Another year has begun at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Kavanagh’s and crew return to Central Avenue and get back to our duties. I enjoyed my first holiday with my son but all good things must come to an end. We had jobs on the books for our return and more have come in this week. Year 133 starts with work for a couple of our regulars, Anchor Fence and Stambaugh & Sons and several other local fabrication shops.
It’s a cold Tuesday on the corner of Pratt and Central. The crew are busy working on a mix of small jobs including orders for A.J. Sackett and J.C. Pardo. I have finally adjusted to the absence of sleep that comes with having a baby. Some days I know I am awake but in my heart, I’m napping.
The Denver Broncos defeat the defending champion Green Bay Packers 31-24 to win the Super Bowl. I watch the game with my son in my arms and explain the superiority of baseball to football to my Joe. I tell him that we have an NFL team now in the Ravens, so our interest has increased. Joe smiles up at me quietly but I don’t think he’s really listening.
It’s Hump Day at the Shop and a cold one to boot. I’m fortunate to be sitting at my desk in the office where there is some heat. I step outside and I’m in the cold zone like Mr. Freeze from Batman. I quickly put some delivery tickets on the clipboard in the Shop before heading back to my desk. The tickets are for jobs completed for Atlas Machine, Whiting Metals and a partial order for Tinker Machining.
The Winter Olympics begin in Nagano, Japan tonight. Kim and I are very excited. My wife has become a hockey fan and she handles the overdose of baseball that is being married to me, but the Olympics is something she genuinely enjoys. We begin a tradition of watching lots and lots of Olympic events every time the games are held.
I am standing outside the front door of the Shop watching the snow. A thin layer has already covered the sidewalk but the good news is it won’t amount to much more than that. Snow is always a concern because it can affect everyone’s commute as well as customer pickups. Fortunately, it’s no real issue today. The crew are less distracted by the snow than I am and jobs are handled like any other day including some set pieces for Center Stage. We do a job or two for them every year. Just like the movie and TV stuff, it’s more interesting than most of our jobs and something fun to mention to folks.
It’s the end of another week at the Shop and I’m looking forward to spending the weekend with my boy. I love every second with him and I think I smile more than I ever have before. The crew complete orders for R & R Fab and Belsinger Sign then start another for Metropolitan Steel. I’m sure they are anxious to get home too but the day drags a bit for all of us.
Baseball season is almost upon us and I cannot wait. Opening Day is next week and after such a good year in 1997, I’m hoping for more of the same. One big change for the Orioles is a new manager. Davey Johnson resigned after last season. Rumors of some falling out between him and ownership abound but I don’t really know. The Birds promoted Pitching Coach Ray Miller to skipper and I think he’ll do well. We knock out a few jobs this week for our usual local fab shops and one for a long distance customer, Machine Shop of Murfreesboro in NC. We also finish some work for the John Gutierrez Studio. John is a sculptor primarily but also a true metalsmith. He’s the sort of fellow I liked as soon as I met him. One day he walked into my office in an army jacket to discuss a job all the while eating Goetze’s caramels from Ann’s candy jar. Yes, you could say I liked him from the start.
It’s the Orioles’ Opening Day and like every year, Baltimore is excited. Hope springs eternal for fans and players alike. The game was postponed yesterday due to rain but it’s “Play ball” today. I rush home from work to watch with my boy. Unfortunately, the Birds lose to the Kansas City Royals 4-1. It’s disappointing but in baseball, there is always tomorrow and they will win big tomorrow 10-1.
Spring has sprung but it’s still chilly on Central Avenue. This morning’s coffee break is devoted to baseball talk. The Birds have won six in a row and they seem to be on a roll. It’s early but it’s a fine start. After the boys have had their coffee and the chat is done, it’s back to work for all of us. The crew are finishing a sign job for Gable Signs and Graphics today along with a few other small jobs.
The Shop has stayed steady if not busy through the cold months to start the year and today we do some work for Material Handling Systems, Belfort Instruments and a sign job for Belsinger Sign. Besides the enthusiasm for the beginning of the baseball season, we are also amped about the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Washington Capitals take on the Boston Bruins in the first round and win Game 1 by a final of 3-1.
It’s a sunny May Sunday and a good day for local sports. The Birds shut out the Minnesota Twins 2-0 and Caps win Game 6 in overtime to advance to the second round of the playoffs. The Caps have been bounced from the playoffs so often in the first round, it’s a thrill to see them move on. We have been waiting for a long deep run through the playoffs for a long time especially my brother Jack.
Washington’s opponent in the second round is the Ottawa Senators and tonight the Caps start things off right by winning 4-2.
A dreary drizzly Monday welcomes us back from the weekend. Jobs for Industrial Fabricators, Baltimore Marine Industries, Atlantic Welders and DOVCO are rolled then picked up. The rain deflates everyone’s mood a bit except for Jack who is excited for tonight’s hockey game. The Caps are up two games to none and he hopes for a short victorious series.
It’s a sports-filled Friday night for me. Holding my Joe, I flip all night between the Birds and the Caps. The Orioles lose to the Rays but more importantly, the Capitals advance to the Eastern Conference Finals by beating the Senators 3-0. They take the series in 5 games and it’s not very close with Washington outscoring Ottawa 18-7 overall.
I’m enjoying another night of sports. This being a Saturday night and the Eastern Conference Finals begin with the Caps taking on the Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo takes Game 1 in a shutout 2-0. I’m also watching the Orioles who snap a nine game losing streak by beating the Oakland A’s 9-1. The long string of losses is a hit to the Birds season and they drop back into the pack.
With the weather warming, the volume of work increases. It’s usually like this. Spring, summer and fall are our busiest times. The workers bend some pieces for a sculpture for Hess Industries and assorted jobs for our local contractors, welders, etc. It’s a busy week but everyone is looking forward to a day off on Monday to commemorate Memorial Day.
I’m watching the Caps take on the Buffalo Sabres in game 6 with my boy in my lap. Tomorrow is Friday so my mind is also on work. I have to make some tickets first thing for Pangborn Corporation, J. C. Pardo and R & S Machine Company. The R & S job is actually for Northrop Grumman. Even I know they are a pretty big outfit. I focus on the game and I am not disappointed. We win in overtime and the Washington Capitals are advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in their history. I am thrilled and I can not wait to see my brother tomorrow. Jack is the ultimate Caps fan and he must be on the moon.
Jack, Ann and I spend a large part of today talking about the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals for the Caps. It’s been a long time coming. The team will face the Detroit Red Wings who are favored but we are very excited. Jack can barely contain himself. In the Shop, we roll some square tubes for Metal Fabricators that are for a Pottery Barn. This is one of the rare occasions when we know where the finished product goes.
It’s a warm but rainy Friday at Central Avenue. Kavanagh’s and crew are looking forward to the weekend. It’s been a busy summer so far and today we finish some more work for John at Gutierrez Studios and a few other regulars. So far, the Caps lost both games in Detroit but we are hopeful for better results when the series heads to DC.
I turn 33 and it’s my first birthday as a Dad. I wake up with a smile on my face despite what happened last night. The Washington Capitals were swept out of the Stanley Cup Finals by the Detroit Red Wings. It’s a rueful night for the team and its fans. It’s tough to lose but to be swept hurts even more. It would have been nice to win one game at least but that’s not how it went. Jack is a little sullen but he’s pleased with the team’s performance this year and is already looking forward to next. They only have one more step to go and that is to win it all. The day is a busy one with quite a few jobs ready for pick up and one to ship, a set of pipes for the Whiting Metals Company. We do these several times a year. I’m looking forward to spending my birthday watching the Birds take on the Yankees. The Orioles have seriously dropped off the pace and need to gain some ground. We won the first two games of this match up in New York. Winning tonight would help but sadly, we lose and stay mired in fourth place now. I think to myself, the Birds need to get hot and stay hot.
It’s a hot summer day made hotter by annealing some copper tubes to be bent for Stambaugh and Sons. The crew are also rolling other items including some parts for eagle cages for a fellow named Mike McGrady. These are to protect, tag and observe the eagles. It’s another of those odd jobs we do which makes our work a little more interesting. The Birds lose to the Mets tonight; unbeknownst to me, it starts another lengthy losing streak. This one will be eight games.
Independence Day is on a Saturday this year so we take the Friday off to observe the holiday. We wrap things up as early as possible at the Shop. We are able to leave at 2 PM and head home for our long weekend. The Orioles finally break their losing streak by beating the Marlins 5-3. Palmeiro homers and Eric Davis singles and scores a run. He starts a streak of his own.
Independence Day is celebrated at Woodall Street. Joe is the star of the show as my in-laws and assorted other cousins of Kim’s stop by. There is the usual barbecue fare and other food to enjoy. Anthony and Linda’s yard is a great place to watch the Inner Harbor fireworks and visitors sometimes stop in just to see the large display the City puts on every year. For Joe’s part, he seems to enjoy the bright lights and colors but the booms not so much.
Today is a bit brutal at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. We have a set of 4” Square tubes we rolled for Sigma Industries. They needed to be filled before rolling and now they need to be melted out. Two snapper torches are lit and waved repeatedly along the tube to melt the hardened rosin inside. Once it starts to melt, it begins sliding out in black chunks. It’s the sort of thing that heats up the entire Shop. The men working on it are sweltering but everybody pays the price especially in July. A few other jobs are attended to including one of the recurring orders for Turnbull Enterprises. After work I watch the Birds beat the Boston Red Sox 3-2. They start yet another streak.
Today is a Saturday and I have made it a habit to let Kim sleep in as late as she wants on these days. I wake up with Joe and give him some breakfast. He and I spend the morning watching cartoons and playing on the floor. He’s not quite one year old so he often watches me play with the blocks and cars but does smile and seem to enjoy it. He doesn’t seem as interested in picking the toys up to play with but that’s okay. We have fun and he is still just a babe. In the evening, I watch the Orioles lose to the Angels 8-3. This ends a nine game winning streaks. This season has been one of many ups and downs and both winning and losing streaks. Despite their last hot streak, the club is still four games under .500 and mired in fourth place. I remain hopeful but we need to keep streaking in the win column and eliminate those runs of losses.
With August approaching, the Shop and all its employees are looking forward to our annual summer vacation. As is always the case, we have a lot of work to get out of our building before we can take our break. Among the variety of jobs we are working on is one for the television show “Homicide.” We’ve bent a few items for the show and I always get a kick out of this sort of thing. This time it’s a set of aluminum pipes for a railing on set. Nothing fancy but it’s cool to be involved in these productions.
Vacation begins at the end of the day and everyone is guilty of a little clock watching. We ship a set of tubes to Ross Industries via UPS then the crew wait patiently for U.S. Gypsum and Blair Welding to pick up. Once those trucks are gone, so are we.
Kim, Joe and I spend a quiet Sunday together before I must return to work tomorrow. I watch the Birds beat the Indians and another streak ends. This time it’s a personal one. Eric Davis goes 0 for 3 after hitting safely in 30 games in a row. It’s a new Orioles record if you ignore the old NL Orioles who had Wee Willie Keeler who hit in 45 straight. Davis batted .400 during the streak and the team is finally a few games over .500. They have moved up to third place but are way behind the Yanks who are running away with the division. We sit seven games back of the Red Sox for the Wild Card. We have time to catch up but not a lot.
We are back to work after a much-needed vacation. We start new jobs for A.J. Sackett, Anchor Fence and U.S. Gypsum. No one is enthused to be back but the grumbling is kept to a minimum. That includes me.
The Shop has received a job for Playworld Systems. They are a large company that specializes in playground equipment. When they contacted me, we had a long discussion of our capabilities. This is our first order from them and I am hopeful this may lead to regular consistent work. I learned from my father never put too much faith in a job until you’ve got it but I can’t help but hope this leads to regular orders. In addition to Playworld Systems, we make some sculptural pieces for Sam Holmes Studio, a sample pipe for Whiting-Turner and a set of copper u-bends for Stambaugh and Sons. After work, I watch the Birds lose to Cleveland 4-1 and that’s four more losses in a row.
Things are not going well for the Orioles. We snapped a ten game losing streak two days ago but we are running out of games. Our playoff chances do not look good. On the flips side, the Ravens begin their season in the newly opened M & T Bank Stadium. Unlike Orioles Park where we rolled tons, we don’t get a great deal of work out of this one. I did find out after the fact some of our sign work earlier ended up at M & T but I have no idea who rolled the steel. It was probably some one from out of MD. That’s okay. You can’t win them all and the Ravens prove that by losing to the Steelers 20- 13. The team will go 6- 10 this year which isn’t great but it’s an improvement over last season.
Summer is essentially over and it was a busy one. The Shop still has plenty of work but the volume slows a bit. It’s a seasonal thing. During the morning coffee break, the discussion is primarily about Cardinals First Baseman Mark McGwire. He hit his 62nd home run last night thus breaking Roger Maris’ single season record. That record has stood for my entire life and it’s impressive. I have seen him play when he was in the American League with the A’s. He’s the kind of hitter if he walks twice and hits a solo home run, you feel like you got him.
We’ve received another order for Playworld Systems and it is completed today. This one is a much bigger quantity and I’m happy to see it. I’m hoping they become regular with recurring parts to make. Those are good customers to have and they help keep the flow of work moving. Between loading Playworld’s truck and a common carrier shipment for Riggins Company to Hampton, VA, this is very much a truck day.
It’s a Sunday night and the Orioles are hosting the Yankees and the game is telecast nationally on ESPN. The Birds’ season is basically over. The last ten game losing streak put a nail in their coffin. What makes this game significant is, Cal Ripken has requested to be out of the lineup. He’s not playing in tonight’s game. Ryan Minor starts at third base and famously asks manager Ray Miller, “does Cal know?” Fans in Baltimore and all over baseball are stunned. Cal made no sign of taking a day off until he decided today. He’s saluted on the field by fans, teammates and opponents. They lose to the Yanks 5-4. The Streak ends.
The talk of the Shop is Cal ending the Streak. No one saw it coming and the whole thing is rehashed over and over. How it started, the near miss injuries including a broken nose while taking the All-Star team photo, Cal’s career and most of all, how he ended it. He always carried himself with dignity, respect and humility to the game. Fancy words but as someone who loves this game, Cal epitomized these things. Besides talking baseball, jobs are completed for Anchor Fence and Lenderking Metal Products.
It’s a Saturday and though Joe’s first birthday was yesterday, the party is today. Both sides of our family are there and Joe is the star. He seems much more interested in the wrapping paper than some of his new toys but he certainly enjoys the cake. I can’t believe it’s been a year. He’s growing every day but no signs of walking yet. It’s early for that anyway. Meanwhile, the Orioles’ season is done. They finish 35 games back of the Yankees in the East and 13 games back of Boston for the Wild Card. The Yanks finish with a staggering 114 wins on the year. It was a disappointing finish but that’s baseball. There’s always next year.
We’re back to work on a chilly Monday and we finish another big order for Playworld Systems. I have a good feeling about this new customer. They have definitely helped keep us rolling this year. A few other jobs are knocked out as well. Work does help fight off the chill and make the day go faster.
The Washington Capitals season starts and they host the Anaheim Mighty Ducks winning 1-0. Ann, Jack and I are very optimistic about the team. We made it all the way to the finals last year and we hope to return.
The Shop has a job to finish for a movie called “Runaway Bride.” They called a couple days ago and, of course, it’s a rush. It is being filmed in Berlin, MD and stars Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. They need some polished brass tube rolled for part of the set. There is a scene in a fancy store and they want shiny brass for it. They pick up and pay. I make a point of telling my parents about it. They live so close to Berlin. I’m sure they will be interested. Besides this pick up, Dave Hess comes by for some sculptural pieces along with a couple of our other regulars.
The Yankees sweep the San Diego Padres in the World Series. New York was a juggernaut this year. They rolled through the American League East then the playoffs and finally to the championship. I might not like it but the Yanks were incredible this year.
I sit at my desk in the office at Central Avenue. I’m writing up a bunch of delivery tickets but my mind is on Thanksgiving. It’s two weeks from today and it’s my favorite holiday. I love turkey and this year I’ll be watching parades with my son. He’s one year old, but I still think he’ll enjoy the balloons and such. I finish the tickets and take them out to the Shop then return to my desk and my turkey thoughts.
It is Thanksgiving and we celebrate on Woodall Street, my in-laws home. Their house is across the street from one of my customers, Stambaugh so I was familiar with the neighborhood when Kim and I started dating. I sit with my Joe and we watch floats, giant balloons and marching bands go by. Joe is sort of non-plussed about it but I enjoy it. The food is abundant and delicious. Anthony and Linda lay out a great spread. There is turkey with all the trimmings including parsnips for me. I make a point to tell them some day, Joe will probably be in on the parsnips too. He’s a Kavanagh.
Kim, Joe and I are visiting my parents in Ocean City. We left this morning after the holiday with the DalFonzo’s and now we are with my folks. Mom and Dad are happy to see us and Mom quickly scoops Joe from Kim’s arms. Mom always loves to hold the baby whoever the baby may be. She’s sitting in her chair and Dad is stationed on the piano bench leaning over, tickling and smiling at the baby. We are chatting about Joe, the Shop and baseball when the subject of “Runaway Bride” comes up. My parents did, in fact, go to Berlin during the filming but they couldn’t get very close to the set. They had lunch and watched from a distance.
“They had the streets all blocked off. It was kind of a pain but it was good for Berlin. I guess.” says my father. “We did get lunch anyway.”
“We did and we could see the cameras and other equipment set up outside but they wouldn’t let you get too close.” Mom adds as she grins down at Joe in her arms.
“It’s too bad you couldn’t get any closer but it’s probably rules they have, Mom.” Kim replies. “It’s still must have been fun to be able to see some of it.”
Mom perks up. “Oh, we did see Richard Gere walk by. He is very handsome.” She beams at Kim and me.
Suddenly Dad straightens up and blurts out. “He had great hair. Didn’t he, Betty?” I wink and nod at Kim and she puts her head down to hide some soft chuckles.
“Ooooh he did indeed.” Mom shakes her head and the corners of her mouth curl up and she too suppresses a laugh. There’s a certain amusing random quality that my father’s comments sometimes have. The room grows quiet but for the baby’s coos and laughs.
Dad reaches over to Joe and pinches his cheek. “Boozie gitzie.” He has said this to every Kavanagh baby and none of us know quite what it means. Kim and I grin at each other and I shake my head. That’s my Dad for you. We have a great weekend. Mom and Dad love the time with Joe and we drive home on Sunday.
The Kavanagh’s and our workers return to the corner of Central and Pratt from Thanksgiving. We are all ready for the last rush to the end of the year. Another job for John at Gutierrez is rolled and one for Wamo Welding.
We have about two weeks left in the year to work and the Shop is full of things to do. Today several orders are picked up and more started. I’m a little distracted. First thing in the morning I looked at the calendar and realize yesterday was my work anniversary. The date I started at the Shop is December 8, 1979. Next year will be twenty years for me. It’s hard to believe.
It’s our final day of work before we escape for the year. Everyone is in a festive mood and looking forward to the holiday. Wilton Corporation, ABC Welding, Dundalk Ornamental Iron Works and Canam Steel pick up and we are done.
It’s Christmas on Woodall Street for us and I couldn’t be happier. Joe is again the star of the day. Presents galore and family making over him all day. Kim’s grandmother and her brother join us and Linda and Anthony. There is lots of food, Christmas music and movies to be watched. Joe seems to have a good time but he’s not talking yet. It’s still early for that and everyone tells us the first child is the slowest to talk and walk. It’s normal. I look forward to a week off. A break from work is needed but we did have a good year. It was aided by the Playworld work. I hope they become another customer we can rely on for regular orders. We’ll see. I will enjoy my week’s respite with Kim and Joe. We’ll have some great family time. I love my Saturdays with Joe and this will be like a full week of that. I’m really starting to like this fatherhood thing. I’m a rookie but I’m learning fast and I think I’m pretty good at it. That being said I have an unfair advantage. I learned from the best.
Bill Clinton is the President of the United States. A tryst with intern Monica Lewinsky leads to Clinton being impeached but found innocent. Viagra is approved by the FDA to treat ED. The Teletubbies premiers in the US. Google is founded. Microsoft becomes the largest company in the world. The US Tobacco Master Settlement is reached between the US and the tobacco industry. Frank Sinatra, Flip Wilson, Ester Rolle, Jack Lord and Harry Caray die.
There are 50 states in the Union.
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