On a cold Sunday, Jack watches Super Bowl 11 as the Oakland Raiders take on the Minnesota Vikings for the NFL Championship. He watches every year as do most Americans. It’s becoming a winter tradition in the US. The AFC’s Raiders lead this game the whole way and win 32-14.
Jack drives home from Central Avenue on this Friday. He drives along Pratt Street until reaching Patterson Park then turns left. The day passes through his mind as he waits at the light on Baltimore Street. A set of admiralty brass tubes were bent for Harvey Stambaugh. That was an easy one, no annealing necessary as admiralty is soft and Stambaugh furnished the tube. Charlie Owens tinned some very small pieces for ElJay Corporation. They still get tinning jobs occasionally but that old school coppersmith work is disappearing. Jack turns left onto Lakewood Avenue and is almost home. He pulls up to the corner, turns the quick right and parks on the Jefferson Street side of the house. He heads inside ready for dinner and then to watch a mini-series the family has been engrossed in. The Kavanagh’s have been watching “Roots” on channel 13. The series began on Sunday and has been running all week. The tale of an African-American family and its struggle from slavery to freedom is compelling. Jack and Betty enjoy it a great deal and their son Joe is particularly interested. He begins to ask questions about his family and how they came to America. While certainly not the story of an ancestor kidnapped into slavery, he imagines it’s a story worth hearing. During commercial breaks, he peppers his parents with questions about the Kavanagh family history. For several weeks, it is often the subject of conversation at the dinner table and afterward. Jack regales him with tales of Old Uncle Joe, the bootlegging and, of course, Jack Hart and Aunt Kitty. Betty chimes in as well or adds knowing nods when Jack reaches some particular point. When Jack and Kitty come up, Betty is quick to say they truly were in love. Joe is more fascinated after each chat. Jack and Betty instruct Joe to send a letter to Aunt Anna, Sister Mary Agnes, who now lives in Minnesota. She is a member of the Visitation Convent and they have re-located from Baltimore to Minneapolis. They tell him Aunt Anna will have some family information for you. The Kavanagh’s watch every minute of every episode of Roots and their interest is more than a curiosity with genealogy. They are also moved by the ordeal of this family as jt is portrayed and the inspired performances of the actors.
Jim and Nancy welcome their second child, Katie Kavanagh O’Neill in Denver Colorado. Jack and Betty have been waiting patiently and are so anxious to meet the new baby. Long distance congratulatory calls are made and then plans to fly out to meet Baby Katie.
The Shop finishes a large heat exchanger for Spring Grove Hospital today. It takes nearly five hundred feet of 3/4” copper tube but the Kavanagh’s have kept a big stock of tube for years. Jack must have close to five thousand feet of it on the racks upstairs. It’s another job from a hospital and Jack hopes that trend continues. He can always use more customers.
On a Friday night, Jack, Jane and Jack Jr. attend their first Washington Capitals game at the Capital Centre in Largo, Maryland. It’s a bit of a drive but with no school or work on Saturday, Jack is fine taking his daughter and son. Jane likes hockey and has scored tickets to Baltimore Clippers games in the past from the telephone company where she works. This is the NHL though and Jack Jr. is very excited and he’s transfixed as he watches. Hockey is a game that is very dynamic to watch in person with a lot of fast action. The Caps are hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs and they win 4-2. The three Kavanagh’s have a lot of fun and even the ride home is full of chatter about the game. If Jack wasn’t hooked on hockey before, he is now.
The weather has warmed a little but the work is still fair at best. Several angles are rolled for Codd Fabricators, some flat bars for Klaunberg and a finned heater is fixed for the Maryland House of Correction. A finned heater is a unit that is made from 180 deg and 90 deg elbows connecting copper tubes in a serpentine shape. The tubes are embedded in steel fins which conduct some of the heat. Repairs are problematic as you must fix the leaking tube while doing your best not to ruin too many fins. The Shop has fixed these for years so the crew can do it without much damage. Elbows are replaced and Foster’s Welding seals some gaps and the heater is returned to City Jail.
Jack Jr. and a friend drive to the Capital Centre to see the Caps play the Colorado Rockies. Jack sees a rare rout for the Caps as they beat the Rockies 5-0 with Goalie Roger Crozier getting the shutout.
The Orioles Opening day is this Thursday and the starting lineup looks a little different. Doug DeCinces is playing third base and a young hitter named Eddie Murray is DHing. Murray is a standout and looks to be the first baseman of the future but the absence of Brooks Robinson is most notable. Brooks is on the roster as a player-coach but his playing days are coming to an end. The Orioles lose a squeaker today in ten innings. Bert Blyleven out duels Jim Palmer 2-1 with both pitchers throwing 10 innings of ball.
April Kavanagh Ballard is born to Michael and Betty Ann Ballard today. Jack and Betty are able to visit this baby the day she is born. Betty Ann and Michael live in Arlington Virginia which is driveable from Baltimore. Jack and Betty can not believe they are suddenly grandparents three times over.
Jack’s crew spend a beautiful spring day trapped indoors in the Shop at the corner of Pratt and Central. The garage doors are opened wide in hopes of letting much of the sunshine and warmth into the building. The volume of work is still not where Jack wants it to be but getting better. The crew are busy bending round copper tubes for a fountain and three square tubes for Baltimore Tube Bending. Jack’s idea of having John Benser make rollers during his idle time continues to pay off for him. Benser has made a variety of flat rollers and spacers for the Roundo and the Shop is able to curve a wider range of items and sizes. Square tubes are a perfect example.
The Kavanagh’s are descending on Arlington Virginia for Baby April’s Baptism. The ceremony is being held in Michael and Betty’s backyard and is officiated by Father Tim Madsen, a friend of Betty’s from college. Most of the family are there except for JoAnn who is April’s godmother. She is hung up in traffic on the Bay Bridge coming from Ocean City and Mary gladly stands in during the sacrament. Mary is always happy to help especially if it means more time with the baby. April’s big day is a beautiful one. Jack and Betty are either holding the baby or snapping pictures all day. April’s parents are very happy to be surrounded by many friends and relatives from both of their families. Little Joe is there and rides with sisters Jane and Ann. He’s excited to be an uncle again. Joe passes the time during the ride by reading a book in the backseat, a book recommended by Ann who read it because of Betty. Jane loves it too and they discuss it between chapters. The book is called “the Hobbit.”
Today is Monday and the first day of vacation for the Kavanagh kids. Ann(16), Jack Jr.(14) and Joe(11) are happy to be finished with school and out in the early afternoon sunshine of summer. They are walking across the park to the Patterson Theater to see a newly released movie, a science fiction film set in space. All three of the Kavanagh’s are excited to see it. The commercials look great with spaceships and lasers. The movie is called “Star Wars” and they are seeing a matinee. The film is incredible. The Kavanagh’s love it. Action packed and thrilling with astounding special effects, compared to most B movie Sci-Fi Ann and the boys have seen, it looks almost real. After Chewie gives his call, Han and Luke receive their medals, the credits roll and the kids start talking about the show. Each thought it was incredible as did the rest of the audience. As they file out still chatting about the movie, they see something they have never seen before: a line running from the Patterson Theater up Eastern Avenue. The Kavanagh’s walk along it and are asked by many if they saw Star Wars? How was it? They say it was great and keep going. The line is over a block long, all to see this movie. Ann, Jack and Joe talk about it the whole way home. The movie, the effects, the line; they all agree maybe this Star Wars thing will be something big.
Jack Jr. goes to work at the Shop for the first time. His father has informed Jack he will only have to work three days a week unless they are working Saturdays. He can still have off on Monday and Tuesday. Jack Sr. knows his boy is still young at only fourteen but so was he when he started. Little Jack, as he is called by the crew, is nervous but he is dutiful and does what he is told to do. Today he is told to sweep up and clean metal shavings from around the lathes and other machines. It’s not what he expected but he didn’t know what to expect. The workers are focused on getting a heat exchanger out for Housing Authority. It’s not a large unit but does have twenty-four tubes and Jack was told they needed it picked up by the end of the day. Jack is always a man of his word and the unit is out of the Shop by 2:30 pm. At the end of the day, Jack and his father are heading back to the house. They talk about the day and the men at the Shop. Jack Jr. is glad he got through this first one. Hopefully, it’s all downhill from here. After dinner, his younger brother fires questions at him about the Shop while Jack changes into clean clothes..
“So what was it like Jack? Did you run any of the big machines?” Joe asks as Jack pulls a Capitals t-shirt over his head.
“Dirty. It was dirty and no I didn’t run any machine unless a broom counts.” Jack’s wide grin spreads over his face.
“Sweep? You had to sweep? You mean you cleaned up? That seems boring.” Joe wrinkles his nose in thought.
“It’s work. It’s not supposed to be fun and you gotta start at the bottom, G. The first thing you do is help clean up. I guess.” Jack stands in front of the mirror and brushes his hair carefully.
Joe watches him curiously. He has noticed Jack’s sudden interest in his hair looking just so. Joe is accustomed to Jack calling him GI or just G. That’s the nickname Jack stuck on Joe as a baby. “How were the men? Do they have to listen to you since your Dad’s son?”
“No, No. It’s not like that. I am just a worker there. Nobody listens to me. I listen to them. Dad says by next week I’ll be helping to roll pipe.” Jack sends his brother a quick glance then returns his eyes to the reflection in the mirror.
“But what were the guys like? Were they nice?” Joe wants to learn all he can because he knows he will work be there some day too.
“Weird. They were weird but,” Jack pauses and sits on his bed across from his little brother. “Listen Joe. Its a work Shop. It’s not like school or anything like that. They were all fine to me. Maybe because I’m Dad’s son. I don’t know but it’s work. You are mostly too busy to care what anybody is like. You do what you’re told and can talk a little during breaks and lunch but most of the day you are doing stuff.”
“Was it hard work? I mean. You’re bigger than me. Do you think I’ll be able to do it?” Joe seems to be getting closer to the question he really wants answered.
Jack smiles. “Yeah, you’ll be fine and you’ll be bigger by then. You got a few years. You’ll see. Besides, I’ll be there. I’ll take care of you and Dad will be there too. Don’t worry about it.” he places a hand on Joe’s shoulder. “Come on. Let’s get the guys and play three flies up Ellwood Park before it gets dark.”
Joe hops off the bed. “Okay. Sounds good. Thanks ….. J.” Joe’s eyes widen and he chuckles and follows his brother down the stairs and out the front door.
The Shop has gained some more work but it’s still not the average summer. Jack has decided to alternate working half days on Saturday. The crew are happy to have any extra hours so it works for everybody. Everybody but Little Jack who seems to enjoy sleeping in on his Saturdays and would prefer to have them all off. Today Jack is finally working on a job. He’s cutting some copper tubes for Harvey Stambaugh while five 4” pipe elbows are rolled in the R-5 for the Harry Campbell and Sons Co.
Jack is watching the Major League Baseball All-star game and he can’t believe his eyes. Orioles ace Jim Palmer, the all-star starter, has given up three home runs and even thrown a wild pitch. Palmer will get saddled with the loss as he has a very rough night. It’s an exhibition and Jack hopes he got this out of his system and can return to his normal form for the Birds. The only other Oriole all-star is outfielder Ken Singleton. He is a solid hitter with a very good batting eye something that Jack believes is sadly lacking in many of the “free swingers” in the game today. Singleton is hit by a pitch in his one at bat so there are few highlights for Baltimore fans with the National League winning 7-5.
The Kavanagh’s annual vacation to Ocean City starts today and this one will be very special. The O’Neill’s are visiting from Denver so granddaughters, Maura and Katie are spending the week with them. Jack and Betty can’t wait to show them off all over this beach town they love.. The long ride on Route 50 across the Bay Bridge is well worth it when they arrive at Royal Palm Court. They unload under the direction of Jack and put things away under the guidance of Betty. Soon the small house is set up for a week of living. The family spends days fishing and crabbing or at the beach, Jolly Roger Amusement Park or at miniature golf. Nights are spent walking on the boardwalk and visiting Marty’s Playland and Trimpers rides. Sister JoAnn lives in OC and is a great guide for the younger kids. She can take them out for a night of fun in the town better than most locals. She knows all the best places and the best deals. Jack and Betty spend as much time as possible with their grandkids. It’s a wonderful trip with lots of fun, games and great food. Soft ice cream, funnel cakes, cotton candy and Thrasher’s Fries are all consumed. The week goes by very fast but they enjoy the break. They head home on Sunday with school on the horizon.
It’s a hot, humid and sticky Saturday in the old Shop. Jack Jr. has nearly made it through his first summer but today puts him to the test. A set of copper U-bends for J.E. Hurley Company and a copper coil for Tydings, Lynch & Lorenz both require annealing. The heat of the torches make it almost insufferable in the old building. Both units are completed before the crew heads home and they will be picked up on Monday. This was a very tough day on Central Avenue. Little Jack manages but for the first time he begins to look forward to school starting next month.
The Baltimore Orioles are in the thick of a pennant race and when catcher Rick Dempsey is ready to return from the disabled list, Brooks Robinson voluntarily retires. He knows his skills at the plate have diminished and the team needs the roster space. He can still “pick ‘em” as they say in the field but his batting skills are falling. Baltimore saw it coming but is saddened especially Joe Kavanagh. Brooks was his hero and he idolized him. The young boy spoke to Brooks a few times when he came over to sign autographs. Joe was always in awe but like it is for all boys, one day your hero steps down and this is that day.
A meeting of the Robin-Blair Sons is held before a Monday afternoon game in Patterson Park. With Brooks retired and both Frank Robinson and Paul Blair no longer with the Orioles, they wonder if they should change their name. The boys, Jack and Joe Kavanagh, Ray French and the Stakias brothers all agree to continue to play as the Robin-Blair Sons. Those players may be gone but they are not forgotten. With Jack working part-time they have less days to play but they still take on all challengers from the area. The six boys sometimes add another player, Greg Heaps a friend of Joe’s from St. Elizabeth’s or some other boy from the neighborhood.
A special celebrations is held today before the Orioles and Red Sox game and it is called “Thanks Brooks Day.” The Kavanagh’s are there along with a full house of Baltimoreans to pay tribute to the man who embodied the Orioles for over twenty years. His skills and competitiveness were what made him stand out but what made him memorable was the style and demeanor he displayed. He seemed like an average fellow. He could just as easily have been a fan in the stands but for his innate ability to grab a ball when it was bouncing in his direction. He was beloved by the Orioles fans and in their eyes he represented the last twelve years of success. Joe Kavanagh sits with his brother, sister and parents and his eyes fill with tears. He had this dream of playing second for the Birds alongside of Brooksie. He is just a boy who thinks such dreams come easily and if you can dream the dream, it can happen. Life doesn’t work that way and neither do dreams. His mother wraps her arm around the twelve year old. He is old enough to mask his tears but still young enough to shed them. The Orioles will always be his team. He will never stop being a fan but to say it will be the same without Number 5 would be an inaccuracy. The Birds lose to Boston 10-4 but on this day, few care about the score.
The baseball season has come to an end and the Orioles finished in a tie for second place with the Boston Red Sox despite winning 97 games. It’s a great regular season for them but still not enough. The Yankees are a powerhouse and part of the reason is Reggie Jackson. Jack can only hope the Birds can find a way to top the Yanks next year. One positive sign for the future is young slugger Eddie Murray who wins the American League Rookie of the Year Award and Jack looks for big things from him. At the Shop, Jack has cut out all Saturday hours because the work has dropped as it typically does when winter approaches. Today a set of U-Bends are made for Stambaugh. The Shop has had a big year with Harvey’s company. This time the U-Bends are made from stainless steel which requires no annealing but they must be filled. Small tubes like these are not filled with rosin but with cerrobend. Cerrobend is a commercial industrial product used to protect hollow pipes and tubes during bending. Blocks of the cerrobend are boiled in a large pot then slowly poured into the tubes. It hardens quickly, far quicker than rosin and the tubes can be bent in a matter of minutes. The tubes then must be placed in large troughs and the cerrobend is boiled back out. It’s laborious but fortunately only the smallest radius tubes need filing. The tubes are completed, cleaned and delivered to Harvey’s shop on Woodall Street.
Jack Sr. and Jr. are at Memorial Stadium today for the Colts home opener against the Buffalo Bills. The Colts have started hot winning two on the road before taking this one 17-14. Baltimore will have a good year winning ten games and making it to the playoffs. The Jacks have a good time. They talk a bit about work and school but the focus is on football and the game. There is a comfort level they have with each other where they can almost finish each other’s sentences when it comes to talking sports.
The O’Neill’s relocate to Baltimore and Jack and Betty are excited and thrilled to have them close to home. In fact, they move temporarily back to 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Betty says there is always room for family. So Jim, Nancy, Maura and Katie come to live with Jack, Betty, Ann, Jack Jr. and Joe. The rowhouse is suddenly crowded again just like old times.
The Washington Capitals start their fourth season tonight versus the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Capital Centre and Little Jack is there with his sister Jane. It’s a good start to the campaign with Jack’s favorite player Guy Charron scoring a goal and the Caps winning 2-1. Jack makes plans to go to as many games as he can from now on.
Jack and his boys and the four O’Neill’s are watching the World Series with the New York Yankees facing the Los Angeles Dodgers. It would have been a crowded room in most places but not in that house. In tonight’s game six, Ex-Orioles Reggie Jackson powers three home runs out of Yankee Stadium and writes his name in the baseball history books. He also earns the nickname Mr. October as he finishes with a record five home runs in the Series and the Yanks take the Championship.
A set of angle rings are rolled for Baltimore Tube Bending in the R-3. Angles are the toughest shape to roll as the legs must be held straight and they tend to move during the bending process. The leg must be carefully examined after each pass and adjustments must be made to keep them as close to a good 90 deg corner as possible. The angles are completed and delivered by Harry Nadolski who has taken over as truck driver. Charlie Owens is nearing retirement and Jack thinks it’s best he not drive the truck anymore. When Nadolski returns, he has a piece of steel tube that Mr. Rogers at Baltimore Tube needs rolled. He brings along a wooden template the piece will need to match. Jack loves when one job goes out and another comes in on the same truck.
Two heat exchangers are finished and picked up today. Jack is very happy he keeps the stock he does as exchangers are becoming a large and important part of their range of jobs. One is for Sinai Hospital and the other for Maryland Hospital Laundry Company. They run laundry services for hospitals all around Baltimore City. Both are good-sized units and are two good bills to send out on the same day.
The three youngest of the Kavanagh children are spending Saturday at Jane’s apartment near Lake Montebello. She lives above Boh’s TV shop and she really loves the area. She runs around Montebello and in the neighborhood for exercise. Ann, Jack and Joe help Jane pick out a Christmas tree, transport it and then decorate it. In fact, they decorate her entire apartment with a bit too much exuberance. Tinsel is placed on every houseplant or knickknack in the place. Jane is surprised but amused. They bake cookies and have a day of fun while Jack and Betty are shopping and prepping for the holiday. The kids have such a good time, this becomes a yearly tradition.
The Baltimore Colts are hosting the Super Bowl Champion Oakland Raiders at Memorial Stadium for a playoff game. Jack Sr. and Jr. are there and they are pulling hard for their team who are leading with just minutes to go when the Raiders tie it and the Colts lose in overtime. It’s a sad slow ride home but Jack tells his son it’s been a good season. Junior agrees but is quiet and a little moody about the game. He’ll focus on the Capitals and hockey and hope for a better year next time for the Colts.
The Kavanagh’s celebrate Christmas at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Betty, Michael and April make the trip up to Baltimore so it’s even more special. Jack and Betty are every bit the doting grandparents and enjoy every minute with the baby. The piles of Christmas presents grow again as even as a baby, April must get presents. The cycle seems to be starting over again and the family all take note of it. Another generation is growing so fast already. Such is how it is in a large family like the Kavanagh’s. Honestly, we never do anything small. It’s done big or not done. Turkey, parsnips, potatoes, stuffing and nearly anything else that can fit on the table is eaten. Jack plays the piano and they all sing as they do every Christmas. Another year has passed with two additions to the clan and with Little Jack learning the family trade. A time long waited for by his father. To train his son. To teach him as his father taught him. To guide him so he can do what Jack does some day. It’s the way it’s been done since Old Uncle Joe took on his nephews as apprentices all the way through Jack being schooled by Eddie. The fifth generation has arrived at the Shop though Junior still has a long road and much to learn. Jack and Betty’s family legacy gets bigger and even with so many in the home, there is always plenty of love to go around. It’s what happened on the corner of Lakewood and Jefferson. A great love between two people was spread over nine children only never too thin but rather it seemed to deepen and envelope them all and any who came into that house too. If you spent any appreciable amount of time in the Kavanagh home, you felt it. It touched you. If you grew up there, it warmed you, sustained you and it was all you knew.
Jimmy Carter is the President of the United States of America. The US agrees to return the Panama Canal to the nation of Panama. The Trans Alaskan Oil Pipeline opens. For twenty-five hours, a large scale black out hits New York City. The first Apple Computers and the first Atari Video Game Consoles are sold. Seattle Slew wins the Triple Crown. The films “Saturday Night Fever”, “Slap Shot” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” are released. Billy Joel’s album “the Stranger” debuts. Tom Brady, Floyd Mayweather Jr., John Mayer, Kerry Washington and Laila Ali are born. Elvis Presley, Groucho Marx, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby and Ronnie Van Zandt die.
There are 50 states in the Union.
To read prior years, click on the Table of Contents link below: