The Joseph Kavanagh Company begins another year of transition. More steps are taken in the passage of the business from my father to my sister, brother and me. My parents are semi-retired and come in most days but some weeks they drive to the beach where they feel they belong now. Mom and Dad have wanted to live in Ocean City for a long time and spend as much time as possible there. Even when Mom and Dad are at 201 S. Central Avenue, Ann, Jack and I are handling the day to day. Dad likes talking to the crew and overseeing a bit but only in an observatory way not supervisory, not anymore. Mom enjoys spending the day with Dad, us, the crew and even Ed and Miss Helen. Helen and Ed are both part-time from 9 am- 2 pm with Helen only in three days. It’s crowded in that small office and I spend chunks of the day in the old upstairs office that once belonged to my grandfather Eddie and his father Joe. I take phone calls, get prices on material, quote jobs and coordinate with the crew who are using the Roundo rollers. Jack handles most pipe or tube bending jobs, talking to the customers and often bending the parts himself. Ann has taken on the accounts payable, receivable and payroll as well most of the business end of the Shop. The new year has started off with some big news. Jack and Nancy are having a baby. My brother is going to be a father. I am ecstatic for him. This is something Jack has wanted for a long time and he will be great as will be Nancy. Mom and Dad and the family are so excited. This is another baby in the family but this one will be named Kavanagh. Jack tells me at the Shop and the word spreads among the crew and all are excited for my all grown up big brother.
It is Super Bowl Sunday and the New York Giants defeat the Denver Broncos 39-20. I do not watch the game. I am jamming with Lethal Injection in the basement of Macon Street. We are still fiddling with our own jam songs but also making efforts to cover some of our favorite artists. We take stabs at Jacob’s Ladder, Limelight and Subdivisions by RUSH and Another Brick and Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd.
Two 4” angles are rolled today for American Iron Works in the R-6-S. The 6 is our best money maker because of the big structurals and angles but it’s not as easy to cover the time on these mid sized angles. The R-5 would be ideal but without the angle guide rolling attachments, it’s too difficult. The job works out fine but it puts a seed of thought in our minds about another machine.
I order the Genesis-Nova Collapsible Guitar to take to Europe. I’m excited. I’ll be able to practice and play while away. It has nylon strings like a classical guitar and folds in half on a hinge. When playing, the hinge is locked and it has fins that can be moved and adjusted to give it the shape of a guitar. I envision myself practicing every morning when I wake up before we head out into the world. That doesn’t exactly happen but I do play it.
The Shop’s unusually busy start to the year continues with several brass pipe jobs for Stromberg Sheet Metal and a large order of bent galvanized pipes for the Anchor Fence Co. Anchor does a great deal of bridge work and that usually requires pipes, sometimes one or two and sometimes more.
I head home from the Shop driving up I-95 N to Box Hill. The day rolls through my mind and I make a mental note to call D-S Pipe tomorrow morning. We have an order for pipe bends ready for them. My thoughts are more on how quickly I can change, grab my guitar and drive back down to the city for practice at Macon Street. When I pull onto the parking pad at Kensington Parkway, I see I have a package. My portable guitar has arrived and I set about playing with it and learning all I can then head to practice.. The guys love the thing. It also has a pickup installed so I decide to buy a portable Rockman amp to combine with it. The amp doesn’t have a speaker but it has a headphone jack. I can plug into a speaker if an opportunity ever presents itself but primarily I can now play leads and electric with all the distortion and fun I might want. I look forward more and more to this great adventure.
Several fountain sprayer pipes for Industrial Fabricators are rolled on this Monday. The pipes have holes drilled in them and the holes face the outside of the bend and are used to spray water out and into the fountain itself. These are rolled in the R-3-S and the most difficult part is being sure the holes are lined up at the proper angle to allow the correct water flow.
The Orioles open their season at home against the Texas Rangers. The Kavanagh’s are working so the tickets are given away. With all of us kids older now, Mom and Dad give some thought to letting the season tickets go. I am the youngest and still living at home but I am much more involved in music and work these days. I still go to a few games and my sisters use the tickets as well, and a half season plan may be more than any of us need. The Birds win today in walk off fashion with Rene Gonzalez scoring on a Sacrifice Fly hit by Larry Sheets in the bottom of the 9th inning. The final is 2-1 and the fans, 50,000 strong cheer and celebrate. We do the same at 201 S. Central as we are listening on the radio.
A set of 3 1/2” Steel Angles for Superior Iron Works is rolled in the R-5 and the crew has a little trouble with them. They have to be fixed in the R-6-S and we discuss purchasing another machine with our father. We have been thinking about it for a couple months. He agrees another angle roller that’s not quite as big as the 6 might be a good idea. There is an R-5-S available now and we decide to order it.
Today is Easter Eve and the Washington Capitals are hosting the New York Islanders in game 7 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Jack and his wife Nancy and my sister Ann are at the Capital Center to watch and it’s a close game which goes into overtime. After one extra frame, the score is still tied so they do it again and again. Poor Nancy sits there not complaining though she is six months pregnant. In the fourth overtime period, the Islanders score and win the game. It’s a heart breaking way to end a season and the game itself was exhausting to watch. I was viewing from home on television and I felt worn out by it but that was nothing compared to my brother, sister and sister-in-law. This is the longest game 7 in the Caps history and one of the toughest losses ever for the franchise. Jack is moody on the following Monday but I certainly don’t blame him. Ann is also a big hockey fan and she takes it better than he but is still exhausted from the whole experience. A very disappointing end to the year and one fans will not soon forget.
The year has continued busy and the phone keeps ringing at the Shop. We are running strong with a two week backlog and it’s a very good sign for the year. Several 2 1/2” O.D. thin wall aluminum tubes are rolled for the Products Support Company today along with a mix of angle flanges and several railing jobs.
Durrett Sheppard Steel is a local steel supply company and the Kavanagh’s have purchased material from them for a few years. In addition, Durrett occasionally has a customer who needs their steel bent or rolled and would rather Durret handle the whole thing so they are vendors and customers to us. Today an order of square tube rings is rolled in the R-5 for them The Shop made these in January so it’s merely a matter of making a copy of a job card and doing the same thing.
The warm weather is here and the corner of Pratt and Central is a busy place. Rings, flanges and some small tube bends are made while a set of flat bars are rolled and tack welded for Durrett Sheppard. We are not certified to weld but in the case of these heavy bars, we put a small tack weld to hold the rings together. They are rolled and trimmed as we go so the ends will butt together. The small tack helps the circle to maintain its shape during transit.
As I countdown the days to my long expected trip, I spend a busy Tuesday fielding calls and prepping jobs while Jack is bending some short elbows for the C.R. Daniels Company. He is bending on the old Leonard Air Bender while the Pines Bender is used for some pipes for Anchor Fence. Ann is paying assorted bills from vendors for the material we use while also reviewing the company’s health insurance. Ann has a knack for all of this type of stuff and Jack and I are thrilled not to be dealing with it.
Another job that requires some tack welding is picked up today. Superior Iron Works sent in some 5” Channels to be rolled the hardway. The hardway means the legs are vertical not pointed in or pointed out. Rolling channel and beam the hardway is a challenge as the legs want to buckle during the process. We weld them together in pairs to make a tube essentially. The “tubes” are then rolled and the legs support each other to maintain the proper shape. After they are out of the machine, the tacks are ground down then the makeshift tubes are split with a wedge. It’s a long labor intensive process but it works and the channels look good and match each other well.
At the Shop, some stainless steel pipes are bent today in the Pines for Industrial Fabricators. We bent a set last week and they have ordered another and the work keeps rolling along. Chris Voxakis, Tim and Greg Heaps and I are headed to Europe. We take an early morning flight to New York’s JFK Airport. As the plane cruises over the city, I receive a great view of the Statue of Liberty. It is the first and only time I see the statue in person. I knew my namesake worked on Liberty. I had been told the stories and I considered this as we flew by it. The Statue is an imposing and beautiful sight to behold, standing strong and majestic looking out into the Atlantic. I watch as we pass and I look forward to getting off this twin prop plane and getting on a proper jet. Our flight to London is much smoother and I try to watch the movie, “Ruthless People” but it’s too painful. I sleep a bit and we land at London’s Heathrow Airport. As we disembark, flight attendants greet the passengers. My friends and I are groggy and tired after seven hours in the air.
“Welcome to London, Mr. Kavanagh and Happy Birthday.” A smiling steward hands me my passport back.
My eyes open a little wider and I stare blankly thinking. It is my birthday. I had forgotten but how do they know this? Have I been tracked already by the US? A glance at my friends tells me they have no idea. “Uh, thanks. Thank you.”
The knowing steward grins at me. “It’s on your passport.”
It hits me and I feel like a complete dunce. “Oh right. Of course. Thanks.” I smile and my friends wake up enough to chuckle and we are off. We make our way through Heathrow and share a crowded cab with two girls who were on our flight. A driver, six people and six backpacks make their way to London. The girls are dropped at their hotel first then we arrive at the hostel we had booked from the US. We plan on crossing the Channel tomorrow with the immediate goal of visiting Amsterdam. We are fascinated by the idea of marijuana being legal there plus there are tulips. Our adventure has begun.
The summer surge in work arrives as expected. Ann and Jack cover for me while I am traveling the world. Mom and Dad are helping out too. I am on a train from Trier Germany to Cologne and I have finally adjusted to the time change. For a week, my sleep has been sporadic and my general confusion as to the time of day has lessened. My friends and I have adopted traveling names and mine is Johanus Skorziny. Skorziny is a vampire from the old “Night Stalker” series which I loved. I’m not sure why we chose aliases but it seemed like a good idea at the time. We’ve been in Europe for a week and it feels very different but somehow familiar. I feel comfortable here at times but also strangely separate from the natives. They live a more relaxed lifestyle to my eye and this will be confirmed over the next several weeks.
The new Roundo R-5-S arrives at the Shop on Central Avenue. It takes a few hours for most of the crew to get it unloaded, set and ready to use. The guys and I are returning to Amsterdam after a few days in Germany. The German leg of the trip was interesting but not quite the fun of the outrageous party that Amsterdam is. We do visit the Karl Marx Museum and I find the juxtaposition of a souvenir shop at the Marx museum amusing. I remember signing the guest book and referencing a commemorative plate that is for sale.
“What a great museum. I loved the plate. Marx would be so proud. All my love, Johanus Skorziny”
We have tickets to a festival concert in Rotterdam headlined by U2 and the Pretenders. Rotterdam is Amsterdam’s sister city and only a quick train ride away. This show is different than any I have attended before with field seating. Between bands, the Euros seem very good at knowing just when to sit down to get a spot on the grass. We Americans end up standing or eventually asking someone nicely to make room which they politely do. It’s an amazing day that finishes with U2’s “40” being sung by the crowd as we leave the stadium, on the train to the station and even when we reach Amsterdam. It’s bizarre but a great time
Today is Bastille day and I’m in Paris at the Hotel De La Champagne. My friends and I arrived yesterday and I am up a little earlier than the rest. I sit in the lobby listening to the celebrations outside while watching the Incredible Hulk in French. It’s rather surreal to me but it’s the chance to watch some television. Very few of the cheap places we have been staying at have a TV. I am also perusing the International Herald Tribune. Reading this newspaper has been a habit I’ve gotten into on our trip. It keeps me up to date on the news and I check baseball box scores every day to follow the Orioles. The Birds are having another rough year clearly. Meanwhile, in Baltimore, Nancy Kavanagh gives birth to a boy, Paul Reagan Kavanagh. There is a new Kavanagh in the family and I will find out soon enough when I call home. I call the Shop every few days to check in and let my brother and sister know where I am. Mom and Dad are very excited and they drive to the hospital to meet the baby. The sixth generation of Kavanagh’s who will work at the Shop has arrived.
A mix of small jobs are handled today at 201 S. Central Avenue including a small angle for A.J. Sackett & Sons. My friends and spent a day at the Louvre but it is so immense, I needed a return trip. Unable to wake my friends, I am happy to take the bus downtown and visit the museum alone. I enjoy the solo side trip. I can linger at a piece I want to look at closely or rush through areas if I want to do so. I have lunch in the park after buying some ham and some french bread. I casually relax in the sun and eat before returning for a few more hours at the Louvre. I see the Mona Lisa, the Hope diamond and most of the big attractions but I particularly enjoy wondering free style through the galleries taking in all I can find. It feels very European to do so and I have a great day before returning to our hotel and making plans for the night with the boys. Firstly, we will go to dinner which means couscous. We found a Moroccan restaurant around the corner the day we got here and I had always wanted to try couscous. I was not disappointed and we have eaten there every day so far. We will continue to do so as it is a cheap place and the food is delicious. They even sell a nice fresh chicken sandwich at night when we are hanging outside the hotel drinking wine and people watching.
I am in Zurich, Switzerland and I tote my heavy pack through the large fancy doors of the bank and enter. I have begun to run out of money as have my friends so we called home and had some money wired to us. For a very brief time, I have a Swiss bank account. The humor does not escape me or my pals and is only reinforced by the dubious look on the bank manager’s face. He eyes us up and down in our jeans, t-shirts and huge army backpacks, but the bank accommodates. After I fill out some paperwork, I empty my Swiss bank account and we are relieved. We have more money to spend or squander depending how you look at it.
A large order of brass pipes are bent for Gischel Machine. The Shop has bent several small orders of this item but now we have forty to do and with the development completed, it’s a job we can make some money on. I say we but I am in Zurich eating Belgian chocolate with my mind on everything but work.
Several jobs are finished for Herbert Lee who owns a small interior design and fabrication company. Herbert has known my father for a few years but meets Ann and Jack and they hit it off. He’s a good local Baltimore fellow and he loves the pieces we make for him. The jobs are not big but put together it adds up to a nice order.
Today is Independence Day in Switzerland and we are in Geneva at a campground. A loud and raucous party is held and we are there. It’s an interesting mix of locals, camp crew and travelers. We befriend a Moroccan and his French neighbor along with a few Germans, Austrians and more Brits. We drink all the gin they have and there are fireworks one of which nearly hits Chris. A fun time is had by all. We know we will be returning to the US next week and for a couple of days we’ll be en route to London. This is our last sendoff from Europe.
A long flight is spent sleeping a little and watching Start Trek IV, the in flight movie. I watch and it’s not bad for a free movie but not the best Star Trek I have seen. My mind is going over my trip. I have had a great adventure with a lot of fun. I visited museums and galleries and saw some amazing things. In my thoughts, I will return some day. It was just too good of a trip and I left too many things undone and too many places unseen. I’m 22 and my certainty at my return is coming from that space. I can’t wait to get off the plane and be Joe Kavanagh again and bid farewell to Johanus Skorziny.
A very thick-walled 2” steel pipe is rolled for Kelco Company in the new R-5-S. The pipe is what my father would call “gunner’s pipe.” The wall is visibly thick at about 3/4” of an inch and this type of pipe or tube was used back in the day for cannons. In this case, the pipe is pressurized to a high level when in place and the thick wall is necessary to avoid any blowout of the back of the pipe.
After my trip abroad, I realize I am ready to move out and live on my own. I move to an apartment on Bayonne Avenue off of Belair Road. Ann had lived there before moving into her house and she introduces me to the landlady. It’s a small two room flat with a bathroom and a hallway that doubles as the kitchen. No matter to me, I didn’t plan on cooking much. So begins my single living. Ray and Chris have abandoned Macon Street so the band has lost its practice space. Ray has decided to move in with his sister Theresa on LaSalle Avenue. He moves five minutes away from me and the garage there becomes the new Lethal Injection home base.
I am on the phone with Joe Kelly from the Kelco Company passing on to him that a large order for stainless steel angles is ready. After hanging up, I pull a delivery ticket from the stack and fill it out for Kelco. Ann is busy billing a few jobs while Jack is upstairs bending a set of copper heater tubes for Stambaugh. I have adjusted back to my normal work schedule but I do very much miss the fun and the escape that was my European vacation.
Its a rainy Friday in Baltimore and I am a little restless after a long week. I am tired and anxious to get this day done. We are not working Saturday hours anymore though we did for most of this year. The work has slowed a little and we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. The boys in the Shop hammer out some big angles for American Iron Works and they drive up from Hyattsville to get them. When four o’clock hits, the crew and the Kavanagh’s hasten home or in my case to band practice.
The Washington Capital host the Chicago Blackhawks for their home opener at the Capital Center and my brother is there. He, Nancy and three month old Paul go to a few games this season and it is becoming a regular thing. It’s a good game with the Caps prevailing 6-4 and the fans are once again hopeful for a long playoff run at the end of the season. Jack is right there with them always pulling for this team.
Most of the Joseph Kavanagh Company’s customers are from the Baltimore area but we have a few from Maryland’s Eastern Shore including the Salisbury Steel Company. Salisbury provides materials and fabricated items for construction companies and builders and today a dozen angles are rolled for them. Scheduling their jobs is more complicated as they only have a truck in Baltimore once a week but we make it work.
The Dow Jones suddenly crashes as over speculation and a sell off drops the index 500 points in one day. The economy slows to match it.
I return from practice at the garage on LaSalle and I watch game 7 of the World Series. The Minnesota Twins defeat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 to take the series. The home team won every game in this match up and it remains the only World Series in which the bottom of the ninth was not played in any game. I enjoy a beer while I watch then get ready for bed and the work week ahead. It’s the first time I don’t see any of the series with my Dad or my brother. I’m still a big baseball fan but music and my friends are much more important to me these days.
Despite the stock market crash, the Shop has remained busy. We realize that what goes around comes around and it will catch up to us eventually. Some 1/2” thick heavy steel angles are rolled in the R-6-S for Ackerman & Baynes and a set of heater tubes is begun for the Housing Authority.
Two more Products Support jobs and one small order for A.J. Sackett are completed today. The flow of work has slowed but no more than usually happens this time of year. We are confident but weary with the rest of the nation’s economy in flux. Personally, I worry about the impact next year but that will be tough to gauge.
A large order of small galvanized angle rings is finished and billed today to Stromberg Sheet Metal while another order for the Design & Production company is also picked up. D & P makes museum displays and we have begun to hear from them once or twice a year with work. I’m hoping that increases in the future.
The year’s end approaches along with the holidays and most of the crew have that in mind. They look forward to some time off and a little extra money. A few heavy 3” X 1” Steel Flat bars are rolled for Durrett Sheppard while I spend most of my day formulating the schedule for the rest of the year to make sure everything that can be done is done.
Christmas is celebrated once more at 6 Kensington Parkway but this will be the last time. My parents are selling this house to my brother and his wife. My Mom and Dad will officially and completely retire next year and move to Ocean City full time. Their dream will come true. Jack and Betty Kavanagh will spend their retirement living at the beach as they always wanted. The party is a good one with food, drink and music as is the Kavanagh way. There are more kids each year it seems and I marvel to see my nieces getting so much older. Maura the oldest is twelve now and it doesn’t seem so long ago when she was a baby. My parents had nine children and now they have eight grandchildren. Their legacy of love keeps growing. My brother is a Dad and I love his boy. I’m happy for Jack and Nancy and I consider that this baby will some day work where I work. It’s written in stone if your last name is Kavanagh and you are male. Of course, that’s a long way off. Short term, I am looking forward to the day after Christmas. It starts a few days off for me which will be spent practicing and playing music with the rest of Lethal Injection. I had a great year mostly due to my trip. It was the longest I was on my own and also the longest time I have ever had with no school or work in my entire life. That will remain to be true. I visited the Louvre, the Tower of London and assorted other tourist places on the continent but more importantly, I experienced this pseudo European lifestyle of ease and contentment. I sat in the grass in front of museums. I partied with strangers from other countries and had a blast. I even traveled with an alias and opened then emptied a Swiss bank account. That was unexpected, unplanned and very cool. I will often look back on this adventure as a turning point in my life. It was time to move out on my own and be an adult. I still focused on time with my friends and the band while working this job I knew I would have for the rest of my life. I sometimes took it for granted but work and the Shop was always on my mind. I might have always wished I had a guitar in my hand but mostly I had a pencil, a phone or occasionally a torch there to do business. My father’s time at the Shop is coming swiftly to an end. The fifth generation of Kavanagh’s are ready to run the place with Old Uncle Joe’s great-great grand niece and nephews in charge. I can’t help but wonder what Old Uncle Joe might think to know we are still around.
Ronald Reagan is the President of the United States. During a visit to Berlin, President Reagan challenges Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down that wall.” The Iron-Contra affair dogs Reagan’s presidency. The National Coming Out Day is held for the first time. “The Simpsons” first appears as a short cartoon on the Tracy Ullman Show. Windows 2.0 and Proazac are released in the US. The films “Fatal Attraction,” “Good Morning Vietnam” and “The Untouchables” premier. Ray Rice, Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick are born. Andy Warhol, Danny Kaye, James Baldwin, Rita Hayworth and Jackie Gleason die.
There are 50 states in the Union.
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