1991 A Fond Farewell

January 2

The Shop starts another year at 201 S. Central Avenue. My sister, brother and I have a crew of six men. A far cry from the thirty employed here in the 1910’s but a long way from where Old Uncle Joe started with just himself and a book keeper partner in 1866. We are the great-grandchildren of his nephew Joseph A. Kavanagh. Work and family are intertwined in this place and it’s always been that way. To begin this winter, we have another angle to roll for Codd Fab. We’ve been rolling angles for the seating bowl of the new ballpark for them and this is for the same project but a structural lintel. The stadium is moving along and now is the time for finishing sections and final steel elements.  Also a big tube job for Miscellaneous Metals that hung over from last year is picked up. Every member of the crew has time loading the truck. There’s no way to bundle these so they are humped onto the truck by hand but it gets done. When I’m not working, I’m in the garage at LaSalle with the rest of my band Lethal Injection. We are a trio now and we are excited for the challenge. I begin to use the Moog Bass Pedals and we purchase a set of Midi pedals which Tim uses. Simpler bass parts are picked up with the pedals and the more complex are split between Tim and I or dropped. Ray plays some more melodic parts on the electronic part of his kit. Everyone is miked so all can sing and it seems more than workable.

The Shop’s job book entry. OPACY job for Codd Fabricators. January 3, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Miscellaneous Metals job. January 3, 1991.
Paul Kavanagh. Christmas 1990.

January 16

A sunny comfortable 50 degree January day is enjoyed in Baltimore and the crew open the doors up to feel the warmth of the sun. Usually, this old building is an icebox in the winter and we keep doors and windows closed to keep what heat we have in the place. The boys are spread over a handful of jobs. A set of small flat bar rings is finished in the R-3-S for Stromberg Sheet Metal then a 1” Pipe is coiled for Turnbull in the same machine. The R-5-S is equally busy with 2- 4” Aluminum channels for Chesapeake Machine and one 2” Pipe for Whiting Metals being curved.

The Shop’s job book entry. Turnbull Enterprises job. January 15, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Stromberg Sheet Metal Works job. January 16, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Chesapeake Machine job. January 16. 1991.

January 17

Operation Desert Storm begins when the US and allies attack Iraq in response to its invasion of Kuwait. I find out while hanging in Tim’s basement, talking to Ray, Tim and his Dad. The US led coalition starts with air attacks and in three weeks, a ground invasion will begin.

January 27

The New York Giants defeat the Buffalo Bills 20-19 to win the Super Bowl. It is a rare close one but I ignore the game completely as I am practicing with the band. My Mom and Dad have taken a winter’s vacation to Florida to visit my sister JoAnn and do some fishing. They find they love Florida and think of spending some time away from the cold of Maryland winters each year.

Jack Kavanagh St. with a King Mackerel. Forida Keys. Winter 1991.

February 12

Several 1” OD Aluminum tubes are rolled then trimmed for C. R. Daniels. We did fifteen in January and now 20 more. We have four different versions of this item we do for CR and we keep the fixtures for trimming on hand. Two 7” Beams are rolled into 5 ft. 6” diameter half-circles for Chesapeake Machine and forty-two 3” Square tube 180 deg bends are finished for Miscellaneous Metals. We lost out on this job big time. It’s the holding tangents/straights on each end. It slows the job up and makes matching each piece tricky. We have stayed steady if not busy so far this winter. Next up, we have thirty-six lengths of pipe to roll for Bengies Welding to eight different radii. Jerry Purnell starts the job then passes it off to one of the younger mechanics.

The Shop’s job book entry. Two C.R. Daniels jobs. January 22 , 1991 and February 11, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Chesapeake Machine job. February 12, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Miscellaneous Metals job. February 11, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Bengies Welding job. February 15, 1991.

February 25

Another group of fourteen angles for concrete forms for the new ballpark are picked up by Codd Fabricators. This job made last year successful for us and it’s helping us this year. The overall work is down a bit but that’s bound to happen after an unusually up year. I still get a thrill to think these pieces will be used in the new ballpark. I look forward to going there. The renderings of the park look beautiful and bit by bit, it’s beginning to look like those pictures.

The Shop’s job book entry. OPACY job for Codd Fabricators. February 25, 1991.

February 27

The Gulf War ends after Iraq agrees to withdraw from Kuwait. By early March, American troops will begin leaving the Persian Gulf. At the Shop, Three hundred 1” stainless steel pipes are bent for Turnbull Enterprises. These pipes are used for the bases for chairs in Navy helicopters and we’ve received this order several times in the last couple of years. It looks to be a recurring thing with some luck. The pieces need two bends on a tight radius. We build a special die for the job. Using an existing bending die we add on some bars to simply things. The first bend is easy but the second, not so much. The bend is in the vertical plane compared to the first bend and being square and straight is critical. The extra bars allow us to check the piece for straightness before bending the pipe. There are left and rights of these so half of the pipes are bent with the first bend pointing down and half with it pointing up. Again, the attachments to the die, make things smoother and quicker.

The Shop’s job book entry. Turnbull Enterprises job. February 27, 1991.
Special built up bending die for Turnbull Enterprises 1″ Pipe job. Photo taken August 2020.
Special built up bending die for Turnbull Enterprises 1″ Pipe job. Photo taken August 2020.

March 20

A big order of rolled 3” pipes, eighty-three 20 foot lengths, is picked up today and it’s a good bill to send out. It’s a big load and Jack and I both help to get them on the truck. When I get back to my desk, I write up two job cards, one for flat bars for Bengies Welding and another order of angles for the stadium for Codd. It’s just a small set of eight as the forms, steps and concourses are being made and the ballpark is getting closer to being a reality.

The Shop’s job book entry. Miscellaneous Metals job. March 20, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Bengies Welding job. March 21, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. OPACY job for Codd Fabricators, March 21, 1991.

April 4

A nice order of stainless steel flat bars is picked up by Warren-Ehret while another group of larger stainless bars for Chesapeake Machine is rolled in the old R-5. Meanwhile, our most experienced mechanic, Jerry Purnell, sets up the R-2 for some short 1” Square aluminum tubes for Belsinger Sign Works.

The Shop’s job book entry. Warren-Ehret job. April 3, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Chesapeake Machine job. April 4, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Belsinger Sign Works job. April 5, 1991.

April 7

The Baltimore Orioles open up at home on this Monday and it’s a regrettable start. The Birds are beaten 9-1 by the Chicago White Sox who combined Jack MacDowell’s complete game start with two home runs by Sammy Sosa to put this game away early. It’s still a good day in Baltimore as any opening day is. In spring, hope is eternal but those hopes will disappear quickly for the Orioles and their fans. This will be a tough year on the field and an emotional one in the stands. This is the final year for venerable old Memorial Stadium and the Birds will relocate downtown to the new Oriole Park at Camden Yards next season.

Memorial Stadium. Page from 1991 Baltimore Orioles Program.

April 25

The Washington Capitals lose in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Caps had beaten the New York Rangers in round one but fall to a team that is becoming a bitter rival to Washington hockey fans. Jack is disappointed but not overly so. He’s an optimist and decides to root as hard as he can for the Penguins to not win the Cup. Sadly, he’ll be disappointed again as the Penguins will take the NHL Championship this year.

Paul Kavanagh. April 1991.
Patrick Kavanagh. April 1991.

April 15

It’s Tax Day in America and that’s no holiday so we are laboring at the corner of Pratt and Central. Two jobs for Warren-Ehret are picked up. We also finished another couple of angles for the stadium for Codd several days ago and the steel phase of the stadium construction is down to some small details.

The Shop’s job book entry. Warren-Ehret job. April 15, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Warren-Ehret job. April 15, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. OPACY job for Codd Fabricators. April April 11, 1991.

May 2

A cool spring day is spent curving some Anchor Fence channels. We get these pretty regularly, and a set of stainless steel angles are completed for Kelco. Ann, Jack and I have decided to do some renovating in the building. Specifically, we are going to add a new office. We will build a small second story in a section of the front of the Shop. We’ll lay a platform out and build on it. The Kavanagh’s and crew will handle all of it and the old office will become a break room for the workers. Air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter, the men will not know what to do. Jack quickly begins making plans and sketches of this build. This type of thing is right up Jack’s alley and he’s excited to start.

The Shop’s job book entry. Two jobs for Anchor Fence. April 23, 1991 and May 2, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Kelco Company job. May 2, 1991.
Patrick Kavanagh. Ocean City, MD. May 12, 1991.

May 23

Oriole Legend Frank Robinson is fired and Johnny Oates is hired as manager. The team is off to an atrocious 13-24 start. It will be a nostalgic farewell of a summer on 33rd Street but not a successful one on the field. At Pratt and Central, some bent pipes are picked up by Bengies Welding and two angles by  the Fingles Company. Jack has two of the crew with him and work is moving forward on the upstairs  office. The platform is placed and next we will lay a wood floor and frame the room out. I am on the phone most of the day in the “old” office. I get orders from A. J. Sackett, D-S Pipe and Kelco. All will be sending material in tomorrow. No big jobs but the bread and butter of what we do. Two or three pieces is our standard size order. The big ones are great but many little ones keep this place rolling.

The Shop’s job book entry. Bengies Welding job. May 22, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Fingles Company job. May 23, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. A.J. Sackett and Sons Company job. May 30, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. A.J. Sackett and Sons Company job. May 30, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. D-S Pipe job. May 31, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Kelco Company job. May 31, 1991.

June 5

A large order of twenty-six 4” angles is finished in the R-6-S and I call Joe Lewis from Industrial Fabricators to tell him. Joe is one of the elder statesman of the industry and he is often rather chatty too.  I don’t mind. The man is a fount of information and knowledge about the metals game. I do enjoy doing work for this company because I am either dealing with Joe or his right-hand man, Frank Schmidt. I have known Frank since I first came to work twelve years ago. He’s a good guy, easygoing and also very smart about the metal fabrication industry.

The Shop’s job book entry. Industrial Fabricators job. June 5, 1991.
Paul Kavanagh. Backyard of 6 Kensington Parkway. Summer 1991.

June 26

A standard order of bent, threaded and trimmed galvanized pipes for COVCO and a repeat job of 6” steel channels for Kelco Company are cranked out today. We rolled two channels for Kelco thee weeks ago and two more today. The new office is nearly complete. Jack has worked hard on this thing and got it built quick. There are a few little final touches then next week, we will move in officially.

The Shop’s job book entry. COVCO job. June 25, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Two Kelco Company job. June 5, 1991 and June 26, 1991.

July 1

Monday starts a new week albeit a short holiday one and I find myself in our new office. It’s much bigger. There is some space between Ann, Jack and I and the crew have their own break room now. It’s a win win and the place looks great. It feels modern which is odd for this place. Our workers came in Saturday for a half-day in exchange for the Shop being closed on Friday. It will be a four day Independence Day weekend but a busy three days to get there. Several jobs must be completed by Wednesday and picked up. Two different railing jobs, six channels for Anchor Fence and twenty-two small aluminum rods for Belsinger Sign. Belsinger’s pieces are small, short and light. A serious gravy job we would call it and I am sure we’ll get everything finished but it will be down to the wire on Wednesday.

The Shop’s job book entry. Anchor Fence job. July 3, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Belsinger Sign Works job. July 3, 1991.

July 9

It’s hot on Central Avenue as we anneal and bend some aluminum pipe 90 degree elbows for Belfort Instruments. Aluminum annealing is hot and grueling in the summer but what’s worse is we are annealing and bending some copper as well. Two 1 1/4” O.D. copper heat exchangers for the Housing Authority are bent and assembled. We get less and less of these as the units are being replaced with modern PVC. It’s a sign of the times and nothing to be done about it but be glad some heaters are sill in the old style. Besides Belfort’s tubes and the heaters, a couple small steel tubes are rolled for Kelco.

The Shop’s job book entry. Belfort Instruments job. July 9, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimiore City job. July 9, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore City job. July 10, 1991.

July 13

Lethal Injection holds its second Friends and Family Concert at Krueger Avenue. The Heaps host and love a party. No big “Lethal Injection” cake this time but a few different desserts to follow the standard burger and hot dog Baltimore cookout. This is our first performance as a trio and I’m particularly nervous because I am singing more. Tim borrows some tents from the Baltimore Cemetery so we are not standing in the sun. We play RUSH and Pink Floyd tunes as we usually do along with a few other covers such as “In Dreams” by Roy Orbison. We include several originals, an improvisational spoken word version of “The Beat” and finish with a tip of the cap to the film “Dr. Strangelove” by playing “We’ll Meet Again.” The show goes well and most of my nerves go away after a few minutes. My parents are there and this is their first time seeing me play with the band. It’s not really their kind of music but they have fun. They do know “We’ll Meet Again” and other than telling me to “pep it up” a bit, Dad says he enjoyed that one. My father is the consummate swing fan so he wants everything pepped up.

Joe Kavanagh. Lethal Injection Friends & Family Concert. Backyard of 1100 Krueger Avenue. July 13, 1991.
Joe Kavanagh and Ray French. Lethal Injection Friends & Family Concert. Backyard of 1100 Krueger Avenue. July 13, 1991.
Tim Heaps. Lethal Injection Friends & Family Concert. Backyard of 1100 Krueger Avenue. July 13, 1991.
Ray French. Lethal Injection Friends & Family Concert. Backyard of 1100 Krueger Avenue. July 13, 1991.
Ray French. Lethal Injection Friends & Family Concert. Backyard of 1100 Krueger Avenue. July 13, 1991.
Ray French. Lethal Injection Friends & Family Concert. Backyard of 1100 Krueger Avenue. July 13, 1991.
Paul Kavanagh. Fourth Birthday Party. July 13, 1991.
Patrick Kavanagh. July 1991.
Paul Kavanagh. Fourth Birthday Party. July 13, 1991.

July 18

Some channel rail tops are rolled for Anchor Fence and another small angle order for the stadium is begun for Codd Fab. We receive two orders for heat exchangers for the Housing Authority. Though the number of heaters we do has dropped, the summer is often when they are fixed. Heat is not needed so maintenance units can be taken out of service and the repairs completed with no inconvenience.

The Shop’s job book entry. Anchor Fence job. July 18, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. OPACY job for Codd Fabricators. July 19, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore City job. July 22, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore City job. July 24, 1991.

July 29

We are getting closer to our week’s vacation and everyone is anxious. The crew work hard in the heat to get as much done each day. Today, a dozen more big angles are rolled for Codd Fabricators in the R-6-S and some small parts for Belsinger Sign Works are rolled in the R-2. The angles are more finishing parts for the new ballpark and Belsinger makes commercial signs all over the Maryland area.

The Shop’s job book entry. OPACY job for Codd Fabricators. July 29, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Belsinger Sign Works job. July 29, 1991.

August 1

Two custom channel bends for Anchor Fence are curved to match a template and another 1 1/4” O.D. copper heat exchanger is in the works for the City. Both must be completed and in the customers’ hands by tomorrow then it will be vacation time.

The Shop’s job book entry. Anchor Fence job. August 1, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore City job. August 2, 1991.

August 5

The Joseph Kavanagh Company enjoys a week of rest and quiet. The Shop is closed though I will stop in one day to pick up the mail and check for answering machine messages. I do this each year mostly because I live the closest being still in Baltimore City on Bayonne Avenue.  I look forward to getting to the garage earlier each day and playing as much as we can. After our show last month, we are feeling very upbeat about our little trio. I felt things went well and we are getting better as a group and finally able to stretch out with songs both originals and covers.

Paul Kavanagh. Frontier Town, Ocean City, MD. August 1991.
Patrick Kavanagh. Frontier Town, Ocean City, MD. August 1991.
Paul Kavanagh. Ocean City, MD. August 1991.
Patrick Kavanagh. Ocean City, MD. August 1991.

August 19

We are back to work and busy with the usual variety of railings, angle flanges and lintels, pipe rings and a set of aluminum parts for C. R. Daniels. Vacation was fun. I played and I got some rest but as always, it wasn’t long enough. Everyone is dragging a little on this first day back but I can’t blame them. Time off from work is good but it can spoil you too.

The Shop’s job book entry. C.R. Daniels job. August 19, 1991.

August 29

It’s been a very hot end to August at the corner of Pratt and Central. Several days of torch work have come along with orders from Bengies and Belfort Instruments. One of Belfort’s jobs consists of bent aluminum square tubes. These are bent in the Pines Bender and a square mandrel needs to be made for it. The pieces are tricky with two-bends and a tight tolerance. There is a lot of sizing at the end with this one. The boys are glad to see all this aluminum leave the building and hope for some cool steel for the rest of the summer.

The Shop’s job book entry. Bengies Welding job. August 29, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Belfort Iinstruments job. August 29, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Belfort Instruments job. August 29, 1991.
Square bending die and square mandrell for Belfort Instruments job. Photo taken August 2020.

September 13

The work has stayed steady and the last few days have been angle focused with orders for Codd and Ackerman and Baynes being passed through the Six while we bang out a few channel tops for Anchor Fence. We have some more angles for the stadium for Codd and they will be the last of the ballpark work. Another big set of decorative aluminum angles for Ackerman and Baynes has been dropped off to roll next week.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. September 11, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. September 12, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes job. September 13, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Two Anchor Fence job. July 11, 1991 and September 13, 1991.
Patrick Kavanagh. September 1991.

October 4

The Washington Capitals begin their season tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers and win 5-2. Jack is there and I’m at my own sporting event. I attend the Orioles and Tigers game at Memorial Stadium. This is the last weekend of the season and the last chance to see the old ballpark. A rookie starter who was called up late in the season, Mike Mussina gets the nod. I watch the game but mostly my thoughts are on past games. MANY past games that my family and I were at since I was a small boy. I went to my first World Series game here when I was one. I saw so many games and great players over those years. It all comes back to me. I even wander around in the back of the stadium to take it all in once more. It’s a nostalgic night and a bittersweet one. Glenn Davis hits the last Oriole home run I ever saw at Memorial Stadium. The Birds will lose in 14 innings but I am long gone by then. Friday was a work day and the reminiscing tires me out.

1991 Baltimore Orioles Souvenir Program.

October 6

The Baltimore Orioles lose 7-1 to the Detroit Tigers but most of Baltimore doesn’t care about the outcome. The Birds are at the bottom of the standings and this game is more about memories of the past and a new hope for the future. Many old Orioles attend including my hero, Brooks Robinson. When the last out is recorded, that’s that. The thirty-seven years at Memorial Stadium are done and my Birds will fly to a new nest next year, a fancy retro-ballpark that the Joseph Kavanagh Company played a part in making. I played a part in making.

Memorial Stadium. Page from 1991 Orioles Program.
Depiction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards from 1991 Baltimore Orioles Program.

October 22

The focus of the Shop today is 160 bent tubes for a coil for Kelco. They are a pain because though a 180 degree bend would do, the design of the boiler requires a small “kick” of about 1-2 degrees as a second bend. Joe Kelly of Kelco and I share a laugh at the ridiculous tolerance called out on the drawing. I note it as a reminder but we make it work. Another order for C. R. Daniels is also finished.

The Shop’sjob book entry. Kelco Compnay job. October 22, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. C.R. Daniels job. October 23, 1991.

October 26

It’s the weekend before Halloween and that means  time for a big party at the Belvedere. My friend Dave Muelberger’s parties are becoming legendary and Lethal Injection or the Lethal Boys as he calls us are the house band. Dave throws a party at least one Saturday a month but his birthday is Halloween and THOSE parties are epic. Tim, Ray and I kid Dave a lot about the irony of his birth on Halloween. The show goes well with a big crowd again. A lot of the  Archbishop Curley crew are there including our friends John Muldowney and Frank Czawlytko. Dave is in his full glory as he welcomes his guests and introduces the band. We blast into the Who’s “Substitute” on Dave’s cue. Our friend Dave’s style of play is very improvisational but he meshes well with our approach and sound. We roll through a mix of Bowie, Lou Reed, RUSH and Pink Floyd covers along with throbbing drone-like rock jams that may or may not have had Dave shouting random things into the microphone. I do bring a birthday smile to Dave’s face when we play “In Dreams,” the Roy Orbison tune used in the movie “Blue Velvet.” It’s one of Dave’s favorites and he mutters a shocked “a candy colored clown” as I strum the first chord. This was a great party and I felt we played well. It was a loud, late and long event and I find myself back on Bayonne Avenue just after 2 a.m. with my ears still ringing.

Joe Kavanagh and Ray French. Lethal Injection Friends & Family Concert. Backyard of 1100 Krueger Avenue. July 13, 1991.
Tim Heaps. Lethal Injection Friends & Family Concert. Backyard of 1100 Krueger Avenue. July 13, 1991.
Ray French. Lethal Injection Friends & Family Concert. Backyard of 1100 Krueger Avenue. July 13, 1991.

October 27

The Minnesota Twins led by Kirby Puckett and pitcher Jack Morris beat the Atlanta Braves to win the World Series in seven games. I see very little of this World Series but for highlights on ESPN. We had the party last night, the practicing for it and today’s rehash of the whole evening. One highlight of the baseball season is Orioles’ shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. He batted .323 with 34 homers and won the MVP award. Cal’s a local boy and easily the Birds’ best player.

Patrick Kavanagh. October 1991.
Paul Kavanagh. October 1991.
Patrick Kavanagh. October 1991.

October 30

Two orders of bent square tubes for Belfort are finished. We are getting better at these but it still requires a careful set up and many adjustments of the tubes after bending.  A good fixture is furnished with the tubes by Belfort but it’s aluminum. Aluminum varies a lot piece to piece. Stretch out and spring factors are tough to predict with the stuff. My father calls during lunch to let Ann, Jack and I know they are planning another trip to Florida in January. I mention to him I went to the last weekend at Memorial Stadium.

“I guess I wish I could have gone, J-Joe. We’re just happy here in Ocean City. I love it here but that was some old park.” I hear his hearty chuckle. “We played some good games. GOOD teams.”

“We did. So many games. It’s gonna be weird to see the Birds somewhere else.” I reply as I toss my balled up sandwich wrapper at the can, trashball style, missing brilliantly as Jack points and laughs at me.

My father’s voice breaks my amused glare at my brother. “Oh yeah, so so many. A lot of nights out there and some good baseball, kid. Real good baseball.” He pauses and my eyes move from Jack directly to the receiver. “All things change, Joe. No stopping it. This will probably be good for the club. You’ll see. Memorial was great but it was old. This is brand new but looks like an old style. I like what I’ve seen.”

Jack gives me a quick wave as he heads out to the Shop to get back to work. “Me too. It looks beautiful. I would love to go to the first game but I know that’s gonna be a tough ticket, Dad.”

“Oh I’m sure it will be. That’s going to sell out fast. You’ll have a devil of a time getting a ticket.” He clears his throat and continues. “Still, it looks like a great spot to watch a ballgame, Joe.”

“It sure does, Dad. I hope we see some good games there. You’ll have to come up for a game if I can pry you away from OC.” Ann begins waving at me that she needs to speak to him. “I gotta get going Dad and Ann needs to talk to you. You take it easy.”

“You too. I’ll get up for a game. We’ll figure it out.” I transfer his call to Ann’s phone then I return to a stack of quotes I need to tackle.

The Shop’s job book entry. Two Belfort Instruments jobs. October 30, 1991.     

November 12

The workers are rolling some steel tubes for a museum display for Design and Production. The Shop gets a few jobs a year that has some small part in a museum. It isn’t a lot of work but I’ve noticed it increasing in the last three years. A few pipes for D-S Pipe and Supply are rolled and more of the channels for Anchor Fence as well.

The Shop’s job book entry. Design and Production job. November 12, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. D-S Pipe job. November 12, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Two Anchor Fence jobs. November 8, 1991 and November 13, 1991.

November 21

The work has slowed a little as the cold weather arrives and everyone’s thoughts are on the holidays. Thoughts of turkey are on my mind and a Thanksgiving feast. For now, a dozen pipes for Anchor Fence are rolled in the R-5. These are another standard item for us often used as guards on bridges to keep people from climbing to the edge.

The Shop’s job book entry. Anchor Fence job. November 21, 1991.

December. 12

A resurgence of work has us rushing about to finish up before Christmas. We decide to close for the full week between the 25th and New Year’s. Christmas Eve, Day and Day after are days we like to be closed and they all appear during the week this year so closing the other two days is logical. It will take quite a bit of work to complete what needs to be done but Ann, Jack and I are organized. A fountain sprayer tube is rolled for Fountain Craft today and a small bar for Warren-Ehret. The week is complicated when the Housing Authority sends in a rush heat exchanger repair job but Jack in his style jumped right on it and got it done.

The Shop’s job book entry. Warren-Ehret job. December 12, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore City job. December 12, 1991.

December 20

This last day of work of 1991 comes early this year. Our sales were down from 1990 but all the OPACY work made last year particularly good. There is no Christmas party as there was in years long past but it’s a different time and everyone involved is happy to have a head start on the holiday. The extra time off is welcomed but we will all be prepared to hit it hard on January 2nd. I will swing by once during the week off to get the mail and check on things. The last pickups of the year are for Whiting Metals and Industrial Fabricators.

The Shop’s job book entry. Whiting Metals job. December 20, 1991.
The Shop’s job book entry. Industrial Fabricators job. December 20, 1991.

December 25


Christmas is at Birch Drive and once again not all can attend. As people and generations grow and get older, life is complicated. The Kavanagh’s know complicated as they managed to fit nine kids and two parents in a rowhouse in Highlandtown but we don’t live on Lakewood Avenue anymore. The party is still festive and fun. There are the usual holiday favorites and a bevy of desserts on hand. My siblings and I see each other less and less but for Ann and Jack and me. We catch up as we can and jokes are cracked and laughs shared. The low rumble of the party shushes as Dad sits and plays. Conversations are slightly muted and slowly but surely a semi-circle of family and friends gathers around. Voices are joined and we celebrate as we have always done. We’re a crowd but I don’t think any of us would have it any other way. I take the chilly drive home to Bayonne with thoughts of the New Year in mind. My sister Jackie, her husband Richard and their daughter Lisa are moving and they are putting their house in Dundalk on the market. Ann put the thought in my head to consider buying it. The house is in a nice neighborhood and not too far from work. Rent money is really tossed away whereas a house is an investment. I pull up at the old apartment house where I have lived for four years. The place has seen better days. There’s no doubt about that, and flashbacks of no hot water or no water at all pass before my eyes. I lock the door behind me and plop into a chair placing my bags of goodies down. I rarely leave a family event without food of some sort but the haul this year is particularly good. I open the large tin of chocolate chip cookies I receive every year from Mary and take out a handful. The Orioles are moving from the ballpark of my youth, the center of my youth. It’s sunk in completely now and I am looking forward to the new park oddly enough. If it’s good enough for the Birds, then I can make the move, be a grown up and buy a home. As I have a beer, I think of the party. Seeing my sisters and their families and Jack, Nancy and their boys gives me pause. I’d like to think some day I’ll find a girl. So far, it hasn’t worked out. I found a few but none who were looking for me. Perhaps, some day I’ll have two sons like my father, grandfather, great-grandfather and brother. Maybe they will work with Jack’s two sons. That would be something. It would be a very Kavanagh way to do things. It definitely sounds like the Shop to me.

Jack Kavanagh Sr. and grandson Paul Kavanagh. 1991.



George H.W. Bush is the President of the United States. Queen Elizabeth II becomes the first British monarch to address the US Congress. The United States and the Soviet Union agree to the START treaty which limits strategic nuclear weapons. The USSR is dissolved by the end of the year which ends the Cold War. Sharon Pratt Kelly becomes the first African-American woman mayor of a major US city, Washington D.C. The Galileo becomes the first spacecraft to get close in proximity to an asteroid. “Magic” Johnson of the LA Lakers announces he has the AIDS virus and retires from basketball. Gene Roddenberry, Dr. Seuss, Miles Davis, Martha Graham and Redd Foxx die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

Memorial Stadium fascade from 1991 Baltimore Orioles Program.

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

Table of Contents

1990 Patrick Kavanagh

January 2

The Joseph Kavanagh Company begins another year with the original Joe’s great great grand nephews and niece running the place now. The Shop has been located at the busy corner of Pratt and Central for nearly eighty years. Much of the talk of Baltimore is the new baseball stadium being built downtown. Enthusiasm has been building. I feel it. Suddenly fans face the reality of it. Old Memorial Stadium will close at the end of next season and a fancy retro ballpark will be the new home of the Baltimore Orioles. It feels strange but exciting. Over the holiday I spoke to my Dad and both of us wondered if the Shop might get some work from the new stadium. The first job of the year is finished, picked up and billed, six stainless steel flat bars rolled for the Warren-Ehret Company.

The Shop’s job book entry. Warren-Ehret job. January 2, 1990.
Jack and Paul Kavanagh. 6 Kensington Parkeway 1990.

January 11

An order for seventeen 2 1/2” pipes for Codd Fabricators is completed. Their truck makes the short drive from Aliceanna to Central and the pieces are out the door. We have a one week backlog and are steadily receiving orders so it’s a good start to the year. On the books, we have some angle flanges to make, several rail jobs and some aluminum angles for a commercial sign for Belsinger Sign Works.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. January 11, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Belsinger Sign Works job. January 16, 1990.

January 28

The San Francisco Forty-Niners crush the Denver Broncos 55-10 to win the Super Bowl. It’s as lopsided as it sounds with the winners scoring two touchdowns in each quarter. I’m not watching,  but jamming in the garage at LaSalle with the rest of Lethal Injection. Chris, Ray, Tim and I are still having a lot of fun playing and we are getting better,  but it’s often two steps forward/one step back. Still, we feel more comfortable playing as one and we have a few songs we can perform.

January 29

My brother Jack and his wife Nancy welcome Patrick Henry Kavanagh to the family early on this Monday. Mom and the new baby are doing well and my brother is as happy as he can be. He now has two sons just like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Patrick is named after one of America’s founders and by chance his great-great-great grandfather.

Patrick Kavanagh. 1990.
Jack Kavanagh holding sons, Paul and Patrick Kavanagh. 1990.

January 31

Jack is in the office today and talking about his new son, Patrick. It makes me smile to see him so happy. If there ever was someone who was born to be a Dad, it would be him. Not to mention, he learned from the best. In the Shop, several big structural angles are rolled for Codd Fabricators and Jack interrupts his gushing about his boy to anneal some brass tubes for Lenderking Metal Products.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. January 31, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Lenderking Metal Products job. February 1, 1990.

February 15

Major League Baseball owners lock out the players and put a hold on Spring Training until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached. Ann, Jack and I talk about it in the office. I can’t believe they are going to hold up this season over money. It seems silly to me and I hope they can swallow some pride on both sides and come to an agreement. We have caught up a little on the work but remain steady enough for the winter.

Jack, Joe and Paul Kavanagh. 6 Kensington Parkway. 1988.

February 16

Two channels are rolled for Ackerman and Baynes Fabricators, a repeat of a job from last month. A smaller channel is curved into a ring for McShane Bell Foundry. The channel ring is the circle where the bell hangs and swings. A group of flat bars for Price Brothers is finished also.

The Shop’s job book entry. Two Ackerman and Baynes jobs. January 23, 1990 and February 16, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Two McShane Bell Foundry jobs. February 13, 1990 and February 16, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Price Brothers job. February 16, 1990.

March 5

A large order of copper pipes bent in the Pines is billed to Gischel Machine today and the crew also are working on a set of flat bars to re-roll for Price Brothers and two for Warren-Ehret. Work wise, we’ve seen much worse winters.

The Shop’s job book entry. Gischel Machine job. March 5, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Price Brothers job. March 6, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Warren-Ehret job. March 6, 1990.

March 8

Today the R-6-S is put to the test as we roll a big 3” X 1/1/4” Steel flat bar into a small ring for Codd Fab. We know the machine can handle it. This is a repeat of a job from January but it is enough strain for the 6 to squeak and squawk a bit. The bar looks good. A very true even curve and nice and flat. I have my guitar in the office with me today as I am driving over to my sister Nancy’s house for dinner and I will give some short guitar lessons. Now I have a second niece who is interested in playing. Nancy’s second daughter Katie has joined Maura in learning the instrument. I don’t go every week now. I’m often too tired from work or racing to practice but I go over at least once a month. I love teaching them both even the basics. If Maura always was the rock n roll type from when she was small, Katie was always a rebel. I like that in a person.

The Shop’s job book entry. Two Codd Fabricators jobs. January 22, 1990 and March 8, 1990.

March 15

Two new orders for Anchor Fence are finished. These are rolled channels with two bends for tops of gates and rails. Usually we bend pipe for Anchor but we are getting more of these channel tops and we’ve learned how to get the s-shape needed. We are also working on some structural tubes for Codd Fab. They were filled with rosin and are being rolled today. After melting out tomorrow, they will be ready.

The Shop’s job book entry. Two Anchor Fence jobs. March 9, 1990 and March 15, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. March 16, 1990.

March 18

A new four year deal is reached between baseball owners and players and the season is on. Spring Training is almost completely canceled by the lockout and the season will be extended by three days to allow a complete 162 game schedule to be played.

Patrick Kavanagh. 1990.

March 29

A rush pipe order is banged out for Gischel Machine and when their truck gets here, they bring in two more orders, one for rolled flat bars and one for rolled pipes. In addition to these Gischel jobs, we have our usual assortment of railings, flanges, some stainless steel flat bars for Bengies Welding and a set of angles for Warren-Ehret.

The Shop’s job book entry. Gischel Machine job. March 29, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Gischel Machine job. April 3, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Gischel Machine job. April 3, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Bengies Welding job. April 3, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Warren-Ehret job. April 3, 1990.

April 19

The Baltimore Orioles opened up on the road this year but are welcomed home on this Thursday. The fans are amped after last year’s surprising second place finish along with all the hype of the new ballpark. The Birds beat the Tigers 4-2 today but this year will not be a repeat of last. The team’s play is fair at best through out the year and they will not be returning to the playoffs at season’s end.

April 25

A steady rain seems appropriate on a dreary busy Wednesday. The middle of the week with two more days to go adds to the somber mood brought on by the weather. It’s a day when the circle of coffee drinking workers is particularly quiet during their breaks and the hours drip by like the rain. A fountain sprayer tube ring is rolled while a set of pipes is bent in the old Pines Bender for Whiting Metals.

The Shop’s job book entry. Whiting Metals job. April 25, 1990.

April 27

The Washington Capitals beat the New York Rangers 2-1 in overtime and for the first time in their history, they are advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the Boston Bruins. The Caps dispatched the New Jersey Devils in the first round then took care of the Rangers. Jack is so excited. His team is one series away from the Stanley Cup Finals.

May 3

I receive a call from Ferdie at Eastern Ornamental Iron. He has a rail job for us to roll for him. I tell him the sooner he gets it here, the sooner we can get it for him. We have a nice bit of work in the Shop, between one and two weeks of backlog and that’s close to perfect. Torches are blazing as a 6” X 4” tube is melted out. The torches are used to gradually melt the rosin in the tube which was there to protect it from collapsing. Melting tubes out is always hot but it’s the final step in a long process so there is solace in that. The piece is for American Iron Works, one of the Shop’s customers from the DC area.

The Shop’s job book entry. American Iron Works job. May 3, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Eastern Ornamental Iron job. May 8, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Eastern Ornamental Iron job. May 8, 1990.

May 9

It seems as if every step for the Capitals will be taken slowly. They are swept by the Bruins and are out of the playoffs again. It’s disappointing but as Jack is quick to point out, they made if farther than they ever have before. Jack is even more confident that this team will soon reach its goal and win a championship.

Paul Kavanagh. 1990.
Patrick Kavanagh with Paul Kavanagh in tent in background. 1990.

May 18

A chilly Monday morning turns sunny as the Kavanagh’s and crew make a channel ring for a bell for McShane and curve some irregular aluminum extrusions for Belsinger Sign. The shapes are asymmetrical so an unusual set up is required but our variety of rollers makes it doable. After several samples and using different tools, the job is finished.

The Shop’s job book entry. McShane Bell Foundry job. May 18, 1990.

May 22

We receive a larger order for rolled channels from Anchor Fence. Thirty-two of the channels we’ve been developing with an offset curve for the tops of gates. The more of these we can get, the more likely we can find a way of doing a production run.  Thirty-two is a nice jump from four or eight. Also, a few more of Belsinger’s extrusions are rolled in the R-3-S.

The Shop’s job book entry. Anchor Fence job. May 22, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Two Belsinger Sign Works jobs. May 18, 1990 and May 23, 1990.

June 7

A 5” pipe elbow is delivered today to Price Brothers and a repeat order for COVCO is picked up. We do these pipes for COVCO a few times a year. We bend, trim and thread the pipes. We generally stay away from threading but for a regular customer, we make an exception.

The Shop’s job book entry. Price Brothers job. June 7, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Two COVCO jobs. May 1, 1990 and June 7, 1990.

June 17

It’s my 25th birthday and I’m playing in the garage with my fellow Lethal Injection members. The band is thinking of having a party or cook out along with a concert in Tim’s backyard. We could set it up for the Fall and our family and friends could see us play. It would be good practice for the future as well. I have a busy week ahead of me at the Shop. We’re finishing a big order for Codd Fabricators of 7” flat bars rolled, 120 of them. Also Anchor Fence is sending in a custom version of the channel tops we’ve been making. These are different from the standard forms but I want to keep the customer happy so we’ll figure it out.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. June 18, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Anchor Fence job. June 19, 1990.

June 25

The band has made our decision and we will pick a day in October for our party. This puts pressure on us to have a set list and be prepared. We’ve developed a list of covers we do in a range of quality but we’ll firm them all up for the show. The Shop has been busy and me with it. Today fifteen 90 degree pipe elbows are made for Anchor Fence.

The Shop’s job book entry. Anchor Fence job. June 25, 1990.

June 29

The crew draw the short straw today because we have five stainless steel tubes to fill, roll and sandblast for Bengies Welding. It’s a tough job in June. There’s a lot of torch work and the sandblasting requires isolation at the end of the alley with your face and hands well covered. The sand gets everywhere and it can not be rushed no mater how much you try.

The Shop’s job book entry. Bengies Welding job. June 29, 1990.

July 13

I’m driving past Northern Parkway on my way home. I had dinner at Nancy’s and played some guitar with her daughters. They both are learning and can play a bit. I have a lot of fun but I’m tired. It’s been a long week and I’m going over tomorrow’s schedule in my head. We have a set of copper heater tubes to bend for Stambaugh and a few small angles for Lenderking. I’m looking forward to a week’s vacation next month. It will be more time to play and practice with the band but some time for sleep too.

The Shop’s job book entry. Lenderking Metal Products. July 13, 1990.

July 19

The Birds are stuck in fourth place and can’t seem to make it to a .500 record. Fortunately, my fandom has diminished and I am far more interested in music these days. Tim, Ray, our friend Dave Muelberger and I attend David Bowie’s Sound and Vision tour at Merriweather Post Pavilion. The show is incredible and Bowie’s band is amazing. After the concert, we head to the bar Max’s on Broadway. Tim works the door there and the prior evening Adrian Belew, who is playing guitar on Bowie’s tour, showed up. We decide to hang in Max’s with the hope of meeting Belew. He wanders in and says hi to the owner and the bartender. We saw him play at Max’s before and I caught a drumstick he threw into the crowd. Adrian Belew is a guitarist but plays drums and other instruments as well. We approach him and he’s a gracious welcoming fellow. We have a beer with him and talk music. He’s very friendly and when I tell him he is the reason I bought a guitar synthesizer, he smiles then grabs a red marker from the bar and promptly signs my Adrian Belew tour shirt. Belew is one of my guitar heroes and now I have had the good fortune to meet both he and Robert Fripp, the two-headed guitar monster that was in King Crimson in the early 80s.

Drumstick caught at Adrian Belew “Mr. Musichead” show at Max’s on Broadway.

July 24

A humid day on Central Avenue can get unbearable fast and so it is today. The men work through it and  with the added incentive of vacation looming, the jobs are cranked out. Five big bars are rolled the hardway for Ackerman and Baynes along with three sets of pipe rings and a fancy brass railing.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes Fabricators job. July 24, 1990.

August 6

The week of vacation is here and there is much rejoicing. The crew and the Kavanagh’s mark this week on the calendar every year and look forward to it. A full week without work is a great thing particularly if you work at Pratt and Central and it’s August. I spend the week relaxing, sleeping and practicing with the band. We have picked October 14th for our concert for friends and family in Tim’s backyard. We’ll feed them and hopefully entertain them. We start making plans immediately and Tim’s parents, Barry and Madge, are happy to host.

Flyer for Lethal Injection’s Flyer for Family and Friends Concert. October 14, 1990.
Jack, Nancy, Paul and Patrick Kavanagh. 304 11th Street, Ocean City, MD. August 1990.
Jack Jr., Paul and Patrick Kavanagh. Ocean City, MD. 1990.

August 14

We are playing catch up at 201 S. Central Avenue and paying the price for taking a week off. The place is full of steel and aluminum and that is a nice welcome back. Some angles are picked up by Ackerman and Baynes who are easily one of our most reliable regular customers. If Codd is number one, Ackerman is close behind.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes Fabricators job. August 14, 1990.

August 22

A set of zee bars are rolled today for Belsinger Sign Works. We’ve only tried zees twice before, once with success and once without. The problem is keeping all the legs straight. An angle roller is made to support two legs but with some use of spacers, some adjustments and some trial and error, the pieces look good. I have a stack of job cards on my desk for tomorrow including a set of small angle rings for the Warren-Ehret Company.

The Shop’s job book entry. Belsinger Sign Works job. August 22, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Warren-Ehret job. August 24, 1990.

September 7

The strong summer continues with its usual assortment of railings, flanges and lintels augmented with nearly five hundred 1” Square steel tubes to bend for Anchor Fence. It’s the sort of job where a mechanic develops the job then passes it on to one of the helpers who has some experience on the machine, enough to be safe anyway. It serves two purposes. It makes the job cheaper and it gives the worker another level of experience. This is right up my brother’s alley and he finds a way to factor in the springback and stretch out on the tubes and quickly has it ready for one of the crew to crank them out.

The Shop’s job book entry. Anchor Fence job. September 7, 1990.

September 11

Codd Fabricators sends in some angles for a job for the new ballpark. These will be used as concrete forms for the seating bowl. I had quoted Pete Kolb on three hundred or so 5” angles. He needed a working number as an estimate. I was shocked we received it and very excited. A job for the Birds, my father won’t believe it. I decide to call my Dad during lunch to tell him.

“Hey Dad!” I greet him after his usual truncated “Hel-lo.”

He replies. “How you doing Joe?” I can picture him in my mind’s eye. He knows I’m calling from the Shop and probably assumes I have a question or a problem. He is and will always be my go to expert in metal bending when I have an issue.

“I got some news. We got a nice job from Codd for the new stadium, the new ballpark for the Birds.” I can’t get the words out fast enough.

He answers quickly. “No kidding? That’s great.” Dad pauses then adds, “What kind of price did you give them?”

I’m not surprised at his query. I smile as I know it’s a Shop thing. It’s instinct at this point for him even though he’s retired. “About $ 32.00 each.”

“Hmm. That sounds like a good price, Joe. How many is it gonna be? Three hundred you say?” My smile broadens because I know he knows this is enough to make money on the job.

“The total will be over three hundred. We got fifty-four in today. Pete said they will keep sending then in for the next few months but we’re getting a big batch in October. Two hundred and sixty-three.” I lean back in my chair sipping some water.

“TWO-HUNDRED AND SIXTY-THREE? Holy Moley! Where you gonna put them all?” I can feel the surprise and excitement in his voice. I know that feeling.

I place my water on my desk and glance over at Ann who’s listening. I’m sure she knows he’s excited to hear this news. “That’s twenty-two tons, Dad but we’ll stack them in the back. We cleared a space past the R-6-S to pile the finished pieces. It will be fine.”

The phone is quiet for a moment. “Pretty good, Joe. Sounds like a helluva job to me.” He chuckles softly to himself. “Twenty-two tons and its for the Birds’ new stadium. That’s great. My grandfather Joe would love it. He loved baseball and the old Orioles. You know.”

“I do.” I recall  the many stories about Crazy Joe and how he loved the game. “It’s going to be closer to thirty tons by the time we’re all finished. We’ll make a few bucks on this one too, Dad.”

“He’d love that too. Believe me Joe. The only things he loved more than baseball were music and the Shop making money.” My father often spoke to me of his grandfather and told me how much I reminded him of Crazy Joe. The shared name and love of music is connection enough but apparently, our personalities are similar.

I take a quick breath. “Yeah, I sort of know what that’s like.”

My father laughs. “I guess you do. I guess you do.”

“I gotta get back to work, Dad. I just wanted to tell you about this one. I knew you’d want to know.” I begin gathering some job cards to take out to the Shop.

“Yeah, get back to work but I’m glad you called. Working for the Orioles’ new ballpark? I love it, kid. Talk to you soon.” The phone clicks and I place the receiver down. I sit and enjoy the moment briefly, then get up and head out the office door to distribute a couple of cards.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job for OPACY. September 11, 1990.
Jack Sr., Jack Jr., Paul and Patrick Kavanagh. 1990.

September 12

The Shop is busy and about to get much busier. We have fifty pieces of big angle to roll for what will be called Oriole Park and quite a few other smaller orders including two bent brass rods for Lenderking, three channels for McShane Bell and a set of aluminum tee bars for Codd. The tees are unrelated to Oriole Park but for the same customer.

The Shop’s job book entry. Lenderking Metal Products job. September 12, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. McShane Bell Foundry job. September 12, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. September 13, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job for OPACY. September 18, 1990.

September 25

I’m on the phone throughout the day with customers, as summer seems to have not ended. We’ve completed another order for the stadium along with a regular order from EDCO of rods and pipes. A delivery is made to Price Brothers and a set of tubes for a condenser is completed for Warren-Ehret.  The R-6-S has been busy every day working on more angles for the seating bowl of the new stadium. We received the two hundred and sixty-three lengths from Codd. That’s a total weight of over forty five thousand pounds. That’s a lot of handling and careful unloading to get the material off the truck but it’s well worth it. The same care will be taken in stacking and storing the angles for pick up. The order will be finished in a couple of days but they are piling up now. Tomorrow we start on two 5” X 1” Brass flat bars rolled to a small diameter of 34”. These will be tough but I know the boys can handle it. The question is to anneal or not to anneal. I know it’s naval brass and fairly soft so I decide to roll them hard. They do roll fine with no damage. The Shop is hitting on all cylinders now.

The Shop’s job book entry. Equipment Development Corporation(EDCO) job. September 25, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Equipment Development Corporation(EDCO) job. September 25, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Price Brothers job. September 25, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Warren-Ehret job. September 25, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Gischel Machine job. September 27, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job for OPACY. October 4, 1990.

October 5

The Washington Capitals start their 17th season tonight hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins win 7-4 but the fans have high expectations for this season. Jack included. The team went farther in the playoff than ever before last season and we are hopeful this is a sign of things to come.

Paul Kavanagh with Jack Kavanagh Jr.’s legs in background. 6 Kensington Parkway. 1990.

October 14

Lethal Injection welcomes their family and friends to a musical show in the Heaps’ backyard at 1100 Kreuger Avenue. There is plenty of food, drink, the musical stylings of Lethal Injection and even a cake. The cake with a hypodermic needle seemed to give the baker pause but he made it none the less. We are nervous but once we start, I love it. I’ve enjoyed playing at Dave’s a few times over the last year but this is a little different. These are not really your rock and roll crowd but our curious families. They have been wondering what we’ve been doing with our lives and they get a taste of it today. We all bemoan the sound, the mix and some of our performance but still, I’m pleased and it was fun. The set list includes RUSH, Pink Floyd and U2 covers along with Psycho Killer and the very popular Preamble to the Constitution from the School House Rock TV Series.

Lethal Injection cake. Lethal Injection Backyard Show. 1100 Kreuger Avenue. October 14, 1990.
Lethal Injection Backyard Show. 1100 Kreuger Avenue. October 14, 1990.
Lethal Injection Backyard Show. 1100 Kreuger Avenue. October 14, 1990.
Lethal Injection Backyard Show. 1100 Kreuger Avenue. October 14, 1990.
Crowd photo. Lethal Injection Backyard Show. 1100 Kreuger Avenue. October 14, 1990.
Crowd photo. Lethal Injection Backyard Show. 1100 Kreuger Avenue. October 14, 1990.

October 16

I sit at my desk with some mixed feelings about the show this weekend. It was fun and people seemed to enjoy it though some clearly were not into our music. Not everybody is a rocker. I pull myself from my daze and answer the phone. Bud from Gischel Machine is calling to check on some copper pipes we are bending. We did several hundred a month ago and they needed two hundred more. It’s a great job for us, a production order and it’s ready. He sends his truck right over.

The Shop’s job book entry. Gischel Machine job. October 16, 1990.

October 20

The Cincinnati Reds sweep the heavily-favored Oakland Athletics to win the World Series. The success of last year’s Orioles’ “Why Not?” year did not continue. The Birds languished along all year below .500 and finished in 5th of seven teams in the A.L. East. The only positive thing about it is the Yankees finished in last. That made everything more palatable but mostly I am more involved with the band and the Shop to be as active of a fan as I was. I don’t see any of the four games in the World Series as most nights I am practicing or hanging out with the guys in the garage. We enjoyed our backyard show overall and look forward to another birthday party for Dave at the Belevedere next week.

Lethal Injection Backyard Show. 1100 Kreuger Avenue. October 14, 1990.
Lethal Injection Backyard Show. 1100 Kreuger Avenue. October 14, 1990.

October 22

My brother Jack jumps right into a job for Whiting Metals today. We have a little trouble getting the radius they need and Jack is quick to take the thing over. He is a natural in the Shop and working with metals. He has a lot of experience in pipe and tube bending and a knack for solving these kinds of problems. The rest of the boys are split between jobs for McShane Bell, Durrett Sheppard and a small order for the G-S Company.

The Shop’s job book entry. Whiting Metals job. October 22, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. McShane Bell Foundry job. October 22, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Durrett Sheppard Steel job. October 24, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Durrett Sheppard Steel job. October 24, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. G-S Company job. October 24, 1990.

October 27

We are at the Belevedere and it’s loud and moderately insane. A mob of people have shown up this year and everyone seems to be more in the holiday spirit. A lot of folks are in costume including my sister Ann and her friend Mary Sterling who attend out of curiosity I suspect. We rock through a lot of improvised tunes, along with some covers, our usual mix of progressive rock and the odd blues number. Dave seems to have developed a reputation for his parties as the crowd has gotten much bigger. It’s a great night and we load our vehicles up with gear and head home about 1 am.

November 5

November is upon the Shop and we still have plenty of work. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and every year after Halloween, I begin to think of a turkey dinner with all the trimmings especially parsnips. It’s the Kavanagh in me. November is usually good weather for work in a place like the Shop. It’s chilly but not so cold that a little work doesn’t warm you up. The very cold and the very hot are challenging. Somewhere in the middle is ideal. The crew labor away on some more window lintels, sixteen bar rings for Bengies Welding and two angle rings for Warren-Ehret  are rolled in the R-5-S.

The Shop’s job book entry. Bengies Welding job. November 5, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Warren-Ehret job. November 8, 1990.

November 14

With the approaching holidays the end of the year is coming too and we’ve been fortunate. While a recession has hit much of the country, we have had plenty of work most of the year. The stadium project has helped the Shop stay particularly busy for the last two months. We’ve rolled another order for the new ballpark, two 4” pipes for Codd that were not baseball related and a railing for G-S. We are nearly finished some flat bars for Price Brothers and a load of stainless steel angles and tubes comes in from Warren-Ehret, a good sized coil job for them with a lot of bending for us. There’s no doubt in my mind, the year will end strong.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job for OPACY. November 12, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. November 14, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. G-S Company job. November 13, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Price Brother sjob. November 19, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Warren-Ehret job. November 27, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Warren-Ehret job. November 27, 1990.

December 3

The year is nearly finished and the work has not slowed. We continue to receive more work for the new ballpark with add-ons and last minute changes. The standard COVCO order of galvanized pipes is shipped out today and an order of rolled bars for Price Brothers is begun.

The Shop’s job book entry. COVCO job. December 3, 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Price Brothers job. December 10, 1990.

December 25

Christmas is held again at Birch Drive, my sister Nancy’s home. The Kavanagh’s gather to celebrate another holiday and another year. We have a new baby in the family and he receives much due attention. This year not all of us can make it and those who can do not stay all day. Those who are married or have younger kids must spend part of the day with the other side of the family understandably and JoAnn is in Florida and unable to come up due to work. With even a few absentees, the Kavanagh’s are a crowd. JoAnn is called on the phone so we can all wish her a “Merry Christmas.” The food is perfect, there is drink and song as well. Dad leads us from the piano and we sing along as we did during the Lakewood Avenue days. I enjoy the day and seeing my sisters and their families. I’m always happy to spend some time with my parents too and when they get ready to leave, I do the same. I drive back across the beltway exiting onto Belair Road. I park and head up to my apartment looking forward to a few days off and some time with the band. Things will be different for Lethal Injection moving forward. Before the holidays, Chris informed the rest of us he would be leaving the band. He wants to pursue his own music, his own songs and is moving on. I’m surprised but not overly so when I think about it. We are primarily a cover band that is trying to develop our own music and our own sound whereas Chris is ready to do his own thing. I’m sure he wearied of the covers and we have yet to have any true paying gigs. Our backyard show and Dave’s parties hardly count and won’t fill up our resume. We wish Chris good luck and decide to adjust as we can. The format and approach of the band changes with vocals, bass and keyboard parts divvied up in new ways. Each of us will take on some new responsibilities and we’re confident we’ll find a balance. We will all try to sing more but I become the de facto lead vocalist and it’s a challenge but the narcissist in me is up for it. After all, it is the 90s.

Lethal Injection Backyard Show. 1100 Kreuger Avenue. Ray French, Joe Kavanagh and Tim Heaps. October 14, 1990.
April Ballard, Rose O”Neill, Maura O”Neill and Katie O”Neill, 1989-1990.
Nancy Kavanagh with left to right, Lisa Bosse, Phil Morton, Katie Morton(cousin), Paul Kavanagh and Sarah Morton. 1989-1990.



George H.W. Bush is the President of the United States. The Americans with Disabilities Act is passed and signed by President Bush. Time Warner is formed from Time Incorporated and Warner Communications. Douglas Wilder of Virginia becomes the first elected African-American Governor. Smoking is banned on all domestic air flights of less than six hours. The Hubble Space Telescope is launched. A Chemical Weapons accord is reached between the US and the Soviet Union to ban such weapons. Nolan Ryan pitches his sixth no-hitter. The films “Home Alone,” “The Hunt for Red October” and “The Godfather 3” are released. Jim Henson, Sammy Davis Jr., Stevie Ray Vaughan, Sarah Vaughan and Pearl Bailey die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

Patrick Henry Kavanagh. 1990.

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

Table of Contents


1989 The Third Family

January 4

Another year has begun for the Joseph Kavanagh Company and a new generation takes control. My father’s stock is sold to my brother, sister and me. It’s year 124 for the Shop and the 79th year at the corner of Pratt and Central. Three generations of Kavanagh’s have worked and died here. One generation is finally enjoying their retirement while the next is ready to run the place. My parents always said they had three families, the first four sisters, Betty Ann, Nancy, Mary and Jane then after a brief break the next two sisters, Jackie and JoAnn then the last three of us, Ann, Jack and me. The Shop is now in the hands of the third family. My father’s advice will be invaluable but we must find our own way. We already have made changes by computerizing our accounting and records. The way the Shop does business will basically be the same but with our own style and process. For now, I take most of the calls from customers and I price and order all material. I also coordinate our rolling jobs with the crew. Jack handles our pipe and tube bending customers and he runs all of those jobs in the Shop. Some he does himself and others he hands off to workers. Ann takes care of the business end: billing, receivables, payables and payroll. She also takes care of any City, State and Federal rules for being in business so Jack and I never have to worry about such things.  The Shop does have some work to begin this year including a set of angles for Ackerman and Baynes to be rolled and a large quantity of rods curved into rings for Equipment Development Corporation.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes job. January 4, 1989.
The Shop’s job book entry. EDCO job. January 5, 1989.


Framed collection of Joseph Kavanagh Company business cards. From Joseph A. Kavanagh to Joseph M. Kavanagh and everyone in between.

Jack and Betty Kavanagh. Wedding photograph. May 17, 1947.

January 17

We started the year with a one week backlog of work on the schedule which is good for any January. Today most of the crew are finishing some flat bars for the Price Brothers Company. Price Brothers makes concrete pipes and they use our rolled bar rings to make them. Some times they return the rings and we re-roll them to a smaller diameter saving them some material that way. In addition, another small flat bar job is rolled for the G-S Company in Dundalk.

The Shop’s job book entry. Price Brothers job. January 17, 1989.
The Shop’s job book entry. G-S Company job. January 18, 1989.

January 22

The San Francisco 49ers defeat the Cleveland Browns to win the Super bowl. Just like last year, I am not watching. Along with the other members of Lethal Injection I spend the day practicing in the garage on LaSalle Avenue. We are getting better a little at a time but we still struggle to focus enough on practicing. We each have different jobs and schedules but progress is being made. At the very least, we have a lot of fun together. After practice, I climb the stairs to my apartment on Bayonne Avenue lugging my strat and my amp head. I settle in for the night and have a beer while thinking of what’s up for Monday. We have an order from COVCO to finish at the Shop. This is a recurring job consisting of a few different sizes of galvanized pipe being bent and threaded. I make a mental note to tell someone to pull out the old manual pipe threader we have. It’s kept on a high shelf and using dies and some cutting oil, it can cut a good reliable thread.

The Shop’s job book entry. COVCO job. January 24, 1989.

February 3

Yesterday was Ground Hog Day and Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter and he’ll get no argument from the Shop. The mornings are particularly chilly in this old building and even with heat, you don’t feel much warmer until lunch time. The cold is simply part of the job and you learn to live with it. The workers are handling a few different small jobs including some pipes for D-S Pipe and Supply.

The Shop’s job book entry. D-S Pipe job. February 3, 1989.

February 9

Before leaving the Shop on a cold Thursday, I call Belfort Instruments to arrange a pick up tomorrow for a set of pipe elbows. These are being bent in the new Pines Bender and will be ready in the morning. The crew files out of the building and I follow lugging my acoustic guitar. My brother and I swing the large metal doors closed and lock everything up. I am heading over to Birch Drive for dinner at my sister Nancy’s. I’ll also give her daughter Maura another guitar lesson. I’ve done this nearly every week since the fall and it’s fun. Maura is learning the basics and at this point, there are very few things I won’t do for a good home cooked meal.

The Shop’s job book entry. Belfort Instruments job. February 10, 1989.
Joe Kavanagh and Maura Kavanagh O”Neill. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Late 1970s.

February 11

A cold chilly Saturday night has me and my friends practicing our music. When day turns to night, our singer Chris heads home but Tim, Ray and I remain in the garage listening to our favorite bands. A neighbor named Big V stops and offers his vocal stylings with Chris not there. This amounts to Big V screaming into the mic while we play very loud. He seems to think we are playing some Little Feet songs which we are not. His level of inebriation may have been an issue though he does offer to become our manager. We agree to think about it then forget it completely. We’re not anywhere close to ready for management though we have begun to think about how to get gigs and where we might be able to perform. Shyness and nervousness are factors for all of us but we love to play.

Three of four members of Lethal Injection. Joe Kavanagh on guitar, Ray Fench on drums, Tim Heaps on Bass. 1100 Krueger Avenue backyard show. 1990.

February 17

The surprisingly busy winter continues and a large job for Belsinger Sign Works is completed. They are re-doing the signage for a park and it adds up to a lot of work for us. The order is a mix of angles and tubes in pieces which Belsinger will assemble and install on site.

The Shop’s job book entry. Belsinger Sign Works job. February 17, 1989.
The Shop’s job book entry. Belsinger Sign Works job. February 17, 1989.
The Shop’s job book entry. Belsinger Sign Works job. February 17, 1989.

March 9

Spring is on its way but not in Baltimore yet as the high doesn’t even reach 40 degrees. We are more than ready for some sunshine and warm temperatures but before we know it, we’ll be complaining about the heat. A couple extra heavy 4” steel pipes are rolled for Ackerman and Baynes while a few more aluminum angles are completed for Belsinger Sign. These are “add-ons” to the sign job we did for Belsinger last month.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes job. March 9, 1989.
The Shop’s job book entry. Belsinger Sign Works job. March 9, 1989.

March 17

This Friday is St. Patrick’s Day and we order some sandwiches from “Corned Beef” row up the street. We are fortunate to be within walking distance of both Attman’s and Weiss delis and the food is always good especially the pickles. While we eat, I call Warren-Ehret to arrange the pick up of some angles then Jack and I go over a set of drawings for Ackerman and Baynes. They are 1” steel pipes and my brother and I want to be sure of the radius these require. I don’t spend anytime at any St. Paddy’s parties but have my usual night of jamming with my friends.

The Shop’s job book entry. Warren-Ehret Company job. March 17, 1989.
The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes job. March 21, 1989.

April 3

This Monday is Opening Day for the Orioles and Baltimore fans are anxious to forget about last year’s dismal performance. The Birds face the Red Sox and win in walk off fashion when Craig Worthington singles home Mickey Tettleton in the 11th inning. The sell out crowd roars its approval but the Kavanagh’s are not there. Again, the tickets are given away and with Dad and Mom in Ocean City now full time, we consider canceling our season tickets. All of us kids are adults now and going to the game isn’t quite as important as it once was. Jack goes to a few game and my older sisters do take their kids occasionally but often the tickets are given away. We will, in fact, eliminate the Orioles’ tickets at the end of this season. They are getting more and more expensive every year.

Baltimore Orioles seat cushion. 1980s.
Cal Ripken Jr. Commemorative Plaque.

April 13

The Washington Capitals again are bounced early from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite finishing first in the Patrick Division, they are ousted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round. Another disappointing end to the hockey season but Caps fans are beginning to grow accustomed to it. My brother Jack is the consummate Caps fan though and he remains positive, quite sure we will win a championship soon enough.

Corner of Pratt and Central.

May 2

After lunch, I call the Warren-Ehret Company to tell them a flat bar rush job is ready. They brought it in first thing this morning and needed it back today. We can’t always do that but when we can, we can charge a premium. I also receive a call from Price Brothers who has another set of rings for us to re-roll. The work has stayed strong as we reach some warm weather days.

The Shop’s job book entry. Warren-Ehret Company job. May 2, 1989.
The Shop’s job book entry. Price Brothers job. May 9, 1989.

May 17

I receive a call from a woman named Pat checking on an order for two flat bars rolled to an irregular template. The woman is the end-user and the pieces are being used for a movie being filmed in Baltimore with my customer, Baltimore Productions, involved in making the sets. I assure her they will be finished this afternoon and I will call my customer to arrange pick up. It’s only after I hang up and speak to Ann that I realize this woman is Pat Moran who works with John Waters. Waters is a local not-so-underground-anymore filmmaker. His last film, “Hair Spray,” was commercially very successful and this next one will be too. The movie stars Johny Depp and will be called “Cry-Baby.” It’s widely known this film is being made here but I did not put two and two together until now. When the bars are picked up, I do ask what are these pieces are for specifically but the truck driver does not know. I love the idea of doing work for a movie. It’s pretty cool but I kick myself for not asking earlier how the bars will be used. I make a note to try to find out next time if there is a next time.

Unused cast Iron label for brewery vat. Painted green to match the building at 201 S. Central Avnue.

May 24

The talk of the Shop is the Orioles. No one expected too much from this team but today they are in a tie for first place in the AL Eastern Division. It’s a good start. No doubt about it but how long can this last. We shall see but for now, fans are excited and enjoying the moment. The workers are busy as we complete a large angle job for Ackerman and Baynes. The order is all big 6” X 4” Steel Angles rolled in the R-6-S. This is a very nice structural order for us and bodes well for the summer.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes job. May 24, 1989.
R-6-S with Angle being rolled into a ring
R-6-S Roundo Angle Roller. Angle being rolled into a leg out ring.


June 8

Two small angle jobs are picked up today by Warren-Ehret. They have been sending us work fairly regularly this year. I am anxious for August to get here because I have registered for a League of Crafty Guitarists Workshop in Charles Town, West Virginia. The Guitar Craft style of playing includes a new guitar tuning, modern fretting techniques and picking patterns developed by King Crimson’s Robert Fripp, I will spend a long weekend there learning the Guitar Craft style from instructors including Fripp himself, one of my heroes. I can’t wait.

The Shop’s job book entry. Warren-Ehret Company jobs. June 4 and 8, 1989.
Jack Sr. and Joe Kavanagh. Jack at piano. Joe on his Ovation Guitar used for Guitar Craft playing. Late 1980s.

June 15

A job for C.R. Daniels is finished today. The order is a set of 1” O.D. aluminum tubes rolled to a template and trimmed. They are short pieces and we have four different templates in this style. One for each part number they need periodically. Another order is received from COVCO for galvanized pipes and we are staying very busy but in the office, we are talking about those Birds. It’s the middle of June and these young kids find themselves in first place. The team is lead by local star Cal Ripken Jr. and manager Frank Robinson who has this team playing way over their heads and Baltimore loves it. I speak to my father on the phone at lunch and I can sense his excitement through the receiver.

“Everybody had us picked for last, Joe.” Dad says as I take a bite from my ham sandwich.

I smile as I listen. “Yeah, Dad. Nobody expected anything from this team but here we are in first place and playing well. We’ve got some young pitchers who are opening a few eyes and we do play good defense. I really like that.” I pause knowing what his answer will be.

“90% of the game is pitching and defense. That’s how you win games. Plus, these boys play hard. I see that and it comes from the manager. When Frank Robinson was playing, he was tough as nails and played that way too.” Dad declares into the phone and I remember how much he respects and likes Frank.

I take the last bite of my lunch. “Yeah, Dad. I think he sets the tone and he’s a good leader. We’ll see. I gotta get back to work. I just wanted to see how you were doing.”

“I’m fine and so’s Mom. You get back to work and stick with the Birds, Joe. We’ll see how it goes. It’s baseball, anything can happen. I’ll talk to you soon, kid.” Dad finishes and I smile at the phone. It’s almost like having him here at the Shop.

“Okay. You take it easy and give my love to Mom. I’ll talk to you soon.” I hang up and grab a drawing sent from Codd Fabricators for a quotation.  I have to sort out how much material we will need and come up with an estimate for our labor. What I do every day. What my father trained me to do.

The Shop’s job book entry. C.R. Daniels job. June 15, 1989.
Jack Kavanagh Sr. and fish. Ocean City, MD. Early 1990s.

July 13

It’s a very hot and humid day at the Joseph Kavanagh Company and a busy one at that. Another sign job is picked up by Belsinger and another delivery of flat bars is made to Price Brothers. I am writing up a job card for Bengies Welding. They need a couple of aluminum pipes annealed and bent so that will add to the heat in the place. After work, I am driving over to Nancy’s house for dinner and a guitar lesson with her daughter Maura. As it turns out, Nancy makes a beef roast and as a single bachelor who in two years has cooked maybe twice in my small apartment, I am very appreciative.

The Shop’s job book entry. Belsinger Sign Works job. July 12, 1989.
The Shop’s job book entry. Price Brothers job. July 12, 1989.
Maura Kavanagh O”Neill. Late 1980s.
CF Martin guitar
C.F. Martin 00-21 Guitar.

July 17

It’s a Monday and Baltimore is buzzing about the Orioles. At the Shop, everyone is going over the weekend’s games against the California Angels. Saturday’s game was a wild and woolly one with Orioles’ outfielder Mike Deveraux winning it on a home run in the 9th inning. The homer was disputed as the Angles were convinced the ball went foul as it traveled down the left field line and out of the park. A brief argument ends when the umpires calmly walk off the field. Sunday’s game started off strange enough when Angels’ manager Doug Rader is ejected from the game while delivering the lineup cards to home plate. He handed them to home plate umpire Ken Kaiser with a word or two and was promptly tossed before the first pitch. It took extra innings but the Birds walked off winners again and find themselves in first place by six games. Their fans including those on Central Avenue can’t believe it. Some work is done along with all the baseball discussion. Some stainless steel flat bars for Klaunberg are rolled on the first floor while upstairs the new Pines is used to bend some elbows for C.R. Daniels. The order is pretty big with 2500 bends and will be finished in a day or so.

The Shop’s job book entry. F.H. Klaunberg job. July 19, 1989.
The Shop’s job book entry. C.R. Daniels job. July 19, 1989.
CR Daniels tubes on air bender
Aluminum elbows for C.R. Daniels.
C.R. Daniels aluminum elbow being checked for roundness.

July 27

The end of July is always a mad scramble to finish jobs so we can take our annual week long vacation. Trucks come in for the final pickups and jobs are rushed in and out of the machines for completion. Some copper fountain sprayer tubes are rolled and a fancy brass ornamental bar rail along with two order for Warren-Ehret. It’s like this every year. We really work hard to earn this week off and that goes for the crew as well as the Kavanagh’s.

The Shop’s job book entry. Warren-Ehret Company job. July 27, 1989.

August 4

Vacation is upon us and the Kavanagh’s and crew are thrilled. This is the one solid week off they have every year and it is much anticipated. Before leaving, Jack has some news for Ann and me. He and Nancy are having another baby who will be born early in the New Year. Another Kavanagh baby and he has already told my parents who are on the moon and now we spread the word to the rest of the clan.

Jack Kavanagh Jr. Office of 201 S. Central Avenue. Early 1990s.
Jack and Betty Kavanagh. 1990s.

August 10

Part of my vacation is spent in West Virginia. It’s a long drive from Baltimore and when I arrive I see a large glorified farm house with a lot of land around it. Dozens of guitar students have converged on the place with about a dozen experienced players to teach us. That does include Robert Fripp and I am a wee big starstruck as Fripp’s playing is of the highest level. I learn left hand and right hand techniques based on the Guitar Craft philosophy. Some of this applies to things besides music. One of the dictums is “Honor Necessity.” I take that to heart and do try to emphasize in my playing and my life what is necessary first. The weekend is a strange one(the food is vegetarian and that’s unusual for me but I manage) and an inspiring one. I receive two private lessons with Robert himself and he’s every bit the old British schoolmaster as he would seem. Very friendly and very helpful to me. He even gives me a few extra minutes on my second lesson because the next student did not show up. The night before leaving Robert drags a few of us into the kitchen to help with the dinner clean up. One of my claims to fame becomes I washed dishes with Robert Fripp. The ride home is a long one and I give great thought to all I learned and hope to grow as a musician because of it.

Jack Jr. and Joe Kavanagh. Kensington Parkway. 1989.

August 16

Our first week back from our break is a very busy one with trucks delivering material and jobs that need to be expedited passing through the Shop. On this Wednesday, we already have some orders ready including two angle jobs for Ackerman and Baynes and another set of flat bars re-rolled for Price Brothers who are becoming one of our most reliable customers.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes jobs. August 14 and 16, 1989.
The Shop’s job book entry. Price Brothers job. August 16, 1989.

August 24

The dog days of summer get some help today as we have the rosin pot lit because we have some pipes to fill for Bengies Welding. The filling is a hot messy process but to bend pieces to a small radius, it is sometimes required to keep the pipe or tube from collapsing. The tubes are stood up and lashed to the back steps then bucket after bucket is poured into them. After a day, they are hard and can be rolled with little trouble. The final step is heating the tubes up with torches and melting the rosin out. Again it’s messy and hot but necessary. It’s a job you love in February but hate in August.

The Shop’s job book entry. Bengies Welding job. August 28, 1989.

September 8

The Orioles have dropped out of first place but are still in contention. I’m starting to think things have caught up with this young upstart team but I hold out hope we can finish strong and win the Division. The phone rings all day which is a good thing overall but it does keep us on our toes. Two railings are rolled today, one from brass tube and one from steel pipe and another order for C.R. Daniels is knocked out and delivered.

Rolled Brass Molded Cap Rail.
The Shop’s job book entry. C.R. Daniels job. September 8, 1989.

September 15

Codd Fabricators picks up a pipe job today. Four 3” pipes were rolled to match a full scale layout of an irregular curve. It takes more time than I had allotted for it. I may have been a little too excited when I got the call for a price from Pete Kolb. He told me this was another job for a movie. This movie is being produced and directed by another local filmmaker, Barry Levinson. Mr. Levinson is much more mainstream than John Waters but he is also becoming a Baltimore film icon. He has filmed several movies in Baltimore and will do more. This movie is called “Avalon” and it tells the tale of an immigrant family coming to America and finding success. The success is tempered with the ups and downs of life and years. I don’t know it at the time but this film is rather similar to the Kavanagh’s and their story. We came here much earlier but we too found success, freedom and happiness. This time I ask Pete how the pieces will be used in the movie and he finds out for me. The pipes will be used in the opening scene of the film when “Sam Krichinsky” comes to Baltimore on the 4th of July, 1914. Lights are attached to the pipes and they serve as an archway during the Independence Day festivities. I am starting to love doing these sort of jobs. I like dealing with sculptors when they need our help but movies are even cooler. In this case, I can point to the screen and say “we did this.”

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job for move “Avalon.” September 15, 1989.
Avalon Fouth of July Scene
Movie poster for Avalon. Courtesy of Getty Images and Baltimore Pictures.

September 21

Some aluminum pipes are annealed and rolled for Chesapeake Machine on a cool fall day. It’s the perfect day for annealing with little wind but not much heat. The wind blowing through the Shop can be a challenge when holding a torch so still and cool is perfect.

The Shop’s job book entry. Chesapeake Machine job. September 21, 1989.

October 2

Monday comes and I return to the Shop after a disappointing weekend for the Birds. Even while practicing with the band, I kept an eye on the Orioles series versus the Toronto Blue Jays. We were swept and will not make the playoffs but it was a surprisingly good year for Baltimore baseball. With very low expectations, the young club won 87 games and finishes 2nd in the Eastern Division. It was a fun year for us fans with the Orioles winning many games in comeback fashion and it boosted our hopes for the future of the team. The 1989 season is now called the “Why Not?” year and despite not making the postseason, it was a blast to watch. After talking through the whole weekend and season with my brother and sister, we get to work. I take a job card out to Jerry Purnell and get the boys started on some big 6” flat bars for Ackerman and Baynes.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes job. October 3, 1989.

October 6

Another order for C.R. Daniels is completed today and Jack gives them a call. They are one of his customers but he doesn’t like calling anyone on the telephone. My brother is a Shop guy through and through. Today he’s rather distracted too. He is going to the Capital Center tonight for Opening Night of the NHL season. The Capitals play the Flyers and will gain a measure of revenge for last year’s playoff loss by winning 5- 3.

The Shop’s job book entry. C.R. Daniels job. October 6, 1989.

October 28

Lethal Injection has its first gig. Our friend Dave Muelberger shares a house with four other guys on Belvedere Avenue. Dave’s birthday is on Halloween and he decides to throw a party on the Saturday before. We like Dave and hang out with him occasionally and party. He has asked us to play and we are nervous but excited. We set up in the big old house on the corner and it’s a wild affair. A big crowd of mostly guys show up including my old friend from the neighborhood, John Muldowney. A lot of Dave’s pals went to Archbishop Curley High School like John and we know most of them. The music is loud. The keg is on the porch where Dave’s neighbor can help himself so he won’t be calling the cops on us. It’s a real severe crazy party but a fun night. We do get pretty tanked as we cover RUSH, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed and with Dave’s guidance and some random luck, Frank Zappa. We do okay for our first time and Dave assures us whenever he throws a big party, we’ll be invited and most likely playing. Tonight is also the last game of the World Series between the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants. The Series only goes four games but is delayed by an earthquake just before the start of Game three. The quake causes serious damage to both Oakland and San Francisco including Candlestick Park.. The A’s sweep the Giants to win the championship but I miss it all. As much as I love baseball, music and fun and being twenty-four is something I like even more. Baseball is taking a back seat for now but not forever.

1987 Lethal Injection Macon Street
Lethal Injection Macon Street. 1987. Joe Kavanagh, Chris Voxakis, Ray French and Tim Heaps(Left to right).

November 14

I call Eastern Ornamental Iron and speak to Ferdie, the owner. Ferdie has a small shop with just himself and a helper working there. He does small residential work especially exterior railings. Usually these are made of small bar channels and ornamental molded caps rolled to a template. We do these a few times a year for him and I tell him they are ready and he can get them whenever he wants.

The Shop’s job book entry Eastern Ornamental Iron job. November 14, 1989.
The Shop’s job book entry Eastern Ornamental Iron job. November 14, 1989.

November 21

Some of our customers specialize in artistic or decorative work and Creative Iron Works is one such company. They are a full fab shop but usually the work has some aesthetic element. We finish what for us is a very standard tube job and send them a bill.

The Shop’s job book entry. Creative Iron Works job. November 21, 1989.

November 27

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and that’s my favorite holiday. I look forward to the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and parsnips, that Kavanagh traditional favorite. Nancy and Jim are hosting and I will be there bringing my appetite with me. With our minds on food, we do finish and deliver some 5” X 1” Steel Flat Bars to Price Brothers. These were not re-rolls but a completely new order. They are rolled across the 5” face or the hardway as we call it and it takes some power to get the bars down. Fortunately, we have an R-6-S and the job is handled with just a few screeches from the machine.

The Shop’s job book entry. Price Brothers job. November 27, 1989.

December 6

It’s hump day and I am already looking forward to the weekend. We’ve stayed busy most of this year and the work has been good. In a few weeks, Christmas will be upon us and we’ll all enjoy a couple of days away from the Shop. A beam is rolled for Chesapeake Machine and when I call them, they inform me they are sending in some angles to be rolled when they pick up. It’s been that kind of year. Jobs go out. Jobs come in. These are very thin angles and extra care will have to be taken to keep them from buckling but it’s nothing we can’t handle.

The Shop’s job book entry. Chesapeake Machine job. December 6, 1989.
The Shop’s job book entry. Chesapeake Machine job. December 13, 1989.

December 25

Christmas is celebrated at Nancy and Jim’s house on Birch Drive and the Kavanagh’s assemble. My parents make the drive up and stay at a hotel for a couple days so they can see us all and more importantly, see the grandkids. The food is ample, the drink is flowing and music fills the home and our hearts as it does every year. I arrive a little late but it’s good to see everyone. With such a big family and us all older, the times when we are all together are rarer and rarer. Much of the family’s focus is on Jack’s wife Nancy who is eight months pregnant and will have her second baby in late January. A new baby and another Kavanagh is something we all celebrate. As Mom and Dad leave receiving an abundance of hugs and kisses, I follow suit and hit the road.  I drive home to 4215 Bayonne then make the walk up the stairs to my apartment. I open a cold beer then pick up my guitar. I fiddle about with some tunes while flipping through the television. I have some time off coming up and I am very happy about that. Lethal Injection will get some solid practice and jam sessions over the holiday break. That is my Christmas now. The time off and the time to play means more than presents and all that. It’s been a good year and I am happy Mom and Dad are enjoying their well-deserved repose in Ocean City. They can now live life without much concern or worry. They both know the Shop seems to be in good hands. Ann is very smart and meticulous at business. Jack is a super talented metalsmith and as hard a worker as you can find. Me? I’ve got a big mouth. That’s my not so secret weapon.

Jack Kavanagh Sr., Jim O”Neill, Joe Ryan(neighbor) and Richard Bosse in background. Birch Drive. Late 1980s.
Jack Kavanagh Sr. on piano at Kensington Parkway. Jack Jr. Nancy Kavanagh, Nancy O”Neill, Betty Kavanagh and Handy Brandenburg singing. Late 1980s.



George Bush is inaugurated as the President of the United States. The Savings and Loan Crisis hits hard and the US pays 200 billion dollars to end it. The first GPS Satellite is sent into orbit. The freighter the Exxon Valdez spills nearly a quarter of a million barrels of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Fox airs the first episodes of “the Simpsons.”  The 486 microprocessor is invented. The first Game Boy is sold in the US. Nolan Ryan reaches the unfathomable number of 5000 strikeouts in his career. All-time hits leader Pete Rose is banned from baseball for life by Commissioner Bart Giamatti after reports of his gambling on baseball games. Giamatti dies of a heart attack less than two weeks later. Wayne Gretzky becomes the NHL’s all time leading scorer. The films “Batman,” “Dead Poets Society” and “My Left Foot” are released. Lucille Ball, Bette Davis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Abbie Hoffman and Gilda Radner die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

Ann, Jack & Joe Lakewood Ave yard
The Third Family. Ann, Jack and Joe Kavanagh. Backyard of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Mid 1970s.

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

Table of Contents

1988 The End of An Era

January 3

Another year starts, I have had my grand adventure in Europe and now it’s time to get to work. I continue to play in the band, Lethal Injection. My friends and I are getting better though we still struggle to practice enough. We work different schedules on some days and we are are in our 20s so some days we are distracted. The Shop will soon pass to the ownership of my generation. My father and mother are preparing to exit the company having taken a large step back in the last year. Plans will be made for a buy-sell agreement to pay my father for the company over time. Ann, Jack and I are the team my father wanted. As in generations before, the Shop needs a really good smith and engineer, a good business person and a salesman. My brother is a top notch metalsmith and an expert bender. He’s very skilled and also has a good understanding of mechanics and engineering. Ann is experienced in business with a strong knowledge of accounts payable, receivable and handling the balance sheet. She’s also adept at keeping up on the variety of rules and regulations that a business must deal with in order to stay open. I am a fair smith and a good annealer with some training in drawings and engineering as well but mostly, I’m a loudmouth. Firstly, my name is Joseph Kavanagh and new customers ask for me based on that and in the last few years, I have become the primary contact for most customers and vendors. They usually deal with me at some point and I have that sort of personality according to my father. We are similar to the team of my great-grandfather’s generation. James the engineer, Frank the expert coppersmith and Joe the master salesman, vaudevillian and “little man with the big voice.” We work well together and this has helped the transition a great deal. Mom and Dad’s appearances at the Shop are more and more sporadic and they are ready to ride off into the sunset.

Jack and Betty Kavanagh. 1980s.

January 15

It’s the middle of a cold January and there are a few jobs going on at the corner of Pratt & Central. Several small angle flanges are curved while a set of pipe rings are rolled for Turnbull Enterprises. These 1 1/2” Pipes are done in the R-3-S then two rings are trimmed out of each 20 ft. length. This order is a recurring regular recurring item we do for Turnbull.

The Shop’s job book entry. Turnbull Enterprises job. January 15, 1988.

January 29

A job for Ackerman and Baynes is rolled in the R-6-S on this Friday. A big 1/2” thick 6” X 4” steel Angle is curved with the 6” leg in. This is the hardest way to roll an angle but the machine eats it up. The legs are straight and the piece looks perfect. At the end of the day, I head home for a weekend of fun with the band. This Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday and the Washington Redskins will beat the Denver Broncos 42-10 but I don’t watch. Sports means less and less to me and I was never a big football fan to start. I spend most of the weekend in the garage on LaSalle jamming. We are making some progress and I feel we are learning to play together better while continuing to improve individually.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes job. January 29, 1988.

February 2

Baltimore is an unseasonably warm place on this Tuesday with a high of 70 degrees. That is shocking  in February. Instead of huddling in front of heaters, the crew have the doors open and are sweating as they work. Another big angle is completed today for Ackerman and Baynes in the R-6-S. The big machine is clearly our best money maker right now.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes job. February 2, 1988.

February 19

Ann and I are in the Shop’s office discussing the Winter Olympics in Calgary when I receive a call from Products Support. We are working on a large order of bent aluminum tubes for them. Products Support sends the tubes to us after they knurl them. Knurling is a process whereby a pattern that serves as a grip for the tube is stamped onto the aluminum. These are handles and the grips are essential. The tubes are nearly finished and I tell them they can pick up this afternoon.

The Shop’s job book entry. Products Support job. February 19, 1988.

March 1

A set of 1” Squ. Steel tubes is completed for Codd Fabricators and Pete Kolb himself drives up in his pick up to get them. He and my father chat for a while in the front of the Shop. I’m in and out of the office but take a few glances at them. Two old metalsmiths and veterans of the industry talking for what would be the last time in person. It reminds me sharply of my first days at the Shop when I first met Pete,  and it seems so long ago but is not even ten years. Pete drives off and Dad returns to the office.

“How’s Pete?” I ask as I write a card up for some sprayer pipes for Industrial Fabricators.

Dad settles into his chair in the small crowded office. “He’s fine. They got a big boiler job they are into right now. Pete was telling me all about it.”

I spin my chair to face him. “Sounds good, Dad. Will we get any work out of it?”

“Yeah, Pete says they will need some angles for flanges and some bars for stiffeners. We’ll see it next week.” Dad takes a sip of his coffee. “He said those tubes he picked up are for some movie.”

I raise an eyebrow curiously. “A movie? No kidding. What’s it called?”

“The Accidental something. I don’t remember what the devil it is but they’re filming it in town here.” Dad places his empty coffee cup on the desk.

“That’s interesting. I’ll have to see it when it comes out.” I hop up from my chair and head to the office door. “I gotta go check on Mike. He’s having some trouble with the R-3-S.”

“It’s probably the bearings.” Dad answers quickly swiveling his head to watch me leave.

“I know.” I pause at the door and smile at him. My father even when distracted usually has the answers. This work, this place is in his blood. “I’ll give the machine a listen while he rolls and let you know.” He gives me a small nod as I walk into the Shop. He’s right of course. The bearings in the front shaft have worn out and need replacement. I feel pretty confident that is the problem based on the rattling in the machine. Of course, my father knew what it was before he heard anything. His knowledge, experience and pure mechanical skill still trump my senses. We’ll order a set of bearings and have Comeq send someone to install them. It’s not a major repair but the kind of thing it’s best to attend to quickly. Continued operation could cause a piece of a broken bearing to damage the shaft or hydraulics which would be much worse. The movie turns out to be “the Accidental Tourist” and it will be released just before Christmas.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job for the film, “the Accidental Tourist.” March 1, 1988.
The Shop’s job book entry. Industrial Fabricators job. March 3, 1988.
Jack Kavanagh Sr. and Joe Kavanagh. 6 Kensington Parkway. 1986.

March 26

The Joseph Kavanagh Company takes another step into the modern age. Another PC is purchased and it is networked together with the old computer. The Shop has its first networked computer system for jobs, records and accounting, something Ann has wanted since she was hired. What is normal fare for most businesses, finally becomes the norm here. In addition to this modernization, Dad, Jack and I begin discussing buying a new Pines bender. The old Pines is exactly that: old. It still works but is getting a little unreliable. We all agree it is time to find a new bender for pipe and Pines has a variety of machines available. Jack and I begin looking into these options before we decide further.

Front view of Pines 1 1/4″ Pipe Bender with no tools on the machine.
Digital Dial-A-Bend controls for Pines 1 1/4″ Pipe Bender.

March 29

Two 4” X 2” steel flat bars are rolled the Hardway for Ackerman and Baynes. Jack, Dad and I stand near the R-6-S. This job is one we all want to see because the bars are so big. It’s a test for the Six and it’s capabilities but the machine handles it well. They weigh about 550 lbs. each and it takes a lot of power to curve something solid like this. Moving them around can be dangerous as well but when they are finished, the bars look great.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes job. March 29, 1988.

April 4

The Orioles Opening Day is today and they are shut out 12-0 by the Milwaukee Brewers setting a record for an opening day loss. Today is a tough way to start a season but it will get much worse. The Orioles will begin this season on a horrific record-setting losing streak of twenty-one.

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

April 16

The Washington Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers in 7 games to advance to the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They come back from 3-0 in the final game to win in overtime on a Dale Hunter breakaway goal. It is retribution to Capitals’ fans for the Easter Eve loss last year.

Washington Capitals hockey pucks.

April 25

The Caps are again bumped from the playoffs by the New Jersey Devils. Advancing to the second round and wiping away the sting of last year’s elimination was good but it’s yet another disappointing end to the season. My brother is ever positive and again believes they are heading in the right direction to win the Cup soon.

Washington Capitals souvenir pompom.

April 27

The work has picked up and the Shop finally has a two week backlog. Besides the jobs on hand, an hour is spent loading a truck for Anchor Fence Company. We have completed two orders for them in the last few days. One was twenty pieces of 2 1/2” steel pipe for a bridge job and the other was 2- 6” pipes bent to 90 deg. for a large industrial railing. It’s good to see these jobs go out the door and to be able to send the invoices. We also order a new Pines Bender, a 1 1/4” Pipe Bender with Digital Dial-A-Bend. The Digital controls are something that intrigues me. The unit has a memory and can save instructions and information about jobs for future reference. The machine will be here in June.

The Shop’s job book entry. Anchor Fence job. April 25, 1988.
The Shop’s job book entry. Anchor Fence job. April 27, 1988.
Digital Dial-A-Bend controls for Pines 1 1/4″ PIpe Bender.

May 2

A windy Monday at 201 S. Central Avenue is spent on a rail job, some small elbows and finishing a large stainless steel angle order for the Kelco Company. I’m reviewing some drawings for a Products Support job we do several times a year. I confirm that the dimensions haven’t changed. The tubes are 1 5/8” O.D and they each get 2- bends to match the sketch. Everything is the same so we are good to go on this one. Through out the day, most of the discussion is of the Orioles. The Birds finally won their first game Friday, beating the White Sox after this seemingly endless losing streak. The whole City was down from this terrible start but very much in the Baltimore spirit, fans rallied around the team and were waiting very patiently for win #1. The season is shot now but I hope this takes the pressure off and they can play better the rest of the way.

The Shop’s job book entry. Kelco Company job. May 2, 1988.
The Shop’s job book entry. Products Support job. May 4, 1988.

May 6

This Friday is Miss Helen’s last day working at the Shop. Helen Glodek has worked for my father for almost 20 years. She was always a kind sweet lady and has slowly been cutting back her hours for several years. We have a small lunch from Haussner’s for all of us in the office to celebrate and thank her. Miss Helen looks forward to retirement with her husband, Mitch. Hugs are given out as she leaves the corner of Pratt and Central for the last time. When we get back to work, the first thing I do is call Larry LeForce at Anchor Fence to tell him another order is ready. This is another large set of bent pipes for a bridge. Anchor Fence has helped keep us pretty busy so far this year with orders flying in every month.

The Shop’s job book entry. Anchor Fence job. May 6, 1988.

June 15

The new Pines 1 1/4” Bender arrives. Big Boy Rigging delivers it to us and cranes it up to the second floor as we requested. Most of the pipe and tube bending is done upstairs in the back of the building so it only makes sense to place this new machine there. The Leonard Air Bender is up there along with a few hand benders and a wide array of tools. Jack is like a kid at Christmas with this new bender and he begins learning all he can as fast as he can. The rest of the workers are a little distracted as the new Pines is unloaded and placed by Big Boy. Usually our crew is more involved but it’s a good thing we have the riggers today as we have plenty of jobs to finish. A set of copper fountain sprayer tubes and a couple angles for Ackerman and Baynes are finished today.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes job. June 15, 1988.
Pines 1 1/4″ Pipe Bender.
Mandrel Extactor on rear of Pines 1 1/4″ Pipe Bender.
Power box and fuse box for Pines 1 1/4″ Pipe Bender.
Assorted tools for PInes 1 1/4″ Pipe Bender.

June 23

A small rush order is completed for Anchor Fence. It is only three pieces of pipe but these are needed on the job site tomorrow so a premium is charged. Also another order for Products Support is completed. Those same tubes with the two bends only this order is for eight pieces.

The Shop’s job book entry. Anchor Fence job. June 23, 1988.
The Shop’s job book entry. Products Support job. June 23, 1988.

July 1

The Summer rolls on with another job for Anchor Fence. 10- 3” Pipes and 10- 4” Pipes must be rolled and a hole drilled in each one. The pipes will be galvanized after rolling and the hole is used to lower and raise them in and out of the dipping vat. Mike Glenn takes care of the holes using a hand drill after the pipes are clamped securely to a steel table.

The Shop’s job book entry. Anchor Fence job. July 1, 1988.

July 7

I speak to Frank Schmidt at Industrial Fabricators this morning about picking up a railing we rolled for them. It’s a mix of 1” and 1 1/4” steel pipes. Also a set of very heavy bars is rolled for Codd Fab. including some 3 1/2” Square Solid steel bars. These are close to the maximum capability of the R-6-S but they roll. The machine squeaks and squawks a bit which is mostly do to the natural effect of bending steel but the bars are a good smooth curve and match each other. It’s another heavy test for the Six but the machine passes with flying colors. These bars are 800 lbs each and with anything that heavy, extra care is required when moving them around.

The Shop’s job book entry. Industrial Fabricators job. July 7, 1988.
The Shop’s job book enry. Codd Fabricators job. July 7, 1988.

July 19

We are nearing the end of July and that means summer vacation is approaching. We are in the mad scramble to get things finished to assure we can close for our annual weekly break. Along with a variety of rolled pieces, a 41- tube copper heat exchanger is picked up by the Housing Authority today.  The Shop still gets a fair amount of heat exchanger work but not quite like five years ago. Slowly but surely, the old copper units are being replaced with PVC exchangers. PVC is not something we can bend. It is a form of plastic and the more I hear about these units, the more I worry this work may some day all be gone.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore City job. July 19, 1988.
Heat Exchanger brochure
Heat Exchanger.

July 29

This Friday is the last day before the Kavanagh’s and crew’s vacation and my uncle Ed chooses this day to retire. With Helen gone and Mom and Dad heading in that direction, he knows it’s time for him to stop working too. Ed, like Helen, has been cutting his days and hours back for a couple of years and he’s ready to retire. Ed was a lot of fun to work with. He has a big personality with a lot of humor sprinkled in there. He was a jokester and a bit of an instigator in the Shop but the crew all loved him. We have a small lunch party for the Kavanagh’s and crew to celebrate. Ed holds court for one more day in the front of the Shop. He gets the boys laughing quick as he always did. With some kidding from Jerry Purnell and Mike Glenn, Ed even breaks into a little bit of a jitterbug. It’s his last dance at the Shop and the boys clap along.  My father stands with Jack and me as we watch. I’ll miss Ed,  and his departure makes it clearer and clearer that the Third Family’s time is upon us.

Ed Kavanagh Jr. Late 1970s.
Ed Kavanagh Jr. and Jack Kavanagh Sr. 6 Kensington Parkway. 1986.

August 10

We have returned from our brief respite to a Shop full of orders. The first several days of the week are mostly spent unloading trucks full of material,  then we get to work. On this Wednesday, a Codd Fabricators job of 6” X 3/8” flat bars is rolled to a big radius per a furnished template. You take a chance on the template if you haven’t seen it first. Sometimes they can be horribly irregular and a big challenge to match but this one is not so bad. The bars lay right on the template and they look fine.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. August 10, 1988.

August 16

After the glut of post-vacation jobs has slowed down, we have returned to a fairly normal schedule but that changes quickly when we receive a rush order. Ackerman and Baynes sends in one 2 1/2” steel angle they need curved into a ring today. A premium is charged and the piece is banged out quick in the R-3-S then carried back to the customer on their truck.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes job. August 16, 1988.

August 23

I pull in front of 201 S. Central Avenue and park in the small alley between the main building and the side building we use for storage. I rush out of my car because I’m a couple minutes late. I was jamming pretty hard last night with the other members of Lethal Injection  and didn’t make it home until after 11 p.m. I tell myself I can’t do this anymore. As important as music is to me, I can’t let it affect the Shop this way. It’s happened a few times and I know Ann and Jack don’t like it. Who can blame them? I put a moratorium on playing with the band past 9:30 at night. Once I’m in the Shop, I check the status of a job for the G-S Co. in Dundalk. The order consists of a set of bars rolled the hardway to be used as the top of a handrail. I also take a quick look at two angle rings being made for Ackerman and Baynes. Both jobs are nearly ready so I call the customers and tell them to come by after lunch.

The Shop’s job book entry. G-S Company job. August 23, 1988.
The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes job. August 23, 1988.

September 28

The cool fall weather has slowed the flow of work slightly but not much. We have worked two Saturdays a month through the summer but now we stop those weekend hours. The work is still strong but five days is sufficient. A nice order for Turnbull Enterprises is completed. Twenty-three 1” Stainless Steel Pipes 20 ft. long are coiled to a 17” Diameter. Each one makes three to four rings and this is another recurring job which we see two or three times a year. At the end of the day, I drive over to my sister Nancy’s house. Nancy and her husband Jim and their three girls live on Birch Drive in Woodlawn  and they’ve asked me to give some guitar lessons to their oldest, Maura. I’m excited to do it. It’s a chance for a home-cooked meal once a week and I always knew Maura was a rock ‘n’ roller.

The Shop’s job book entry. Turnbull Etnerprises job. September 28, 1988.
Maura Kavanagh O’Neill. 1985.
CF Martin 00-21 guitar.

October 7

The Washington Capitals lose to the Penguins 6-4 in their home opener. Jack is there and he is really starting to hate losing to Pittsburgh. He’s happy though because he and his wife Nancy have purchased 6 Kensington Parkway from my parents. Along with baby Paul, they move in and my parents relocate to Ocean City staying in the Blue Bay Condominium while a new house is built on 11th Street.

1988 Dad and Mom at door of Kensington Parkway
Jack Kavanagh Sr. & Betty Kavanagh. 6 Kensington Parkway. 1988.
Jack Jr., Nancy and Paul Kavanagh. 1987.

October 14

It’s a cool October Friday and I’m anxious for the day to be done. I look forward to a weekend of practice and playing with my bandmates. My father and mother are in today and we all have lunch together. Dad brings up the upcoming World Series which matches the Oakland Athletics against the Los Angeles Dodgers. It should be a good series and we will be pulling for the A’s as they represent the American League. The Orioles had a very forgettable year although they played much better after the disastrous start. The day drags by as we work on a mix of small jobs including two 4” steel pipe elbows for Codd Fabricators which were rolled in the R-5-S.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. October 14, 1988.

October 21

Ann, Jack and I are discussing the World Series as Los Angeles finished off the A’s last night and took the championship. The series seemed to turn the Dodgers’ way after winning the first game on a walk off homer by Kirk Gibson. He was nursing a bad leg and presumed unable to play but came off the bench to win it. The Shop is staying steady as we head to the holidays. A set of four heavy 10” X 3/4” thick steel plates are rolled the easyway for Gischel Machine. I also get a call from Turnbull Enterprises. They need five more of the 17” Diameter pipe coils we make for them and the material will arrive early next week.

The Shop’s job book entry. Gischel Machine job. October 21, 1988.
The Shop’s job book entry. Turnbull Enterprises job. October 26, 1988.

November 1

A meeting of the Board of Directors of the Joseph Kavanagh Company is held with the Shop’s lawyer Roland Bounds present. With Mr. Bounds’ guidance, an agreement is reached on the sale of the stock from my parents to Ann, Jack and me. The legal papers must be properly drawn up but Mr. Bounds promises all this will be ready by January. Jack Kavanagh Jr. will be the President of the company as planned and receive 40 % of the stock. I will be Vice-President and Ann Secretary/Treasurer while we both receive 30 % of the stock.

Eddie and Jack Kavanagh. 1950s.
Jack Kavanagh Sr. at the Shop at 201 S. Central Avenue with customer. Circa 1960.

November 8

Vice-President George Bush defeats Michael Dukakis to win the Presidency. I vote for the second time but this time, I abandon the two parties. I’ve come to the realization that the two parties are fighting over morality and things that have little to do with governance. Doing right and being fair to all people including small businesses seems to take a back seat to partisanship. I write myself in for President but do not win. I am very stunned when I ask about the process for writing in a vote and the election worker is not sure. He quickly looks into it and gives me the instructions then informs me no one has ever written in at this polling place. I’m pretty shocked,  but most people seem committed to one of the two parties and I guess I should not be surprised. The gentleman is very excited nonetheless and he chases me down after I leave the ballot booth. He asks with a sly grin on his face as if I just spiked the punch at a prom, “Did you do it?” I answer yes and leave even more disenchanted with the electoral process in the US.

Joseph Michael Kavanagh. Shop’s office. 201 S. Central Avenue. 1988.

December 16

A large order is picked up just in time for the holidays by the Standard Supplies Company. The job is primarily angles but also several heavy structural channels as well. The loading on this job takes about an hour as weight limits require many trips on the hoist and to do so safely requires a little more time.

The Shop’s job book entry. Standard Supplies job. December 16, 1988.
The Shop’s job book entry. Standard Supplies job. December 16, 1988.

December 25

Christmas is very different for the Kavanagh’s this year. With Mom & Dad no longer having a home in the Baltimore area, the party is at my sister Nancy’s house on Birch Drive. My parents drive up and stay at a hotel for a couple of days so they are there with all of us. Most of the family is in attendance. I am late but I make it to celebrate. I’m twenty-three now and family things like birthdays and Christmas aren’t as important as they once were. I’m happy to see all my sisters and the food is delicious and the feast does include parsnips. After eating and the kids opening gifts, my Dad makes his way to Nancy and Jim’s piano and we gather around it. It’s like we all have flashed back to Lakewood Avenue for an hour or so. Dad plays Christmas songs and those old classics and we sing along. As always, he ends the music with “Sentimental Journey.” Music has always been a big part of our celebrations whether it be the holidays or a wedding. Regardless, at the end, we circle the piano with my father tickling the ivories. As the party breaks up, we all bid each other farewell with a special hug and kiss for Mom. We won’t be seeing them as much now that they live on the Eastern Shore,  so Mom must get her hug. This is a big change for our family,  and for the Joseph Kavanagh Company, it’s the end of an era. My father has worked here for 48 years. His tenure is only surpassed by his father, Eddie. Dad was a great metalsmith and an even better leader. He commanded respect without asking for it and gave it back without it being requested. His men loved him and he them. I will always remember the many times he would stand at the front of the Shop during a coffee break and discuss sports, work or family. He knew his workers’ families and the kids names. These things were important to him and he made sure to always remember them. When you can recall details of someone’s life, they like it. It makes them feel as if they matter even more and this added to the way his crew felt about him. There was absolute faith and trust in him and he deserved it all. Jack Kavanagh Sr. started as an apprentice coppersmith then went to war. He came back home and soon was a master coppersmith,  then the boss. He guided the Shop in its transition from the now outdated coppersmith industry. He made the Shop into a metal bending and rolling operation and a successful one as well. A business as old as this one is bound to have a pretty strong positive reputation in the industry. That reputation for quality, hard work and excellence was only augmented in Big Jack’s years. He had a calm demeanor at work though his sons may have tested that a few times. Dad had a way of remaining razor focused but also never losing sight of the big picture of what needed to be done. Replacing him will be impossible. Ann, Jack and I will do all we can and find our own way of making it work. We can never be his replacements merely his relief. When he retired, he wondered to me what would he do with all of tedhis time. I told him to play the piano, fish and bother my mother. He enjoyed doing all of those things and took my quip in stride. He had his doubts but it only took a year or so before he realized this is what he wanted. He and Mom dreamed of retiring to Ocean City and living a life of leisure. Despite always wanting that, it took some time to really sink in and for Dad to accept it. The Shop feels like a lifetime job for us Kavanagh’s. Even retirement is not the same as it is for other folks. Crazy Joe, Dad’s grandfather, continued to come “down to the Shop” for a few years as did Eddie my grandfather. It was too difficult for those two to turn it off and just live their lives. My father has my mother and she will help him to accept that his time here is over. The long 48 year work day is done and now it’s time for he and her to live. Simply to live with and for each other. As far as the Shop goes, he’s still only a phone call away.

1988 Dad at piano Birch Drive
Jack Kavanagh Sr., Jim O’Neill, Mr. & Mrs. Joe Ryan. 24 Birch Drive. Christmas 1988.
Jack Kavanagh sr. with Jim O’Neill and Joe Ryan(family friend). Birch Drive. 1985.



Ronald Reagan is the President but will be replaced by newly elected George Bush his former Vice-President. Sonny Bono is elected mayor of Palm Springs, California. Dell Computer is incorporated. The first night baseball games are played at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Space Shuttle Discovery is sent into orbit. Ted Turner buys Crockett Productions/the National Wrestling Alliance and forms World Championship Wrestling. The first World AIDS Day is held. The films “Beetlejuice,” Hair Spray” and “Mississippi Burning” are released. Stephen Curry, Antonio Brown, and Stephen Strasberg are born. Roy Orbison, Louis L’Amour, Edward Bennett Williams,  Anne Ramsey, and Divine die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

Jack Kavanagh Sr. Corner office at 201 S. Central Avenue. Early 1970s

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

Table of Contents


1987 Paul Kavanagh

January 12

The Joseph Kavanagh Company begins another year of transition. More steps are taken in the passage of the business from my father to my sister, brother and me. My parents are semi-retired and come in most days but some weeks they drive to the beach where they feel they belong now. Mom and Dad have wanted to live in Ocean City for a long time and spend as much time as possible there. Even when Mom and Dad are at 201 S. Central Avenue, Ann, Jack and I are handling the day to day. Dad likes talking to the crew and overseeing a bit but only in an observatory way not supervisory, not anymore. Mom enjoys spending the day with Dad, us, the crew and even Ed and Miss Helen. Helen and Ed are both part-time from 9 am- 2 pm with Helen only in three days. It’s crowded in that small office and I spend chunks of the day in the old upstairs office that once belonged to my grandfather Eddie and his father Joe. I take phone calls, get prices on material, quote jobs and coordinate with the crew who are using the Roundo rollers. Jack handles most pipe or tube bending jobs, talking to the customers and often bending the parts himself. Ann has taken on the accounts payable, receivable and payroll as well most of the business end of the Shop. The new year has started off with some big news. Jack and Nancy are having a baby. My brother is going to be a father. I am ecstatic for him. This is something Jack has wanted for a long time and he will be great as will be Nancy. Mom and Dad and the family are so excited. This is another baby in the family but this one will be named Kavanagh. Jack tells me at the Shop and the word spreads among the crew and all are excited for my all grown up big brother.

Jack and Nancy Kavanagh. Box Hill North. 1987.

January 25

It is Super Bowl Sunday and the New York Giants defeat the Denver Broncos 39-20. I do not watch the game. I am jamming with Lethal Injection in the basement of Macon Street. We are still fiddling with our own jam songs but also making efforts to cover some of our favorite artists. We take stabs at Jacob’s Ladder, Limelight and Subdivisions by RUSH and Another Brick and Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd.

Lethal Injection’s practice space in the basement of Macon Street house. 1987.
Lethal Injection(Joe Kavanagh, Chris Voxakis, Tim Heaps, Ray French). Macon Street. 1987.

January 29

Two 4” angles are rolled today for American Iron Works in the R-6-S. The 6 is our best money maker because of the big structurals and angles but it’s not as easy to cover the time on these mid sized angles. The R-5 would be ideal but without the angle guide rolling attachments, it’s too difficult. The job works out fine but it puts a seed of thought in our minds about another machine.

The Shop’s job book entry. American Iron Works job. January 29, 1987.
Washington Capitals Game Ticket. February 6, 1987.

February 9

I order the Genesis-Nova Collapsible Guitar to take to Europe. I’m excited. I’ll be able to practice and play while away. It has nylon strings like a classical guitar and folds in half on a hinge. When playing, the hinge is locked and it has fins that can be moved and adjusted to give it the shape of a guitar.  I envision myself practicing every morning when I wake up before we head out into the world. That doesn’t exactly happen but I do play it.

The Genesis-Nov Collapsible Gutar.

February 18

The Shop’s unusually busy start to the year continues with several brass pipe jobs for Stromberg Sheet Metal and a large order of bent galvanized pipes for the Anchor Fence Co. Anchor does a great deal of bridge work and that usually requires pipes, sometimes one or two and sometimes more.

The Shop’s job book entry. Stromberg Sheet Metal jobs. February 18, 1987.
The Shop’s job book entry. Anchor Fence job. February 18, 1987.

March 11

I head home from the Shop driving up I-95 N to Box Hill. The day rolls through my mind and I make a mental note to call D-S Pipe tomorrow morning. We have an order for pipe bends ready for them. My thoughts are more on how quickly I can change, grab my guitar and drive back down to the city for practice at Macon Street. When I pull onto the parking pad at Kensington Parkway, I see I have a package. My portable guitar has arrived and I set about playing with it and learning all I can then head to practice.. The guys love the thing. It also has a pickup installed so I decide to buy a portable Rockman amp to combine with it. The amp doesn’t have a speaker but it has a headphone jack. I can plug into a speaker if an opportunity ever presents itself but primarily I can now play leads and electric with all the distortion and fun I might want. I look forward more and more to this great adventure.

The Shop’s job book entry. D-S Pipe job. March 11, 1987.
The Genesis-Nov Collapsible Gutar.

March 30

Several fountain sprayer pipes for Industrial Fabricators are rolled on this Monday. The pipes have holes drilled in them and the holes face the outside of the bend and are used to spray water out and into the fountain itself. These are rolled in the R-3-S and the most difficult part is being sure the holes are lined up at the proper angle to allow the correct water flow.

The Shop’s job book entry. Industrial Fabricators job. March 30, 1987.

April 6

The Orioles open their season at home against the Texas Rangers. The Kavanagh’s are working so the tickets are given away. With all of us kids older now, Mom and Dad give some thought to letting the season tickets go. I am the youngest and still living at home but I am much more involved in music and work these days. I still go to a few games and my sisters use the tickets as well,  and a half season plan may be more than any of us need. The Birds win today in walk off fashion with Rene Gonzalez scoring on a Sacrifice Fly hit by Larry Sheets in the bottom of the 9th inning. The final is 2-1 and the fans, 50,000 strong cheer and celebrate. We do the same at 201 S. Central as we are listening on the radio.

April 9

A set of 3 1/2” Steel Angles for Superior Iron Works is rolled in the R-5 and the crew has a little trouble with them. They have to be fixed in the R-6-S and we discuss purchasing another machine with our father. We have been thinking about it for a couple months. He agrees another angle roller that’s not quite as big as the 6 might be a good idea. There is an R-5-S available now and we decide to order it.

The Shop’s job book entry. Superior Iron Works job. April 9, 1987.

April 18

Today is Easter Eve and the Washington Capitals are hosting the New York Islanders in game 7 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Jack and his wife Nancy and my sister Ann are at the Capital Center to watch and it’s a close game which goes into overtime. After one extra frame, the score is still tied so they do it again and again. Poor Nancy sits there not complaining though she is six months pregnant. In the fourth overtime period, the Islanders score and win the game. It’s a heart breaking way to end a season and the game itself was exhausting to watch. I was viewing from home on television and I felt worn out by it but that was nothing compared to my brother, sister and sister-in-law. This is the longest game 7 in the Caps history and one of the toughest losses ever for the franchise. Jack is moody on the following Monday but I certainly don’t blame him. Ann is also a big hockey fan and she takes it better than he but is still exhausted from the whole experience. A very disappointing end to the year and one fans will not soon forget.

Washington Capitals Playoff Game 7 ticket. April 18, 1987.

April 28

The year has continued busy and the phone keeps ringing at the Shop. We are running strong with a two week backlog and it’s a very good sign for the year. Several 2 1/2” O.D. thin wall aluminum tubes are rolled for the Products Support Company today along with a mix of angle flanges and several railing jobs.

The Shop’s job book entry. Products Support job. April 28, 1987.

May 15

Durrett Sheppard Steel is a local steel supply company and the Kavanagh’s have purchased material from them for a few years.  In addition, Durrett occasionally has a customer who needs their steel bent or rolled and would rather Durret handle the whole thing so they are vendors and customers to us.  Today an order of square tube rings is rolled in the R-5 for them The Shop made these in January so it’s merely a matter of making a copy of a job card and doing the same thing.

The Shop’s job book entry. Durrett Sheppard job. May 15, 1987.

May 22

The warm weather is here and the corner of Pratt and Central is a busy place. Rings, flanges and some small tube bends are made while a set of flat bars are rolled and tack welded for Durrett Sheppard. We are not certified to weld but in the case of these heavy bars, we put a small tack weld to hold the rings together. They are rolled and trimmed as we go so the ends will butt together. The small tack helps the circle to maintain its shape during transit.

The Shop’s job book entry. Durrett Sheppard job. May 22, 1987.

May 26

As I countdown the days to my long expected trip, I spend a busy Tuesday fielding calls and prepping jobs while Jack is bending some short elbows for the C.R. Daniels Company. He is bending on the old Leonard Air Bender while the Pines Bender is used for some pipes for Anchor Fence. Ann is paying assorted bills from vendors for the material we use while also reviewing the company’s health insurance. Ann has a knack for all of this type of stuff and Jack and I are thrilled not to be dealing with it.

The Shop’s job book entry. Anchor Fence job. May 26, 1987.

June 9

Another job that requires some tack welding is picked up today. Superior Iron Works sent in some 5” Channels to be rolled the hardway. The hardway means the legs are vertical not pointed in or pointed out. Rolling channel and beam the hardway is a challenge as the legs want to buckle during the process. We weld them together in pairs to make a tube essentially. The “tubes” are then rolled and the legs support each other to maintain the proper shape. After they are out of the machine, the tacks are ground down then the makeshift tubes are split with a wedge. It’s a long labor intensive process but it works and the channels look good and match each other well.

The Shop’s job book entry. Superior Iron Works job. June 9, 1987.
Jack and Nancy Kavanagh. June 1987.

June 17

At the Shop, some stainless steel pipes are bent today in the Pines for Industrial Fabricators. We bent a set last week and they have ordered another and the work keeps rolling along. Chris Voxakis, Tim and Greg Heaps and I are headed to Europe. We take an early morning flight to New York’s JFK Airport. As the plane cruises over the city, I receive a great view of the Statue of Liberty. It is the first and only time I see the statue in person. I knew my namesake worked on Liberty. I had been told the stories and I considered this as we flew by it. The Statue is an imposing and beautiful sight to behold, standing strong and majestic looking out into the Atlantic. I watch as we pass and I look forward to getting off this twin prop plane and getting on a proper jet. Our flight to London is much smoother and I try to watch the movie, “Ruthless People” but it’s too painful. I sleep a bit and we land at London’s Heathrow Airport. As we disembark, flight attendants greet the passengers. My friends and I are groggy and tired after seven hours in the air.

“Welcome to London, Mr. Kavanagh and Happy Birthday.” A smiling steward hands me my passport back.

My eyes open a little wider and I stare blankly thinking. It is my birthday. I had forgotten but how do they know this? Have I been tracked already by the US?  A glance at my friends tells me they have no idea. “Uh, thanks. Thank you.”

The knowing steward grins at me. “It’s on your passport.”

It hits me and I feel like a complete dunce. “Oh right. Of course. Thanks.” I smile and my friends wake up enough to chuckle and we are off. We make our way through Heathrow and share a crowded cab with two girls who were on our flight. A driver, six people and six backpacks make their way to London. The girls are dropped at their hotel first then we arrive at the hostel we had booked from the US. We plan on crossing the Channel tomorrow with the immediate goal of visiting Amsterdam. We are fascinated by the idea of marijuana being legal there plus there are tulips. Our adventure has begun.

The Shop’s job book entry. Industrial Fabricators jobs. June 12 and June 17, 1987.

June 26

The summer surge in work arrives as expected. Ann and Jack cover for me while I am traveling the world. Mom and Dad are helping out too. I am on a train from Trier Germany to Cologne and I have finally adjusted to the time change. For a week, my sleep has been sporadic and my general confusion as to the time of day has lessened. My friends and I have adopted traveling names and mine is Johanus Skorziny. Skorziny is a vampire from the old “Night Stalker” series which I loved. I’m not sure why we chose aliases but it seemed like a good idea at the time.  We’ve been in Europe for a week and it feels very different but somehow familiar. I feel comfortable here at times but also strangely separate from the natives. They live a more relaxed lifestyle to my eye and this will be confirmed over the next several weeks.

The Genesis-Nova Caollapsible Guitar in its traveling case.

July 1

The new Roundo R-5-S arrives at the Shop on Central Avenue. It takes a few hours for most of the crew to get it unloaded, set and ready to use. The guys and I are returning to Amsterdam after a few days in Germany. The German leg of the trip was interesting but not quite the fun of the outrageous party that Amsterdam is. We do visit the Karl Marx Museum and I find the juxtaposition of a souvenir shop at the Marx museum amusing. I remember signing the guest book and referencing a commemorative plate that is for sale.

“What a great museum. I loved the plate. Marx would be so proud. All my love, Johanus Skorziny”

We have tickets to a festival concert in Rotterdam headlined by U2 and the Pretenders. Rotterdam is Amsterdam’s sister city and only a quick train ride away. This show is different than any I have attended before with field seating. Between bands, the Euros seem very good at knowing just when to sit down to get a spot on the grass. We Americans end up standing or eventually asking someone nicely to make room which they politely do. It’s an amazing day that finishes with U2’s “40” being sung by the crowd as we leave the stadium, on the train to the station and even when we reach Amsterdam. It’s bizarre but a great time

The Shop’s Purchases Book. R-5-S Round Angle Roller, July 1, 1987.
R-5-S Roundo Roller. 8100 Lynhurst Road. May 2020.
R-5-S Roundo Angle Roller Owner’s Manual.
R-5-S Roundo Angle Roller Owner’s Manual. Rolling capacity chart.

July 14

Today is Bastille day and I’m in Paris at the Hotel De La Champagne. My friends and I arrived yesterday and I am up a little earlier than the rest. I sit in the lobby listening to the celebrations outside while watching the Incredible Hulk in French. It’s rather surreal to me but it’s the chance to watch some television. Very few of the cheap places we have been staying at have a TV. I am also perusing the International Herald Tribune. Reading this newspaper has been a habit I’ve gotten into on our trip. It keeps me up to date on the news and I check baseball box scores every day to follow the Orioles. The Birds are having another rough year clearly. Meanwhile, in Baltimore, Nancy Kavanagh gives birth to a boy, Paul Reagan Kavanagh. There is a new Kavanagh in the family and I will find out soon enough when I call home. I call the Shop every few days to check in and let my brother and sister know where I am. Mom and Dad are very excited and they drive to the hospital to meet the baby. The sixth generation of Kavanagh’s who will work at the Shop has arrived.

Jack Jr. Nancy, Betty and Jack Kavanagh Sr. holding Paul Kavanagh. 1987.

July 16

A mix of small jobs are handled today at 201 S. Central Avenue including a small angle for A.J. Sackett & Sons. My friends and spent a day at the Louvre but it is so immense, I needed a return trip. Unable to wake my friends, I am happy to take the bus downtown and visit the museum alone. I enjoy the solo side trip. I can linger at a piece I want to look at closely or rush through areas if I want to do so. I have lunch in the park after buying some ham and some french bread. I casually relax in the sun and eat before returning for a few more hours at the Louvre. I see the Mona Lisa, the Hope diamond and most of the big attractions but I particularly enjoy wondering free style through the galleries taking in all I can find. It feels very European to do so and I have a great day before returning to our hotel and making plans for the night with the boys. Firstly, we will go to dinner which means couscous. We found a Moroccan restaurant around the corner the day we got here and I had always wanted to try couscous. I was not disappointed and we have eaten there every day so far. We will continue to do so as it is a cheap place and the food is delicious. They even sell a nice fresh chicken sandwich at night when we are hanging outside the hotel drinking wine and people watching.

The Shop’s job book entry. A.J. Sackett job. July 16, 1987.

July 20

I am in Zurich, Switzerland and I tote my heavy pack through the large fancy doors of the bank and enter. I have begun to run out of money as have my friends so we called home and had some money wired to us. For a very brief time, I have a Swiss bank account. The humor does not escape me or my pals and is only reinforced by the dubious look on the bank manager’s face. He eyes us up and down in our jeans, t-shirts and huge army backpacks, but the bank accommodates. After I fill out some paperwork, I empty my Swiss bank account and we are relieved. We have more money to spend or squander depending how you look at it.

July 21

A large order of brass pipes are bent for Gischel Machine. The Shop has bent several small orders of this item but now we have forty to do and with the development completed, it’s a job we can make some money on. I say we but I am in Zurich eating Belgian chocolate with my mind on everything but work.

The Shop’s job book entry. Gischel Machine job. July 21, 1987.

July 23

Several jobs are finished for Herbert Lee who owns a small interior design and fabrication company. Herbert has known my father for a few years but meets Ann and Jack and they hit it off. He’s a good local Baltimore fellow and he loves the pieces we make for him. The jobs are not big but put together it adds up to a nice order.

The Shop’s job book entry. Herbert Lee jobs. Page 1. July 23, 1987.
The Shop’s job book entry. Herbert Lee jobs. Page 2. July 23, 1987.

August 1

Today is Independence Day in Switzerland and we are in Geneva at a campground. A loud and raucous party is held and we are there. It’s an interesting mix of locals, camp crew and travelers. We befriend a Moroccan and his French neighbor along with a few Germans, Austrians and more Brits. We drink all the gin they have and there are fireworks one of which nearly hits Chris. A fun time is had by all. We know we will be returning to the US next week and for a couple of days we’ll be en route to London. This is our last sendoff from Europe.

August 5

A long flight is spent sleeping a little and watching Start Trek IV, the in flight movie. I watch and it’s not bad for a free movie but not the best Star Trek I have seen. My mind is going over my trip. I have had a great adventure with a lot of fun. I visited museums and galleries and saw some amazing things. In my thoughts, I will return some day. It was just too good of a trip and I left too many things undone and too many places unseen. I’m 22 and my certainty at my return is coming from that space. I can’t wait to get off the plane and be Joe Kavanagh again and bid farewell to Johanus Skorziny.

August 26

A very thick-walled 2” steel pipe is rolled for Kelco Company in the new R-5-S. The pipe is what my father would call “gunner’s pipe.” The wall is visibly thick at about 3/4” of an inch and this type of pipe or tube was used back in the day for cannons. In this case, the pipe is pressurized to a high level when in place and the thick wall is necessary to avoid any blowout of the back of the pipe.

The Shop’s job book entry. Kelco Fabricators job. August 26, 1987.

September 5

After my trip abroad, I realize I am ready to move out and live on my own. I move to an apartment on Bayonne Avenue off of Belair Road. Ann had lived there before moving into her house and she introduces me to the landlady. It’s a small two room flat with a bathroom and a hallway that doubles as the kitchen. No matter to me, I didn’t plan on cooking much. So begins my single living. Ray and Chris have abandoned Macon Street so the band has lost its practice space. Ray has decided to move in with his sister Theresa on LaSalle Avenue. He moves five minutes away from me and the garage there becomes the new Lethal Injection home base.

Ray French playing snare drum at Macon Street. 1987.

September 21

I am on the phone with Joe Kelly from the Kelco Company passing on to him that a large order for stainless steel angles is ready. After hanging up, I pull a delivery ticket from the stack and fill it out for Kelco. Ann is busy billing a few jobs while Jack is upstairs bending a set of copper heater tubes for Stambaugh. I have adjusted back to my normal work schedule but I do very much miss the fun and the escape that was my European vacation.

The Shop’s job book entry. Kelco Fabricators job. September 21, 1987.
Lisa Bosse and Phil Morton. 1987.

October 2

Its a rainy Friday in Baltimore and I am a little restless after a long week. I am tired and anxious to get this day done. We are not working Saturday hours anymore though we did for most of this year. The work has slowed a little and we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. The boys in the Shop hammer out some big angles for American Iron Works and they drive up from Hyattsville to get them. When four o’clock hits, the crew and the Kavanagh’s hasten home or in my case to band practice.

The Shop’s job book entry. American Iron Works job. October 2, 1987.

October 10

The Washington Capital host the Chicago Blackhawks for their home opener at the Capital Center and my brother is there. He, Nancy and three month old Paul go to a few games this season and it is becoming a regular thing. It’s a good game with the Caps prevailing 6-4 and the fans are once again hopeful for a long playoff run at the end of the season. Jack is right there with them always pulling for this team.

Washington Capitals Game Ticket. October 10, 1987.
Jack Jr., Nancy and Paul Kavanagh. 1987.

October 13

Most of the Joseph Kavanagh Company’s customers are from the Baltimore area but we have a few from Maryland’s Eastern Shore including the Salisbury Steel Company. Salisbury provides materials and fabricated items for construction companies and builders and today a dozen angles are rolled for them. Scheduling their jobs is more complicated as they only have a truck in Baltimore once a week but we make it work.

Jack Kavanagh Jr. 201 S. Central Avenue. Late 1980s.

October 22

The Dow Jones suddenly crashes as over speculation and a sell off drops the index 500 points in one day. The economy slows to match it.

October 25

I return from practice at the garage on LaSalle and I watch game 7 of the World Series. The Minnesota Twins defeat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 to take the series. The home team won every game in this match up and it remains the only World Series in which the bottom of the ninth was not played in any game. I enjoy a beer while I watch then get ready for bed and the work week ahead. It’s the first time I don’t see any of the series with my Dad or my brother. I’m still a big baseball fan but music and my friends are much more important to me these days.

October 27

Despite the stock market crash, the Shop has remained busy. We realize that what goes around comes around and it will catch up to us eventually. Some 1/2” thick heavy steel angles are rolled in the R-6-S for Ackerman & Baynes and a set of heater tubes is begun for the Housing Authority.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes Fabricators job. October 27, 1987.
Rose O”Neill, Maura O”Neill(holding Paul Kavanagh), April Ballard, Katie O”Neill(Back Row) Sarah Morton, Phil Morton, Lisa Bosse(front row). Halloween 1987.
Rose O”Neill, Maura O”Neill(holding Paul Kavanagh), April Ballard, Katie O”Neill(Back Row) Sarah Morton, Phil Morton, Lisa Bosse(front row). Halloween 1987.
Betty Kavangah, Phil Morton and Lisa Bosse. Phil’s 3rd birthday party. November 1987.

November 18

Two more Products Support jobs and one small order for A.J. Sackett are completed today. The flow of work has slowed but no more than usually happens this time of year. We are confident but weary with the rest of the nation’s economy in flux. Personally, I worry about the impact next year but that will be tough to gauge.

The Shop’s job book entry. Products Support job. November 18. 1987.
The Shop’s job book entry. Products Support job. November 18. 1987.
The Shop’s job book entry. A.J. Sackett job. November 18. 1987.

December 3

A large order of small galvanized angle rings is finished and billed today to Stromberg Sheet Metal while another order for the Design & Production company is also picked up. D & P makes museum displays and we have begun to hear from them once or twice a year with work. I’m hoping that increases in the future.

The Shop’s job book entry. Stromberg Sheet Metal job. December 3, 1987.
The Shop’s job book entry. Design and Production job. December 3, 1987.

December 15

The year’s end approaches along with the holidays and most of the crew have that in mind. They look forward to some time off and a little extra money. A few heavy 3” X 1” Steel Flat bars are rolled for Durrett Sheppard while I spend most of my day formulating the schedule for the rest of the year to make sure everything that can be done is done.

The Shop’s job book entry. Durrett Sheppard job. December 15, 1987.

December 25

Christmas is celebrated once more at 6 Kensington Parkway but this will be the last time. My parents are selling this house to my brother and his wife. My Mom and Dad will officially and completely retire next year and move to Ocean City full time. Their dream will come true. Jack and Betty Kavanagh will spend their retirement living at the beach as they always wanted. The party is a good one with food, drink and music as is the Kavanagh way. There are more kids each year it seems and I marvel to see my nieces getting so much older. Maura the oldest is twelve now and it doesn’t seem so long ago when she was a baby. My parents had nine children and now they have eight grandchildren. Their legacy of love keeps growing. My brother is a Dad and I love his boy. I’m happy for Jack and Nancy and I consider that this baby will some day work where I work. It’s written in stone if your last name is Kavanagh and you are male. Of course, that’s a long way off. Short term, I am looking forward to the day after Christmas. It starts a few days off for me which will be spent practicing and playing music with the rest of Lethal Injection. I had a great year mostly due to my trip. It was the longest I was on my own and also the longest time I have ever had with no school or work in my entire life. That will remain to be true. I visited the Louvre, the Tower of London and assorted other tourist places on the continent but more importantly, I experienced this pseudo European lifestyle of ease and contentment. I sat in the grass in front of museums. I partied with strangers from other countries and had a blast. I even traveled with an alias and opened then emptied a Swiss bank account. That was unexpected, unplanned and very cool. I will often look back on this adventure as a turning point in my life. It was time to move out on my own and be an adult. I still focused on time with my friends and the band while working this job I knew I would have for the rest of my life. I sometimes took it for granted but work and the Shop was always on my mind. I might have always wished I had a guitar in my hand but mostly I had a pencil, a phone or occasionally a torch there to do business. My father’s time at the Shop is coming swiftly to an end. The fifth generation of Kavanagh’s are ready to run the place with Old Uncle Joe’s great-great grand niece and nephews in charge. I can’t help but wonder what Old Uncle Joe might think to know we are still around.

Big Jack and Little Jack Kavanagh. 1987.



Ronald Reagan is the President of the United States. During a visit to Berlin, President Reagan challenges Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down that wall.” The Iron-Contra affair dogs Reagan’s presidency. The National Coming Out Day is held for the first time. “The Simpsons” first appears as a short cartoon on the Tracy Ullman Show. Windows 2.0 and Proazac are released in the US. The films “Fatal Attraction,” “Good Morning Vietnam” and “The Untouchables” premier. Ray Rice, Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick are born. Andy Warhol, Danny Kaye, James Baldwin, Rita Hayworth and Jackie Gleason die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

Jack Jr., Nancy and Paul Kavanagh. 1987.

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

Table of Contents


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.