stephen King’s first book, “Carrie” is published. Patty Hearst is kidnapped. The world’s population reaches 4 billion. Leonardo Dicaprio, Jimmy Fallon, Derek Jeter, Duff Goldman, and Hilary Swank are born. Earl Warren, Duke Ellington, Charles Lindbergh, Jack Benny and Ed Sullivan die.
There are 50 states in the Union.
To read prior years, click on the Table of Contents link below: