1986 Leaving Lakewood

Jim O”Neill, Jack Kavanagh Sr. and Ann Kavanagh. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. New Year’s Eve. 1985.
Jack Kavanagh Sr. , Betty Ann Kavanagh and Ann Kavanagh. 447 N. Lakewood Avneu. New Year’s 1985.

January 2

The Shop’s year begins on a cold Thursday and I am working until the Spring term at school begins. I hand out job cards while my father begins going through the Christmas mail which usually includes late holiday cards, junk,  but also the occasional check. When I return to the office he’s found something to show me, a letter from the Liberty Production Company.

“What’s this?” I ask and give it a quick read.

My father leans back in his chair while sipping a coffee. “We lent them some of the old coppersmith stuff for a movie. They were filming it right here in Baltimore and they called one day. Then a guy came in. Nice fella and I said fine if they wanted to borrow some things. They used some of our tools, pitchers, pots and some other old stuff”

I settle into Ed’s chair. Ed doesn’t come in until 9 a.m. “Where was I? I don’t remember this. Was I at school?”

Dad nods and places his cup on his desk. “Yeah, I thought I mentioned it to ya but you know it’s so much going on. I guess I forgot.”

“Well, it’s kind of cool.” Doing something for a movie definitely seemed cool and I wish I had been in for that. “I’ll have to try to see it, Dad.”

“It’s a TV movie. I think ABC. Anyway, it’s TV. This year is the 100th Anniversary of the Statue of Liberty.” My father glances over at my Mom who is sitting quietly drinking her tea and recording yesterday’s time sheets. “J-J-Joe?” I look directly at my father. When he says my name with that cadence, he is going to tell me something important. “Your mother and I found a house we like in Harford County. Near Jack and Nancy’s house.” My brother and his wife had purchased a home in the new Box Hill North development there last year.

Mom leans forward in her chair. “It’s a beautiful home with a big yard and lots of grass and there are only three houses on the block. You’re gonna love it.”

I knew my parents were looking to move and they liked Jack and Nancy’s neighborhood, but I am taken aback for a  moment to hear the reality of it. We were going to move away from Lakewood Avenue. “Well, that’s great. I’m glad.” I feel more of a mix of concern and indifference to any change but I know I will only be living home for a couple more years.

Dad and Mom exchange looks and seem relieved,  then Mom continued. “We’ll drive you out this weekend, Joe. We’ll show you around and you are going to have two rooms. The upstairs has a master bedroom and  two other, connected bedrooms,  and you can have them both. One will be like your den.” Mom’s eyes glinted and she smiled reassuringly in her effort to convince me I would be happy.

“Sounds good to me.” The phone rings and Mom grabs it.

“Joseph Kavanagh Company,” she says into the telephone while Dad and I wait to see who it is and who they want to talk to.

Letter from Liberty Production Company to Joseph Kavanagh Company. December 1985.

January 7

Mom and Dad purchase a home at 6 Kensington Parkway in Box Hill North. They begin moving immediately while I will stay at Lakewood and Jefferson until that house is sold. Mom and Dad are ready for a change and some space after living in rowhouses their whole lives. For me, I welcome the alone time as I am getting older and I am sure I can handle it. Also, the guys and I are able to set up our musical equipment including Ray’s drum kit in the living room. Lakewood Avenue becomes Lethal Injection’s first practice space. At the Shop, the year is off to its typical slow start but today some angles and pipes are rolled for Bethesda Iron Works and a heater is begun for the Housing Authority.

The Shop’s job book entry. Bethesda Iron Works job. January 7, 1986.
The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore City job. January 8, 1986.

January 11

The month gets a boost from a job for Codd Fabricators. Fourteen 5” X 3” steel tubes must be filled and rolled and it adds up to a lot of hours. Any order for over two thousand dollars is greatly welcomed in the winter.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. January 11, 1986,

January 23

One of the Shop’s recurring jobs is completed today. EDCO orders large sets of small pipe and rod rings at least several times a year and Dad is happy to see it. Overall, this January is working out much better than anticipated. The pieces for this job are rolled in the R-2 and the smaller machine does a nice job. Besides being more acclimated to the small rings than the large Roundo machines, it also frees them up for other jobs.

The Shop’s job book entry. Equiipment Development Corporation(EDCO) job. Page 1. January 23, 1986.
The Shop’s job book entry. Equiipment Development Corporation(EDCO) job. Page 2. January 23, 1986.

January 26

It’s Super Bowl Sunday and I have the game on as Lethal Injection jams a bit at Lakewood Avenue. The dining room set is there, the television and three chairs. Dad’s piano is still in the front room but apart from my bedroom furniture, the rest is gone already. Mom and Dad were quick to get into their new home and the next phase in their lives. The Chicago Bears crush the New England Patriots 46-10 after going 15-1 on the season. I watch but with only tepid interest much more involved in playing with the guys. We are still starting out and our efforts are largely experimental and improvisational. At the Shop, Ann has decided to come to work and will begin next month. My father often said my Mom and he had three families. The first four girls who were born in consecutive years, Betty Ann, Nancy, Mary and Jane then JoAnn and Jackie who were born a few years later and three years apart. Finally, after another few years, Ann, Jack and I came along. He called us the third family and now, we will all work for him.

Maura O”Neill, April Ballard, Rose O”Neill, Katie O”Neill and Lisa Boss. 1986.

January 28

I am at Lakewood Avenue on a Tuesday doing some homework. I came home right from school as I have a German assignment due tomorrow and the Shop is not terribly busy. I have the television on as I conjugate some verbs and I’m watching the Space Shuttle launch when something horrible happens. The Shuttle Challenger explodes just after liftoff. I can’t believe my eyes as it all turns into a ball of smoke and flame. The entire crew is lost and America slips into a heavy state of shock and mourning for these lost astronauts. This is one of the worse space disasters in history and it becomes indelibly etched into the nation’s memory and mine.

February 3

On the corner of Pratt and Central, a set of steel channels is completed today for the Camwell Corporation. The work remains steady for the winter for a change and that’s a good sign for the year. Half of these channels are rolled in the R-5 and the rest in the R-3-S.

The Shop’s job book entry. Camwell Corporation job. February 3, 1986.

February 20

Another order for Codd is sent out the door on this chilly Thursday. I arrive at lunch after my classes and get to work. Dad has me call Pete Kolb at Codd and let him know his boiler tubes are ready for pickup. Codd is the Shop’s most valuable and regular customer and we have done work together for nearly a century.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. February 20, 1986.

February 26

My sister Ann begins her tenure at the Joseph Kavanagh Company on this Wednesday. She becomes the second female Kavanagh to work at the Shop after my mother. Ann has worked for a lawyer and for a bank so she has a good business background. She will eventually be partners with Jack and me as we begin planning the changeover from Dad owning the place to us.

Lisa Bosse. 1986.

March 6

Spring arrives a little early this year or at least the warm weather does and the sun beats down on Central Avenue accompanied by a cool breeze. This time of year is often the best time weather wise. It’s much more comfortable than the freezing cold or the sweltering summer heat and it is much more conducive to working. Gischel Machine sends its truck over for some rolled rings that were curved in the R-5. The bars are chained up and lifted with the overhead crane and placed neatly in the bed of the truck.

The Shop’s job book entry. Gischel Machine job. March 6, 1986.

April 7

This Monday is the Orioles Home Opener and this is always an exciting day in Baltimore. The Birds lose today 6-4 but hope springs eternal and the fans are looking for good things from the Orioles this year. We are not there again as work precludes our attendance. The tickets are given away to friends in the neighborhood while we listen from the Shop’s office. Another large order of filled pipes is finished for Codd today and it seems this customer has an order for us every week so far this year.

Baltimore Orioles Souvenir Pennant. 1980s.
The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. April 7, 1986.

April 12

The Washington Capitals finally get their revenge on the New York Islanders sweeping them out of the first round of the playoffs. The Isles had eliminated the Caps three years in a row. Next comes a match up against New York’s other team, the Rangers in the Patrick Division Finals.

April Ballard and Katie O”Neill. 1986.

April 27

The Rangers best the Capitals 2-1 tonight and send the Caps home and out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Jack is ever positive and confident this team will be competitive for a long time and will reach their goal of winning the Cup soon enough.

May 9

A sign job is completed for Belsinger Sign Works. Several tubes and bars, all made of aluminum, are rolled to their specifications then they will construct the sign at their shop. Most sign work is aluminum due to the lightness of weight which is another reason they come to the Joseph Kavanagh Company. We work with aluminum and have done so for many years.

The Shop’s job book entry. Belsinger Sign Works job. May 9, 1986.

May 23

I finish another year at both Loyola and Peabody and I am ready to return to work for the summer. Things are changing and the sale of 447 N. Lakewood is about to be completed. I will move next week to Harford County and join my parents in Box Hill. At the Shop, a mix of pipes, angles and plates is rolled for Miscellaneous Metals while a set of copper heater tubes for Harvey Stambaugh are being bent. The work has increased and Dad has begun Saturday hours for the crew if they want them.

The Shop’s job book entry. Miscellaneous Metals job. May 23, 1986.

May 27

I am back at work for the summer full time and I am expediting a job for Fountain Craft. Copper tubes must be rolled into rings then the customer will drill holes to allow the water to flow. Several of the rings are small and must be annealed first. I take care of that myself then pass the tubes on to Mike Glenn to roll in the R-3-S.

May 29

The Kavanagh’s home for nearly forty years is sold and we officially move out of Baltimore City to Harford County. I have lived on this street my entire life as has my father. He grew up on the other side of Lakewood Avenue at his parents’ home. The move is a big adjustment. The drive in the morning is a long one and it takes some time to grow accustomed to it. I’m used to being able to shoot to work in fifteen minutes but now it takes three or four times that long. Also, the first time clock is installed at the Shop. Previously, workers filled out their cards and noted the time of start and stop on a job but modern payroll needs verification and accuracy. The time clock brings exactly that.

The Kavanagh children. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Left to right. Back row: Jim O’Neill, Handy Brandenburg. 2nd row. Nancy, Betty Ann, Jane, Mary. Front row: Jackie, Joe, JoAnn, Jack, Ann. 1971.
Lakewood Ave stairway
Stairway at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue.

June 10

During lunch at the Shop, a Board of Directors meeting is held. Mom and Dad will begin working part-time and my father resigns as president and new officers are elected. My brother Jack Jr. becomes President, I become Vice-President, Ann Secretary and Mom is now the Treasurer. The changeover is happening quickly yet at a deliberate pace. These generational shifts must be made with care and due diligence to consider all the possibilities and protect both the Shop and all interested parties. This is the fourth time the Shop has passed to the next generation and each time it is different. This time there is hope for a long well-deserved retirement for my father and mother.

June 27

The Shop’s phone seems to be ringing all day and Ann, Jack and I along with the crew are busy from start to the end of the day. Jack is bending some pieces for Baltimore Tube Bending while I fill out a job card for Gischel Machine to get that job rolled. Ann takes calls while doing all the Accounts Receivable and Payable as well as Payroll. Even at work, a busy day like this goes by in a flash.

The Shop’s job book entry. Gischel Machine job. June 27, 1986.

July 2

My friends and I begin discussing a possible trip to Europe next year. Chris has been there before and his stories of his trip are where this notion comes from. He told us of the fun he had and it seems like a good idea. We will all consider it and decide if we can come up with the money and the time off.

July 9

Some stainless steel pipes are rolled for Codd Fabricators in the R-3. Mom and Dad pass along some news. The family is getting bigger again because Jane and Jeff will have another baby in October to join their little boy, Phil.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. July 9, 1986.

July 11

It’s a Friday night and the members of Lethal Injection are playing at Kensington Parkway. Mom and Dad spend most of this summer in Ocean City so again I have a place to myself and the band has a practice space. We finally can play together but our style is still very much improvisational. We make some recordings of our first efforts including the punk rock, “I Wanna Loot the White House” and our ethereal drone infused version of “Louie Louie” which we dub “Louie Louie Gets the Bomb Bomb.” My brother makes a guest appearance on the second tune when he calls on the telephone and the ringing is recorded and brings the song to its close.

Rose O”Neill. 1986.

July 31

Summer takes its steps toward vacation next month and the crew and I can’t wait. The week in August is always a nice respite from the job. My friend Tim and I discuss it briefly during the day. He certainly is looking forward to it as he is helping fill some big structural tubes for Codd Fab, a hot and unpleasant job in the summer. These are similar to an order we had for Codd in January. The filling is time consuming and expensive but the hours do pile up on these type of orders.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. July 31, 1986.

August 19

I’m moving back and forth at the Shop from office to the crew when I take a step into the office and see everyone is standing and upset. Mom is crying and tells me my brother-in-law Michael had a terrible fall. He was working on a roof and there was an accident. Dad asks Mom a question and she turns away from me as there is a great deal of talking going on. When Dad steps away, I ask is he going to be okay and she squints her teary eyes and says he’s gone. Again, Dad gets her attention and she turns away from me. It hits me slowly. The thought of it takes a moment after the words are said. I open the office door and step through the small vestibule to the Shop. I walk to the open garage door and feel a slight breeze. The men are working and I stand staring at Central Avenue with light traffic stopped at the corner. Michael is dead. The idea makes no sense. He’s so young and this is a strange feeling for me. At twenty-one, the deaths I have experienced as yet were my elders, Eddie when I was five and Nanny when I was ten and a few other’s of that generation. Michael is my generation. Granted, Michael was older than I because with nine of us the span of ages is stretched a bit but he was one of us. One of the kids we would say even with me being the youngest at twenty-one. I think of Betty and April in a flash. I can’t imagine their shock and grief. I can’t guess at their pain. My family is close. I spent a lot of time with Betty and April at our house, playing with April when she was very young. I think of the last time I saw Michael. It was at the house where Betty and Ann lived on Parkwood Avenue. My friends/bandmates and I would visit and hang out. If Michael was there, he would talk with us. He had a very gentle nature. Michael was soft spoken and thoughtful in conversation though I occasionally witnessed him raise his voice when joking but never in anger. He helped Jack and me for a couple of hours at the Shop one Saturday. He happened to drive by and ended up helping us get home earlier. Micheal was active in the peace and environmental movement and a farm boy from Kentucky. Michael was raised in the same traditional large family environment as the Kavanagh’s. I learned from him and he influenced me. He was different than most men I knew and that was a very good thing. I looked up to him. He was a rebel in some ways but always a kind one, a gentle one. The most gentle rebel I have ever known.

1986 Michael Ballard
Michael Ballard. 1986.
Betty Ann and Michael Ballard. Wedding. Cake picture. 1976
Betty Ann and Michael Ballard at their wedding. 1975.
April and Michael
Michael and April Ballard. 1977.
Jack Jr. Ann and Joe Kavanagh, Betty Ann & Michael Ballard and baby Maura Kavanagh O”Neill. 1976.
1986 Michael in pool at Royal Palms
Michael Ballard. Royal Palm Court. Mid 1980s.
1986 Michael, Betty and April picnic
Michael, April and Betty Ann Ballard. 1986.
1986 Michael, Betty and April
Michael, Betty Ann and April Ballard. 1986.

August 25

A memorial mass and service is held at St. Anthony’s Church for Michael. The family gathers still in shock and disbelief. We mourn for our brother and friend. We speak of him and seek comfort in each other and our memories. Michael is the first of the kids to pass away. It’s a sobering wake up call to all of us and to our mortality. I think it changes all of us and we are suddenly aware that we are adults now and getting older. Mostly, we miss the man we knew and his kind and loving way which came so naturally and with such ease to him.


Michael Ballard. 1980s.

September 2

I return to school with some trepidation. With Dad retiring, I know I will be needed at the Shop. I can do both as I have been but it will be a challenge. I considered not returning to school at all and bailing. I want to try to make it work but the thought of withdrawing is still in my head.

September 15

The busy summer has given way to an equally busy fall and today another heat exchanger is made for the Housing Authority of Baltimore. Housing is a good regular customer and the copper heater work is one of our most profitable items.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore City job. September 15, 1986.

October 7

Some structural angles are rolled for Southern Iron Works while small pieces for a sculpture are finished for artist, Liza Kaslow. Lisa has been coming into the Shop for a few years for her work and today I finally meet her. Dad and Mom like her a great deal and spend a few minutes going over the details then they chat for about thirty minutes about their families. That is very much how my parents were with customers.

The Shop’s job book entry. Lisa Kaslow job. October 7, 1986.
The Shop’s job book entry. Southern Iron Works job. Page 1. October 7, 1986.
The Shop’s job book entry. Southern Iron Works job. Page 2. October 7, 1986.

October 11

The Capitals lose their home opener in an ugly game, 6-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers. Jack isn’t there but is watching at home ever the vigilant and devoted Caps fan. The Home Team Sports Channel began on cable two years ago and their Capitals’ broadcasts are on every night at Jack’s house.

October 13

I withdraw from school and inform my parents, Ann and Jack. I will work full time until and if I ever become a real musician. I have been giving it great thought and attending Loyola seems pointless now. Clearly the major of Computer Engineering is not going to give me much insight into modern machines and equipment relevant to the Shop. That’s not to say, it doesn’t help. I’ve learned basic electrical circuitry and have a working knowledge of computers. I know I’ll be working at the Shop for the rest of my life unless the band makes it big. Though we often talk of big shows we would do and albums we would release, we don’t dream of millions of dollars very often. More we dream of being able to play what we want and make music we like. We do hope to be professional on some level which makes me consider continuing at Peabody. I could re-register as a pure Peabody student not just a Loyola student involved in their cooperative program. It seems complex and the schedule of school, work and band was very demanding. This is only tougher now that I live in Box Hill. It would be a lot of driving. I come to the conclusion to focus on work and the band while continuing music lessons if possible. I am fortunate in that both my classical guitar teacher and my music theory teacher also give classes from their homes. I make arrangements with both and that softens the blow of withdrawing from college. I feel disappointed and like I’m a quitter most certainly but I feel it’s the right thing to do. No one told me to quit school. Not my father, mother, brother or sister for sure. They were certain we could make things work at the Shop until I finished. It is my call and I make it mostly to simplify my schedule and focus my attention. As a bit of a reward, I have decided to do the Europe trip next year. Tim and his brother Greg and Chris are coming too. Unfortunately, Ray is not. He’s too concerned about the money and he’s not sure he can afford it. We understand and he’ll be missed on the trip. This European vacation will be the great adventure of my life and as each day gets closer, the more excited I become.

Fender Stratocaster 1
Joe Kavanagh’s Fender Stratocaster.

October 20

Jane Morton gives birth to a baby girl, Sarah Jane, and Jane and Jeff couldn’t be happier. Mom and Dad drive up immediately to meet grandchild number seven. At the Shop, Ann, Jack and I are passing on the news to all our siblings who don’t know. The family is excited again for another addition to this clan. I tell the boys in the crew about the baby as well and they are thrilled for Mom and Dad. Workwise, a large heat exchanger for Housing Authority with over fifty tubes is finished, picked up and billed.

1986 October 20 Jane, Jeff and baby Sarah
Jeff, Jane and baby Sarah Morton. October 20, 1986.
1987 January Baby Sarah
Sarah Jane Morton. 1986.
1986 Mom and Sarah
Betty Kavanagh and Sarah Morton. 1986.
1986 November Jeff, Phil and Sarah
Jeff, Phil and baby Sarah Morton. 1986.
1986 Betty, April and Sarah
Betty and April Ballard with baby Sarah Morton. November 1986.

October 27

I pull into the parking pad in front of Kensington Parkway. I spent the evening jamming at Macon Street with the boys. Ray and Chris have rented a house together and the basement is our new band space and hopefully a more permanent one. It’s late but Dad is up and game seven of the World Series is on. It was a rough year for the Birds who finished in last place but it’s baseball and these things happen. I sit and drink a beer with Dad and we see the Red Sox score two runs in the 8th inning to draw within one run. This could be a close finish but the Mets answer with two of their own and Boston goes quietly in the final frame losing 8-5. I had missed game 6 with the infamous Buckner miscue which led to a Mets win and extended the series. I was practicing with the guys but Dad watched, He caught me up on it and I missed not seeing it with him. I’m more focused on music than baseball these days and I know Dad understands. He’s happy that I am involved in music and in a band. As the pianist he is, he completely understands.

1986 Sarah's Christening Nancy, Rose and Sarah
Nancy and Rose O”Neill and baby Sarah Morton. 1986.
1986 Sarah's Christening Dad, Handy, Nancy, Jim, Joe and KO
Handy Brandenburg, Jack Kavanagh Sr. Nancy O”Neill, Jim O”Neill, Joe Kavanagh and Katie O’Neill. Sarah Morton’s Christening. November 1986.
1986 Jeff, Sarah, Betty and April
Jeff Morton, April and Betty Ann Ballard and baby Sarah Morton. November 1986.
1986 Marua and Sarah
Maura O”Neill and baby Sarah Morton. 1986.

November 3

A large job from Stan Edmister is being worked on today and has been for a week. Stan sent these in from his company, Playcatering. Playcatering handles all of Stan’s playground work. He makes sculptural playgrounds for City schools and quite often like this one, they are fairly large bits of work for the Shop.

The Shop’s job book entry. Playcatering job. Page 1 November 3, 1986.
The Shop’s job book entry. Playcatering job. Page 2. November 3, 1986.
1986 Phil's second birthday Jeff, Phil, Katie O, April and Lisa
Jeff and Phil Morton, Katie O”Neill, April Ballard and Lisa Bosse. Phil’s 2nd brithday party. November 1986.
1986 First Six grandchildren
April Ballard, Katie, Maura and Rose O”Neill, Lisa Bosse and Phil Morton. 1986.

December 1

The year is winding down and the work has slowed some but the crew are still busy. Today they are spread over five or six small orders including a fountain sprayer tube, two brass railings, a stiffener for a boiler and a small order from Metro Builders. This time of year, the workers’ minds begin to wander as they should to the holidays, time with family and just as important time off.

The Shop’s job book entry. Metro Builders job. December 1, 1986.

December 3

With plans moving forward for my father to retire, at Ann’s encouragement the Shop institutes its first pension plan for all employees. Ann has that strong business background and mind and she takes the lead on most of the business and financial moves going forward. Mom and Dad are proud of her and happy to defer to her on these issues as are Jack and I. The business side of the Shop will be modernized step by step.

Betty Kavanagh. 1986.

December 25

Christmas is at 6 Kensington Parkway this year and it feels strange and new yet familiar. My sisters and their families and the rest of us gather with my parents and share another holiday. The old house at the corner of Lakewood and Jefferson was a special place with many special holidays. It was part of a true neighborhood. If the crowd got loud or it was a fair weather Christmas and I chose to step out onto the corner, I’d see someone. Even on Christmas if it was more than a moment, another neighbor would be seen or someone rushing to a holiday party or perhaps something going on across the street at Coby’s, the corner store which seemed to never close. No matter the day or time of year, when you stepped out onto that corner and looked east, west, north or south, you would see someone maybe in more than one direction. Kensington is one of three houses on the block and it’s beautiful but it’s not quite the same but we are here. The Kavanagh’s are together and so it is home. Gifts are opened as grandkids scamper around. Baby Sarah is passed around and held while everyone catches up with each other. Finally, my father leads us in song from his piano bench and the sound of carols fill the room then the old standards are played over and over, “King of the Road” and “Sentimental Journey.” It’s Christmas with the Kavanagh’s.

1986 Christmas Jeff, Ann, Phil and Sarah
Jeff, Phil and Sarah Morton and Ann Kavanagh. 6 Kensington Parkway Christmas 1986.
Jack Kavanagh Sr. and Joe Kavanagh. 6 Kensington Parkway. 1986.
Jack Kavanagh Sr. and Joe Kavanagh. 6 Kensington Parkway. 1986.

December 30

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a strange and slow-paced one for most people. Some take the whole week off but those who don’t, do take it a little easier even at work. Ann, Jack and I are having lunch after I drove to Haussner’s and got us turkey clubs and some sugar cookies. We talk of the future and make plans for it. For the first time, talk of a new building comes up. It’s not something we can do anytime soon but Central Avenue is almost eighty years old. The roof leaks, the walls are old and crumbling while the wiring system is archaic. My brother, sister and I dream a bit of a newer bigger facility all on one floor with electrical overhead cranes not the old chain and crank ones. It seems fanciful but a realistic goal some day. When lunch is done, Jack gets back to work on some aluminum tubes upstairs, Ann finishes some payroll and I head out to check on the crew. Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and we’ll close at two today to give everyone an early start on the holiday. This has been a year of change. My father’s time is ending and the “Third Family’s” time is starting. My college career is over and I do not regret it yet as much as I will in years to come. We have moved from Lakewood Avenue after years of making our home in that neighborhood. There were two corners for the Kavanagh’s, Pratt and Central and Lakewood and Jefferson. We lose one of our corners and are speaking of leaving another. We lost one of our own too. Michael’s death is a blow to us  and the suddenness of it stings to the core. He was the first of us kids to pass and it’s a sad harbinger of what is destined to come. We are all adults now and the next generation is the grandkids. We’re all young but time marches on and there’s no stopping it. Our family has seen three generations come and go and my parents and their peers are in the winters of their lives while we live in the spring and summer of ours not really knowing when our falls or winters might begin.



Ronald Reagan is the President of the United States. The Statue of Liberty celebrates its 100th Anniversary. The Oprah Winfrey Show premiers. The last episode of “Search for Tomorrow” airs. The films “Pretty in Pink,” “Stand by Me” and “Top Gun” are released. Roger Clemens strikes out twenty batters in a nine inning game setting a new MLB record. Millions of people take part in “Hands Across America” but it is briefly interrupted when members of Lethal Injection cut through the line and break the chain in downtown Baltimore. The first group of artist are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Halley’s Comet appears for the last time in the 20th Century. Shia LaBeouf, Lady Gaga and Michael Oher are born. Cary Grant, Georgia O’Keefe, Scatman Crothers, Len Bias and Benny Goodman die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

1987 Baby Sarah
Sarah Jane Morton. Late 1986.

To read earlier years, click on the Table of Contents link below;

Table of Contents



1985 Brothers and Uncles

January 11

The Shop’s year begins on a fair note. The crew is busy though without much of a backlog. Dad will take that any day in January. My father has decided to buy another Roundo Roller,  a small one called the R-2. The machine should arrive next month and Dad has also ordered two new sets of round tube rollers for it. These will help with some of the recurring jobs we have such as the small pipe and rod rings for EDCO(Equipment Development Corp). Jack and I are anxious to see it. A new machine is like a new toy at the Shop. Parts of a sign are completed today for Belsinger Sign Works. Signs are another source of revenue for the Joseph Kavanagh Company. When the Shop became more focused on rolling and bending, sign companies found us and now, many of the signs in the Baltimore area that require bent metal, end up at 201. S. Central Avenue.

The Shop’s job book entry. Belsinger Sign Works job. January 11, 1985.
R-2 Round Roller. Photo Taken April 2020.

January 19

My parents receive the news that Dad’s Aunt Anna Kavanagh (Sister Mary Agnes) has died at the age of 78. She was Dad’s father’s sister and a nun in the Visitation Order. She lived a long and very happy devout life but my father is particularly saddened. His father was very close to Aunt Anna and she has always held a special place in the family.

January 20

My parents and my father’s cousin Mary fly to Minnesota for Aunt Anna’s service. They are rather shocked to hear the ground is too cold this time of year for a funeral. The burial will be delayed until the spring. The service is a small one with a memorial mass to be held in Baltimore in the future. Jack and I are on our own for a couple days at Lakewood Avenue. After Mom and Dad leave, we watch the San Francisco 49ers beat the Miami Dolphins 38-16 in the Super Bowl. We enjoy the game but we’re also waiting to pass on any word from my parents to our sisters.

January 24

I hop off the bus and walk a block to the Shop after a Technical Drawing Class. This is one course I am certain will help me at work. I need to read sketches submitted from customers regularly and some times have to make them for our own needs. When I reach the Shop, Dad has me drill a head for a heat exchanger for the Housing Authority. It’s a solitary job for a change which is fine by me. I spend the afternoon upstairs in the machine shop in the quiet. My mind is on next week when I begin classes and lessons at Peabody Conservatory.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore City job. January 24, 1985.

February 5

The Shop is steady if not busy and the crew are working on a handful of small jobs including an order from J.C. Pardo for some stainless bars and tubes. Pardo is one of Dad’s  regular and most reliable customers.

The Shop’s job book entry. J.C. Pardo job. February 5, 1985.
1985 Mom and Phil
Betty Kavanagh and Phil Morton. 1985.

February 11

The R-2 arrives mid-morning at 201 S. Central Avenue. This machine is small compared to the other Roundo Rollers and unloading and placing it goes fairly quickly. Dad and Jack run some test pieces on it in the afternoon. It takes time to get the “feel” of a machine so taking it for a spin as soon as possible is a good idea.

The Shop’s Purchases Book. Entry for buying Round R-2. February 11, 1985.
R-2 Round Roller. Photo Taken April 2020.
R-2 Round Roller tools. Photo taken April 2020.

March 2

The Kavanagh’s attend a memorial mass for Aunt Anna at St. Elizabeth’s Chapel on Ellerslie Avenue. They mourn for her but remember the special life she chose to live. Hers was a life of service to God and the Church. Aunt Anna was a teacher and loved her students dearly. Like many in our family, she  was a talented pianist too and a prolific letter writer as well. She was the last of my great grandparents’ children, the last Kavanagh of her generation.

Sister Mary Agnes(Aunt Anna Kavanagh) Visitation Convent grounds. Circa 1930.
Sister Mary Agnes(Aunt Anna Kavanagh). Early 1980s.

March 8

March has not brought any warm weather as yet with today’s high still below freezing. The heat of torches does help in the old Shop. Jack anneals and bends a dozen copper tubes for Codd Fabricators. This is a repeat of a job from last month and that helps. All the development is finished. It’s simply a matter of repeating what was done last time.

The Shop’s job book entry. Two Codd Fabricators jobs. February 8 and March 8, 1985.

March 29

My father and Pete Kolb are standing in the front of the Shop talking with Jack on a breezy Friday. Pete  drove up to go over a set of drawings with both of them. Jack will be handling the job which consists of four 2” O.D. aluminum tubes each with 2- 90 deg. bends. The tolerance is critical but it won’t be a problem for my brother who jumps on the job as soon as Pete leaves. Jack anneals them,  then bends the tubes on the Pines and they’ll be ready for Codd on Monday. After a few months of lessons at Peabody, I decide to purchase a proper classical guitar, a Brune. Richard Brune is a luthier in Illinois. The guitar is beautiful and feels above my station but I love it and devote myself a little harder to my lessons.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. April 1, 1985.

April 6

My brother Jack and his girlfriend Nancy Szakacs take a day trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Nancy is a teacher and a big history buff. They have been seeing each other for a few months and they walk a bit on the old battlefield as Jack seems to be looking for a particular spot. Whether it’s the right location or the right time, Jack finally finds it and proposes to Nancy. She says yes and soon a wedding is planned for August.

Jack and Nancy Kavanagh. 1985.

April 8

The Orioles open up their season at home against the Texas Rangers winning 4-2. The Kavanagh’s are not there for the first time in many years. With all of us working and me going to school as well, it’s impractical. Mom and Dad give the tickets to the Krahlings who own the corner store across the street. They are big baseball fans and good friends who have lived in the neighborhood as long as Mom and Dad.

Philip John Morton. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1985.

April 16

It’s a disappointing end to the season for the Washington Capitals who are eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For the third year in a row, they are beaten by the New York Islanders. Jack is not fazed as he is happy and riding high looking forward to his wedding. There’s always next year for the Caps.

April Kavanagh Ballard. Birtdhay party. April 1985.
Betty Ann Kavanagh, April Kavanagh Ballard, Maura and Katie Kavanagh O’Neill. 1985.

April 25

A rush job is pushed out of the Shop today. Ackerman and Baynes Fabricators has sent in some angles and pipes they need rolled as fast as we can. While most of the crew have time on this order, Dad hands Jack a couple of job cards for Miscellaneous Metals They have ordered some rolled pipes and plates. Jack rolls the pipes in the R-3-S and gives the card for the plates to Mike Glenn to do those in the R-5. Jack is always working on a job in the Shop but for some customers and some jobs, he also coordinates and expedites.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes Fabricators job. April 25, 1985.
The Shop’s job book entry. Miscellaneous Metals job. April 26, 1985.

May 6

The work has picked up and steady has changed to busy. Dad finally has a backlog of work of two weeks. A fountain sprayer tube is rolled today and some boiler tubes as well while Jack bends pipes and rods for Lenderking Metal Products in the Pines.

The Shop’s job book entry. Lenderking Metal Products job. May 6, 1985.

May 7

The work continues to roll in and my father has begun offering Saturday hours to those who will take it. An order for Bengies Welding is finished and picked up today, a dozen pipes bent by Jack and two pipes rolled by Jerry Purnell.

The Shop’s job book entry. Bengies Welding job. May 7, 1985.
Katie Kavanagh O’Neill. First Holy Communion. May 1985.
Katie Kavanagh O’Neill and April Kavanagh Ballard. 1985.

May 22

I am nearly finished another year at Loyola and my first semester at Peabody. The last hurdles in this year are my exams and passing a jury of classical guitarists. I am not too worried about the exams but the jury means I must play in front of three experienced players and faculty members for their approval. Otherwise, I can not continue in the program in the Fall. I feel confident but as nervous as I have ever been. To my relief, I manage a B+ and I feel a great weight off my shoulders. The remainder of my classes and exams will be finished in a few days and I pass them all.

Peabody Conservatory Handbook. 1985.

June 5

I am back to work for the summer and I am not alone. Ray is working at the Shop again but so is Tim Heaps, my fellow guitarist in the band. Tim graduated from high school this year and wants to work for the summer before college. Tim’s personality is different than Ray’s. He is less quiet but he fits in well. He can kid and be kidded which helps a great deal with a crew of working men. A Codd Fabricators job is completed today. The final set of 5” pipes are rolled after several orders in the last month.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. June 5, 1985.
Jackie and Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 1985.
Lisa Bosse and Phil Morton. 1985.

June 13

The Birds are off to a very mediocre start and Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams fires manager Joe Altobelli and lures Earl Weaver from retirement to take over the club. Coach Cal Ripken Sr. manages the Birds for one game, a win, before Weaver returns to Baltimore and takes the reins. Fans including me hope Earl can bring back the winning ways.

Nancy Szakacs. Wedding shower. 1985.
Jack Kavanagh Jr. 1985.

June 24

I spend most of my day on the phone, working on quotes and writing up job cards  for the Shop. Dad has me pretty busy but I know he wants me to learn. Dealing with the crew is the easy part compared to customers some of whom still prefer to talk to my father. I know with time will come trust and comfort so I deal with any jabs about my age or inexperience. Since I have worked in the Shop, the workers know me and I have very few problems assigning work or discussing job progress with them. A pipe is rolled in the R-3 and a 10” channel in the R-6-S for Tri-Fab Co. It’s a job I quoted and expedited so there’s a little satisfaction when I call them to arrange shipping.

The Shop’s job book entry. Tri-Fab. Company job. June 24, 1985.

July 1

While the crew are finishing a structural job for W & W Fabrications, my parents inform Jack and I they will be spending the weekends in Ocean City for the rest of the summer. Dad is confident the Shop will be fine and they want to enjoy as much time at the beach as they can. I’m a little surprised but I want them to be able to do what they want plus having the house to ourselves is good on the weekends. Jack is often at church or with his friends so that leaves me and the boys in the band at Lakewood Avenue. Ray has acquired an old drum kit from an employee of the Shop, Frank Skaggs. On weekends, we finally try to jam, Chris singing and playing some on Dad’s piano, the rest of us on our instruments in a very rough fashion.

The Shop’s job book entry. W and W Fabrication job. July 1, 1985.

July 13

I wake up a little early for a Saturday. Jack and I have to run into the Shop and bend a set of tubes for Harvey Stambaugh but I am up to watch Live Aid. A large scale concert to benefit famine relief is planned in two venues, one in London and one in Philadelphia. The buzz of bands to be involved has been exciting and I am fortunate to see Dire Straits before we head to work. The version of “Sultans of Swing” is amazing. We bang out the tubes fast and drop them at Harvey’s then head home. The rest of the day and night is spent viewing this show with such a huge list of headliners and great acts with my friends.

Maura, Katie and Rose O’Neill and April Ballard. Summer 1985.


My Uncle Ed takes a call from Pete Kolb at Codd. They need four 2” angles rolled quick. He assures Pete we can get them done today. The problem is it’s 2:00 pm on a Friday. There is no way to get them rolled without staying late. I realize I have to stick around after hours with someone and roll these.

“Ed? Why did you tell Pete we can get these done today?” I ask after Ed explains the situation to me.

Ed glibly answers. “It shouldn’t be a problem. I’m sure he’ll get them right up here. He said he needed them as fast as we can get them.”

“Did Pete say they had to be today? Couldn’t we do these tomorrow morning? I mean I’m in here tomorrow.” I answer.

“No, he didn’t say he’d need them today. I just figured we could get them finished.” Ed replies.

“There’s no chance we can get them ready by the end of the day. We’ll have to work late to get them. It’s two o’clock for God’s sake and the angles aren’t even here yet, Ed.” My head shakes back and forth in bewilderment.

Ed rubs his forehead. “I guess you are right. I thought we’d have the time.”

“You shouldn’t have done this Ed. I’m sure tomorrow would have been fine. Why did you tell him tonight?” I fire back.

“You’re right. I guess. I can call him and explain.” Ed begins but I cut him off.

“Oh no no no. We don’t work like that. If we say it will be done, it will be done.” I grit my teeth a little as any thoughts of getting out of work on time disappear. “I’ll stick around, Ed. I’ll stay with Mike and we’ll get them done but you can’t do this to me. This is crazy shit. You shouldn’t have done this.” I angrily stomp out of the office.

I feel a little bad but not much. Ed put me in a bind here and he should have known better. Ed leaves at 2:30 anyway and as he goes he tells Mike to do whatever I say to do. As if that wasn’t the case anyway. Pete drops the angles off himself in his pick up and we have them ready for him just after 5:30 pm. He picks up and we head home. I wonder what my father will think of this. What will Ed think of it on Monday? I know I did the best I could and got the job done. I may have hurt my uncle’s feelings but I was doing my job.

Ed Kavanagh Jr. and Joe Kavanagh. 6 Kensington Parkway. 1986

July 21

When my parents return from the beach I quickly fill my Dad in on what happened with Ed. He listens as I recount the events and my response. I make sure to be clear we got the job done. He doesn’t pause and tells me I did the right thing. He tells me Ed will be fine tomorrow.


Joseph Kavanagh Company’s collection of Kavanagh business cards. Photo taken 2019.

July 22

After a hot sticky day at the Shop, my father and I sit in the front room, he at the piano and I on the couch with guitar in hand. We’re playing around with “King of the Road”, one of his favorites to play. The chords are simple enough so I can play along and he definitely gets a kick out of it. As I pack my guitar up and prepare to head to Tim’s house for practice, I bring up my uncle who did indeed act as if nothing unusual happened on Friday. He was the same Ed he always was.

“You were right about Ed, Dad. He seemed okay. Didn’t even mention Friday.” I look up as I snap my guitar case closed.

Dad turns slightly on the piano bench to face me. “I told you. Ed understands and he knows it’s the job. Sometimes,” Dad pauses as if searching for the right words. “Sometimes Ed gets too excited about getting a job. He gets caught up in it and doesn’t think of the time to do it or whatever.”

I nod. “You mean like the thrill you get when you quote and it becomes a job?”

His eyes narrow and he looks more directly at me. “You feel it already? You get charged up a bit about jobs?” I nod again. “Good. Good. You should be but you gotta keep your mind on the actual job too. You can’t get too caught up in the excitement of it. That’s part of Ed’s problem but I told you he would be okay.”

“I know,  but he’s your brother. He’s my uncle. It’s different.”

“I know he is but,” he stops himself again. “We’re all brothers, and uncles here, Joe. At the Shop. I mean. Always have been. It’s just how it is. We work together and the job is what’s important. No time for hurt feelings.” He rubs his fingers over his chin and looks thoughtful for a moment. “Brothers and uncles. I believe just about every Kavanagh who worked here has been both.” A second later a warm smile covers his face then he nods me out the door. “You did the right thing. You did fine. Now, go play that rotten roll you play with your friends.”

I chuckle and grab my guitar and gear. “Okay, Dad.” I leave and walk the short distance to Kenwood Avenue and the Heaps’ house. My father is right. In my research, I have found that with one or two exceptions, every Kavanagh at the Shop has been both brother and uncle and all worked with brothers and uncles. I never called Ed, Uncle Ed  and it was the same for my predecessors. We just don’t use “uncle” at the Shop if at all. The word being a formality eliminated by working every day, every week, every year for a common cause.

Ed Kavanagh Jr. and Jack Kavanagh Sr. 6 Kensington Parkway. 1986.

August 10

Today is my brother’s wedding day, a much anticipated event. My parents are busting with pride and happiness for Jack and his bride. Nancy is family as soon as Jack introduces us to her and the wedding will cement that. Our family gathers with hers at Cub Hill Church and before us all and God, Jack marries the love of his life. I am very happy for him. Love is the endgame for most of our lives. To see Jack find that love, to find Nancy brings us all a lot of joy. I wish my big brother well and smile as Nancy and he begin their life together as a couple, as a family. In true Shop form, Jack scheduled his wedding and honeymoon for our week of vacation. That’s very much my brother’s style.

Jack Jr. and Nancy Szacaks Kavanagh. Jack holding baby Phil Morton. Wedding Day. August 10, 1985.
Jack Jr. and Nancy Szakacs Kavanagh’s wedding. Jack holding Phil Morton. Cub Hill Church. August 10, 1985.
Jack Sr. and Betty Kavanagh with Maura, Katie and Rose O’Neill, April Ballard and Phil Morton. Jack and Nancy Kavanagh’s wedding. Cub Hill Church. August 10, 1985.

August 19

We are back at work after a brief respite and the place is busy with several railings and a few structural pieces to roll. One job for Union Iron Works is picked up today, a small pipe which is easily loaded,  but there are 2- 12” Channels and those are a bit of a problem to get on the truck. The overhead crane is used and through swinging the channels slowly and carefully, we get them to fit.

The Shop’s job book entry. Union Iron Works job. August 19, 1985.
Eden Street reat entrance to the Joseph Kavanagh Company. 201 S. Central Avenue. Mid 1980s.

August 28

I am finishing my summer before soon heading back to school. I take calls and quote jobs. At first, I would have shown the price to my father for approval but I know now he trusts me. I learned his system for pricing pretty fast and I always have the old job records to defer to if necessary. I also write up the job cards and distribute them to the crew. When Mom and Dad are at the beach, I am in charge and it’s a little daunting but it’s the job. I grow into it quickly probably due to a slightly over-inflated sense of self or confidence whichever you want to call it. I have lunch on those days with my uncle and Ed is fine with me making the calls. As he does for my father, he prefers more of a support role. We talk politics and he tells me stories of the Shop, his father and even Old Uncle Joe. He tells me the tale as he heard of it of the first Joseph Michael Kavanagh working on the Statue of Liberty and much more. Ed likes to laugh and I can often make him do that. My days are busy but they go quickly. I reach that point where the days go too fast to get everything I need done. That’s a big change from being a worker and never having the day go quickly enough. It’s part of being a boss. At the end of the day, I call “Big Mike” Winchester at the Housing Authority to let him know a heater for the Gilmor Projects is ready.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore City job. August 28, 1985.
Maura Kavanagh O’Neill. 1985.
Rose Kavanagh O’Neill. 1985.

September 3

I return to Loyola and Peabody for college. This is my third year at Loyola studying Computer Engineering and my second at Peabody studying classical guitar and music theory. I find my music classes and lessons far more interesting than computer engineering. I  work hard and my grades are fine but not the high grades I held in high school. I still go to work several days a week, taking the bus from Loyola to Central Avenue to finish out the day helping Dad in the office or wherever he needs me.

1985 Phil and Rose
Rose Kavanagh O’Neill and Phil Morton. Fall 1985.

September 7

I drag myself out of bed on this Saturday after a night of band practice and shenanigans. We are making our first steps to learning to play together while we still learn our instruments. Jack has moved to Harford County with his new wife purchasing a home in a new development called Box Hill. He swings by Lakewood Avenue and picks me up then heads to the Shop. Most of the crew is there but Dad is not coming in. He only comes in on the weekend if he absolutely has to do so. He knows Jack and I and trust us to handle things. A couple jobs are dealt with including one for A Touch of Brass Company. They make brass beds and furniture parts and have been a customer for almost ten years.

The Shop’s job book entry. A Touch of Brass Company job. September 7, 1985.

October 13

The Capitals lose their home opener to the Philadelphia Flyers 4- 2 after losing the first two games on the road. That’s a rough start but they will get it together this season and win eight in a row at one point and nine of ten at another.

Maura, Katie and Rose Kavanagh O’Neill and April Kavanagh Ballard and Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 1985.

October 21

While I begin another week at school, the beat goes on at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Dad has eliminated the Saturday hours for the crew after a slight drop in work. It happens this time of year regularly. Dad is on the phone much of the day, updating and replying to customers. Jack is coordinating and doing some of the rolling for another Miscellaneous Metals job. Miscellaneous has sent in a good bit of work this year and Jack has taken the lead on most of it.

The Shop’s job book entry. Miscellaneous Metals job. October 21, 1985.

October 27

Dad and I are having a beer and watching game seven of the World Series. The house has felt strangely quiet with Jack moved out and me the only one of my parents’ children still living at Lakewood and Jefferson. We talk baseball as we watch the Kansas City Royals host the St. Louis Cardinals in the deciding game. Of course, we talk about the Orioles. Even with Earl Weaver’s return, the Birds fell short this year finishing in 5th place. KC takes an early 5-0 lead than piles on six runs in the 5th inning and takes the championship. It’s a good game and it ends about 11 pm so Dad hops right up from his chair and heads to bed. I stay up a bit watching the news then Benny Hill.

Betty Kavanagh and Lisa Bosse. Lisa’s 2nd Birthday. November 1985.
Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 2nd Birthday. November 1985.

November 12

Dad and I are sitting in the front room of Lakewood Avenue and I have talked him into playing some of that rotten roll that I play. I’m a big fan of Pink Floyd and love the piano in the song, “Sheep.” I convince my father to give it a go with me on the guitar.

We start the song and he comes to a sudden stop. “These chords sound like jazz. You know that, right?”

“I guess. Some seventh chords anyway. It’s not jazz with the way they play it.” I reply and we begin again.

We get almost through the first pass when he stops again. “Why is it like a dirge or something? Why is it so slow?  Did somebody die?”

“No.” I smile. “It’s Pink Floyd. It has a sort of deliberate pace to it.”

“Yeah, whatever. Slow. Can’t I speed up the tempo a little” He looks over at me.

“No, you can’t. It’s at the right tempo.”

“Can I double up the bass a little to pep it up.” He shoots back.

“No, it’s Pink Floyd. No doubling up the bass.” My smile widening.

“Can I bounce the bass?”

“No. That’s the same thing. Geez. Dad. Let’s just try it as written.” I chuckle a bit and he nods. We start again and make it through the first verse and chorus. He stops again.

“Sheep? That’s what it’s called huh? What the hell are they writing about. Must be a bunch of weirdos. I bet they were smoking plenty of that marijuana while they wrote this one.” His eyes meet mine.

I laugh “Probably but tell me. You think Frank Sinatra had a few scotches when he recorded “My Way?” I raise an eyebrow as I look at him.

He bursts into hardy laughter which stops with a smile. “Yes, I guess he probably did. “

We  get back to it and manage an odd and slightly up tempo version of “Sheep” in a couple of hours. Mostly it was fun and despite his protestation, I am sure Dad had fun too.

Jack Kavanagh Sr. and Joe Kavanagh. Late 1980s.

November 20

The Joseph Kavanagh Company finishes more work for Miscellaneous Metals. This time it is three big 10” structural channels and two pipes for a railing. My father takes note of how much this customer has kept us rolling much of the year.

The Shop’s job book entry. Miscellaneous Metals job. November 20, 1985.

December 7

My sister Ann turns twenty-five today and Dad and Mom take her out to dinner at Haussner’s to celebrate. Haussner’s is a very popular Baltimore establishment on Eastern Avenue. The food is delicious and the décor unique with most of the wall space covered in paintings and sculptures placed about the dining area. Occasionally, one of us will drive over from the Shop and pick up turkey clubs for lunch and this time of year their thin and crispy sugar cookies are a regular holiday treat. My parents  want to have some birthday time with Ann but they have another motive as well. Unbeknownst to Jack and me, they ask Ann to work at the Shop. If she would be interested in taking over the billing, payroll and other parts of the business end, they would like her to work at the family business. Ann has worked for a lawyer and a bank so she has a good bit of experience in the field. She also has a good head for business and my parents know it. She tells them she will think about it and let them know after the holidays.

Jack and Betty Kavanagh. 1980s.

December 10

I am still at school but finishing in less than two weeks. Then, I’ll be back at the Shop full time and devoting the rest of my time to Lethal Injection, a band in name only but slowly becoming the real thing. More big structural channels are rolled in the R-6-S today for Thrifty Iron Works. The channels will be used for a stairway landing and there are a dozen pipes to make the associated railing.

The Shop’s job book entry. Thrifty Iron Works job. December 10, 1985.

December 25

Christmas Day is here and the Kavanagh’s assemble for the annual feast, party and celebration. What no one knows is this will be the last Christmas at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue for us. My parents will make a move next year, several of them in fact. The house is filled with the tearing open of presents, the happy exclamations of grandchildren, much laughter and my father’s music from the piano. The small rowhouse is crowded but the closeness only comforts us. A crowded place feels right for the Kavanagh family, a hazard of having nine children and now six grandchildren. When it’s time for the songs to be sung with Dad leading us from his piano bench, Jack’s wife Nancy is right there with the rest of the siblings and her voice is added to ours. I enjoy the day but also look forward to a few days of no school or work. I’ll hang with my friends and we’ll practice and plan for that big day when we are a real rock ‘n’ roll band. I realize now that Dad has been preparing Jack and me to take his place and much sooner than I thought. Very much like my ancestors, my father is putting together a team, a team of Kavanagh’s. The team usually includes a top mechanic or Shop guy, a business person and someone who understands both and makes the deals and handles customers. When the Shop came to Central Avenue, it was Frank Kavanagh the coppersmith, James Kavanagh the businessman and engineer and Joe Kavanagh, general manager and showman, all brothers and uncles. Dad has two of those things now but he needs a business person. I don’t know it yet but he’s found her too. Brothers and uncles will soon be joined by a sister and aunt. The time of the fifth generation of the Joseph Kavanagh Company is about to begin.

Jack Kavanagh Sr. , Betty Ann Kavanagh and Jane Morton. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Christmas 1980s.
(Left to right back row) April Ballard, Katie, Maura and Rose O’Neill. (front row) Lisa Bosse and Phil Morton. Mid 1980s.
Bob Wirth, Handy Brandenburg and April Kavanagh Ballard. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. New Year’s Eve. 1985.



Ronald Reagan is the President of the United States. President Reagan meets with Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union for the first time. The song “We Are The World” is recorded to benefit those suffering from the famine in Ethiopia. A blood test for the AIDS virus is developed. The first Wrestlemania is held. New Coke is introduced by the Coca-Cola Company. The Discovery Channel premiers. Calvin and Hobbes debuts in newspapers. Windows 1.0 is released. The films “Back to the Future,” “The Breakfast Club” and “The Color Purple” are released in theaters. Michael Phelps, Joe Flacco and Adam Jones are born. Orson Welles, Ruth Gordon, E.B. White, Roger Maris, and Dian Fossey die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

Jack and Jr. Nancy Szacaks Kavanagh’s wedding photo with the Kavanagh’s. Cub Hill Church. August 10, 1985.

To read earlier years, click on the Table of Contents link below:

Table of Contents

1984 Out of the Frying Pan

January 22

My father, brother and I are watching the Super Bowl on a cold Sunday. The Los Angeles Raiders thump the defending champion Washington Redskins 38-9 setting a Super Bowl record for points scored and point differential. This one is over early and I spend most of the second half fiddling around with my guitar. I’m still at the early stages of learning but I can play a couple of simple tunes and string together notes in the “blues box.”

Left to right. Katie O”Neill, April Ballard, Maura O”Neill and Rose O”Neill. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1984.

January 27

The Shop has its usual slow start to the year but a few jobs are on the books including an order from J.C. Pardo for some rolled stainless steel flat bars & pipes. Warren Pardo is one of my father’s contemporaries and has been a customer for years.

The Shop’s job book entry. J.C. Pardo job. January 27, 1984.

February 4

Dad, Jack and I spend a chilly Saturday morning at work. We spend a few hours on a Barrera Corporation job making parts for chairs. We bend the arms and the backs. The job isn’t completed when we leave but will be finished and delivered next week.

The Shop’s job book entry. Barrera Corporation job. February 8, 1984.
Katie and Rose Kavanagh O”Neill. Katie’s birthday party. February 1984.

March 9

A breezy spring day is a busy one as a few good structural jobs have come to Central Avenue. Today a Superior Iron job is finished in the R-6-S. The order is for some big angles and extra heavy 5” Pipes. The kind of job that the big machine was made for.

The Shop’s job book entry. J.C. Pardo job. March 13, 1984.
R-6-S with Angle being rolled into a ring
Angle ring rolled in R-6-S. Pratt and Central. Circa 1990. Photo courtesy of Nancy Kavanagh O”Neill Photography.

March 29

The Baltimore Colts leave town in the middle of the night in a March snowstorm. Pictures of Mayflower vans driving through the snow greet Baltimoreans in the newspaper and on television. Colts owner Robert Irsay has decided to re-locate the franchise to Indianapolis. Colts fans are stunned.  For thirty years, this team has played on Thirty-third street. The Orioles came to town the same year and have shared Memorial Stadium for all of these years. The clubs both saw some hard times but many good times. Both won championships and both are beloved. Heading out to the stadium was a regular ritual in the City. My father was a fan from day one of both franchises and witnessed the rise to prominence of these teams. Dad is pretty unflappable through his life. That’s one fact I’ve always known but the Colts leaving shocks him. There were issues between the City and Robert Irsay and he wanted a new stadium built but no one gave any real thought to the team leaving. Dad is more than just disappointed when it happens. It’s the end of an era for him. A sudden quick end to years of fandom and belonging to something. The sense of community that was felt during football season at Memorial Stadium, the world’s Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum, will be silenced when the weather turns cold again. Fans along with my father are wounded by this loss. It is just a sports team, just a game but the Colts were part of the community, part of living in this city. That’s all gone and all we have is thanks for the memories.

Baltimore Colts souvenir sticker. Late 1960s.

April 2

While the City still reels from the Colts’ departure, the Baltimore Orioles open up their season against the Chicago White Sox. It’s a little bittersweet as the World Series banner is raised but the fans are proud and celebrate the championship. We are there to take it all in after a mad dash from the Shop to Thirty-third Street. We wouldn’t miss it for the world. The Birds beat the Sox in the ALCS last year and Chicago gains a measure of revenge by winning 5-2 today.

Baltimore Orioles Souvnir cramic tankard.

April 7

Jack is excited for his hockey team because the Capitals have won their first playoff series sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round. Jack’s enthusiasm and devotion to this team is infectious. He has me and my family becoming bigger fans each season. This year was progress as they made it to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs before losing to the New York Islanders. Jack believes they are getting better with each season and getting closer to a championship of their own.

April 27

The big structural steel rolling continues to make its way to the Shop. Dad is happy for it. Those are good bills to send out and today one is sent to Hallmark Iron Works for some 6” X 4” Angles and 6” X 4” Tubes the hardway. The tubes are particularly tough but with the variety of rollers made over the years, a good set up is available and the pieces look great.

The Shop’s job book entry. Hallmark Iron Works job. April 27, 1984.

May 22

Jack organizes a job for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City today. He writes up the u bend sheet after measuring the heater. Jack passes the card and sheet to two of the crew and gets on his own job, He’s bending some tubes for brass bed headboards for the Splendor in Brass Company. Jack is still working in the Shop full time but my father has given him the responsibility of prepping certain jobs before they hit the Shop, Heat Exchangers in particular as Jack has made so many. My brother has moved up to one of Dad’s top mechanics but also has some responsibilities distributing and supervising work.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authorty of Baltimore City job. May 22, 1984.
Jack Kavanagh Sr. at his 60th birthday party. May 1984.
Jack Kavanagh Sr. with Maura, Katie and Rose Kavanagh O”Neill and April Kavanagh Ballard. Jack’s 60th birthday party. May 1984.

June 1

I have completed my first year at Loyola College and it’s a mixed bag. I enjoy the freedom of classes but it’s much harder than high school. After years of being one of the bright kids, I’m an average student struggling to get assignments finished. I enjoy my first year on campus though I don’t make many friends. It’s easier to be anonymous in college and with my schedule, it works out that way. From school, I am always rushing home or to work so I don’t have a lot of time to socialize anyway. The band still consists of listening to music and talking about music. Tim Heaps and I are taking guitar lessons at Baltimore Blue Grass and we both love it. I’m learning much faster with a teacher than on my own but we are not close to being able to “jam” yet. Chris, Ray, Tim and I make plans for those days.

June 7

I’m back to work and I am joined by my friend and drummer, Ray French. My father has offered Ray a job for the summer and Ray is happy for the work. Ray is a quiet guy but as easy going a personality as you might find. He fits in quickly with the crew. He and I have known each other since we were five. Today Ray cuts copper tubes, I anneal them and Jack does the bending. Jack and I have always made a good team at work and it’s the same with Ray. It’s like when we play ball together. The day is a dreary rainy one but the crew have a lot going on. A railing, a set of angle flanges and a rush order of small channels and tubes are rolled for Superior Iron Works.

The Shop’s job book entry. Superior Iron Works job. June 7, 1984.

June 11

First thing this Monday, my father calls me into the office. He sends Ray upstairs to help Jack bend some tubes.

“I want you working in the office for a while. You gotta get used to it.” My father says to me as he takes his seat at his desk. Uncle Ed is sitting at the adjacent one staring at some notes while Mom and Miss Helen chat quietly on the other side of the very small office.

I notice the absence of any more chairs or desks and answer. “Okay. Whatever you say but for how long. You just mean today?”

Dad is picking through a small stack of job cards. “No, not just today; for a while,  but if I need you in the Shop, you’ll be out there.” He separates two cards from the pile.

“Okay.” I ask rather surprised. “What’s Jack going to think about that? Shouldn’t he be in here first?”

“No, that’s not how I want it and I need him out there. He’ll be fine. He’s handing out jobs and doing drawings too. I want you in here doing that and taking some calls too. Jack would rather be out there than on the phone. By the way, if the phone rings, answer it. Talk to whoever it is. Tell them who you are and take a message. Just let me know what they want.” He hands me the two cards. “Do the math on these, then give B & B to Jerry and Stromberg to Mike.”

I take them from him but with some hesitation. “Do Jerry and Mike know I’m doing this?” I glance at my uncle who often hands out the cards but is engrossed in a quotation. “Are they going to be all right getting jobs from me?”

My father looks up at me intently. “Why? Why do they care who gives them the card? You work with these guys. You know them.”

I do know them and we get along great so I understand his point but I’m a little concerned. “Still, I’m not the boss, Dad.”

Dad raises an eyebrow. “You will be. You gotta learn sometime, Joe. I figured this wouldn’t be a problem for you. Is it?”

My father knows me and knows one trait I do not lack is confidence. The last question is a challenge to that and he knows it. “No, it’s not going to be problem.”

“Good. Good. You can do your work in the Shop or on that shelf over there.” He motions to the small shelf against the Pratt Street side of the office. I nod and take the four steps to the shelf noticing again the absence of a chair and go about making some calculations. I figure the bow on three sets of angles knowing full well I will take two guys into the street to make a template. Dad still isn’t sold on my bow formula despite it being proven over and over. I walk out to the Shop to hand out jobs, something that will become an integral part of my day for the rest of my life.

Jack Kavanagh Sr. at his 60th birthday party. May 1984.

July 5

The Shop’s summer has stayed strong despite the recession in the US. The crew are busy and I have become acclimated to my new job fairly quickly. I am essentially the go-between for my father and the crew. I do the calculations for orders,  then hand the job cards out to the workers. None seem to have any issue with taking instructions from me as my father expected. Dad has also begun training me in quoting jobs starting with heat exchangers. I learn to calculate how much tube is necessary and then optimize our cuts to save any material possible. Today I am also making a heater for the Housing Authority. When a rush comes in or extra help is needed, I am back in the Shop. It’s a busy day but it goes very fast. A 5” Pipe is being filled for Codd Fab. The pipe is filled with hot rosin and must sit twenty-four hours before bending. Filling pipes or tubes is a hot job and a rotten one in July.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. July 5, 1984.

July 11

It’s a warm humid day and the Shop feels like a hotbox at such times. I sit on a small bench in the Shop  going over a set of drawings for some angles for Ackerman and Baynes Fabricators. They are large radius bends and a trip into the street will be required to make each of the twenty-one templates. Either the heat or frustration has my mood in a bad place. I page through and count the number of radii and do my bow calculations. I know my numbers are right. I do not want to drag two workers out, stop traffic and go through the process of making a line on a piece of wood to be cut into a template. It’s unnecessary. I sure don’t want to do it twenty-one times. I won’t do it. I swear audibly, grab my drawings and head to the office storming inside.

“Dad? Look. This job here with the twenty-one different radii? I’m not making templates for these. It’s stupid. I have my bows worked out and I know they’re right.” The words shoot from my mouth as my father spins his chair to face me.

He looks up at me curiously. “Well, it doesn’t hurt to be sure. You should still make the templates. It won’t take too long.”

I sigh and find my voice rising as I speak. “Dad, it’s stupid. Okay? We have been checking them for about a year. Has it been wrong yet? Has anything come back?” I pause then answer my own questions. “NO, They have not. This formula works. Why’d you ask me to figure it out in the first place if we’re not going to use it? It’s not some miracle breakthrough either. It’s a fairly standard formula. We just weren’t familiar with it before. Dad, I’m gonna use my numbers and get the job rolled. I’m not going back out into the street again and waste our time. I’m not DOING IT!”

The room drops to dead silence. My uncle’s face had been buried in the newspaper but he stares at me now while Mom and Helen stop their chatting and look across at Dad and me. I realize I have just yelled at my father. His face grows red quickly and I prepare for his reply. His lips grow tight and his eyes widen when suddenly just as fast as his anger seemed to rise, it fades away.

“I don’t care. It’s your job. You think it will work? Do it. I don’t care. It’s your problem. This job is your problem. You’re running it,  right? Do what you want to do. It’s twenty-one of these angles. Be WRONG ONCE.” His voice rises at the end but mostly due to emphasis not anger and he spins back around turning his back to me. Ed, Mom and Helen all avert their eyes as I stand still.

A very soft “okay” escapes my lips and I leave the office, closing the door quietly behind me. I walk over to Mike and Forest (Peanut) Glenn and give them the job card and the list of bows. When Mike asks, I tell him we will use the bow and not make templates this time.

“Hot dog!” Mike answers,  smiling at the relief of not having to go through the process in the street. He and his brother set to rolling the angles in the R-3-S and I return to my small bench to go over another job and think,  I got what I wanted but I yelled at my father. It only bothered him for a second if that. My father surprises me sometimes. I steadfastly believe everything he says or does is for a reason. I don’t always know it at the time but I will eventually.

July 14

Most of the crew are working this Saturday including Jack, Ray and me. The work is building up and Dad wants to be caught up by vacation next month. I anneal some copper tubes first thing then Jack gets to bending them with Ray’s help. After annealing, I walk downstairs and head to the office. My conversation with my father has been on my mind in the days since. I swing open the door and turn to my father. He’s working at his desk.

“Dad? I want to talk about the other day. I’m sorry for raising my voice and getting upset.” I take a seat at Ed’s desk. Ed never comes in on Saturday.

My father, who hasn’t mentioned our talk turns to me. “Why? Why are you sorry?” He regards me closely. “Forget about it, Joe. This is the job. If I worried about every time I got mad or upset at something here, I’d never sleep. You spoke your peace and that’s that. You were right but so was I. I want you to learn to do things your way. You and your brother have to find your way.”

His wisdom often amazed me. “I will. I promise. I didn’t want you mad at me.”

“I don’t get mad. You know me. I remember the 3-C’s. Cool, calm and collected.” His mouth curves into his mischievous grin.

I smile. “Oh yeah, That’s you all right.” We both chuckle, then he reaches into his pocket and pulls his money clip from it. He hands me a dollar. “Here. Go get me an apple pie and whatever you want from the store. Take your break in here with me.”

Again, I am surprised as all breaks are usually taken in the Shop. I run around to the corner liquor store and get each of us a Tastykake. Dad gets a pie and me a butterscotch krimpet. When I return, he motions to Ed’s chair and I sit. As we eat, Dad asks how I’m doing then begins telling me about the Shop. The old days. The things he did, what it was like to work for his father and how his grandfather was. I listen while I eat and this becomes a regular thing. Each Saturday, my father and I take an extended break and talk. He is a true storyteller and I know he gets a lot of entertainment from telling me these things. I don’t realize the importance of these stories at the time but I do remember them. I love this time with just Dad and me. Growing up, my father’s time was spread over nine children and the Shop. Alone time with him was at a premium. We also talk about music and “Crazy Joe,” his grandfather, the traveling minstrel vaudevillian. I learn that my father’s uncle played the mandolin and how so many Kavanagh’s were musicians. I feel more connected to them now and to my father. I wonder at first about Dad making this time to talk to me alone until I realize he had two years with Jack before I worked here. Dad taught us both, but his time with Jack was more one on one. Jack was there for my lessons and taught me much on his own. On these Saturdays, I learn a lot about the job I will do and those who did it before me.

July 16

Despite being called to the office, I am still available to bend or roll if Dad needs me. He has me write up a job card for some 90 degree pipe elbows then roll them. It’s a rush job for American Iron Works and I grab a helper and we roll them in the R-3. At lunch, Mom and Dad let Jack and I know they are going to be grandparents again. My sister Jane is pregnant and we will have a new baby in a few months. Jack and I will be uncles for the sixth time.

The Shop’s job book entry. American Iron Works job. July 16, 1984.
Baltimore Orioles ticket stub. July 16, 1984.

July 20

It’s a very busy Friday at the Shop and my father is not there. He and my mother have decided to visit Ocean City for the weekend. Dad makes a point of telling me when he’s not there, I am in charge. He specifically says “You, not (Uncle) Ed.” I ask about Jack but Dad tells me he’s working upstairs. It has to be me. Dad and Mom leave the Shop at lunchtime and I get a call from L & S Welding. It’s Bill DeFazio. Bill is a nice guy but definitely one of the old cronies of the industry and I do get a little nervous talking to him. I quote the job and he tells me it sounds high. He even asks “Did I check my father’s book.” I’m a little perturbed but mostly I’m concerned my price is wrong. I tell Bill my father will call him Monday.

Jane Morton. Baby shower. 1984.
Jane Kavanagh Morton, April Kavanagh Ballard and Rose Kavanagh O”Neill. Jane’s baby shower, 1984.

July 22

My parents arrive home and I tell my father of the phone conversation with Mr. DeFazio. He completely downplays the situation and insists I not worry about it. He’ll deal with it in the morning. I accept his response but I’m still concerned.

July 23

I’m hovering in the small office at the corner of Pratt and Central while my father calls L & S. Bill DeFazio asks my father what he thought of my price.

“Well, it sounds a little low to me, Bill. But we can make it work.” A second later he is chuckling and I can tell DeFazio must be laughing too. Dad scribbles down a purchase order number and the quote is a job. Dad says goodbye and hangs up the phone

“I told you it was all right, kid. You worry too much Joe. You always do.” His smile is that broad warm one that he flashes when things are particularly good. “You gotta know how to handle customers. They are all different and Bill is one you have to joke with. That’s all.” Dad washes away my concerns with laughter and I feel almost silly for my worries. Most of all, I know he has my back. Big Jack, my father, has my back at the Shop. My confidence swells but mostly my pride and gratitude for Dad. I can make a mistake. I can be wrong and he will support me. He shows me all of this with a few words on the phone and does it with his usual humor.

I mumble, “Thank you” as I stare at him. I think he knows how I am feeling. My guess is something similar happened to him with my grandfather, Eddie. It’s human natural for customers to question and test a new person, even a new generation.

“It’s okay, Joe. Now go do your job.” He replies with extra gentleness in his voice. I nod and walk out into the Shop.

August 4

The Shop is closed for its annual summer vacation and Mom, Dad, Jack and I spend a week in Ocean City. It will be my last trip to the beach with my parents. Jack and I are getting old enough to prefer a week at home with our friends. Nonetheless, we have a great time with some fishing, trips to the boardwalk and a few nights with my sister JoAnn. A local is good to have as a guide in a town like OC and JoAnn by now, is definitely a local.

Maura, Katie and Rose O”Neill and April Ballard. Jonah and the Whale. Ocean City. 1984.
April Ballard and Lisa Bosse. Trimper’s Amusements. Ocean City. 1984.
Lisa Bosse. Trimper’s Amusements. Ocean City. 1984.

August 20

It’s those dog days of summer on the corner of Pratt and Central. I would love to spend all day in the office with its window air conditioner but instead I’m expediting jobs as well as making a layout on the floor for a Tydings, Lynch & Lorenz job. They need an angle and a tube rolled to a very specific degree and radius and a full scale drawing is required. On the ride home, the car’s a/c is welcome as Dad chats with Jack and me. He tells us he is buying a new R-3. An R-3-S actually which will have the guide roll attachments like the R-6-S. We’re excited to hear it because any new machine is cool. A new machine is like a new toy and we both know it will help the Shop.

The Shop’s job book entry. Tydings, Lynch and Lorenz job. August 20, 1984.
Maura Kavanagh O”Neill. Birthday. August 1984.

August 25

A rush job for Codd Fabricators is completed this Saturday. We roll a 3” stainless steel pipe to match a provided sample. The pipe has several bends in it and four of us are needed to keep this piece flat. Pete Kolb from Codd appreciates it and as soon as he picks up, we hurry home anxious to get back to our weekend.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. August 25, 1984.

September 2

The NFL season begins today but there is no football in Baltimore. Fans including my father and brother watch on television as the annual season begins without them. It’s a strange day and my Dad is less interested in the games that are on. He spends much of the afternoon playing the piano but does watch a bit. He’s quiet and his mind is full of so many memories of the Colts. This scene is repeated throughout the City today. It’s a big adjustment for Baltimore.

Ceramic Baltimore Colts Statue. Bruce Laird. Made by Mary Brandenburg.

September 4

I return to Loyola for year two though I will also work some afternoons at the Shop. I only have morning classes on Tuesdays and Thursday so those days I take the bus from school to Central Avenue. In addition, my friends and I are getting more serious about the band. Lessons continue and I have purchased my first new electric guitar, a Fender Stratocaster. I feel so cool. I had an old Telstar I bought from Ted’s Music but it is in rough shape. I love the Fender as soon as I plug it in.

Fender Stratocaster. Photo taken April 2020.
Fender Stratocaster. Picture taken April 2020.
Fender Stratocaster. Photo taken April 2020.

October 13

On this Saturday night, I am at Tim’s house and we are playing with our guitars, talking band plans and partying like teenagers. Jack is home watching the Washington Capitals lose their home opener 4-2 to the Flyers. It’s payback from Philadelphia for a playoff sweep the year before. He will be up early tomorrow for church. Jack has joined the Cub Hill Presbyterian Church and quickly has become very involved in the community and congregation. Our interests have diverted but we still get along exactly the same. We work together like we played together. Jack and I have a comfort level with each other and so much water under the bridge, our differences seem minor. I only want Jack to be happy and he the same for me.

October 14

I sit at the dining room table at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue doing some homework while watching game five of the World Series.  The Detroit Tigers are trying to finish off the San Diego Padres and take the championship. The Orioles had a disappointing season winning 85 games and they miss the playoff after winning it all last year. The Tigers tore out of the gate on the way to 104 wins and on this Sunday, they win 8-4 to claim the Series. My Dad, brother and I are watching and despite the Tigers taking four out of five games, the series is closer than it seems.

Ceramic Baltimore Orioles player. Brooks Robinson. Made by Mary Brandenburg.

October 23

I’m running across Loyola campus to catch a bus to Central Avenue. When I get there, Dad has a few job cards for me to write up and a quote for Bengies Welding Service. I hand off the cards including a heat exchanger for the Housing Authority then spend the rest of the afternoon pouring over drawings and calculating the amount of material necessary for the quotation.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore City job. October 24, 1984.
Maura, Katie and Rose O’Neill and April Ballard. Halloween 1984.

November 2

It’s my Mom’s birthday and Dad is taking her out to dinner. They leave the Shop early right after Dad calls Vince from Dundalk Ornamental Iron to let him know an order is ready. With the sisters all moved out and Jack and I older, my parents take advantage of the chance to be alone more.

The Shop’s job book entry. Dundalk Ornamental Iron Works job. November 2, 1984.

November 6

Incumbent Republican Ronald Reagan defeats Democrat Walter Mondale to retain the presidency. Reagan wins in a landslide with Mondale only taking his home state of Minnesota. As my parents are watching the election results, they receive a call. My sister Jane is in labor and my parents’ sixth grandchild will be here soon.

November 7

A little past midnight, Jane and Jeff Morton welcome baby Philip John and my Mom and Dad have their first grandson. He is named after his two grandfathers. My parents drive to Delaware the next morning to meet the new baby while Jack and I celebrate another boy in the family. The odds have always been against us and we both thank Jane for helping to balance things out finally.

1984 Phil in bassenet
Baby Phil Morton. 1984.
1984 Jane, Jeff and Phil November 7
Jeff, Jane and Philip Morton. November 7, 1984.
1984 Mom and Phil
Betty Kavanagh and Phil Morton with Jack Kavanagh Sr. in background. 1984.
1984 Jack and Phil
Jack Kavanagh Jr. holding Phil Morton. 1984.

December 7

The year is winding down and it’s been a good one. Jack and I have both come a long way and I know Dad’s happy. As the crew anticipates the oncoming holiday, they knock out a few small jobs including some aluminum angle rings for Danzer Metal Works.

The Shop’s job book entry. Danzer Metal Works job. December 7, 1984.
1984 Lisa Kavanagh Bosse at Jane's house.
Lisa Bosse. Colgate Lane. Newark, DE. 1984.
Baby Philip Morton. December 1984.

December 21

The Shop receives a new angle roller, the R-3-S. This machine is very similar to the old R-3 but it includes the special hydraulic guide rollers. The guide rollers make angle rolling far easier and the product is much better. The legs are straighter. It’s always an exciting day when a machine arrives. The crew gather around it and where and how to place it is discussed then with everyone on hand, it is hooked up and ready for work.

The Shop’s Purchases Book. R-3-S Roundo Roller purchased from COMEQ. December 21, 1984.
R-3-S. Photo taken April 2020.
R-3-S. Photo taken April 2020.

December 25

Christmas Day is the usual crowded affair on Lakewood Avenue. My sisters and their families all return. An extra dining table, a card table and mismatched chairs are assembled in the living room. My parents are happy to be surrounded by their grandchildren from Maura who is nine to newborn Phil and the four in between. There is catching up, telling tales and songs galore. My father leads the musical celebration from his piano bench with his children and grandchildren gathered around. I grin to see him helping my young nieces tap out a few notes on the keys. It’s very familiar to me as it was not so long ago, I was the young one touching those keys. This large and constantly growing family of mine knows how to have a good time. My parents are in heaven when we are all together. The years fold back to when they first started on Lakewood Avenue. They began with love for each other and their children and happiness grew abundantly. I enjoy the holiday but it’s more about the break from school and work. I do have something more to look forward to next year. I have enrolled in Peabody Conservatory. They have a cooperative program with Loyola and I will be studying Classical Guitar and Music Theory. It’s more classes but it’s music and I can’t wait. I feel confident I can handle it all while still working at the Shop. My father has shown a great deal of trust and faith in both my brother and me. He has taken the first steps toward the Shop passing on to the next generation. He’s given us both a taste of being a boss. Dad recognizes each of our talents and encourages us to make the best of them. Even my young man’s thoughts of music, parties and girls are tempered by my growing thoughts of a lifetime at the Shop. I have learned I can do this job and my brother and I make a great team. My Dad’s trust and support can make anything possible and Jack’s and my future at the Joseph Kavanagh Company seems cemented. It’s not my dream. It never was but I’m still young. I want something more as most young folks do. I don’t grasp the importance of it at this age. It takes time to truly understand what’s important and what’s not. In 1984? Most of my dreams are of music, the band and some day being a famous musician. Christmas is a time for dreams anyway.

1984 Christmas Lakewood Avenue
Christmas dinner. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1984.
1984 Lakewood Avenue Mom, Phil and Rose
Betty Kavanagh holding Phil MOrton with Rose Kavanagh O”Neill looking over. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Christmas 1984.
Rose Kavanagh O”Neill. Christmas 1984.



Ronald Reagan is the President of the United States. A continuing recession causes seventy American banks to close. The AIDS virus is identified by French doctors. The first untethered space walk occurs. Celebrities form Band Aid and record the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” to benefit the starving in Ethiopia. The Mtv Video Music Awards are first held.  DNA profiling is invented. The Apple Macintosh and CD players are first sold. The films “Ghostbusters,” “Gremlins,” and “Amadeus” are released. LeBron James, Scarlett Johannson, author Ana Novak and P. I. Barrington(author of the Brede Chronicles) are born. Marvin Gaye, Andy Kaufman, Truman Capote, Lillian Hellman and Count Basie die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

1984 Phil 3
Philip John Morton. 1984.

To read early years, click on the Table of Contents link below:

Table of Contents



1983 Lethal Injection

January 30

Dad, Jack, myself and our brother-in-law Handy Brandenburg are at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue watching the Super Bowl. My sister Mary(Handy’s wife) is talking with my Mom. The Washington Redskins beat the Miami Dolphin 27-17. It’s a good game and everyone enjoys it but I am a little more focused on doing some homework. I’m finishing my Senior year at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel High School and making plans to enroll in Loyola College and start there next fall.

February 10

The Shop’s start to the year has been mediocre at best. My father has a little work but it’s very similar to every winter. Jobs come in but in dribs and drabs. Machines are repaired and the place is cleaned during any down time. Dad isn’t worried. This is how it goes most years and he has a few jobs to work on including a 4” Pipe being rolled for Codd Fabricators.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. February 10, 1983.

February 19

My brother Jack and I are at 201 S. Central Avenue on a chilly Saturday morning. We’re annealing and bending some tubes for the Harvey Stambaugh Company. We knock them out quick then run them across downtown to Woodall Street where Stambaugh is located. I am blissfully unaware that my future wife is playing in one of the row houses across the street. I’ll meet her in ten years. On the way home, I ask Jack if my father has been using the Bow Formula I came up with last year. He says yes they are checking it on each piece but Dad still has the crew making templates in the street. Jack thinks Dad knows it works but he’s not ready to trust it yet. Change can be hard I suppose. We get home about noon with Burger King for lunch with sleep and rest on our minds.

February 28

My family like much of the country are gathered around the television tonight watching the last episode of MASH. The series has become a viewing staple and it’s sad to see it end. That being said the show has run longer than the Korean War in which it is set. A mix of humor, good writing and acting has made the program one of the most successful ever and it will be missed.

March 9

The crew of the Joseph Kavanagh Company are scattered around the Shop today. Three fellows are upstairs putting away stock tubes while the rest are on the first floor rolling parts for Stromberg Sheet Metal. Dad would rather have the whole crew on paying jobs but the stock does have to be put away and the floor does need to be swept so whenever there is a slow time, these are the things that are done.

The Shop’s job book entry. Stromberg Sheet Metal job. March 9, 1983.

March 12

After several months of listening to music and trying our hands at free form stream of consciousness poetry, my friends and I decide to take up instruments and form a band. The band starts as Jack, Greg and Tim Heaps, Ray French and me. After much debate and discussion, we agree to call the band Lethal Injection. We take our name from the new “painless” form of execution invented last year. We consider misspelling one of the words as this has worked for bands like Led Zeppelin but decide against it. We become a band with no musical skills or instruments but many plans for songs, albums and more. We have a lot of scraps of poetry but not much more. Jack and I can both tinker on the piano since we’ve had one in the house our whole lives. Over the years, Dad has sat us all down next to him on the piano bench and taught us a few notes and chords. Just as with the Shop, my father enjoys teaching. In fact, the piano and how to lay down a bunt may be the only things he liked teaching more than his Shop skills.

March 19

I acquire my first guitar. My sister Mary has an old C.F. Martin acoustic. It was new in 1968 and it’s a beautiful instrument. Too nice for a beginner but by fortune, I learn on this guitar. I buy books and try to teach myself to play. The guys and I talk a lot about playing though we aren’t nearly ready for that and we listen to music,  broadening our musical spectrum a little at a time. Mostly, we have fun and dream of being a Rock ‘N’ Roll band.

CF Martin guitar
Joe Kavanagh’s C.F. Martin OO-21 1968 acoustic guitar. Photo taken 2018.

March 29

My father is buried in paperwork today. He has five sets of drawings to review and three quotations to finish. Sometimes the boys in the Shop aren’t the only ones who have such crazy days. Dad gets through it as he always does but this time, he’s tired and happy to get home. Without being aware of it, I’ve rarely noticed my father bothered or frustrated by work. Even as he sips a beer, his mind is on the Shop. He makes a mental note to call Union Iron Works tomorrow to let them know they have a completed order for pick up.

The Shop’s job book entry. Union Iron Works job. March 29, 1983.

April 3

My brother Jack is jubilant. He is as excited as I have seen him because the Washington Capitals have made the postseason. They will make their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Tournament. This is what my brother has been waiting for since the team was formed and he began following them. He’s gone from curious about hockey to a hockey player and diehard loyal Capitals fan. Unfortunately, the Caps will lose to the New York Islanders in the first round three games to one. Jack is disappointed but he loved his first experience of cheering his team in the tournament for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

April 4

Led by Eddie Murray, Rookie of the Year Cal Ripken Jr. and new manager Joe Altobellii, the Orioles open up the season against the Kansas City Royals. I am there with five friends this year. Mom, Dad and Jack are all working so the tickets are mine to use. KC wins the game 7-2 with young Dennis Martinez tagged with the loss. It’s disappointing but I am confident this team can compete. They were so close last year to the playoffs, I feel sure we will make it this time.

1983 Baltimore Orioles Souvenir Program.

April 20

The busy spring continues with most of my Dad’s crew spread over a handful of fabrication jobs including angle flanges and pipe rings. In addition, the Shop completes a job for Playcatering, Stan Edmister’s company. Stan is a local sculptor who has found a niche designing and building sculptural playgrounds for Baltimore City Schools. Dad has known Stan for about ten years and always makes a point of getting his work done fast. On top of Stan’s job, an order for B & B Welding is begun.

The Shop’s job book entry. Playcatering job. April 20, 1983.
The Shop’s job book entry. B and B Welding job. April 21, 1983.

May 20

A rainy Friday is spent finishing an order for Ramar Manufacturing and beginning one for Ackerman & Baynes Fabricators. My Dad has everybody busy on these two jobs while Jack bends and assembles a heater for Johns Hopkins. Jack will disassemble it and get things ready then he and I will make the tubes tomorrow.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ramar Manufacturing job. May 20, 1983.
Joe high school pic
Joseph Kavanagh. Graduation picture. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel High School. 1983.

May 27

I am a high school graduate and finally done at Mt. Carmel. Loyola College awaits me in September. My Mom and Dad are very proud and to show their appreciation, they let me use our house at Royal Palm Court in Ocean City for a week, Senior Week as it were. Suddenly, I am very popular and three friends and I will have a great week there with lots of my classmates stopping by. It’s a lot of grownup fun for a gang of seventeen and eighteen year olds. Sunday we drive home and I start working on Monday at the Shop.

June 6

I return to the Shop for another summer of work. I will be starting college soon and working feels different. It seems more permanent since I am not in high school anymore. I am glad to see the guys and there are a couple of new faces. It is often like that at the Shop. The basic core is usually the same for years but there are often one or two additions and subtractions throughout the year. Mom and Dad pass on some news. My sister Jackie is pregnant and is due in November. This baby will be grandchild number five for my parents.

1983 Mom and Dad at Jane's Wedding
Jack and Betty Kavanagh. Jane Kavanagh’Morton’s Wedding. 1983.

June 12

The Kavanagh’s gather together and celebrate the marriage of my sister Jane to Jeff Morton. Jeff is from Delaware and Jane met him through work. My Mom and Dad like Jeff and the families get on well. Their wedding rehearsal dinner is a memorable and entertaining dinner at Carson’s Restaurant in Middle River. Many stories and laughs are exchanged and both party and wedding are a lot of fun.

1983 Jane and Jeff's Wedding Party
Jeff and Jane Morton’s Bridal Party. June 12, 1983.
1983 Jane and Jeff at their wedding
Jeff and Jane Morton. June 12, 1983.
1983 Jand and Dad Jane's Wedding
Jack Kavanagh and Jane Kavanagh Morton. June 12, 1983.
1983 Jane and Maura at Jane's Wedding
Jane Kavanagh Morton and Maura O’Neill. Jane’s Wedding. 1983.

June 24

Jack and I are working on a big heater for Egan Marine, fifty tubes and three brass baffles to go along with a steel head. The head and baffles must be marked and drilled and the tubes annealed and bent before the unit can be put together. Most of the rest of the crew are rolling some structural pieces for Bethesda Iron Works.  It’s a breezy day on Central Avenue and not a bad one to work. Even with a torch in my hand when the wind rolls through the second floor of the Shop, it seems cooler than a blast of winter. A pleasant day at work is still a day at work but I am finally having more of these. Work is hard but I am older and have grown accustomed to it after after three summers.

The Shop’s job book entry. Bethesda Iron Works job. June 24, 1983.

July 15

Dad has everyone working on Saturdays and busy through the week. August vacation is getting close and Dad doesn’t want anything hanging over. Jack and I make a heat exchanger for the Housing Authority while the rest of the crew roll some heavy angles and bars for Codd Fabricators.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore job. July 15, 1983.

July 20

The busy and hot summer continues and my brother and I are stuck on a tough job. We need to bend some aluminum tubes for Baltimore Tube Bending. The die is old and the tools do not match as well as we’d like. As always, I’m annealing while Jack is bending. A couple mandrels get broken in the process. The mandrel is a round rod that sits inside the tube during bending with a ball attached that moves with the curve and keeps the tube round. Occasionally, the balls don’t pass through smoothly enough and are pulled off the mandrel. Between needing to replace two mandrels and the slow deliberate pace the job is on, my father isn’t very happy and he rides us pretty good through the day. When four o’clock arrives, Jack and I are not too happy with Dad either. It happens. You are working and he’s the boss. His job is to yell sometimes and he needs results. That being said, I rarely saw Dad yell at anyone but Jack and me. My father is decidedly tougher on us. We both know it. Dad expects more from us but today it doesn’t matter. We just want to get home and we are both silent on the ride. Dad tries to engage us in chat about the Orioles who won last night on the West Coast defeating the Mariners 8-1. Ripken hit one out. We are fairly non-responsive when he addresses our silence.

“Are you mad at me? The both of you?” My father looks left to Jack in the driver’s seat then over his shoulder at me in the back. I avoid his eyes. “Well you can’t be.” He continues angrily, his voice not at the yelling volume but loud enough to make his seriousness clear. “You think I like yelling at you, giving you a hard time? It’s the job, boys.” He looks back and forth between the two of us. Neither of us responds. “I got a job to do just like you do and that’s just how it is. If you are mad about something, you gotta let that go.” His voice rises a bit. “As soon as I get in this car and for sure when I step ONE FOOT on those marble steps, it’s over. I forget it all. If not, it will eat you up.” He turns and faces forward.  “This is the job. This is how it is. The both of you better damn sight learn what the life is like and the sooner the better.”

The car moves along Lakewood Avenue in silence again. Jack pulls up along the Jefferson Street side of our house and as we come to a stop Dad speaks again. “So, you can’t be mad at me. You’re not allowed.” He places his hand on the door handle and climbs out. “Just forget about it.”

Jack’s eyes meet mine in the rear view mirror,  then we both hop out of the car and wish we could forget it.

July 31

Brooks Robinson is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He was and is one of my heroes. The man could pick it at third and he could hit pretty well but mostly, he was genuine. Even as a boy, I like to think the honesty, fairness and every man approach he exhibited is what drew me to being a Brooks’ fan. Of course, in Baltimore, EVERYone was a Brooks’ fan. I’m proud and happy for my hero and the whole of the City feels the same way.

Brooks Robinson Hall of Fame Plaue postcard signed by Brooks.
Brooks Robinson signed Baltimore Sun. August 1, 1983.
Brooks Robinson’s Induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. 1983. Baltimore Sun.

August 6

After a week of playing around and cleaning the Shop, we enjoy our vacation at Royal Palm Court as a family. I’m eighteen now and spend much of my time alone or visiting my sister JoAnn. JoAnn takes me to the Cork Bar for the coldest beer on the beach and it lives up to that reputation. I roam the boardwalk and hit the arcades or rides whenever I want. It’s a fun week and when it ends my thoughts are on college. I’m attending Loyola next month and it will be a big change. I don’t really know what to expect.

August 16

It’s a typical hot August day but it feels even more sweltering to me. Most of the boys are busy on two railings from steel molded caps and a job for Imperial industries but my father has given me the job of annealing several thousand short pieces of aluminum tube. They must be loaded in and out of the Shop’s old annealing oven. I spend most of the day on the second floor monitoring and annealing these tubes which Jack will bend for C.R. Daniels. The oven is heated with propane and it throws the heat right in my face every time I move the tubes in or out. My father’s only advice is to not get drowsy. He tells me a quick story of him using this oven to anneal small copper fittings for his father in the same Baltimore August heat many years ago. I sense a certain satisfaction in his assigning me this task. Jack takes some delight in the “drowsy” comment and periodically through the day, he sticks his head through the doorway and asks if I am drowsy. I’m soaked in sweat and stink of the place when I get home and a shower is now my favorite thing in the world.

CR Daniels tubes on air bender
C.R. Daniels Aluminum Tube Elbows on Leonard Air Bender. Photo courtesy of Nancy Kavanagh O’Neill Photogrpahy. 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Imperial Industries job. August 16, 1983.

August 23

It’s another Housing Authority heater for Jack and me as the summer is drawing to a close. Work will be ending for me soon and college starting. The band is coming more into shape if not into being. Jack and Greg who were never seriously interested are out. Greg will be too busy with college and Jack with the Shop. A friend of mine from Mt. Carmel, Chis Voxakis is in and we are now a foursome. We have finally agreed on instruments largely decided by me having the Martin. Tim has purchased a guitar and Ray is looking for a drum set. Chris can sing and play some piano already so he is a welcome addition. Now with very little talent and very few instruments, we at last seem to be a band in some way.

August 25

It’s a hot Thursday night at Memorial Stadium and the Orioles are in the midst of a Pennant Race. The Birds are in second place behind the Milwaukee Brewers with three other teams right behind us. Jack and I and our friends are at the game cheering our team on against the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s a nail-biter with the game going into extra innings. The Jays get a run against our closer Tippy Martinez in the top of the tenth but it’s Oriole Magic again in the bottom half of the frame. A two-run double by Dan Ford give the Birds a victory in walk off fashion, 2-1. We drive home in a great mood but know we have to get to bed for work tomorrow.  The Minnesota Twins come to town this weekend and when they leave on Sunday, the Birds will be in first place and never relinquish it the rest of the season.

Baltimore Orioles Ticket Stub. 1983.

September 6

My classes begin at Loyola College. I am majoring in Computer Engineering with the thought being some day the equipment at the Shop will have digital controls and it would be helpful for me to understand such things. Also it sounds better than Business Administration which makes a little more sense but sounds exceedingly boring. I enjoy the computer classes from the start but the curriculum is a challenge compared to Carmel. I do my best to focus on schoolwork but I’m distracted by the Orioles. They are winning and look destined for the playoffs.

September 11

Today is the first Colts game of the season and they face the Denver Broncos and lose 17-10. Jack and Dad are there at Memorial Stadium while I work on some German homework at home. The night before was spent with the guys talking about all the great albums and songs we would write while we each begin to learn our instruments. I have begun guitar lessons at Baltimore Bluegrass on Belair Road as has Tim.

September 21

The Shop is still rolling along very well and Dad is still offering Saturday hours to everyone. Most of the guys are in for any extra money they can make but usually every week, two or three fellows pass on it. Jack and I have no option so we are there weekly. Today a job for Barrera Corporation is completed. Barrera makes furniture and we bend some flat bars for parts for chairs. It’s a good-sized order and has  taken a few days to get them all cranked out.

The Shop’s job book entry. Barrera Corporation job. September 21, 1983.

October 8

Dad, Jack and I are watching game four of the American League Championship Series with great interest. The Orioles are playing the Chicago White Sox and after the Sox won game one, the Birds have taken two in a row. With a win tonight, the Orioles punch their ticket to the World Series and that’s just what happens. The two teams play nine innings of scoreless ball until the Birds put up three in the 10th starting with a home run by Tito Landrum. The three of us cheer and celebrate with excitement for we are World Series bound.

1983 Americkan League Championship Series Souvenir Program.
1983 American League Championship Program.

October 11

Here I am at game one of the World Series with my family and my buddy Ray French as well. My Orioles are hosting the National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies. I’m ready for the first step toward a championship but it doesn’t happen tonight. The Birds lose to the Phillies 2-1 with a Jim Dwyer homer the lone Oriole score. I worry that maybe we’ve run out of steam after the ALCS.

1983 World Series Game 1 ticket
1983 World Series Game One Ticket.

October 16

The ballgame is a 5:00 pm start on this Sunday and I can not wait. The Orioles have a chance to eliminate the Phillies and win it all with a victory today. Just as happened in the Championship Series, the Birds lost the first game only to storm back and win three in a row. This time they need to make it four and the Word Series is theirs. The Orioles take an early lead and behind two homers from Eddie Murray and a complete game shutout by Scott McGregor, they take the day. Jack and I are exuberant. We are crazy with excitement. My Dad takes it all in. He gets some pleasure out of seeing my brother and I celebrate probably more than I think. Dad’s grandfather was a fan of the old National League Orioles and his father was a fan of the Birds when they returned to Baltimore. Baseball has been part of my father’s entire life and sharing a championship with us must mean the world to him. Jack and I decide to circle the block banging pots and pans and cheering. We take off with Mom frowning at our borrowing a soup pot, pans and spoons and are greeted along the way by neighbors and friends. Some are doing the same thing but all are cheering and celebrating a Baltimore victory. The team and its fans are in bedlam. There will be parties, toasts and a very big parade. The Orioles are World Series Champions. All is right with the world.

Scott McGregor, Rick Dempsey and Cal Ripken Jr. 1983 Baltimore Orioles World Series Championship Photo.
Cal Ripken Jr. and Dan Ford celebrating 1983 World Series win. Baltimore Sun.
1983 Baltimore Orioles World Series Trophy Photo.
1983 Baltimore Orioels Souvenir World Series Championship Button.
1983 Baltimore Orioles World Series Souvenir Baseball.


R-6-S with Square tube being rolled into a ring
R-6-S and Rolled Square Tube Ring. 201 S. Central Avenue. Photo Couresty of Nancy Kavanagh O’Neill Photography. 1990.

October 27

With thoughts of the Birds’ World Series still fresh in everyone’s minds, the work has finally slowed a little and Dad has ended the Saturday hours for the crew. Jack and I will still be there. Dad always finds things for us to do whether it be a small job, a set of tools or some machining to do. He makes sure we are in every Saturday morning. My brother and I have gotten rather good at it. We maximize our time and find a way to do four or five hours of work in closer to three hours. We are extra motivated to get home and get on with our weekend.  Despite stopping the weekend work for the crew, the Shop is busy otherwise with two sets of square tubes being rolled today, one for Bethesda Iron and one for Washington Stair. Both jobs are 2” square so only one set up is required. Any time my father can group two jobs of the same size together, he does it. Saving setup time will make a job more profitable and sometimes makes the difference between making money or not

The Shop’s job book entry. Bethesda Iron Works job. October 27, 1983.
The Shop’s job book entry. Washington Stair and Iron Works job. October 27, 1983.
1983 ONeills Halloween
Maura, Katie and Rose O’Neill and April Ballard. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Halloween 1983.

November 4

The weather has turned cold and I rush across the Loyola Campus. After finishing my morning classes, I hop on a bus and head home. I feel I have ten times the homework at Loyola than I did at Mt. Carmel and I am always busy. In addition, I am learning the guitar,  and the guys and I continue to make our plans and continue to write poems, stories and songs. We are learning slowly but progressing. My Dad and Jack are at Central Avenue finishing another workday. Just before closing, Dad has an angle rolled for Stan Edmister. Stan is Dad’s first sculptor customer and we do a few jobs a year for him but this one is small. It’s one little ring for a personal piece of Stan’s. Dad gives him a break on the price and clearly doesn’t make any money but he likes Stan. My father always said Stan was a bit of an odd ball but he liked him.

The Shop’s job book entry. Stan Edmister job. November 4, 1983.

November 17

Lisa Kavanagh Bosse is born to Jackie and Richard Bosse. Mom and Dad are so happy at the arrival of grand daughter number five. The Kavanagh’s are excited with this family continuing to grow and the next generation getting bigger. I continue to assume I should be in the Guinness Book of World Records since I am an uncle five times over at eighteen.

Jackie Kavanagh Bosse and Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 1983.
1983 lisa&grandad dec
Jack Kavanagh Sr. and baby Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1983.
Betty Kavanagh and Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 1983.
Joe and Lisa 1983
Joseph Kavanagh and Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1983.

November 24

The usual Kavanagh Thanksgiving feast is held and there is a crowd at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. The food is delicious as always with turkey, ham, stuffing, potatoes and parsnips, the Kavanagh traditional favorite. After the meal and before the sisters and their families leave, Christmas is discussed. All the grand daughters want a doll called a Cabbage Patch Doll. They are the biggest thing this holiday and are very popular. My mother has never heard of them but she decides if the girls want them then each shall get one.

Handy Brandenburg and Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 1983.
Mary Brandenburg and Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 1983.

December 12

My father and mother are eating their sandwiches for lunch at the corner of Pratt and Central. They are talking about the Shop and what needs to be finished before the holiday but much more importantly, my Mother is updating my Father on the Cabbage Patch search. These dolls have proven to be more elusive than originally thought. My Mom is undaunted and has recruited all the sisters in the search. JoAnn is looking in Ocean City while Mary ferries Mom around in her Dodge Dart from store to store. Mary’s in-laws, the Brandenburg’s in Ohio and Michigan have even been looking. Mom tells Dad she is getting close to having enough for all the girls. They will all have one of these Cabbage Patch dolls she assures him. Dad smiles. He loves her determination and has no doubt she will find the little ones their dolls. He has never regretted Mom coming to work and it makes his days better. He’s happy about the successful Cabbage Patch campaign but is more focused on the Shop and a job for Superior Iron. This order is a mix of angles, channels and flat bars. That’s a few different setups, two on the R-5 and two on the R-6-S.

The Shop’s job book entry. Superior Iron Works job. December 12, 1983.

December 18

The Baltimore Colts win their final game at home over the Houston Oilers, 20-10. Jack and Dad are there and enjoy the win but the Colts finish the season 7-9 and do not make the playoffs. They show some improvement over last season and my father says, there’s always next year. Only this time, he is wrong. There will be no next year for the Baltimore Colts.

December 25

The Christmases on Lakewood Avenue seem to be getting bigger again. When I was small, the sisters started to move out but now they come back with husbands and kids, more every year it seems and my parents love it. They truly love family. They want all the girls, with their spouses and their little girls. Mom and Dad love a holiday with more food than anyone needs and ample drink and enough song to fill their hearts and lift their spirits. Dad holds court when he’s at the piano. I marvel at his level of play. Now that I am learning the guitar, I really have an appreciation for Dad’s musical skills. He can play it all if you have the sheet music. If not? He can fake it pretty well too. He looks as comfortable at the piano as he does standing in the front of 201 S. Central Avenue surveying his crew at work. The man knows fun and loves to pass it around. It’s a wonderful holiday with every granddaughter receiving their very own personal Cabbage Patch Doll including the new baby, Lisa. If Dad has his music, Mom has this, a resiliency to her love. A matter-of-fact confidence that when her kids or grandkids need something, it’s done. They will get it. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. The Cabbage Patch Doll is the opening salvo in the annual “must have” Christmas toys. There will be many more but Mom shall be up to the task. For my part, it’s been a great year. My hero Brooks Robinson is in the Hall of Fame. My Orioles have won the World Series and I have begun college, I am working at the Shop and have three years of experience under my belt. I have begun learning to play the guitar. I am in a rock band and I’m eighteen.

1983 lisa group shot
Betty Kavanagh and granddaughters Maura, Katie and Rose O’Neill, April Ballard and Lisa Bosse and Cabbage Patch Dolls. Christmas 1983.
Lisa with CabbagePatch xmas1983
Lisa Kavanagh Bosse with Cabbage Patch Dolls. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Christmas 1983.
Rose with CabbagePatch xmas1983
Rose Kavanagh O’Neill and Cabbage Patch Dolls. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Christmas 1983.
April xmas1983
April Kavanagh Ballard and Cabbage Patch Doll. Christmas 1983.
1983 Jim xmas with dolls-Lakewood
Jim O’Neill and Cabbage Patch Dolls. Christmas 1983.



Ronald Reagan is the President of the United States. The President proposes a space defense system called the Strategic Defense Initiative dubbed by the media “Star Wars.” The US begins deploying cruise missiles in Europe. Martin Luther King Jr. is honored with a federal holiday. The IBM PC XT goes on sale. Microsoft Word, Lotus 1 2 3 and Chicken McNuggets are invented. The US invades the island nation of Grenada. The Space Shuttle Challenger has a successful maiden voyage. Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space. Guion S. Bluford becomes the first African-American in space. Michael Jackson does the Moon Walk for the first time. The movies “the Right Stuff,” the Big Chill,” and “War Games” are released. Carrie Underwood, Nick Markakis, Jeff Eldon (author of the Giant’s Rebellion), Matthew John Benecke (author of the Kosomogonia Series) and Renee Hurteau (author of the Antiquity’s Gate Series) are born. Tennessee Williams, Jack Dempsey, Muddy Waters, Ira Gershwin and Eubie Blake die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 1983.

To read earlier years, click on the Table of Contents link below:

Table of Contents



1982 Betty Kavanagh

January 11

The year starts slowly for the Shop. One constant in the one hundred and sixteen year history of the Joseph Kavanagh Company is that winters are problematic. Many industries are effected by the cold especially if it involves outside work. This washes down to the Shop and almost always brings a slowdown. It is anticipated, and my father and his predecessors are prepared for it. He deals with the drop in work and does anything he can to keep the crew busy. He definitely finds something for Jack and I to do every Saturday. If nothing else, he has us in the machine shop making rollers and spacers. I have very little experience with a lathe but Jack has been taking classes at Eastern Tech for a couple years and he teaches me about the machines and how to use them. Jack is a good teacher and always patient with me. Of course, we are brothers and we have grown to enjoy working together nearly as much as we like playing together.

1982 Ann and Maura
Ann Kavanagh and Maura Kavanagh O’Neill. 1982.

January 24

Dad, Jack and I are watching the Super Bowl on television. I’m doing some homework while the game is on. The NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers defeat the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals 26-21. Jack and Dad are pulling for the Bengals as they are in the same conference as the Colts but I am fairly indifferent. I watch because it’s on and it’s tradition.

Baltimore Skipjacks Ticket Stub. 1982.

February 14

The Kavanagh’s gather for a wedding. My sister Jackie weds Richard Bosse. Mom and Dad are very proud and happy to see Jackie settle down and Richard is a good hard-working man who fits right in from the start. The Bosse’s are very similar to the Kavanagh’s and the two families match well together. It’s a good party and the first time I can sneak drinks at a wedding. Later that evening, I learn that rum and coke is not my drink.

Richard and Jackie Bosse. February 14, 1982.
Jack Kavanagh Sr. and Jackie Kavanagh Bosse. February 14, 1982.
Jackie and Jack 021482
JoAnn Kavanagh, Joe Kavanagh, Jack Kavanagh, Jackie Kavanagh Bosse, April Kavanagh Ballard, Jackie’s wedding. February 14, 1982.
Jackie's wedding 3 flower girls
Katie and Maura Kavanagh O’Neill and April Kavanagh Ballard. February, 14, 1982.
Jack Kavanagh Sr. and Jackie Kavanagh Bosse with Handy and Mary Brandenburg in the background. Lakewood Avenue. February 14, 1982.
Marty Hanson, Ann Kavanagh, Jane Kavanagh, Jack Kavanagh Sr. Jim O’Neill holding Rose O’Neill. Richard and Jackie Bosse’s wedding. Post wedding party at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. February 14, 1982.

March 23

Spring is here and has brought more work to the corner of Pratt and Central. One job is a very large order of tee bars and pipes for the Criss Brothers Company. My brother Jack is bending some heater tubes for Stambaugh and a set for a heater for the Housing Authority but every other man at the Shop has time on this Criss Brothers job. Dad is happy to have everyone busy and finally a bit of a backlog of work on the books. He and Jack discuss the Orioles on the way home. Spring Training has started and Manager Earl Weaver has announced this will be his last season. He will retire at the end of it.

The Shop’s job book entry. Criss Brothers Company job. March 23, 1982.
The Shop’s job book entry. L & S Welding job. March 23, 1982.
Earl Weaver commemorative figurine.

April 5

The Orioles open up their season at Memorial Stadium hosting the Kansas City Royals. The Birds get their hitting shoes out and hammer KC 13-5. Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray, Gary Roenicke and Dan Ford all homer for the hometown team. I am there with some friends and my Mother. We took the bus out just like last year and I have to say. I love being able to take four friends to the game. A friend with baseball tickets is truly a friend but a friend with opening day tickets is a popular friend.

Baltimore Orioles souvenir seat cushion. Front side. 1982.
Baltimore Orioles souvenir seat cushion. Reverse side. 1982.

April 6

Baltimore is hit with a very rare April snow and it’s bad enough to cancel school and the Orioles’ second game of the season. This is something we don’t see in Spring in this City but I enjoy the free snow day and the extra sleep. The storm is much worse in cities farther north,  some getting over two feet of snow.

1982 August Katie April Maura
Marua and Katie O’Neill and April Ballard. 1982.

April 20

The flow of work continues to improve and Dad’s crew are spread over a handful of jobs on a rainy April day. A set of sprayer tubes for a fountain, some angle flanges for Codd Fabricators and two railings are finished today including one for Tuttle Aluminum and Bronze Inc. The Tuttle job consists of some aluminum channels and tubes which need to be annealed and rolled. Mike Glenn and two fellows handle the job and my father is reminded that this is the summer I will learn to anneal aluminum, the most challenging metal to soften.

The Shop’s job book entry. Tuttle Aluminum Company job. April 20, 1982.

May 29

The Orioles play a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays at Memorial Stadium. In game two, Manager Earl Weaver sits young infielder Cal Ripken Jr. to give him a game off.

Cal Ripken Jr. Commemorate Photo/Plaque.

May 30

The Orioles lose to the Toronto Blue Jays 6-0 with Jim Gott & Roy Lee Jackson combining on a one hit shut out. The lone Orioles hit being a single by Rick Dempsey.  Cal Ripken Jr. plays in game one of what will be a very long streak.

Baltimore Orioles Ticket Stub. May 31. 1982. Game 2 of Cal Ripken Jr.’s streak.

June 7

I return to the Shop for the summer and the crew welcomes me back.  The guys know me now and this level of acceptance by them is a good feeling. After some brief chatting and catching up, everyone gets to work. I’m rolling some pipes into rings for B & B Welding while the rest of the men are rolling some angles and bars and Jack bends some stainless steel pipes for Turnbull Enterprises. Another Kavanagh starts working at the Joseph Kavanagh Company today. My Mom has decided to come in and start helping in the office. Helen Glodek is my father’s secretary but she is getting older and wants to cut back to working three days a week. Mom will shadow her for a bit and learn all she can about the billing, payroll and other clerical jobs that Miss Helen does. Mom told me she doesn’t have kids at home anymore and wants to keep busy. It makes sense to me. My mother was never one to take it easy much at all. She will drive in each morning with Dad, Jack and I,  then one of the crew will drive her to Lakewood Avenue at 2 p.m. so she can have dinner ready when the rest of us get home.

Assorted pipe and tube rollers for R-3 Round Roller. Picture taken March, 2020.
Roundo Angle Roller Owner’s Manual.

June 14

I’m annealing and bending some copper u-bends for Harvey Stambaugh. My father put Jack and I on it but when we are halfway through the tubes, he pulls Jack off and gives him a job bending some pipes for L & S Welding. Dad tells me to handle it from here on out and tells me to grab someone when I need it. For a second, I pause. This is the first time I am left alone to finish something at the Shop and then tell someone what to do. I anneal the last set and get back to bending, then get Ralph Bell to help me knock the burrs off the tubes. I’m happy my father has confidence in me but it is unspoken. Dad has always told me he’s proud of me but at the Shop, things are different. He doesn’t need to tell me of his pride. It’s a show don’t tell kind of thing.

The Shop’s job book entry. Harvey Stambaugh job. June 14, 1982.
Baltimore Orioles Ticket Stub. 1982.

July 10

It’s a hot and humid Saturday morning. Mom and Dad are down the Ocean for the weekend and Jack and I are working on a set of tubes for Stambaugh. I’m annealing and Jack is bending. We work best this way and we plan on cranking these tubes out and getting home as quick as we can. I put pencil marks on each tube before lighting the torch. These marks indicate the start and stop of the bend and I only need to anneal between them. Annealing much past those lines will not hurt per se but will make the tube too soft and floppy to handle. My mind is a little clouded by my hangover. Mom and Dad being away meant a small party at my house. My friends, Ray French and Greg and Tim Heaps were with Jack and I at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue having a few beers and listening to music. We made a drinking game of listening to Stray Cat Strut. We played it thirty times in a row and a good time was had by all. I’m paying for it a little this morning but I am determined to get home and nap as soon as possible. I think of my father’s lessons and smack the torch with my striker which sparks and lights the propane. I point the torch at the tubes as the heat hits my face then I begin. “Black and Orange Stray Cat sitting on a fence. Ain’t got enough dough to pay the rent. I’m flat broke but I don’t care. I strut right by with my tail in the air.”

Cover to Stray Cat Strut Single.

July 16

Busy, busy, busy is the Shop suddenly. Several rush jobs have added to the volume of orders and everybody who can will be working Saturdays until vacation. Jack and I are rolling some pipes for Thrifty Iron in the R-3 while flat bars on the same job are rolled in the R-5. I can see my father is particularly pleased as truck after truck drops off straight material to be curved. I finally start to understand his mood at the place. There is much to be concerned about when owning a business and having things to do is clearly at the top of the list.

The Shop’s job book entry. Thrifty Iron Works job. July 16, 1982.
1982 August Maura April Katie Rose
Maura, Katie and Rose O’Neill and April Ballard. 1982.

July 21

I’m standing in the front of Central Avenue with the heat of a torch blowing in my face as I anneal some copper tubes for Codd Fabricators. I meet Pete Kolb who runs Codd’s shop for the Kaufmann’s who are the owners. Pete shakes my hand and wants me to call him Pete not Mr. Pete. My Dad is okay with that and chuckles as Pete corrects me. They chat in the front of the big door about work and upcoming jobs. I can see my Dad and he are alike and seem to be genuine friends. Afterward, Dad tells me Pete is as smart a man as he has ever known and as hard of a worker too. Dad likes him and trusts him and I like Pete from the start.

The Shop’s bjo book entry. Codd Fabricators job. July 21, 1982.

August 2

It’s Hell Week at the Shop in anticipation of the pending week’s vacation. The last jobs are completed, the place is cleaned and a variety of pranks, jokes and “play” occurs. Water is dropped from bread bags and poured through holes in the second story floor. My uncle is at the heart of a lot of it. Jack and I call him Ed not Uncle Ed. Initially, I thought this was simply for brevity but it’s Shop and family tradition. There are no uncles at the Shop just co-workers. Ed is always the instigator and gets even more involved this year. He sends Forest Glenn or Peanut as he is called into the basement under the guise of retrieving some old tools. Ed flicks the basement light off and slams the trap door shut. Jack and I watch from the front corner near the Pines Bender as Ed proceeds to grab a sledgehammer and pound the floor hopping about like some merry gremlin. I learn Ed is more spry than I knew. Apparently, he was a former jitterbug champion. Jack and I go from stunned to laughing in a flash. Peanut screams loudly while Ed calmly drops the sledgehammer and walks into the office. When Peanut pushes the trap door open and climbs out, he is covered in dirt and bits of floor. He takes it surprisingly well but lambastes my uncle as soon as he appears from the office. Ed, of course, denies any involvement or knowledge of the whole event.

Roundo Angle Roller brochure. Front cover.
Roundo Angle Roller brochure. Inside pictures.

August 7

We are in Ocean City at Royal Palm Court for the week and it’s every bit as fun as it is each year. There is a little less fishing and crabbing now we are older. Jack and I prefer to spend as much time as possible on the boards, playing games and amusements. My fascination with skee-ball continues and with all of these new video games added to pinball, I spend hours in the arcades. I most enjoy the fact that at seventeen now, I am allowed to go about the city on my own. There are some nights Jack and I go out together but sometimes, he does what he wants and I do what I want. Another bonus of working full-time in the summer is I have money to burn at the beach. And burn it I do, but it’s well worth the fun. The week goes fast and next thing I know we are heading home with school on the horizon.

1983 July Katie Ann Maura Rose at park
Ann Kavanagh, Maura, Katie and Rose Kavanagh O’Neill. 1982.

September 3

Jack celebrates his twentieth birthday by bending a copper serpentine coil for the Allen Mitchell Company. I anneal while he bends in the same way we always handle these type of orders. The rest of the crew are spread over three jobs including some bars and tubes for the Wallace Welding Company. My Mom has learned her job very quickly. She asked Miss Helen questions and observed her and Dad as they went about the billing, payroll and receivables. She soaked it all up and is now able to handle any of the secretarial duties. Not bad for someone with no clerical experience at all.

Bent Copper tubes
Assorted coppr tube bends including serpentine coil with 5- bends. PHoto courtesy of Nancy Kavanagh O”Neill Photography.
The Shop’s job book entry. Wallace Welding Company job. September 3, 1982.

September 4

It’s the last Saturday of the summer and I will be returning to school soon. I’ll keep working Saturdays but my weekdays will be spent as a Senior at Mt. Carmel. Today Dad is giving me a lesson in annealing aluminum. I coat the aluminum tube in motor oil. The dirtier the oil the better, my father says. It makes it easier to see the transition of hard to annealed. Aluminum anneals at approximately 600 degrees Fahrenheit and by chance that is about the same temperature this oil burns off at. It’s a slow process and takes control because aluminum can melt easily. If you get one small spot of the tube too hot too fast, it will melt or break. Even a slight melting compromises the integrity of the piece and it will just break when bent. Dad has me anneal four pieces then bend them. The torch must be kept in motion constantly and the pieces as well. Using a stick, I keep the tube rolling while I move the torch along it. I sing while I use the torch knowing that he is watching. He stays silent for the most part but has his eye on me. Jack is bending some small 1/2” tubes for the Readybuilt Company and is upstairs by himself. Dad seems a little impressed when none of the four pieces I anneal break. He tells me I did well and he likes the way I handle the torch. He says it almost looks like I know what I’m doing then chuckles broadly. He calls Jack down stairs then asks me what I was singing. I spend the drive home trying my best to explain the Stray Cats to my father. To his credit, he listens to the song with me after lunch. His assessment is it’s better than most of the “Rot N Roll” I listen to.

September 12

My father and brother are attending the Baltimore Colts’ first game of the season. It’s been a tough few years for the Colts and they lose today 24-13 to the New England Patriots. Dad and Jack are diehard fans and go to a few games each year. They continue to hope this franchise can find a way to turn it around.

Baltimore Colts Preseason Ticket. 1982.

September 26

The NFL Players go on strike and the NFL season is put on hold. Seven games will be completely canceled and one is rescheduled for the end of the season. The Colts finish up 0-8-1 in last place with a dismal winless record.

Baltimore Orioles Ticket Stub. Twi-night Doubleheader. October 2, 1982.

October 3

The Birds lose their last game of the season and miss the playoffs. They came into the weekend needing to sweep four from the first place Milwaukee Brewers and did win the first three including a twi-night doubleheader on Friday. Palmer gets shellacked in this game and the Brewers win 10-2. Earl Weaver receives a huge ovation after the game. This ends years of Oriole success led by the “Earl of Baltimore.” We were at Friday’s games but listen on the radio to this very disappointing end to the season and to Weaver’s illustrious career.

Baltimore Orioles Manager Earl Weaver Commemorative picture.
Earl Weaver signed baseball.

October 9

It’s a Saturday afternoon and I sit in the living room doing Trigonometry homework after a morning at the Shop. The movie “The Abominable Dr. Phibes” is on television in the living room with Jack, Dad and I watching. When the movie goes to commercial, Dad turns to me.

“J-J-Joe?” My father says my name with a certain cadence when he really wants my attention.  He draws out the first letter. “I gotta question for you. You know at the Shop when we roll big radius stuff, we have to get out in the street with a long chalk line to mark a template.” I did know this. At the Shop, we cut templates for whatever radius we need for each job.  A drafting tool called a tram is attached to either end of a long stick with a pin point on one end and a pencil on the other. The distance between determines the radius and this works well up to twenty-five feet. Longer than that requires a trip into the middle of Central Avenue, stopping traffic and using a string to make a radius. It’s time consuming and impractical but necessary. “It would be nice if there was some easier way to check big radii.”

I look up from my homework.”It would be. It’s a pain whether we use a long stick or go out in the street using twine. Plus, the drivers of the cars never seem to appreciate it much.” My eyes drop back to my work then I scoff. “It’s not even accurate.”

“I know. I know.” Dad nods and takes a sip of tea. “Do you think there is any way with your “high class” mathematics, we can figure out a way to measure it without a template. If we held a straight piece across the arc and measured how much the piece is bowed, for instance. I would imagine there’s a way to figure that out.” He quickly draws an arc on a yellow pad and then a straight chord across the bottom with a question mark between the arc and the chord.

I grin at the “high class” mathematics comment then sit for a moment and consider. Firstly, I am surprised to be asked such a question and secondly to think about the possibility. “There should be. I mean. It’s math. It’s an absolute. These dimensions are related. I never thought about it before.”

“Well, think about it.” Dad leans forward from his recliner and hands me the sketch. He opens the newspaper and begins reading. “Let me know what you come up with.” Jack who didn’t say anything but listened and watched our exchange returns his attention to the movie without a word. His mind is on hockey. The Washington Capitals are playing their home opener tonight against their Patrick Division rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers.  I keep my mind on my Dad’s questions staring at the paper for a moment and then return to my trig homework. Jack drives a couple of friends to the Capital Centre in Largo Maryland that night. The Caps lose 3-2 but my brother is convinced this will be the year his team makes some noise in the league and hopefully makes the playoffs for the first time.

Basic hand sketch of an arc with location of radius, chord and bow indicated.

October 14

My schoolwork has been on the back burner this week as I have tried to solve my father’s “Bow” problem. I drew a triangle into the drawing at the base of the chord. I determine that by defining one side of the triangle with the radius and the other with the radius minus the bow, I can use trigonometric functions to find the bow. Good old cosine. I am as excited as I can be but ask Sister Doloretta, my Trig teacher about it. After being impressed that I use my math skills in the real world, she confirms this should work. I check with Jack who gives me the thumbs up and is anxious for me to show Dad. I take it to my father and make my case that this equation will work.

“Dad? I think I figured this thing with the bow out.” I speak up while my father and I watch the Gong Show on a Thursday night. Mom is in the front room reading and Jack is out with some friends.

His gaze breaks from the TV and he turns to me. “What are you selling?” This is his way of saying he didn’t hear me. He has Shop ears as we call them. It’s the result of working in a loud Shop with the whir and grind of large machines for years.

I speak up. “I said I think I figured out the bow problem.” I hand him the diagram I made with the triangle drawn in and the equation at the bottom.

“You did huh.” He takes a long slow look at it. “You think this will give us how much the piece needs to bow across a straight chord?” He seems dubious to say the least.

“It will. It will work, Dad. It’s math. It works out, It can’t be wrong” I smile though he still seems skeptical. Dad even appears perturbed that I have an answer at all or have it so fast. I begin to think he meant to stump me.

He folds the paper up and slips it into his front shirt pocket. “Sine and Cosine it is huh? I know what they are by the way. I had all of that in school too.” He adds rather gruffly.

“I know you did. I know you know math.” I try to clarify my opinion quickly. I know my father had a good education if not exactly “high class mathematics” as he called it. Dad always had a mathematical mind.

“Well, we’ll try it out sometime and see if it works.” Dad turns his attention back to Chuck Barris and I know the conversation is over. I expected a little more reaction than this but Dad has to process it then consider verifying it before he trusts it at the Shop. I realize all this and decide to wait for him to bring it up to me. I sit back in my chair and watch the Unknown Comic.

Jackie and Joe 021482
Jack Kavanagh Bosse and Joe Kavanagh. Jackie’s wedding. February 14, 1982.

October 20

The Milwaukee Brewers lose to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. The series takes all seven games but the Cards prevail. Dad, Jack and I are watching each game and we pull for St. Louis. It was such a tough end to the Birds’ year, we have to root against the Brewers.

Baltimore Orioles Souvenir Cup. Orioles Hall of Fame game. August 1982.
The Shop’s job book entry. Clark Machine job. October 20, 1982.

November 2

The Shop has had a fair year with some ups and downs but my father is okay with it. There will always be years like this and it could have been much worse. The boys are busy today with a few orders including some large structural channels being rolled for Tydings, Lynch & Lorenz. My parents have lunch together in the office and it’s Mom’s birthday. This is an unexpected benefit of Mom working at the Shop and they both appreciate it.

The Shop’s job book entry. Tydings, Lynch and Lorenz job. November 2, 1982.

December 20

School is on holiday break and as most of my classmates revel in the time off, I am at the Shop. Dad has a lot of work to crank out before Christmas and since I have no school, I am there with my father, mother and brother. Mom has become a great help to Dad. She has transitioned easily to work and has mastered the varied mix of paperwork that passes through the place. She takes messages and returns calls for my father. Whatever he needs. Not to mention, Dad really likes having “his girl” at work with him. I anneal another set of copper tubes for Jack to bend and the rest of the crew are rolling some angles and pipes for F.H. Klaunberg. My father is not taking any chances about having any work hanging over the holiday. The crew work hard. They want that time off between the 25th and the 1st. I know already I won’t have that time off but I still look forward to Christmas. Who doesn’t?

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. December 20, 1982.

December 25

It’s Christmas on Lakewood Avenue and the family assemble. All my sisters are there and their families. The Ballard’s, the O’Neill’s, the Brandenburg’s and the Bosse’s arrive through the late morning and early afternoon along with my other sisters. Finally at 1 p.m., the family sit around the extended dinner table to eat and officially begin the holiday. It’s turkey, stuffing, potatoes and parsnips with much more. Everyone enjoys the food but also the company. It’s becoming more and more rare for all of us to gather around one table and without speaking of it, I think all my siblings are aware of it. The older kids are married and growing their own families while the youngest three of us are grown up or nearly there. Only Jack and I remain at home. I even have my own room for the first time in my life. The highlight of the day is Dad at the piano and the rest of us gathered close in song. It’s something we do when we can but always on holidays and special occasions. Dad has a way of turning that small front parlor into a grand musical hall. Some drink beer, soda or tea while others sip a bit of whiskey but all join in voice throughout Dad’s performance. Performance isn’t the right word. It’s more his way of sharing with all of us. His way of making us all remember. We are family.

Jackie & Richard Bosse xmas Lakewood Ave.
Richard and Jackie Bosse. Christmas Lakewood Avenue. 1982.
Maura and April xmas Lakewood
Maura O’Neill and April Ballard, Christmas. Lakewood Avenue. 1982.

December 28

The week between Christmas is a break from school but Dad, Jack and I are at the Shop making some heater tubes. Once again the customer is Harvey Stambaugh and Jack and I are very motivated to finish these tubes fast. The City is still in holiday mode and we want to get home to enjoy it like everyone else. Dad spends a couple hours in the office doing some paperwork and finishing a quote for B & B Welding.  He wanders out to the Shop and watches me anneal. He grins as he hears me warble through the Stray Cats muffled by the blast of the torch. I cut the torch off and he approaches.

“I thought you wanted to get out of here early. I’m ready to go.” Dad glances down at the cooling tubes in front of me.

I scoop the tubes up in the crook of my arm to keep them from bending. “I have one set to do and after Jack bends them, we can go. I’m going as as fast as I can.” I grab the final two straight tubes and being marking the bend area on each. “I want to get home just as fast as you, Daddy-o.”

Jack begins bending the tubes I just finished annealing. “I’m catching up on you, brother.” He chimes in smiling.

“Maybe you’re using the wrong song.” Dad chuckles and slips his hands into his pockets shifting from side to side then heads back to the office to lock it up.

I answer indignantly. “It’s not the wrong song.” I shake my head as I light up the torch then take a quick look to make sure he’s not there. Then I bring torch to tube. “Fly me to the moon. Let me play among the stars. Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars. In other words, hold my hand. In other words. I love you.”

The Shop’s job book entry. Harvey Stambaugh job. December 28, 1982.



Ronald Reagan is the President of the United States and becomes the first American President to address Parliament. Seven people die in Chicago from poisoned Tylenol capsules. The first execution by Lethal Injection occurs. The first artificial heart is used on an American. Micheal Jackson’s “Thriller” album debuts. Elvis’ home, Graceland, opens to the public. Late Night with ‘David Letterman premiers. USA Today is first published. The films “E.T.,” “Blade Runner,” “The Wall” and “Diner” are released. The Epcot Center Opens. The Vietnam War Veterans Memorial is completed. TIME magazine declares the Computer its “Man of the Year.” Tara Lipinski, Anne Hathaway, Danica Patrick, Pete Collins(author of “Within the Red Valley”) and Joseph Samaniego(author of “In The Court of Dreams and Shadows”) are born. Thelonious Monk, John Belushi, Satchel Paige, Grace Kelly and Philip K. Dick die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

Mom Kensington Pkwy
Betty Kavanagh. 1980s.

To read prior years, click on the Table of Contents link below:

Table of Contents

1981 Jack and Joe

January 19

The Shop’s year has started well. Most of the nation is in recession but the Shop’s variety of customers has kept them safe from it so far. It’s winter so they are not swamped but definitely steady. Big Jack has decided to bring his boys in on Saturdays as long as the work warrants it and as long as he has things to teach them. To my chagrin, I will not be sleeping in but working on Saturdays. Today is a Monday and a nice order for Thrifty Iron Works is finished. This job is a mix of angles, channels and pipes. It’s three different setups but that’s fine with Big Jack. On the ride home he and Little Jack hear the news, the American hostages in Iran have been released. The deal has been in the works between the US and Iran for sometime and soon they will be returned home.

The Shop’s job book entry. Thrifty Iron Works job. January 19, 1981.

January 25

My father, brother and I watch as the AFC Champion Oakland Raiders defeat the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles to win the Super Bowl 27-10. Jack and Dad are interested in every play but I’m a more passive football fan. Baseball is my passion and I am constantly attentive to a ballgame. I join in and cheer for the Raiders but my mind is more on the approach of Spring Training.

Maura April Katie yard fence Lakewood
Maura and Katie O’Neill and April Ballard. Backyard of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Early 1980s.
Rose Lakewood ave sofa baby
Rose Kavanagh O’Neill. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Early 1981.

January 31

Dad, Jack and I are at 201 S. Central Avenue on a bitter cold Saturday morning. We are assembling a heat exchanger for Egan Boiler and Contracting. The tubes were bent yesterday and now we must get the tubes into the head and expand them. Also, Dad gives me another lesson in annealing. He wants me to be able to anneal copper on my own by the summer. The torch work does warm the place up so I like that part. He sings “Harvest Moon” this time though I can’t be sure why. His lessons are brief but educational. Between the torch lesson and putting the heater together, we spend five hours at the Shop,  then the three of us are on our way home. Dad lets us know he may not be coming in every Saturday. Mom has convinced him to take some day trips and run errands on Saturdays. He will trust us to get ourselves to work and take care of whatever needs to be done. Jack is happy with that. He enjoys working without supervision and likes doing so at his own pace. I’m fine with it but jealous of Dad having a full weekend off.

The Shop’s job book entry. Egan Marine Contracting job. February 3, 1981.

February 13

It’s a Friday night and I am happy to be done with school but lamenting work tomorrow. I know it will be cold and Jack and I are rolling some small angle flanges so no torches will be used. I’ve grown accustomed to work but I still miss sleep on Saturdays. After work tomorrow, we plan on playing some street hockey in the tennis courts of Ellwood Park. Jack got me interested and it spread to some of our friends. Jack also plays on skates at the Patterson Ice Rink but that has been curtailed a bit during the week. My brother is also attending night classes at Eastern Technical School learning machine shop basics and mechanics.  I know Jack is doing well. This is his kind of thing to study most definitely. I contemplate starting my weekend’s homework but opt to watch television and go to bed early. 7 a.m. comes early on a Saturday.

Jack_Jr old shop
Jack Kavanagh Jr. 201 S. Central Avenue. 1981.

March 30

I am riding the #23 bus home from Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School on a very typical Monday when a friend from my neighborhood, Eddie Legg gives me some news. President Reagan has been shot. I can’t believe it and when I get off the bus, I race home to get the details. The president was wounded by a lone gunman, John Hinkley Jr. Also injured were a DC police officer, a secret service agent and Press Secretary James Brady. Brady is the most critically wounded and will remain partially paralyzed until he dies 33 years later from his injuries.

April 10

The Birds open up against the Kansas City Royals and the Kavanagh’s are there or at least some of us. My Mom takes me along with some friends out on the bus because this time Dad and Jack can’t leave the Shop. Dad’s got a customer coming in to go over some drawings and Jack is bending some pipe for Baltimore Tube Bending. The bus is full of folks on the way to Thirty-third Street and it feels pretty cool to have four friends with me. Ken Singleton and Rick Dempsey both homer and the Orioles win 5-3. Steve Stone gets the win but only lasts five innings. Sammy Steward finishes it up with four innings of solid relief. We ride back home with a busload of excited Bird fans.

Baltimore Orioles Pennant. Early 1980s.

April 28

The Shop at Central Avenue has stayed steady through the winter and things are picking up with the warm weather’s arrival.  A job for Custom Fabricators is finished today, a couple bars and three aluminum tubes are rolled in the R-3. Jack Kavanagh Sr. has decided to buy a new Roundo Angle Roller. This one will be bigger than any machine he has. It’s called an R-6-S and can roll 6” angles, 12” beams and has special hydraulic guide rollers for angles. The -S in the name denotes these special attachments. It should arrive in August and it will be the first of this size in America.

The Shop’s job book entry. Custom Steel Fabricators job. April 28, 1981.
R-6-S. Photo taken March, 2020.
R-6-S and some of its tools. Photo taken March 2020.

Betty Ann Wedding Picture Group. 1976.

Michael Ballard. 1976.

May 16

It’s a breezy and cool Spring Saturday and Jack and I are at the Shop. We’re rolling some 1 1/4” steel pipes for a railing. The railing is over 60 feet long and the customer has furnished several cardboard templates for us to match. It is a two line rail which means we need two pipes rolled to each template. The pipes are 21 ft. long and must be taken in and out of the machine repeatedly to check them against the template. As we are working on template #2, the doorbell rings and it’s our brother-in-law, Michael Ballard. We let him in and he tells us he wants to see the place so we give him a quick tour. When we tell him what we are rolling, he offers to help. I am pretty excited about that as I need to keep moving from one side of the pipe to the other to keep the rail flat. With another person, I can stay on one side and Michael on the other. The whole thing sounds good to Jack. In fact, Jack is amped to have Michael there. Maybe it’s the long hair and beard or maybe it’s the kind of guy he is but Michael is very cool in Jack’s eyes. Jack is older than me and has a better sense of “cool” than I do at this point in our lives. Jack talks to Michael most of the time while we roll and I get the feeling it’s as if Jack were working with Elvis or some other superstar. I also admire Michael. He is cool yes and I always have fun when he’s around but I think Jack has a better understanding of him at the time. Michael is very much a free-spirited individual with a gentle demeanor. We complete the rail much faster than anticipated and Michael asks if he can take something from the scrap since he helped us. Scrap is scrap so that is fine with us. He takes a look and pulls out a sample bend from a brass job that was completed two weeks ago. Michael has a friend who’s a sculptor and he thinks his friend can use it. Jack is quick to offer a second piece but Michael assures us this one will do just fine. Jack then shows him something else. Behind each of our chop saws is a build up of carbon. After each cut as the sparks fly, they pile up and gather in a pointed pattern on the wall behind the saw. Dad has given these to Stan Edmister a few times. Stan is a sculptor and the Shop has done work with him for almost ten years. Michael is intrigued by it and describes it as “a sideways stalagmite.” That is about the most accurate description I have ever heard of these blocks of carbon. Jack snaps it off and hands it to Michael. He’s appreciative, shakes our hands and heads out the door. Elvis has left the building.

April Lakewood front steps
April Kavanagh Ballard on front steps of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1981.

June 8

I doze sleepily in the back seat of the car while Jack drives us along with Dad to Central Avenue. It’s the first Monday after school and I begin my second summer at the Shop. I will be working forty hours a week at least and usually four or five more on Saturdays. I am not looking forward to it but I know what I am in for now and that helps. As I am almost sixteen now, I like the idea of having money to spend so I do see an upside to the job. It’s hard to feel great about it on Monday but on Friday? It makes the week very much worth it. There is no die cataloging or broom pushing for me this summer. Dad puts me with Jack on a heat exchanger for the Housing Authority first thing. A hot job with a torch in June but still better than writing tool lists or cleaning up the place.

Katie Maura April Lakewood sofa
Maura and Katie O’Neill, April Ballard. Front room of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Early 1980s.

June 12

The Major League Baseball Players Association goes on strike. I can’t believe it. It’s summer and there will be no baseball. The season is paused while the owners and players try to negotiate a new contract. I’m conflicted as I blame the players but the owners have the money to work out some agreement. I think what are they doing to our great American game?

Baltimore Orioles Souvenir National Premium collapsible cooler. 1981.
Katie and Maura swings
Maura and Katie O’Neill. Early 1980s.

June 20

I have caught a break at the Shop or so I thought. A box of very small copper o-rings is sent over from the Eljay Corporation. They need to be tinned and my father has given me the job. Tinning is an old school coppersmith skill but very simple for these little pieces. A pot of tin is brought to a boil then the o-rings are dipped one by one in the tin then into water to cool them. A very repetitive job yes, but also a very easy one. I sit in the small space just beyond the office on a stool and dip happily. In a few minutes, my Dad exits the office and makes a beeline for me.

“What are you doing sitting down?” He asks me.

I’m flustered but answer. “Well, I figured it didn’t matter. I can do these while I sit just as easy as while standing.”

“No sitting. The job is easy enough. You don’t have to sit.” He growls at me and stomps to the back of the Shop.

I resume my dipping and he returns to the office. I am tempted immediately by the small wood stool again and give in to the allure of sitting. I don’t sit but I lean on the seat as I dip the rings. Again, the office door swings open and my father appears. I jump up but not fast enough and he sees me. Dad glares at me but says nothing. He approaches me not breaking eye contact and I ready myself for whatever he will say. He remains silent but grabs one end of the wooden stool and slowly drags it across the front of the Shop to the alley. VERY slowly so that you can hear every bump or crack in the floor as the stool passes over it. All the employees who are up front could hear it too. I say nothing. No one says anything. A strange level of fear seems to hit us all. A terror that my father is actually angry which happens very rarely. My father’s gaze stays locked on me as he heads to the back of the building. I decide not to sit down for the remainder of the tinning.

Mom Dad dressed up with April Lakewood
Jack and Betty Kavanagh with April Ballard. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1981.
Katie Maura April lakewood
April Ballard and Katie O’Neill with Maura O’Neill stooping down. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Early 1980s

July 18

It’s about 11:30 a.m and Jack and I pull onto the Jefferson Street side of 447 N. Lakewood our hands full of Burger King bags. For three days in a row, Jack and I have made copper u-bends for Harvey Stambaugh. Today we worked a half-day on the last set of tubes for Stambaugh. I handled the annealing and Jack the bending. We have developed a good system between us. We get the lengths down together then Jack starts cutting while I set up stands for the annealing. I start annealing the first set while Jack cuts the second. After this, Jack gets on the Leonard Air Bender, setting it up and starting to bend the first set. I then take over the cutting and keep annealing with an effort to stay at least one set ahead of him. Over the last two months, we have developed a cadence to our work. Perhaps due to years of playing together, we make a good team. Each of us knows right where the other is at any point during the process. Jack and I have learned to combine our skills to make good quality U-bends and make them fast. We walk through the front door and plop into chairs and begin pulling our burgers out. My father walks in from the kitchen.

“What are you doing home? It’s not noon yet.” Dad asks us as he looks from Jack to me and takes his seat in his recliner.

Through a mouthful of burger, Jack answers. “We’re finished. They’re all done.” He shrugs as he finishes and stuffs two fries in his mouth.

Dad’s eyes widen in a flash. “Well, did you take them over to Stambaugh? You were supposed to deliver them. Remember?”

“We did.” Jack says with a mix of confidence and defiance in his voice.

My father is quiet for a second, taken aback perhaps at our efficiency. “You got ‘em done and you took them over to Stambaugh too?” There’s a bit of doubt in his voice.

I  speak up. “Yes, Dad. We did. We got on a good roll, finished them up, delivered and then came home.” I’m busy carefully piling fries on my burger which is how I like it.

Jack is smiling wide as he eats and Dad glances at him then me. “Oh, well. That’s okay then. Good.” He still seems skeptical but I can sense a bit of surprise and pride in his voice. He turns to look at me and grins. “Sooo, you met Harvey. What did you think of him?”

I’m stunned at the question and don’t know what to say. “He’s nice. I mean he’s funny and he seemed fine.”

Dad seems to understand my curiosity at the question. “How old do you think he is,  Joe?”

In my mind I assume he must be older than he appears so I say. “I don’t know. 67? 66?”

“He’s 81.” Dad chuckles as he answers me.

Reflexively I pull my head and shoulders back in surprise. “81? You gotta be kidding me.” Dad is laughing harder now. “Is it some kind of deal with the devil kind of thing? Or like a Dick Clark thing?”

Dad nods his head. “Yeah, something like that.” He smiles and stands as he walks into the front room to play some piano. “Good job today both of you, by the way.”

We finish our lunch as the sound of “Ebb Tide” fills the front room with Dad singing as he plays.

The Shop’s job book entry. Harvey Stambaugh job. July 16, 1981.
The Shop’s job book entry. Harvey Stambaugh job. July 17, 1981.

July 31

Hell week is nearly over and our vacation is looming. The crew have been cleaning, finishing up a few jobs and of course playing jokes and throwing water at each other since Monday. It’s a raucous week at the Shop as it is each year. The jokes on each other seem to break a year’s worth of tension and my father allows it as long as what has to be done is done.

1981 Two Jacks at old shop
Big Jack and Little Jack. Clowning around in the office of 201 S. Central Avenue. 1981.

August 1

Millions of teens in America are tuned in to watch the premier of a new television channel called MTV.  I am not one of them. I am in my Dad’s Chrysler Cordoba as we drive to Ocean City for vacation. I wish I could have been watching but I am happy to be on the way to the beach. The teenagers listen AND watch as the Buggles start it off with “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Music and television will never be the same. I enjoy our annual week of crabbing, fishing and amusements. I will spend countless hours playing pinball and skeeball. This year there are a couple new video games to join Space Invaders. Pac-man is one and it becomes popular very quickly. It’s a great week off but a fast one and soon we are making the long quiet ride back to Baltimore.

1982 August Maura April Katie Rose
Maura, Katie, Rose O’Neill and April Ballard. Early 1980s.

August 8

I am relieved to hear the baseball strike is resolved and the season will re-start in two days. A different playoff format will be used with the season split. The winners of each half of the season will play each other in a series to determine who goes on to the Championship Series,  then the World Series.

Maura rocking chair
Maura O’Neill. 1981.
Katie with puppet
Katie O’Neill. 1981.

August 11

It’s a hot, hazy and very sweaty day at the Shop. Jack and I are busting out another set of tubes for Stambaugh. As we head up the steps to the second floor, we are discussing last night’s Oriole game. Baseball is back on after the work stoppage and we were at Memorial Stadium. The game went into extra innings but we hung around enough to see the end. Some young infielder named Cal Ripken scored the winning run in the 12th. He had pinch run for Ken Singleton and I ask Jack if he knows anything about him. He doesn’t but we guess maybe he’s fast since he pinch ran. We’ll see if he develops into a decent player. Jack and I pull the tubes from the racks, cut them then I anneal and Jack bends. The system we have works great. We’re in sync on heater tubes and I know my father has noticed. He watches us some days, often telling me I am getting the tubes too hot. I tell him if they were too hot, they would melt. It’s not meant to be disrespectful. It is more my assessment of how I anneal and the results. Jack likes that I get them hot. It helps to avoid wrinkles in the bends. Jack has gone so far as to tell me, my tubes bend better than his. My father isn’t bothered when Jack or I disagree with him. He takes it well and in stride. I realized later, he is happy we are taking the initiative and finding our own process. Dad is relieved we have developed enough confidence to stand up for our work and our technique. Some days, he’ll suddenly appear in the Shop quietly and I see him watching us out of the corner of his eye. It will only be for a couple of minutes but I can sense the satisfaction he gets from it. He’s proud of us. Jack and I know that but there is more to it. There’s something about this place and brothers working together. My second summer at the Joseph Kavanagh Company is nearly finished and I feel much more a part of it now. I fit in this year and I know I can do good work. Also, it’s nice for a sixteen year old to have a regular pay check every week.

The Shop’s job book entry. Harvey Stambaugh job. August 11, 1981.

August 19

The Shop takes delivery of its new machine, the R-6-S. I am astounded along with the rest of the crew at the size of the thing. It weight 14 tons and can pull up to 3 1/2” Square solid steel bar. The machine is a powerhouse. It takes the better part of the day to get the R-6-S unloaded, moved and set on the ground. The next day an electrician will power it up for us. My Dad is so excited. He can’t wait to see it in action and see what it can really do.  He, Jerry Purnell and Jack will spend a few hours each week testing it and practicing on their new toy.

Record of purchase of R-6-S. August 19, 1981.
R-6-S with Angle being rolled into a ring
R-6-S with 6″ Angle being rolled inot a ring leg out. 1980s. Photo couresy of Nancy Kavanagh O”Neill Photography.
Original 5″ Pipe rollers purchased along with the R-6-S. Photo taken 2020.

September 8

It’s the day after Labor Day and school is back in session. I find myself on the bus heading to Mt. Carmel in Essex. My friends and I are catching up with each other and discussing our summers. I regale my pals with tales of the Shop and the work I did over the last few months. It’s real work not just burger flipping or newspaper delivering and my friends think it’s pretty cool. I know it’s not that cool, if anything it is hot. That being said, it was a much better summer for me. I am more comfortable and my skills are beginning to grow. I know of the legacy of the place. 1866 was 115 years ago and I feel the pride in this longevity. I also know, most likely, some day it will be Jack’s and mine. I feel much better about that future now and I suppose my friends are right. It IS pretty cool.

Pass to the Hit & Run Club at Memorial Stadium. September 18, 1981.
Katie and April Birch Dr
Katie O’Neill and April Ballard. Early 1980s.

September 25

The heat exchanger work continues to drive the Shop through another good year despite the rest of the country still fighting to escape recession. A unit is completed for the Housing Authority of Baltimore with Little Jack doing the bulk of the work. Jack is very confident in himself and it shows in his quality and in his quickness with jobs.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore job. Setpember 25, 1981.

Heat Exchanger brochure

September 27

After winning their first game of the season on the road against the New England Patriots, the Colts have lost two in a row and today face the Miami Dolphins. The two Jack’s are there and it’s a close game but a tough loss with Miami taking it 31-28. It doesn’t get much better as the Colts will lose fourteen in a row and suffer through one of the worst defensive seasons in NFL history and again they will fail to make the playoffs.

Baltimore Colts Ticket. September 27, 1981.

October 10

The first Washington Capitals home game of the year is a victory versus the Detroit Red Wings 6-3. My brother is in attendance with one of his friends and is hoping for a good season from his favorite hockey team. Unfortunately after this victory they lose thirteen in a row. Jack starts to think he’s jinxed with both the Caps and Colts on long losing streaks.

Washington Capitals ticket. October 10, 1981.

October 14

Yet another heater is finished today for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City. This one is a rush so six men have time on it to get the unit completed on the same day it came in. It is assembled and finished by 3 p.m. and Big Jack calls Mike Winchester at the City who dispatches a truck to pick the thing up.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore job. October 14, 1981.

October 28

Dad, Jack and I are watching the World Series per tradition. The Birds didn’t make the playoffs. It was a good season but a strange one with the work stoppage. The New York Yankees take the pennant in the American League while the Los Angeles Dodgers win the National League crown. We are pulling for LA as we can not root for the Yanks. It’s not possible for us die hard Orioles fans and we are happy to watch the Dodgers take the championship in six games.  My father tells us a few tales of the old Brooklyn Dodgers franchise especially about Roy Campanella. He saw Campy as a young player for the Baltimore E-lite Giants in the Negro Leagues and tells us he was the best player he ever saw. Dad thinks he could have broken a lot of records if his career wasn’t ended so abruptly by a tragic automobile accident.

Baltimore Skipjacks Ticket. October 31, 1981.
Katie Maura April Masked Girls
Maura and Katie O’Neill, April Ballard. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Early 1980s.

November 20

Big Jack has stopped the Saturday half-days as the work has slowed some. This would seem like good news for me but Jack and I will continue to work on the weekend. Dad always finds something for us to do even in the winter. The Shop is still steady and Dad is very pleased with the way the year has gone. He is happy Jack and I are progressing particularly Jack who has already become one of our father’s top mechanics. Dad calls them mechanics but he really means a bender and a roller. The new R-6-S is already making money for the Shop. It has a great deal of power and can roll big angle with ease and the hydraulic guide rollers keep the angle’s legs very straight. one 5” X 5” Angle and a 3” Square Tube are curved in this machine for Niro Atomizer and the finished product looks great.

The Shop’s job book entry. Niro Atomizer job. November 20, 1981.
R-6-S with Square tube being rolled into a ring
R-6-S with 4″ Square steel tube being rolled into a ring. 1980s. Photo courtesy of Nancy Kavanagh O”Neill Photography.

December 8

As the year nears its close, the Shop has become a cold place to work. There is heat but it only helps if you are working directly under the heater. The crew are used to it and go about their jobs. A fountain sprayer tube and a steel pipe railing are made on the first floor today while my brother is upstairs bending some small tubes for Danzer Metal Works. They are custom replacement parts for one of Danzer’s machines.

The Shop’s job book entry. Danzer Metal Works job. December 8, 1981.

December 20

The Baltimore Colts finish up this tough year with a victory at home against the Patriots, the only team they beat this year doing so twice. Big Jack and Little Jack hope this final win can propel them to better things next year. My Dad is beginning to think the glory days of the Colts are long gone.

Maura Katie April sitting backyard Lakewood
Maura and Katie O’Neill, April Ballard, Backyard of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Early 1980s.

December 25

Christmas on Lakewood Avenue is as crowded as ever. My four nieces liven up the place and bring that kids feeling back to Christmas when it had almost disappeared. I am the youngest and older now and there is a some special wonderment that small children bring to the holiday. For my parent’s grandchildren, there are gifts, toys, holiday mysteries and stories to be discovered. I envy the young ones and the magic that is Christmas to them. For the rest of us, the turkey is good with all the fixings including parsnips as per Kavanagh tradition. I have started my Junior year of high school and finished my first full summer at the Shop. This was a much more pleasant one and my father has begun training me while I also learn from my brother. Jack and I make a good team. I still follow his lead but there is a level of comfort between us that flows naturally. Years of sports, school and games seem to have payed off for us. I know Dad can see it and the workers at the Shop. We’re as comfortable and as confident as we could be with each other. I give some thought to my future on Christmas night after the rest of the family have gone. The plan seems set in stone. I will work at the Joseph Kavanagh Company like my brother, father, uncle and all the rest.  Still, I do want to go to college and I have other plans or rather ideas about plans. At sixteen, I am not ready for real plans. I know I’m growing up with both the good and the bad of it. Suddenly, more is expected of me and I have responsibilities. I’m ready for all that but sometimes, especially at Christmas, it can be fun to still be a kid.

Katie April Maura Ann backyard Lakewood
Ann Kavanagh, Maura and Katie O’Neill. April Ballard. Backyard of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1981.
Rose baby
Rose Kavanagh O’Neill. 1981.



Ronald Reagan is the President of the United States. The first case of AIDS is identified. Sandra Day O’Connor becomes the first female Supreme Court Justice. The Space Shuttle Columbia flies for the first time. Mozart’s Undiscovered Symphony is discovered. Lady Diana marries Prince Charles. The first American test tube baby is born. MS-DOS & the first IBM PC are released. Frequent flier miles are invented. The films “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “On Golden Pond,” and “Chariots of Fire” debut in theaters. Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Serena Williams, Hope Solo and Elijah Wood are born. Natalie Wood, Joe Louis, William Holden, Paddy Chayefsky and Harry Chapin die.

There are 50 state in the Union.

Jack Joe Kav stripes
Jack and Joe Kavanagh. Mid 1970s.

To read prior years, click on the Table of Contents link below:

Table of Contents


1980 Singing While Annealing

January 20

Jack Kavanagh Sr. is watching the Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers pitted against the Los Angeles Rams. Jack is sipping a National Premium while talking to Betty. The game is on but they are excited about some news from Nancy and her husband Jim O’Neill. Daughters Maura and Katie will soon be joined by another baby. This will be grandchild number four for Jack and Betty and they can’t wait. Grandparenthood seems to suit them just as well as parenthood. The O’Neill’s get some more good news today when the Steelers win the NFL Championship 31-19.

1980 pic7 Maura Katie Lakewood
Maura and Katie O’Neill. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1979-80.

January 25

The Shop’s start to the year has been steady and Jack is satisfied with that. This is usually a slow time so steady is fine. The crew work on some angle flanges, a brass pipe rail and some bent 1” Dia. steel rods for Atlantic Health & Fitness. These rods are parts for an exercise machine.

The Shop’s job book entry. Atlantic Health & Fitness job. January 25, 1980.

February 22

Baltimore has had a cold winer,  but no blizzard. Joe laments it a bit missing last year’s unexpected school free week.  My Mom, Dad, Jack and I are watching the US Olympic hockey team face the heavily favored Soviet Union. The Olympics are the talk of the nation and it’s a pleasant change to the normal news of the day which includes daily updates on the American hostages in Iran. Even at fourteen, I feel a sense of worry. The games in Lake Placid are a nice distraction. After two periods, the US takes a lead 4-3. The arena fills with this incredible chant of “USA. USA”. It is like nothing I have seen or heard before. As the clock ticks to below one minute, Jack has an “I told you so” attitude about the whole thing. He’s a mad hockey fan and has been playing street hockey and even ice hockey at the Patterson Park rink of late. As the final seconds slip away, Al Michaels shouts “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”  The players hug and pile on each other as the same chant erupts even louder. My Mom, Dad and I jump to our feet and cheer. My Mom hugs each of us and we join in with the “USA. USA.” My father finishes by clapping his hands and rubbing them together fast. It is a habit he picked up from his father. Jack cheered and smiled but it turns out he knew it all along. The game was televised on tape delay and he knew the result but kept it to himself. He gave us that moment of surprise and celebration. Two days later, the US wins gold defeating Finland 4-2.

Miracle on Ice. 1980. Phot courtesy of wallcreator.com.
1980 pic13 Katie Jack Maura Lakewood
Jack Kavanagh Jr. with Katie Kavanagh O’Neill and Maura Kavanagh O’Neill. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1980.

February 29

On this Friday, a cold week of work comes to a close. The talk all week at the Shop was the US Hockey beating the Russians and taking the gold medal. Men who know nothing about hockey suddenly were cheering like rabid fans. A few jobs are finished including a set of angle rings for F.H. Klaunberg Fabricators.

The Shop’s job book entry. F.H. Klaunberg job. February 29, 1980.

March 21

Jack drives a couple of his friends to the Capital Center to take in a hockey game on this Friday night. The Caps are hosting the Minnesota North Stars and Jack Sr is confident enough now to allow Jr. to drive long trips on his own. He has even made the drive to Ocean City. Tonight, Washington loses a tough one 4-3 but Jack and his buddies have a great time.

Washington Capitals Ticket. 1980.

April 15

The Orioles start the season 1-3 on the road and come back to Baltimore today. The Kavanagh’s are on the third base side right behind the tarp and cheering them on. Last year’s loss in the World Series was a bitter pill after having been so close, taking it to game seven and then losing. The prevailing hope is for a return to the Series and a better result. The Kansas City Royals are visiting and the Birds thump them pretty good 12-2. Jim Palmer pitches eight outstanding innings and Ken Singleton and Rick Dempsey each hit two-run homers. A very fun and comfortable win for any baseball fan.

Baltimore Orioles opening day ticket. 1980.
Baltimore Orioles Student ID Card. 1980.
April Ballard’s third birthday party. April with cake. Maura and Katie O’Neill seated with Handy Brandenburg in the background. 1980.
Betty Kavanagh and April Kavanagh Ballard. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1980.

April 29

Ann, Jack and I are at a Tuesday night ballgame at Memorial Stadium. Dad and Mom are home enjoying a quiet evening alone with Jack driving tonight and three friends with us too. The Yankees are in town and those are always exciting games. The Orioles are up 2-1 after two innings when something strange happens. The booming voice of Rex Barney comes over the speakers at the stadium and Joe Kavanagh is requested to go to the Courtesy Desk. I look at my brother and sister. They heard it too so Ann and I make our way to the back. We speak to team officials and my mother has called. I am entered in a speech contest through school and the county finals are tomorrow. The contest is sponsored by the Optimist’s Club and my subject is Nuclear Proliferation. Apparently, we had the days wrong and it is tonight. My parents are on their way to pick me up as we speak. I leave and wait out front and Mom and Dad pull up to rush me to Dundalk for my competition. I know things must have been a rush because my mother isn’t wearing her Emeraude perfume and Dad’s shirt is unbuttoned. They must have left in a hurry. My mother hands me my suit on a hanger and tells me to change. I pull clothes off, very aware of those in other cars seeing me in my underwear, and then put my suit on and after a frantic drive, we make it and I win. I am going to the state finals in Ocean City next weekend. The Orioles don’t fair as well. They lose 4-3 despite two homers by catcher Rick Dempsey and despite my high pressure last minute win in the county finals, I lose in OC.

Baltimore Orioles Ticket. 1980.
1980 Pic15 Maura Ann Katie Lakewood
Ann Kavanagh with Maura Kavanagh O’Neill and Katie Kavanagh O’Neill. 1979.

April 30

My father sits at his desk recounting the events of last night to his brother. My Uncle Ed is laughing as Dad describes me changing clothes in the car and possibly mooning passersby on Thirty-third Street. Ed is still chuckling when the phone rings and Jack grabs it. The caller is from Atlantic Health and Fitness inquiring about an order. Jack lets him know it will be ready for pick up in an hour.

The Shop’s job book entry. Atlantic Health & Fitness job. April 30, 1980.


May 30

My Dad is anxious to get home on this last Friday of May. He’s cruising down Baltimore Street and thinking of what was finished today including a 10” Channel for Thrifty Iron Works. That’s a big piece of structural steel. Dad is distracted a bit because my brother Jack graduates from Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School tonight. My parents are very proud. Jack is a good young man. He did well in school and has advanced rapidly at the Shop. My Dad trusts Jack on some of the most difficult jobs he receives. Jack is thinking of attending Eastern Technical and studying machining. My father encourages him but doesn’t tell him to do so. He leaves it up to Jack who can run a lathe but only from his father’s training. Learning in a school environment will be a good thing. Jack celebrates with his friends,  and my parents return to Lakewood Avenue. My Mom tells me about the graduation while Dad and I watch “The Incredible Hulk.”

Jack Kav June 1980 Mt Carmel
Jack Kavanagh Jr. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel High School. 1980.
Jack, Mom, Dad - grad HS Lakewood
Big Jack, Little Jack and Betty Kavanagh. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Jack Jr.’s graduation. 1980.

June 5

I am nearly finished with my first year of high school. I sit in Ms. Sprankle’s home room in a small crowd of boys gathered around desks. The topic of discussion is what everyone will be doing over the summer. Trips to the beach, Gunpowder State Falls and hanging at Golden Ring Mall are shared. Several have summer jobs, fast food or at the mall. When my turn comes, I mention I’m working at the Shop. The Shop always requires an explanation. We called it the Shop around the house and anytime the place was mentioned. No one called the Shop the Joseph Kavanagh Company but me. I found out early on that having a name in common with an old business was interesting to kids. I had pencils to prove it with the name embossed. What kid wouldn’t want to act like he had a company? After my explanation, the Shop does metal bending like pipes and rings for people, the boys seem a little impressed and a little doubtful. I am only 5ft. 4 in. and do not present the impression of a smith of any sort. I tell them it is my first summer there but I had helped with bending a bar rail last winter. There is an innate coolness to working on something in a bar to any teenager and I gain a little favor in the other boys’ eyes that day. I do wonder what it will be like. The place is dirty. That’s for sure. No wonder my father looked dirty every day of my life but Sundays.  I’ll find out next week when I begin working Wednesday to Friday unless the Shop is busy enough to work Saturdays too. I’ll have Monday and Tuesday off just as Jack did his first summer.

1980 pic14 Katie and Joe Lakewood
Katie Kavanagh O’Neill and Joe Kavanagh. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1979.

June 11

It’s 7:30 AM on the first Wednesday of the summer and I am at the Shop on Central Avenue. This is my first full day and I have no idea what I am to do. The crew are gathered around the open garage door when Ed comes out of the office and claps his hands and passes out some instructions to the crew. The men, mostly in their 20s but one or two older gents, hop up and wander to the back of the Shop and get to work. Jack heads up the steps to the second floor where he is bending some heater tubes for a Housing Authority heat exchanger. My father appears from the office and tells me he wants me to make a list of some tools. He gives me paper and pencil and points me in the direction of a large mass of steel dies under the stairs. These are for the Pines Bender which is located on the other side of the front of the Shop. The stairs are on the Pratt Street side and the machine is near the alley side. Dad gives me a tape measure, making sure I know how to use it first, and returns to the office. I set to work assuming there is some end goal to this which I do not quite grasp. I measure the size of the groove that matches the size of the pipe or tube to be bent and the diameter of the die itself. The diameter determines how small or tight the curve is. I know none of this at the time and give it little thought. I focus on scooting around on the dirty floor and taking measurements and notes. At lunch, Jack and I sit on buckets in a circle with the rest of the crew. I’m surprised how dirty I am and how little regard for their own dirt the men have as they eat their sandwiches. I speak very little and eat my ham on white square bread listening. The men all introduce themselves to me and are polite. Jack fits in well already, deep in discussion with two younger guys about music. The half hour passes quickly and I get back to my bending die cataloging.  At 3:30 PM, the crew begin to knock off, as they call it, and head up the stairs to change on the small indoor porch or loft which serves as a locker room. I follow them up and change as well,  then wait outside the office for my father and uncle. When Ed leaves, the crew follow behind. A few minute later, Dad and Jack are closing and padlocking the large green metal door,  then we are driving east on Pratt toward Patterson Park. I’m tired though I am not sure I did much. I can’t wait to get home, to shower and sleep. Maybe eat somewhere in there too.

Bending dies for Pines Bender. Photo taken 2020.

June 13

After two days of measuring and recording, I find the pile of dies to be nearly as large as it was when I started. The tedium is only broken by the lifting, sliding and maneuvering the larger dies around the floor. I jump at the chance when Mike Glenn asks me if I’m ready to do some real work. He leads me over to the R-3 which is located on the other side of an interior wall that splits the front of 201 S. Central. We roll a few pipe rings from 1” Pipe. Mike and I lift the lengths up and into the machine. With each pass Mike takes a “bite,” meaning he brings the back two rollers forward to tighten the radius of the circle. I hold the pipe up to keep it flat and between passes I hold one end of a tape measure while he checks the diameter. It isn’t anything fancy or particularly difficult but I am thrilled to be lifted from die duty. My mind is on sleep. My father has given me tomorrow off though Jack and the rest will be working. He told me next Saturday I will be there but for tomorrow, I suppose he took pity on me. When the day is done, Dad hands me an envelope with $57.60 in it. Twenty-four hours at two dollars and forty cents an hour. I can’t believe it. I am being payed off the books and this is more money than I have ever had. With fifty bucks in my pocket, suddenly the week doesn’t seem so bad.

Bending tools for Pines Bender. Photo taken 2020.
The first Pines Bender. Out of service. Photo taken 2020.

June 27

Summer has brought a glut of jobs to Central Avenue and the crew are very busy. Jack is enjoying having both of his boys at work. He can spend more time with them and teach them what they need to know. There is too much going on for teaching today as a large set of 4” angle rings are finished for Codd Fabricators. These took nearly a full week and loading the truck will take two hours. While most of the crew handle the truck, Jack and a couple fellows are bending some pipe for Baltimore Tube Bending in the Pines Bender.

The Shop’s job book entry. Baltimore Tube Bending job. June 27, 1980.

July 5

It’s a hot Saturday morning when Dad, Jack and I pull up at Central Avenue. The workers arrive a few minutes after us. We are working a half day which isn’t so bad as the heat really hits in the afternoon. The mornings are stagnant in the old building especially with no breeze but the humidity doesn’t crank up until after lunch. The men are scattered between some angles being rolled in the R-5 and some pipes in the R-3 while Jack and I are working on a set of heater tubes for an exchanger sent in from the Housing Authority.  After the tubes are cut, my father shoos Jack away to set up the machine. Dad gives me my first lesson in annealing. He shows me how to light the torch with a manual striker, just flick the edge across the flint for a spark. He talks me through how he starts moving the torch along a few inches of the copper then begins to push the heat along. Only the part of the tube which will be bent is annealed and it glows red as you go. I stand next to him, feeling the blast of heat from the torch on my face but listening. As he moves the heat along the tube, he begins singing softly. It’s “Fly Me to the Moon,” one of his favorites.

When he blows out the torch, he turns to me. “Any questions?”

“No. I get it. You keep the torch moving so the heat isn’t concentrated on one spot. Keep it moving back and forth until it turns red then move on. You use the conductivity of the copper to “push” the heat along.” I answer as I look from the now cooling tube to my father.

Dad sets the torch carefully on the top of the tank. “Conductivity? Oh that’s a ten dollar word.” I blush caught trying to impress him with my vocabulary but he lets it go. “You’re right, Joe. Always keep it moving and always be watching it.”

I nod and smile. “What about the singing?”

He grins back at me. “The singing helps. It keeps you focused on the job. On the torch and the tube. Singing is good.”

“Okay, that’s fine but you know that sounds kind of crazy?” I reply in the chiding way my Dad and I have with each other.

He chuckles and takes a step back. “Well, kid. It’s all crazy. This job is crazy. What we do is crazy.” His eyes widen as they fix on me. “Life is crazy. You might as well sing.” He turns his back to me and walks to the office slipping into song under his breath as he goes. “Fill my heart with song. Let me sing forever more.”

1980 pic8 Maura and Grandad
Jack Kavanagh Sr. and Maura O’Neill. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1980.

July 29

The Shop has been busy most of the summer including Saturday half-days, The work is dirty and hard and it’s a struggle to grow accustomed to it. I feel so young and so much smaller and weaker than everyone there but they don’t seem aware of it. I look forward to a week’s vacation and then for the first time in my life, to school. We will be heading to Ocean City this weekend and I hope the remaining days go quickly. This week is primarily spent finishing up jobs that must be done to allow for the holiday next week and doing some cleaning and maintenance on machines. My father does this to be sure nothing interferes with his week off. It’s sort of a buffer week but the crew call it Hell Week. I learn quickly why when a bevy of pranks and practical jokes begin occurring. Boots are nailed to the floor, tool boxes hidden from the owner and clothes are stolen, folded and frozen in the freezer of the small old refrigerator. I have learned my Uncle Ed enjoys a few laughs along with the men every day but this week I see he is the instigator in a great deal of shenanigans. He has someone wash the Shop’s truck in the front of the building and I watch with a couple guys as suddenly a bread bag full of water falls from the sky and splatters the target. The place fills with laughs as another comes flying down crashing into the truck this time. The bags are being hurled from the front window of the machine shop upstairs. Those on the first floor are in on it and gather around to laugh. Uncle Ed is nowhere to be found,  having departed for the office. He wanders back out into the Shop and remarks where’s all that water coming from, as he chuckles. Jack had given me very little warning about Hell Week other than saying it’s the easiest week of the summer. The crew seem to have more fun than work this week but it’s also a good release for them. My father, for his part, spends most of each day in the office. He knows what’s going on but chooses to ignore it. As long as the work is finished and some cleaning too, he is happy. He will occasionally make some crack about one of the workers in a soaked shirt or something but not often. I found out later he also stayed in the office to complete all the paperwork he could. He has a lot to finish each year to earn that week at the beach.

1980 pic4 Katie Maura April Lakewood
(left to right) Katie Kavanagh O’Neill, Maura Kavanagh O’Neill and April Kavanagh Ballard. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1980.

August 2

Our week in Ocean City is finally here and we arrive at Royal Palm early on a Saturday morning. Ann, Jack and I spend the week crabbing and fishing with Dad and Mom and hitting the boardwalk every night. Much of my time is spent in Marty’s Playland or Sport Land on 9th street, skee-balling the night away. We visit JoAnn on the Amusement Pier and she gets us on all the rides for free. She’s introduced us around and some of the other carnies let us ride even if she’s busy. JoAnn fills our pockets with slugs for the claw machines too. All this fun is combined with Thrasher’s fries, funnel cakes and soft ice cream. The week is over before we know it and the long drive back to Baltimore takes us home.

April Ballard. 1980.

August 19

Rose Kavanagh O’Neill is born on this summer Tuesday. Her parents, Jim and Nancy and sisters Maura and Katie, are excited for the addition to the family, the two girls having picked her name. Jack and Betty are thrilled and feel so blessed and lucky to have four grandchildren now.

1980 pic2 Rose
Rose Kavanagh O’Neill. 1980.
1980 pic1 Rose
Rose Kavanagh O’Neill. 1980.
1980 pic18 Maura Katie Lakewood yard
Maura and Katie Kavanagh O’Meill. Backyard of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1980.

August 27

It’s my final week at the Shop before returning to Mr. Carmel and I won’t miss it. It’s hot and humid and I am dripping with sweat. Another heat exchanger is completed for the Housing Authority and my Dad lets me anneal a few sample pieces for practice. I don’t melt them and Dad is happy with that. The torch makes things that much hotter when it’s in your hand and I am none too happy about that.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore job. August 27, 1980.

September 1

The Labor Day holiday marks the end of summer and the return of school. This year I am rather relieved. I did enjoy my time at the Shop some. The work could be hard and was very hot. I have never been so dirty and sweaty in my life but there were times when jobs went well and I had some fun. The crew are good guys and there is always some joking and kidding going on but still, it was hard work and the drudgery made me crazy some days.  As we watch Jerry Lewis sing “Walk On” my mind is on being a Sophomore at Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School.

September 15

The work has stayed strong as the weather has begun to turn and today Little Jack is handed his first heat exchanger to make from start to finish, another job for the Housing Authority. Big Jack tells his son to get the heater taken apart, pull the new tubes, cut, anneal, bend them then, re-assemble the new unit. Jack Jr. has done all these things but never been in charge of the whole process. This unit is short so most of the work can be done by Little Jack alone. With a small bit of help when he needs it, the unit is completed, stamped for recording purposes and ready for pick up.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore job. September 15, 1980.
April Kavanagh Ballard. 1980.

September 28

Big Jack and Little Jack are at Memorial Stadium watching the Colts take on the New York Jets. Father and son talk about their week at the Shop. Jack has taken on his duties at the Shop with deliberate intent if not enthusiasm. Jack Senior is proud of his son who works hard and learns fast. He’s a top notch pipe and tube bender already and a very talented roller as well. The Colts win their second game and even their record at 2-2. Fans hope the team is on the right track but the don’t make the playoffs yet again. The team wins seven games this year so there is improvement but it’s still not enough.

Baltimore Colts Ticket. September 28, 1980.
1980 pic9 Katie
Katie Kavanagh O’Neill. 1980.

October 2

It’s a chilly Fall day outside but you wouldn’t know it at the corner of Pratt and Central. A set of large copper tubes for Antenna Research are being worked on and it takes heat. They must be annealed and filled before rolling. After rolling, they must have the rosin melted back out of them. It’s almost a constant blow of propane torches while these are in process. The Kavanagh’s crew may be the only ones sweating in Baltimore today.

The Shop’s job book entry. Antenna Research Inc. job. October 2, 1980.

October 4

The Orioles are playing a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians this Saturday night. The Birds face elimination with the New York Yankees ahead by three games. Jack, Betty and the boys are there and watch as we win in dramatic fashion in the 13th inning of the first game, but the nightcap is a loss and the Orioles must settle for 2nd place. I am disappointed but not nearly as much as last year when we felt like we were going to win the championship. It’s hard to be down on a team that wins 100 games but fails to make the playoffs this year.

Baltiomre Orioles ticket for twi-night doubleheader. 1980.

October 10

The Washington Capitals season starts and Little Jack is listening on the radio at home. The Caps are facing the Winnipeg Jets and win 4-1. Jack keep hoping his hockey team can start moving toward being a playoff contender.

Jack grad pic Mt. Carmel
Jack Kavanagh Jr. Graduation picture. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel High School. 1980.

October 21

The Philadelphia Phillies win the World Series defeating the Kansas City Royals in six games. Jack and his boys watch each game like every year. The Kavanagh father and sons following the World Series has been going on since the Series itself started. This one was close with only one game decided by more than two runs.

1980 pic11 Grandad Katie Maura Birch
Jack Kavanagh Sr. with Katie and Maura O’Neill. 1979-80.

November 4

Ronald Reagan wins the Presidential Election defeating incumbent Jimmy Carter. Jack and Betty vote for Reagan like most of the nation. Carter’s administration struggled to lift the country from the Recession,  and the Iran Hostage situation hung heavy over his presidency. Despite Reagan being a Republican, the Kavanagh’s want a change.

Jack Kavanagh Sr. , Handy Brandenburg holding Rose Kavanagh O’Neill. 447 N. Lakewood Aveue. 1980.

November 18

The work has finally slowed a little and Big Jack has cut out Saturday hours for the rest of the year. They have steady work but at a lower level as is usually the case in the cold months. A brass railing is rolled to a complicated template with multiple turns while Little Jack and a couple of the boys bend some tubes for Mr. Rogers at Baltimore Tube Bending.

The Shop’s job book entry. Baltimore Tube Bending job. November 18, 1980.

December 8

My father and I are watching a Monday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins. I am doing a little Geometry homework while the game is on. Suddenly, Howard Cosell announces that former Beatle John Lennon has been shot dead in New York. I am hardly a Beatles fan as yet but everyone in my generation knows who John Lennon is. My father does not,  apart from recognizing the band’s name. I quickly tell him what I know about Lennon. I can’t understand why someone would shoot him. I have heard of political assassinations and random murders but this doesn’t fit either of those. There are gatherings and memorials in his honor to remember a talented musician, a genuinely kind person and a strong proponent of peace.

December 9

Big Jack is shocked to hear all the talk about John Lennon’s death during the morning break with the crew. He agrees it was a tragic thing but had no idea how much this man was loved. The younger fellows that work for him and his son Jack do their best to explain what the Beatles mean to the younger generation. Jack Sr. guesses it must be what it would be like if and when Frank Sinatra dies. It’s a shame and it makes no sense to him. He sets the boys back to work. Some heater tubes are made for Harvey Stambaugh and a small railing for F. H. Klaunberg.

The Shop’s job book entry. F.H. Klaunberg job. December 9, 1980.

December 25

The Kavanagh’s gather at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue for Christmas. The usual feast is held and an abundance of gifts,  especially for the four grand daughters are handed out. Maura, Katie, April and newest, Rose are doted on and held throughout the day as much as possible. There is music and laughter and something new on the TV. Jack and Joe received a video game console, the Intellivision for Christmas. The boys requested it over the Atari which most of their friends already had or wanted. This one seems a step up to them and is recommended highly by George Plimpton in the commercials. Tennis, hockey and a few other version of Pong are played on it through the day and late into the night after everyone is gone and Jack and Betty are asleep. Jack and I stay up til nearly dawn playing on it. We are sure this is the newest and latest thing. It is so cool with such a variety of games. Most likely, this will put Atari out of business I think.

JoAnn Kavanagh and friend John Potts, Betty Kavanagh. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Christmas 1980
Joe Kavanagh, JoAnn Kavanagh, John Potts and Betty Kavanagh. 447 N. Lakewood AVenue. Christmas 1980.
Betty and Jack Kavanagh and Mary and Bob Wirth. New Year’s Even. 1980.




Jimmy Carter is the President of the United States but will be succeeded by Ronald Reagan. The hostage crisis in Iran continues after a failed rescue attempt. The US boycotts the Moscow Summer Olympics after the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan. The Mount Saint Helen’s volcano in Washington state erupts. The MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas is destroyed by fire. The Rubik’s Cube is invented. Pac-Man debuts in arcades. CNN goes on the air. The films “The Shining,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Raging Bull” are released.  Channing Tatum, Abby Wambach, Macaulay Culkin, Venus Williams and Mark Teixeira are born. Colonel Sanders, Jesse Owens, Jimmy Durante, Mae West, and David Janssen die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

1980 pic3 Rose
Rose Kavanagh O’Neill. 1980.

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