On the first Saturday of the year and Jack and Jack Jr. are at the Shop rolling some pipe rings. Just the two of them working, and Senior is grateful for the time alone with his son. Jack Jr. is the fifth generation and his father is ready to teach him the skills he will need. It’s a chilly winter day but his son is keen to learn. Even more than most boys, Jack loves to impress his father and he does so often. Jack Sr. has been running the Joseph Kavanagh Company for over twenty years. His father was still involved until the early 60s but Jack took care of the day to day and made all the pertinent decisions. His father’s role was more advisory. Jack’s crew is led by his brother Ed who hires the men and keeps track of the progress of jobs. Ed doesn’t own any of the business but came to work for Jack after his father’s retirement. The two Ed’s did not work well together but the brothers do. Ed is Jack’s eyes and ears in the Shop and he also helps with quoting and phone calls. Jack spends more time on the phone, reading drawings or working specific jobs if something challenging or out of the ordinary comes along. Or in the case of today, a set of pipe rings need to be rolled fast. He likes working with his boy and the time goes by quick. The two Jack’s talk sports and father tells son the ins and outs of the job they are doing. When Jack Jr. came to work at the Shop he became Little Jack despite the fact that he was slightly taller than his father already. For pragmatic reasons, the workers needed some way to specify one Jack from the other so they became Big Jack and Little Jack. They work until noon and talk the whole time.
MEANWHILE on Lakewood Avenue, Joe Kavanagh is eating cereal while watching the Super Friends with nieces Maura and Katie O’Neill. Wonder Woman and Batman and Robin are taking on an evil genius in the opening segment. Joe and Maura sit on the floor, their eyes glued to the TV as Cheerios are consumed. Maura is a big Wonder Woman fan even at two and Joe is a fan of super-heroes so he’s loved the Super Friends since its inception. He collects comics and has some of the “Super Friends” issues. Baby Katie is watching as well from a high chair while her mother Nancy feeds her. Nancy and husband Jim and their two girls have moved back to Lakewood Avenue temporarily as they re-locate to Baltimore. Jim has taken a job at Social Security and they are looking at houses. The corner of Lakewood Avenue is crowded again but Jack and Betty’s home and life always have room for family.
The Super Bowl is today and the Dallas Cowboys defeat the Denver Broncos 27-10. Daughter Mary and her husband Handy visit to watch the game. Handy is a big football fan as is Jim O’Neill. The three men have a beer or two and take in the game with Jack’s sons. All are rooting for a Dallas loss that doesn’t happen. For Jack’s part, he is hoping and anxious for the Colts to get back to the championship game themselves.
The heat of torches warm the Shop at Pratt and Central. A large heater with over one hundred tubes for Major Welding is finished today. The torches are used to anneal the copper tubes to bend them into U- bends. The U’s allows the passage of warm water in and out of the exchanger. The tubes are assembled in a cluster and inserted into a brass or steel header. They are expanded to a tight seal and these units are used to heat boilers, hot water heaters steam cleaners and some cooking apparatus. Boiler companies need them. Construction businesses and municipal agencies use them. The Shop has customers that do the assembly and installation and some who prefer to order a completed unit. Jack is happy either way. Those who order the tubes simplify the job for him making it primarily bending which is their forte and those who want the heater finished and ready to install will pay more. Either works. Heat exchanger work is a very big part of the Shop’s regular and reliable sales. There’s a connection to the old coppersmith days because of the tube as well. Jack keeps a strong stock of copper with most of it on the second floor on racks. He keeps many 20 ft. sticks of several diameter tubes and has longer sections of 3/4” tubes which is the most commonly used. More than anything, the heaters help to keep him steady while much of the country still struggles to escape the recession. Inflation and particularly high gas prices continue to dog the nation.
One foot of snow buries Baltimore on this Monday and the kids are thrilled to have a couple days off of school. Jack closes the Shop for one day then meets the crew at the Shop on Tuesday and they set to digging the place out. Shoveling can be a dreary heavy task but when a group are working together it goes faster. They talk as they shovel, each man discussing how the snow has affected their street and their families.
Jack Sr. and Jr. attend a Washington Capitals game on a Friday night. The Canadians thump the Caps pretty bad 8-2 but the two Jack’s have a good time. Junior’s enthusiasm for hockey and this team are starting to make his father a fan too.
Several rectangular tubes are filled and rolled for Middlestadt Machine. Again, the use of blow torches is welcomed in the cold Shop. Jack is pleased with the start to the year. The winter lulls have not arrived and his crew has stayed busy through a cold winter so far.
One of Jack’s regular customers has ordered twenty 4” Pipe returns. Returns are another way of saying U-bends or 180 deg. Bends. These are made from 4” pipe and will be rolled in the R-5. The customer is John Rogers at Baltimore Tubes Bending. Jack has known Rogers for years and whenever he runs into something too big for his equipment he sends it to Jack.
Maryland Shipbuilding and Drydock has three large vessels being repaired and each needs heat exchanger replacements before they set to sea. Maryland Drycock can repair the heaters but they need the tubes bent and Jack Kavanagh gets a call. It’s a substantial bit of work and a great start to the spring. The tubes are cupro-nickel or copper nickel as opposed to 100 % copper. Curpo-nickel tubes are a mix of annealed copper and nickel depending on the ratio they are very bendable. This eliminates the annealing phase for Jack’s men so it is a job that focuses on accurate and quick bending of large quantities of tube. One man cuts while another bends then one man trim cuts and another deburs the ends smooth. Teamwork and keeping a good pace make the difference in this type of production job.
The O’Neill’s move into their own home on Birch Drive in Woodlawn. The old house needed a big clean up and the family all helped out. The two Jack’s, Ann and Joe worked with Jim and Nancy to get the place all ready for the move. Lakewood Avenue suddenly seems quiet again to Betty and Jack.
The Baltimore Orioles have had an atrocious start to the year losing their first five games on the road. They come home on this Friday for their home opener facing the Milwaukee Brewers. Jack, Betty, Ann and the boys are there and are rewarded with a win, Dennis Martinez gets the victory with reliever Don Stanhouse registering a save. Jack and the family hope the Birds can build on this for the rest of the season.
Jack Senior and Junior are at the Shop on a Saturday hard at work along with the crew. Little Jack will soon be returning for the summer and working full time. His father puts him on the books now and brings him in today because he needs the help. Another heater is being started and a set of angles are being rolled for Codd Fabricators. Little Jack has a few more days of school, then this is the summer his father will begin to teach him how to use a torch and how to anneal. How to work copper and other metals, very much like his father taught him.
Ann Kavanagh graduates from Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School. Jack and Betty are very proud as they watch their seventh daughter receive her diploma. Only the two boys remain at school with Joe soon joining Jack at Carmel next year. Ann will soon take a job working for a lawyer downtown but will continue to live at home for now.
On a warm Monday, Jack Jr. begins his second summer at the Shop and is working on two heat exchangers. One is for the Housing Authority of Baltimore and the other for Towson State College. Little Jack helps to assemble the units sliding the tubes into brass baffle plates and then into a steel header. The tubes must be square and held straight before they are expanded to seal. Jack Sr. can see his son fits in well with the workers and seems more comfortable already this year. It will be tougher for him adjusting to working every day but it’s necessary and it’s time. His father is sure of that. His son has a natural aptitude for mechanical things and that will only make it easier for him. The day passes quickly with half the fellows on the heater and another few on more pipe returns for Baltimore Tube.
The Independence Day holiday is celebrated on Lakewood Avenue with the traditional crab feast and cook out, but before it starts, the Kavanagh boys have a baseball game. Their team, the Robin-Blair Sons are taking on a group of boys merged from two neighborhood teams at Patterson Park. Both teams are excited as they have managed to gather enough boys to have nine a side, a rarity in Highlandtown. The Robin-Blair Sons are trailing by three heading into the ninth inning but rally back. They score two and with two more on, Joe Kavanagh belts a long drive to center field. It appears to clear the large tree that by ground rules indicated a home run. The tying run scores and Joe cruises to second when the ball is thrown into the infield. What occurs next is a few moments of chaos while the opposing team protests claiming the ball did not actually pass over the tree. Little Jack and Junior Delaney, captains of the two squads, are nose to nose in protest. Joe tries to appeal to Jack to let it play out with the winning run on second base but Jack will have none of it. Joe is joined at second base by John Muldowney who was playing left field at the time. John had been at St. E’s a year ahead of Joe and they played ball together often over many summers. The argument escalates to absurdity when both teams decide to forfeit, neither wanting the other to do so. Joe and John share a laugh but Jack is not amused. The game breaks up and all the boys head home. Jack and Joe trudge home to 447. N. Lakewood Avenue, Jack still fuming with this game forever remembered as the double forfeit.
The Kavanagh’s are heading to Ocean City for the weekend but this time Betty and their youngest Joe will be staying. Jack and Betty have decided Ann and Little Jack are old enough to take care of themselves or Ann is old enough to take care of Little Jack, and Betty can have an extended vacation at the beach with Joe. Jack, Ann and Little Jack will return to Baltimore the next day, then back to OC each weekend. Jack doesn’t mind the drive and he wants Betty to have this time to enjoy their summer home. Betty and Joe get a serious taste of beach town life. It’s hectic and crowded on the weekends, both the town and the house, but it’s very quiet and serene during the week. They take daily treks to the boardwalk and Joe plays in the arcades. They read poolside or play board games. Joe misses his friends from the neighborhood but he has a lot of fun and freedom. Being the only child in the home means some solitude besides time with his Mom.
The summer has been busy with Jack and the crew of the Joseph Kavanagh Company working every Saturday morning. His son is working with him and learning fast. Jack has taught his son the basics of annealing, starting with the first thing to learn; how to light the torch properly. Safety and consistency are stressed by Big Jack. A torch is nothing to be played with but you can’t be afraid of it. You must learn to balance ease with wariness before you can hone your skills. Jack is a fast learner and a dutiful worker. Today he’s helping Jerry Purnell roll an angle for Codd Fab. Codd is five minutes away and it’s common for them to order one, two or three pieces and bring them right up to 201 S. Central. Jack treats their work with a priority due to their reliability as a customer and the many years the two companies have worked together. Right after work, the two Jack’s pick up Ann and drive to Ocean City to join Betty and Joe who had a visit from daughter Betty Ann and baby April this week.
It’s Jack’s week of vacation at the beach. He, Ann and Jack drive to OC early Saturday morning. Jack closes the Shop and the crew get a week’s pay and a well-deserved break. They arrive just before noon at Royal Palm Court. 1231 St. Louis Avenue is the address of their place and Betty and Joe are waiting for them. The kids are getting older but still have a great week hitting the boards, riding bikes and swimming in Royal Palm’s pool. The Kavanagh’s still fish and crab, eating what they catch but they don’t spend days on the beach anymore. Ann, Jack Jr. and Joe would rather hit the arcades and rides especially with their older sister JoAnn who lives in OC. JoAnn works on the Pier, a set of amusements and assorted carnival rides placed on a pier jutting out from the boardwalk. It extends several hundred feet over the beach and into the surf with the last section reserved for fishing the ocean. JoAnn has worked here for three years and knows everybody it seems. Free or discounted rides and games are to be had when JoAnn is around and the younger three take advantage of it. Jack and Betty appreciate the kids spending time with JoAnn. It gives them some rare time alone. As much as their children love the fun of Ocean City, Jack and Betty love the peace. They dream of one day living here full time in their retirement.
August is usually the worst month to work at the corner of Pratt and Central and this August is no different. Heat and humidity do not mix well with propane torches and the old Shop is a hot box this time of year. The crew sweat but are accustomed to it as much as one can be though it’s tough on young Jack Jr. He doesn’t let on to the men but everyday like this he can’t wait to get home, stand in a cold shower then step out into air conditioning. Heater tubes are finished for Harvey Stambaugh today with Little Jack doing the annealing. Big Jack watches from a few feet away and gives him full marks.
Big Jack is driving home from the Shop with Little Jack. His boy will be turning sixteen next week and that has only brought one thought to Jack Jr.’s mind.
“Dad? I want to get my license. I mean, when I can. I’m sixteen on Monday.” Little Jack asks his Dad as they cruise quietly home after a long week. It’s Little Jack’s last day of work at the Shop for the summer.
Big Jack glances right for a second then looks back at the street ahead of him. “If you want to. You gotta take Driver’s Ed. I bet they teach at school.” He flicks on his blinker to turn right then raises his voice one notch. “And you gotta be serious about it. This here. This ain’t no toy. This is an automobile. You gotta stay focused and pay attention.”
“I know Dad.”Little Jack answers back without pause. “You see me at work. I can handle that stuff, then I can drive. You know I can.”
Big Jack chuckles. “I know it, Huh?” His wide grin spreads over his face. “Yeah, I know you can but no shenanigans, no playing around in the car but sure. Sign up for the class and I’ll take you out to teach you to drive.”
“Great. Thanks Dad. I know they teach it at Carmel.” Jack nods to his Dad and looks up Orleans Street reflexively as they cross it.
“We’ll have fun when I take you out.” Big Jack teases a little. “I’ll be real nice like I am at the Shop. I’ll be like a pussy cat.” Big Jack breaks into resounding laughter as they pull to a stop on the side of their house.
“I bet.” Little Jack laughs back at him.
Jack the elder turns the car off and gets a little more serious. “You’ll be fine and you can start driving us to work. One less thing for me to do.”
The two Jack’s are at Memorial Stadium for the Baltimore Colts’ home opener and they get beat bad by the Miami Dolphins 42-0. It’s a sign of the times as the team will limp through a difficult 5-11 season setting them in last place.
It’s a rainy fall Monday and everyone is running a little late at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Jack offers to drop Ann and the boys off, Jack Jr. and Ann at the bus stop and Joe at St. Elizabeth’s. Ann takes a bus downtown every morning to work and Jack takes one going the opposite direction to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel High School in Essex. Senior pulls up to the corner of Fayette Street and Lakewood. Ann and Junior hop out of the car and their father drives off down Lakewood Avenue with Joe in the back. Jack is listening to the radio and he slows at Baltimore Street then turns right. His drowsy son in the back seat perks up and grins but stays quiet. Jack heads up Baltimore Street and makes the left onto Patterson Park Avenue when he notices Joe.
“Damn it! You could of said something.” Jack looks in the rear view mirror at Joe who yawns.
“I was half asleep, Dad. I wasn’t paying attention.” Joe suppresses a small smile.
Jack make three rights to get back onto Baltimore.”Yeah. Half-asleep my foot.” He mutters through a small grin of his own. He drops Joe off at the corner and drives to work shaking his head along the way. This isn’t the first time he’s forgotten the kids in the backseat but with Joe joining Jack Jr. at Carmel next year, it will be the last.
Jack has copper tube coming in and going out of the Shop almost every week. Today it’s a small exchanger for the Union Trust Company. Besides municipal agencies some banks and businesses have a maintenance department who tend to their boilers. Union Trust is one such company and when the Shop fabricates and assembles their heater, the maintenance crew will handle the installation.
Jack and Ed Kavanagh eat lunch at their desks in the small corner office. Ed having a shrimp salad sandwich from the deli while Jack enjoys his ham sandwich made by his wife. They are discussing the afternoon’s schedule. A local manufacturing company, Niro Atomizer, needs some repair parts, two pipes and two flat bars to be bent, and they need them today. Jack tells Ed to pull a couple men away from a job for L & S Welding and get these parts made as fast possible. The pipes and the bars are rolled in the R-3 Roundo machine that sits in the front half of the building.
The Caps home opener is this Saturday night and Big Jack and Little Jack are there to welcome the team. Jack Sr. drives but he promises Junior that after some experience behind the wheel, he’ll be the one doing the driving. Washington loses 6-3 to the Atlanta Flames and despite the Caps struggles to win, Little Jack loves this club and this sport more every season.
This year’s World Series is a rematch of the last. The Yankees take on the Los Angeles Dodgers and just like last year, New York prevails. Baltimore’s Birds have a good year with 90 wins but that only amounts to fourth place behind the Brewers, Red Sox and Yanks who win 100 regular season games. Jack and his sons are watching the series and discussing nearly every play. It’s just as it was with Jack and his father Eddie. They love the game but they treasure the time together, sharing the sport and going over it all as one. The talks, the thoughts and opinions are as important as the play on the field.
The year is finishing strong with a nice two week backlog of work for Jack. Today some angles are rolled for long-time customer J.C. Pardo while a set of heater tubes are started. The tubes are annealed and bent today then the exchanger, which is for Springfield Hospital will be assembled tomorrow. Jack is in and out of the Shop most of the day. He speaks to Denny McCartney from B & B Welding about rolling six 3” angle rings needed for next week and scribbles a note on a pad to remember. He glances down at the note and sees “Betty’s Birthday” next to it. After a long day, the first thing he says to his wife as he comes through the door is “Happy Birthday.”
Two thousand feet of copper tubes is delivered to Central Avenue from C-S Metals. The truck is backed into the building from the Eden Street side and bundles of tube are picked up using cloth straps to protect them. Hoists and chain falls do the work while the men keep a careful eyes on the load. Jack has gotten to know the salesman from C-S Metals very well, Bob Yingling. They have a good relationship and Bob helps Jack keep his stock up and Bob appreciates the business. Another heater is finished today for the Housing Authority while a set of 2” copper tubes are rolled into circles for a fountain. Even in the halcyon days of coppersmith work, the Shop has rarely used so much copper in a year as they have in this one.
Christmas with the Kavanagh’s is the usual large crowded, festive and loud affair. Two turkeys are prepared to accommodate the family and friends. Gifts are exchanged and Jack and Betty delight at the little granddaughters as they ooh and ah at the toys, the tree and the lights. Three generations of the family welcome Christmas and celebrate together with food, drink and song. Jack is very thankful for the uptick in work this year and is very happy with his son’s progress. Little Jack has another year after this one in high school and should be well-prepared by then to take on working at the Shop full time. Jack Jr. has aptitude, skills and is not afraid of hard work. He can be moody and headstrong but that’s of little concern to his father. He was no different at that age. Little Jack has passed his drivers test and is growing into quite the young man. Jack’s proud of the way his boy has handled himself among the men at the Shop. Not overly proud but not in any way intimidated as he could be at sixteen. Big Jack’s mind can’t help but wander into the future envisioning Jack at the helm of the business while he takes a step back and then a step down eventually. He takes a long look at his younger son, Joe playing a game with his nieces at the base of the Christmas Tree. Soon Joe will be at the Shop as well. A flood of visions of brothers at the Shop hit Jack. He and his brother, his father and his brother and his grandfather Joe and his brothers all worked together there. The thought of the tradition going on pleases him. Big Jack’s train of thought is broken as there are calls for “Sentimental Journey,” one of the family’s favorites and he presses his fingers to the keys.
Jimmy Carter is the President of the United States. The Neutron Bomb is developed but President Carter delays its production. Carter’s Camp David Accords yield a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. Jim Jones and 900 People’s Temple followers die in Guyana in a mass murder/suicide. “Hustler” publisher Larry Flynt is shot and paralyzed. The Susan B Anthony Dollar is minted. Women become fully integrated into the Army. The first legal casino opens on the East Coast in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Affirmed wins the Triple Crown of horse racing. Space Invaders ushers in the video game craze. The night time soap opera “Dallas” premiers. The films “Grease,” “Animal House” and “Halloween” are released. Kobe Bryant, John Legend, James Franco, Ashton Kutcher, Zoe Saldana, and Josh Hartnett are born. Edgar Bergen, Norman Rockwell, Margaret Mead, Harvey Milk and Ed Wood die.
There are 50 states in the Union.
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