Jack pulls his keys to the heavy metal doors at 201 S. Central Avenue from his pocket and unlocks both padlocks. He swings the door open, enters and heads into the office while his crew arrive in ones and twos but all on time. Jack(51) and his wife Betty(46) have nine children but only three are still living at home, Ann, Jack Jr. and Joe. The older girls have moved out with Nancy and Mary both married now. Mary and her husband Handy live on Bucknell Road and Nancy and her husband Jim live the farthest away in Denver with their baby girl, Maura. Eldest daughter BettyAnn lives in Washington DC, Jane and Jackie have apartments in Baltimore and JoAnn has moved to Ocean City to live. Jack is very proud of his brood and they stay close regardless of whether they are local or not. Jack’s Shop has started this year the same as last. They are slow even for January but have a few jobs. The country is in recession with rampant inflation. Gas prices are going to the moon and there are shortages to boot. For the first time Jack can remember, sometimes you have to stand or park in line to get gasoline. Jack is sure things will be fine as he sits in the corner office with his brother Ed and secretary Helen Glodek. The work will pick up and hopefully this gas crisis will be resolved. A set of nine pipes are bent for the Heat and Power Corporation today. Though they have three bends each, it’s a fairly simple job. They are bent in the Leonard Air Bender and finished in three hours total.
Jack sits in his chair drinking a bottle of National Premium on Super Bowl Sunday. The Pittsburgh Steelers are playing the Dallas Cowboys for the NFL Championship. Jack loves football and despite Pittsburgh bouncing the Colts from the playoffs, he roots for them and they win 21-17. Jack thinks of his son-in-law Jim O’Neill. Jim and his family are from Pittsburgh and are all fans. Jack might have enjoyed a little good-natured ribbing at Jim’s expense if they had lost but he prefers Jim to get the win. In Jack’s mind, if it can’t be the Colts, it might as well be the Steelers.
An unseasonably warm February Thursday is a quiet one at the Shop. There are a couple jobs in the works including a copper coil which is finished for the Ackerman and Baynes Company, one of Jack’s local fabricator customers. The coil took a lot of time and certainly more than Jack figured in the job. It happens sometimes. You don’t always cover the time and, on this one, Jack bid it a little low because he really needed the work. Despite all of this, it will be a good sized bill to send out. While this coil is finished by the Glenn brothers, two men are rolling some flat bar rings for Universal Metal Products and the rest are doings some cleaning up and maintenance on the machines.
The mild February has led to a cold March so far but the work has picked up some. The Shop has been well cleaned and that’s never a good thing. Jack knows a clean Shop is not a busy Shop. He might not like the mess but if it’s because the crew doesn’t have the time to clean, that’s a good thing. A set of pipes are rolled for Codd Fabricators, one of the Kavanagh’s oldest customers. Codd sends work in regularly. They are located on Aliceanna Street about five minutes from the Joseph Kavanagh Company. This makes deliveries and pick ups much easier. Codd is owned by Ray Kaufmann and his family while their shop is run by Pete Kolb. Jack knows both Pete and Ray and considers them both work “friends.” The two companies work together well.
It’s April Fool’s Day at the Shop which means nailing other worker’s boots to the floor, giving people a “hot foot” and the possibility that Ed might slip a Tums in your coffee cup if you let your guard down. Pranks and jokes are common in any working environment but in a dirty metal Shop it comes with the territory. Jack gets a chuckle out of it all and doesn’t let it bother him. As long as the work is done, he lets the boys have their fun. His brother Ed, of course, is usually right in the middle of it. Another reason Jack lets the playing go on is they are still waiting for more work. It will get here. Jack is sure but in the interim he has the men keep cleaning and he has John Benser making tools for stock. It’s a good use of free time and they will need the tools eventually.
It’s a Friday opening day for the Orioles and that’s Jack’s favorite. A Friday is the easiest day for him to leave work early. He picks Betty and the kids up and they head out to Thirty-third Street for the game. Jack is excited for the start of the season. The Orioles made a big trade just a week ago acquiring perennial all-star Reggie Jackson from the Oakland A’s. Jackson is a power-hitting left-handed outfielder and the Birds hope he can put them over the top. Baltimore wins a squeaker today 1-0 with the only run scoring in the fourth inning on a couple of errors and a Bobby Grich single. Reggie doesn’t play in the game but will have a terrific year for the Orioles belting 27 home runs while surprising the league with 28 stolen bases.
Jack is pleased to receive a rush job from Sinai Hospital. They have a boiler that is down and they need a heat exchanger repaired. The Shop has made and repaired exchangers for the City Housing Authority for a few years and the word has spread to other agencies and now hospitals. Copper tubes are annealed and bent into U’s, brass spacer plates are cut and drilled and the new unit is assembled as quickly as possible. Jack wants this one out fast in hopes it will lead to more work from Sinai down the road.
The Kavanagh’s return from a weekend at the beach. It’s Memorial Day and the family spent the holiday at Royal Palm Court. The kids have a few days of school the following week then are finished for the summer. Jack Jr. will graduate from St. Elizabeth’s and move on to high school. He received his Confirmation in the Catholic Church two weeks prior and Mom and Dad are full of pride in the young man he is becoming. Jack and Betty have a wedding to look forward to this summer. Betty Ann is engaged to Michael Ballard, a young man from Kentucky who she has been seeing for some time.
The Summer has arrived with a bang, a slew of orders and jobs has hit the corner of Pratt and Central. Jack immediately adds Saturday hours to the schedule and the crew are happy for the extra money. A very large set of copper U-bends are finished for Harvey Stambaugh & Sons. It’s four hundred and thirty-six bends and takes over one hundred lengths of tube. Jack always keeps a big stock of copper and this helps him in getting work. Most other companies do not keep this much in stock but the Kavanagh’s have been working with copper long enough that Jack knows to keep plenty on hand.
The work is suddenly plentiful and it’s a good thing the workers did some cleaning and maintenance when they could. A mix of angle rings, railings, a set of brewery fittings for National and some stainless steel shafts for a machine are all bent today. The shafts are sent in from the William H. Whiting Company and they are rolled in the R-3 by Mike Glenn. They are only four feet long so one man is all it takes. Jack stands in the front of 201 S. Central and watches his men at work. Anytime he can do that and hear the grinding and whirring of machines and the thud and clang of metal being moved, he is happy.
Betty Ann Kavanagh marries Michael Ballard at St. Andrew’s Church in Wheaton, Maryland. Her parents are excited for her and the Kavanagh clan and some of the Crew family drive from Baltimore for the celebration. Nancy and baby Maura fly in from Denver. Jack and Betty are happy to have another daughter married and pleased to welcome Michael into the fold. The Kavanagh family keeps growing and that will only continue.
This Sunday is the United State of America’s 200th birthday and the Kavanagh’s celebrate. Crabs and shrimp are steamed and burgers and hot dogs are grilled. A large fireworks display is held at the Inner Harbor and a mammoth cake is floated on a barge from Fort McHenry. The family watches it all on television from home and the youngest, Joe, is excited. His head is full of a giant cake a la Paul Bunyan. He’s a bit disappointed when the cake becomes a bit of a civic embarrassment. The cake sits for several days before the holiday and rain and rats take their toll. Some substitute pieces of cake are sold and the Kavanagh’s as a group, are a little disappointed in this too. The cake is rather dry but cake is still cake. The day is a very patriotic and festive one. The family knows this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and they do their best to take it all in.
Jack glances out of the window onto Jefferson Street. He’s home on a Saturday afternoon and watching his boys play wiffle ball on the side of the house. He smiles to watch his sons and their friends as they play as he did. His boys still play on their neighborhood team, the Robin-Blair Sons. The core is Jack and Joe and their friends Tommy and Ray French but Tommy is getting older and sometimes is too busy to play. The team is usually augmented for games by other boys in the neighborhood. This summer it’s been three young Greek boys who moved onto the 500 block of Lakewood, the Stakias brothers. Jack and Joe like these boys and with six, they rarely have to find any one else to get up a game even with a bigger team. Jack lets the curtain close and sits down in his recliner flipping the seat back. He opens the newspaper as Betty enters from the kitchen, tea for each in tow. She takes her seat closer to the window and instinctively checks on the boys. She turns to Jack.
“Well, my darling, how do you like being a Grandad?” she rocks in the chair and crosses her legs while she lets her tea cool.
Jack blows on his then takes a small swallow. “Hmm? I love it. Of course. She’s something. I gotta tell you, Betty. I love that little girl.” Jack smiles soft as only a father of seven girls can. All Daddy’s girls in his eyes and the chance to feel that again with this baby girl warms him.
Betty takes a sip from her cup then continues. “I’m glad you feel that way, Jack. I love that baby so much too and…. I have some news.”
Suddenly Jack perks up and places his cup roughly in the saucer, the sound making Betty wince. “News? What do you mean? Are they having another baby?” his grin getting ahead of itself with excitement.
Betty pauses then slowly nods. “Maura is going to have a baby brother or sister early next year.”
“Oh Gee, hon. That’s great.” He claps his hands together and is on his feet in a flash “Another grandbaby, Betty. Oh I can’t believe it.” He steps closer and lifts her to her feet wrapping his arms around her. “Another grandchild.”
“Yes, Jack. Another grandchild. Another baby.”
The Kavanagh’s take their annual vacation in Ocean City at Royal Palm Court. The kids sleep a little in the back while Jack and Betty drive through the early morning Saturday hours. They love this city. Now that they have this small place of their own, they both dream of retiring here some day. A long way off no doubt, but it’s a goal they share. Jack loves the water, the fishing and crabbing. Betty loves the solitude and sunshine. She loves nothing more than to sit outside with the scent of the sea, the warmth of the sun and the feel of a book in her hand. They reach Ocean City mid morning and Betty sets them to unpacking and setting up the bedrooms for the week. She cooks as much as she can at Royal Palm. It’s much cheaper to eat at home rather than go out but they do treat themselves occasionally. Saturday night will be spent at Granny’s Pizzeria on 17th Street. Gooey cheese, perfect sauce and crisped thin crust is how they do it and they do it right. It’s the kids’ favorite and Jack and Betty love the black olive pizza. The rest of the week is a whirlwind of fishing, crabbing, rides, arcades and soft serve ice cream. It goes by in a flash and the following Sunday they are driving back across the Bay Bridge on their way home.
It’s Labor Day and the Kavanagh’s have returned from another long weekend in Ocean City. It’s the end of summer and the ride home was a quiet one. The children will return to school tomorrow for another year. Jack Jr. joins Ann at Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Joe is the last to remain at St. Elizabeth’s. Jack, Betty and the kids are watching the end of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. Jerry introduces the “Chairman of the Board” and Jack shushes them all to silence. Jack is a huge admirer of Frank Sinatra. Frank sings and then brings out a special guest, Dean Martin and the old duo of Martin and Lewis are re-united for a few moments. Jack and Betty smile broadly and it’s that sudden rush of nostalgia and feeling yourself pulled back happily to your youth. The kids know this is important as they have spent hours watching those old movies with their father. The Telethon once again passes the previous year’s high and the summer is truly over as the credits roll. The children scatter to find some fun for those last few hours before bed, then school. Betty is glad to have some time alone with Jack.
“Well, Jack. I have some news for you.” Betty leans over and kisses him quick then sits down facing him.
Jack returns the kiss and smiles. “What is it, hon? Something with the kids’ school?”
The corners of Betty’s mouth crinkle in a grin. “No, no. We… are going to be grandparents again next year. “
“I know that, Betty. Nancy told us.” Jack replies as he lifts a glass of iced tea to his lips.
“I said again. Yes Nancy is having a baby. But so is Betty.” her eyes flash very wide.
Jack suddenly scoots forward in his chair and turns to face her more directly. “What? Really? Betty too?”
“I’m serious. Betty too.” Betty’s lips purse together for a moment in a more whimsical smile. “There will be two babies next year.”
Jack chuckles merrily and rises to his feet closing the distance between them quickly and they embrace. “Two more babies.” Jack whispers in her ear.
“Mmhmm.” Betty answers softly.
Jack and Little Jack attend the Colts home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s a close one but Baltimore pulls it out winning 28-27. Jack and his son discuss the game throughout and on the ride home. These are special times for a father and son especially in a household the size of the Kavanagh’s. Any alone time with Jack Sr., is precious to his children when there are so many.
The Shop has completed a busy summer and the Saturday hours come to an end. Jack still has work enough to keep the crew busy but not enough for the weekend time. Today a Davit Boom is bent for Crown, Cork and Seal Co. A Davit Boom is a section of pipe that is bent on one end to facilitate lifting heavy objects often from the water or a boat. A winch or chain fall is attached to the top and the curve aids in supporting and lifting whatever the object is. Jack had an order for two of these from Crown, Cork and Seal two weeks ago and today a third is bent.
The Washington Capitals open their third season at home hosting the Atlanta Flames. Jack Kavanagh Jr. is listening from his bedroom leaning as close as he can to the radio. Lakewood Avenue is at the bottom of two hills, and radio and television reception can be a challenge. Jack has this fancy Channel Master and can get the game but some nights it’s a little staticky. He holds his ear close because he has to keep the sound down too. The TV is on downstairs and his father is watching so it’s best to keep the radio volume down. Jack is becoming a bigger hockey fan with each season. He loves the action, the speed and the skill of the game. He has acquired a second hand stick and pucks to play around with and practice. Jack enjoys tonight’s broadcast immensely. The Caps win 6-5 and will make some steps forward this year winning 24 games and climbing out of the cellar of the Norris Division.
Jack calls Mr. John Rogers at Baltimore Tube Bending to tell him a piece of 4” pipe is ready and it will be delivered shortly. The pipe was rolled in the R-5 to 90 degrees and will be used as an elbow. It’s a typical job for the Shop but one that is too big for Baltimore Tube Bending to do themselves. Rogers and Jack discuss the World Series as well. The Orioles did okay winning 88 games but just as last year, they will finish second in the Eastern Division. The Yankees were in first and won the ALCS as well. They are playing the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series and so far, the Reds are up 3 games to none. Jack is hoping for a sweep. Even though New York is the American League team, they are in the Birds’ division and Jack can’t root for the Yanks. He just can’t do it. He will get his wish in two nights when the Reds finish it off and take the World Series championship.
Democrat Jimmy Carter defeats incumbent Republican Gerald Ford to win the presidency. The Kavanagh’s vote for Carter. They have been members of the Democratic Party for three generations and in this case, the Nixon administration left a bad taste that Ford had very little chance of overcoming.
Another heat exchanger is completed today. This one is for a local YMCA. This unit uses bigger tubes than most exchangers. Usually they are made with 3/4” copper tube but this one needs 1 1/4” O.D. The Shop does stock this size and the boys get right to it. Lengths of copper are pulled from racks then cut and annealed. They are bent in the Leonard Air Bender, then trimmed to size. Finally, the unit is put together, the tubes expanded to seal and it is stamped with the Job# and the date for future reference.
The Kavanagh’s visit Aunt Anna, Sister Mary Agnes at the Visitation Convent. She is happy to hear all the latest on the two babes that are on the way but she also has some news of her own. The Visitation building on Roland Park Avenue has been sold by the Archdiocese. Her order is moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota and she with it. The family is very surprised as they see her almost every month and have done so for over thirty years. Sister Mary Agnes tells them she is excited for the challenge. She will miss them all dearly and Baltimore too but she is ready for a change if that is what God has planned for her. The move will not be until next year but Jack and Betty already promise to fly out to see her if they can. Aunt Anna promises to write to them which she has always done. She is a prolific letter writer and corresponds with many friends and family.
Jack is watching the evening news and Reggie Jackson has signed with the New York Yankees as a free agent. His tenure in Baltimore was a brief one. Jack shakes his head and mutters, “those Damn Yankees.”
It’s a very cold Tuesday in the old Shop and Jack and the crew’s minds are on their work but also the approaching holiday. Thoughts of gifts for their kids, time with family and time away from work fill all their thoughts. The year has been fair. A slow start lead to a busy summer and now to a steady end to 1976. A fountain is finished for Fountain Craft company today along with a 3” Pipe for Service Machine and Welding. The pipe is thin wall but does not require filling. Still, it must be rolled slowly or “babied” as Jack would say to keep the distortion of the pipe to a minimum. Jerry Purnell and helper Forest Glenn take care of this one in the R-5. Jack is very happy with the Roundo machines. He has two and is beginning to consider purchasing a third. He would love something even bigger than the R-5 but for now, he will wait. He will keep thinking about it for down the road.
The Colts host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs and the two Jacks are there. Both are excited for a re-match of last year’s playoff game and perhaps some revenge against the Steelers. The Colts are an offensive juggernaut this season leading the league in points scored and quarterback Bert Jones wins the MVP of the league. Baltimore has the home field advantage this time but it doesn’t help. The game turns ugly early with the Colts trailing 26-7 at the half and finally losing 40-14. this game is tough to watch so the two Kavanagh’s decide to leave early along with many of the Colts fans. It’s good fortune many do because minutes after the game is completed, a small plane crashes into the upper deck of Memorial Stadium. Jack and Jack are listening on the radio and can’t believe what they hear. It could have been much worse if the stadium had been full at the time. The pilot was arrested and sent for psychological evaluation.
It’s Christmas Day on Lakewood Avenue and this year feels merrier than most. It’s always a beautiful Christmas at 447 but this year is special. A wedding, a baby and two more on the way. Jack and Betty can hardly contain themselves. The front room is decorated as always with a large tree, pieces of cut up tree around the mirror over the piano and along the stairs. Santa’s elves are placed about and a small Nativity sits on the radiator. There are piles of gifts for each of the children with the youngest, Joe’s being the largest. He’s still in the toy phase at least for a few more years. Food is abundant and music flows from the piano punctuated by Jack’s deep throaty voice leading them in song. They welcome and celebrate Christmas, then bid it farewell in fine fashion. Jack and Betty will watch their family grow even more next year as the next generation gets bigger. Their kids are grown or growing up and they are happy but a little sad too. They have had small kids in the house for over twenty years and the sound of play is one they relish. Fortunately, the grandchild will fill any silence that appears. Jack has one other thing on his mind this Christmas. Jack Jr. is fourteen. It’s time for him to begin to learn his trade. Jack has discussed it with Betty and next year, Little Jack will start at the Shop. The fifth generation will come to the Joseph Kavanagh Company.
Jimmy Carter is the President of the United States after defeating Gerald Ford. The two-dollar bill is re-introduced by the US Treasury. The ABA and the NBA merge. The Naval Academy accepts its first class that includes women. The first outbreak of Legionnaires disease occurs in Philadelphia. The space shuttle Enterprise is finished and unveiled to the public. The Band play their last concert and it is made into a movie, “the Last Waltz.” The company Apple is formed by Steve Jobs. The films “the Omen,” “Rocky” and “Taxi Driver” are released. I read “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Ryan Reynolds, Peyton Manning, Rashida Jones, Pat Tillman and Matthew Shepard are born. Sal Mineo, Howard Hughes, J. Paul Getty and Jack Cassidy die.
There are 50 states in the Union.
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