It’s Super Bowl Sunday and Jack is watching the game from 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. The AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers are matched up against the NFC Champion Minnesota Vikings. Jack pulls for Pittsburgh. They are in the same conference as the Colts and Jack usually pulls for the AFC team. Also, his son-in-law Jim O’Neill is from Pittsburgh and is a big Steelers fan. Jim will be happy today as the Steelers win 16-6. Jack and his wife Betty are anxious grandparents to be. Jim and Nancy called from Denver on Christmas Day to let them know they were expecting. Jack and Betty are on pins and needles and as excited as they could be to become Granny and Grandad. Jack hops up from his recliner after the game is over and walks into the front room. He sits at the piano and plays a few tunes. Music relaxes him and he plays every day. Even while playing, his mind is always at the Shop on some level. It is winter and they are not particularly busy which is typical. They have a little work to start the year and tomorrow’s schedule rolls through his mind. The Shop has some 1 1/2” pipes to bend for Custom Steel Fabricators and three angles to roll for J.C. Pardo. Jack remembers he has to have both of those jobs knocked out early so they can be picked up in the afternoon as promised. His crew will take care of it first thing and it will be fine. He’s pulled out of his thoughts and his playing when he hears Betty calling everyone for dinner. He closes the cover on the keys, clicks off the light that sits on the piano and heads into the dining room.
Two 4” pipes are completed for Baltimore Tube Bending today. This company bends small pipes and tubes very much like the Shop does but they are unable to handle larger pieces. When Mr. Rogers at Baltimore Tube Bending has bigger pipes or tubes to bend, he calls Jack and sends them over. This job is welcomed by the crew as it will require filling the pipes with rosin. That means using torches to melt the rosin before filling and then again to get the rosin back out. Any torch work in February is a good thing and warms the old Shop up a bit. The pieces are finished and then delivered by Charlie Owens this afternoon.
The Shop has made it through another winter and they have stayed steady if not busy. Jack will take that. He knows the stories of winters at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Even as far back as Old Uncle Joe, the winter was always the most challenging part of the year to find work. A repair job for the Housing Authority is finished today. A heat exchanger was leaking and it was sent in for testing and repairs. The tubes are cut from the unit and they are checked. One tube is found to have a small pinhole. Another is bent to replace it and the unit is re-assembled, now in full working order.
The Orioles opening day is a Friday and the Kavanagh’s are there. Jack left his brother in charge & rushed out after lunch to get them all to the game. The Orioles are hosting their Eastern Division rival Boston Red Sox. The Birds have changed a bit in the off season. Gone are long time pitcher Dave McNally and long time first baseman, Boog Powell. Newcomers are starter Mike Torrez, first baseman Lee May and a young corner outfielder, Ken Singleton. This game is a close one that takes extra innings to decide. Finally, in the 12th inning, Carl Yastrzemski crushes a home run to right off Doyle Alexander and the Red Sox win. The Kavanagh’s head home after the loss still confident in their Birds team.
The spring has brought in a little more work but not as much as Jack had hoped. Most of the crew are busy but for John Benser, the machinist. During his idle hours, Benser makes dies and rollers for stock. Today he takes the final cuts on a set of 1 1/2” O.D. rollers for the R-3. They are turned down, faced off and grooved in a lathe. Finally, the old belt-driven shaper is used to cut the keyways. John Benser is Jack’s longest tenured employee. He spends much of his time in the upstairs machine shop making parts for jobs and on days like today, making assorted tools.
JoAnn Kavanagh graduates from Catholic High School on this Sunday. She is the last of six daughters to attend CHS. Her Mother and Father are very proud of her as is her maternal grandmother, Nanny who is at the house for a small party to celebrate.
JoAnn boards a bus and moves to Ocean City, Maryland. She has told her parents she wants to live at the beach and promises to find a job and work hard. She does just that and her first job is on the boardwalk at Steve’s Carry Out. The place is located directly opposite Trimper’s Amusements, a place the Kavanagh kids have loved for years.
The Kavanagh’s are at Memorial Stadium to watch the Orioles play the Texas Rangers on a Wednesday night. The Birds have struggled out of the gate so far and they lose another tough one tonight. Just as it was on opening day, this takes 12 innings to finish with Grant Jackson getting the loss in relief. Jim Palmer pitched a good game. His only mistakes being solo home runs to Texas outfielders, Jeff Burroughs and Mark Hargrove. Both Orioles’ runs were driven in by Lee May including a solo homer of his own. Jack is concerned about his team but he knows it’s early. He knows they have good pitching and still have good hitting. He is sure they will get it straightened out.
A rush of work has hit Central Avenue and Jack is relieved. He offers his men half-day Saturday hours and they gladly accept. Jack will keep that up as long as the work warrants it. His workers are split over a handful of jobs including a brass railing, a municipal fountain and several pipe rolling jobs. Another 4” Pipe is completed for Baltimore Tube Bending. This one does not require any filling as the pipe is heavy enough to handle the rolling process without collapsing. The pipe is rolled into a ring and needs to be trimmed and welded shut. Jack usually stays away from any extra fabricating or welding after the bending. Bending and rolling is their forte and Jack prefers to stick with what they are best at but for Mr. Rogers at Baltimore Tube, he is fine with it. The crew trims the ring then sends it up the street to Foster’s Welding. Jack Foster is another of Jack Kavanagh’s work “friends.” Foster’s is two blocks away so it’s simple and quick to run material up there and back. Foster’s handles the welding very well and the job is completed. Jack Kavanagh knows Foster’s does good work. In his mind, if he can’t trust another Jack, who can he trust?
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Ann & Jack Jr. take the bus to the Strand Theater. They are going to see a movie that was just released called “Jaws.” Their little brother is too young to go according to his mother, Betty. His sister and brother head off to the movies and he sits alone in the basement. Betty calls him upstairs to go to the store for her. She says we need a can of string beans for dinner and ushers him out the door but not before letting Joe know, he can buy himself a comic book and a candy bar. The little boy suddenly has a smile on his face and he races back across the street from Coby’s, the corner store. His father is in the front room playing the piano so Joe plops down in his Dad’s recliner. He tears open an end of the Hershey Bar and immerses himself in the adventures of the Flash, his favorite super hero. Jealous thoughts of his older brother and sister are gone as the Flash takes on Captain Cold in a battle for the fate of Central City. In a few hours, Ann and Jack return from “Jaws.” They were both shocked to see a line to get into the theater. Apparently, this happened all over the country. This movie that starts with some very ominous music becomes a smash hit and the summer blockbuster is invented.
On a hot summer Wednesday, the crew at 201 S. Central are anxious for the holiday. Jack has promised if they can finish up early tomorrow, he’ll get them all out of there by 2 pm tomorrow. That will give them a couple of hours then a long weekend which they all are looking forward to. The Shop is full of the high-pitched creaking of steel as it is rolled in the Roundo machines mixed with the slamming of the Pines Bender. After each bend, when the bend arm of the Pines returns it smacks hard against the machine. The sound of work and labor has filled this building for over sixty years and today is no different. The job in the Pines is for Washington Aluminum Co. Forty 2 1/2” aluminum pipes are bent and so forty times the machine’s ram must crash back and thud rhythmically. Jack is happy with the volume of work. It’s his job to worry about the place and worry he does. When there is a backlog of scheduled work for two weeks or more as there is now, he worries a lot less.
Jack, Betty and the three youngest children, Ann, Jack Jr. and Joe are driving across the Bay Bridge in the very early dawn hours. Now that they have a home in OC, they can take short weekend trips whenever possible. They have taken several so far this summer but today starts their real vacation. A week with the Shop closed and the Kavanagh’s at the beach, fishing, crabbing and hitting the boards. They also get to see their daughter JoAnn who has been living and working in Ocean City since her graduation. It’s an annual trip and the family loves it. This year they are a bit distracted with the impending birth of Nancy and Jim’s baby. The baby is due this month so they are getting close.
The Kavanagh’s returned from their vacation yesterday but are met with very sad news. Betty’s mother has passed away very suddenly. She was having some routine exploratory surgery for pain she has been having and she never makes it out of recovery. Betty is devastated. She has always been very close to her mother and she is heartbroken. It seems doubly so as she wanted more than anything for her mother to know her first great-grandchild. The family gathers and mourns her. Bernadine Crew is the only grandmother the youngest of the kids ever knew. Nanny was loving and caring and essentially the prototypical grandmother; the family’s sadness is heavy. Nanny’s funeral is held at St. Elizabeth’s Church and she is buried at New Cathedral Cemetery where much of the family are interred.
Sometimes in a period of great sadness, suddenly there is great joy. Maura Kavanagh O’Neill is born to Jim and Nancy in Denver Colorado. Jack and Betty and the assorted Kavanagh’s are thrilled and very excited. This baby is the start of a new generation. Jack and Betty are grandparents and it is a role they have looked forward to for some time. After Maura’s birth, six sisters become aunts and two brothers become uncles including the youngest who becomes Uncle Joe at the tender age of ten. Betty flies out to Denver for a week or so and is joined by Jack for the second weekend. They are as happy as they can be to meet their first grandchild.
The Kavanagh kids who still remain at home all head back to school today. Ann starts her second year at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel High School in Essex while the boys both return to St. Elizabeth’s Elementary for another year.
Another heat exchanger repair is handled today for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City. This unit is larger containing 41 tubes. They are removed and tested with four having leaks. Replacements are bent and a new spacer plate is drilled then the exchanger is put back together. Housing Authority is a good reliable customer. Jack can count on some work from them every month. This will be the last week for working Saturday half-days and this is how it usually goes at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. They are slower in the winter, busier in the summer, enough to work extra hours, then the rest of the year is steady. At least during any good year.
Jack is taking his son Jack Jr. to his first football game. He’s wanted to do this for a few years but was waiting for his boy to get a little older. The Colts first game at Memorial Stadium this season is against the Oakland Raiders. The Orioles had a good year winning 90 games but have to settle for second to the Red Sox and they miss the playoffs. The two Jacks are disappointed but they have high hopes for the Colts. The Raiders beat Baltimore today 31-20 but the Colts finish the year strong winning nine in a row to take the AFC East Division and secure a playoff berth.
The Washington Capitals or simply “Caps,” as their fans begin to call them, lose their home opener to the Pittsburgh Penguins in DC 4-2. It will be another hard year for the fledgling franchise but they will gain one very enthusiastic fan.
On this Saturday, a new late night comedy show premiers. It is called Saturday Night Live. The live show consists of short comedic skits, a monologue or two from a host and musical guest performances as well. Tonight the host is comedian George Carlin and music is provided by Bill Preston and Janis Ian. Ann and Jack Jr. stay up to watch and they love the show. Jack particularly enjoys a sketch about a Samurai laundromat attendant. Little Joe doesn’t see the appeal and he would rather stay in bed in his room watching late night horror movies presented by “Ghost Host” or “Creature Feature.” That was the boys’ usual Saturday night viewing but Jack Jr. may be getting too old for that.
Jack and his brother Ed sit in the small corner office at Pratt and Central. Ed eats a shrimp salad sandwich from one of the delis at Corned Beef Row while Jack has his usual ham sandwich from home. It’s the end of another week at the Shop and the brothers casually discuss the jobs Jack has lined up for next week and what has to be completed today. The last job that needs finishing today is for the Poole and Kent Company. Four pieces of 2 1/2” heavy steel pipe must be rolled to a 28 ft. Radius. It’s a straight forward job in the R-5. Jack tells Ed to let him know as soon as they are working on the last piece so he can call the customer and get them on their way to pick up.
It’s a Friday night and the Kavanagh household is happy to have reached the weekend. The World Series is over and football is played on Sunday but on this day, another sport squeezes into Kavanagh fandom. Little Jack received a fancy radio for his birthday last month and since has been searching the dial for fun things. He finds the radio broadcast for the Washington Capitals hockey game. Jack listens closely as an announcer, Ron Webber, describes the action. He is hooked. Fall and winter nights will soon be spent with ear close to radio and Jack’s interest in hockey grows very quickly. The Caps are young and struggling but Jack does not care. He finds he loves hockey as much as baseball and football and perhaps over time, even more.
It’s a Tuesday night and Jack and his sons are watching game 6 of the World Series. The Boston Red Sox are down 3 games to 2 to the Cincinnati Reds and this game in Fenway is a must win for Boston and its fans. The Reds jump out to a lead but Boston rallies back and the game is tied 6–6 and goes into extra innings. Jack and the boys talk about the game as they watch. It’s an exciting one and all three are on the edge of their seats. As the clock passes eleven o’clock, a voice from the top of the stairs is heard.
“Jack? Jack? It’s past 11 o’clock. The boys have school tomorrow. You know.” Betty calls down to her husband.
The room grows eerily quiet in an instant. Jack Jr. and Joe try to sink into their chairs a bit as if that might hide them from view. Jack takes a sip of his beer and keeps his eyes focused on the television. “I said it’s past 11. You boys better get to sleep. You have to get up for school tomorrow.” Betty repeats herself.
“Sure hon, The game’s almost over. They’ll be right up.” Jack answers without looking away from the game.
Betty tries again. “Jack? You have to get up too.” An audible sigh moves down the stairs. “Fine. Fine. Nobody listens to me in this house. Heading toward midnight and children awake.” She shakes her head hard enough that the boys could almost sense it from the first floor. She returns to her bed muttering, “Patience is a virtue.”
The room stays quiet for a few more minutes and the boys realize they are being allowed to stay up. Jack never confirms this but his silence and ignoring of their mother tells them so. The young Kavanagh lads are quite happy they are allowed to watch the end when Boston Catcher Carlton Fisk steps to the plate in the bottom of the 12th. They see something pretty special. Fisk drives a pitch deep into left field but right down the foul line. As Jack and his boys lean forward, Fisk is seen jumping up and down waving his arms toward fair territory. As if by the strength of his will, the ball stays fair and bounces off the foul pole for a home run. The Red Sox win and this moment is forever remembered in the annuls of baseball lore. Fisk’s waved fair shot. Jack immediately ushers his sons up the steps and into bed. He’s glad he let them stay up. It’s another baseball moment they won’t soon forget. Baseball though is humbling and this is no clearer than on the next night when the Reds come back from a three run deficit to win 4-3 thus taking the championship. The Kavanagh’s will watch that game too but it’s game 6 they will never forget.
The Kavanagh family visits Aunt Anna at the Visitation Convent on this Saturday after Thanksgiving. In the order, she is named Sister Mary Agnes but is always Aunt Anna to her family. She is Jack’s father’s sister and the last of her generation. Jack, Betty and the kids visit as often as they can and always close to the holidays. They catch up with her on her teaching and she on the family. She is nearly as excited as Jack and Betty at the arrival of Nancy’s baby. After a nice long chat, the family heads home to enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend.
The end of another year is approaching and the Shop is finishing strong. They have a solid two week backlog and Jack believes that will extend to the beginning of 1976. This year, they have received a few calls for small parts for local brewers and distillers but those jobs are more and more infrequent. The bulk of the Kavanagh’s work is rolling and bending metal for construction, fabrication and an assortment of other applications. A set of pipe rings are rolled in the R-3 for Codd Fabricators while some 1 1/4” pipes are bent for a sculpture for Stan Edmister. The Shop has helped Mr. Edmister with a couple of projects and Jack is hoping the word spreads to more artists. Work is work and Jack will take any and all he can get.
It’s Christmas Day on Lakewood Avenue and the family celebrates as they always do. They gather and enjoy the day as one. Presents are exchanged, a feast is shared and music and song will fill the house. For Jack and Betty, this Christmas will always be special. Jim, Nancy and baby Maura are back home for the holiday and the baby is held, passed around and held again by any and all. Jack and Betty have lived in this house for about thirty years now. They have raised nine children and now there is a grandchild. Betty misses her mother dearly and will take some time to heal but if there is anything that helps her, it is this miracle of a baby. Betty takes any chance to snatch her up and hold Maura in her arms while Jack is content to make faces and say “boozey gitsie” and other nonsensical things to amuse the little one. The baby seems non-plussed but the rest of the Kavanagh’s chuckle for this is how Jack was to all of them. The end of the festivities finds the family gathered around the piano. Jack plays and everyone joins in singing if they know the words. Christmas carols are played and those favorites from long ago that he and Betty love. He slips into “As Time Goes By” and sends a lingering glance to Betty. When he sings certain songs, he is singing to her. This is one perfect example. She returns his look and this is their present to each other. What they have shared and done together. This suddenly growing again family and each of these moments. They are precious to them both and to be savored, enjoyed and recounted as time goes by.
Maura Kavanagh O’Neill is baptized at St. Elizabeth’s Church where the Kavanagh’s are parishioners and have been for generations. Jack and Betty are proud grandparents as are Jim and Nancy proud Dad and Mom. Most members of both families are there and Jim plays the song “Greensleeves” on the flute as part of the celebration of the sacrament. It’s a beautiful service but the family then rushes down Lakewood Avenue to get home. The Colts are in the playoffs and face the Steelers today in Pittsburgh. The Kavanagh’s and O’Neill’s of Pittsburgh sit down to watch the game and it goes the Steelers way. They beat the Colts 28-10. A tough day for Colts fans but the Kavanagh’s will take it. They welcomed a new family member into the Church today and the assumption is, Maura pulled a favor to help her Dad’s team.
Gerald Ford is the President of the United States. Due to the energy crisis, Daylight Savings Time starts two months early. Saigon falls thus ending the Vietnam War. Elizabeth Seton becomes the first American Roman Catholic Saint. The ship the Edmund Fitzgerald sinks. Bill Gates founds Microsoft. Busch Gardens opens in Williamsburg, VA. “Wheel of Fortune” premiers on TV. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” debuts on Broadway. The films, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, “Towering Inferno”, “Young Frankenstein” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” album are released. Angelina Jolie, Tiger Woods, Drew Barrymore, Alex Rodriguez and Ray Lewis are born. Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Ozzie Nelson, Casey Stengel and Rod Serling die. Teamsters Union Leader Jimmy Hoffa disappears.
There are 50 states in the Union.
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