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.
1986 Mom and Sarah
Betty Kavanagh and Sarah Morton. 1986.
1986 November Jeff, Phil and Sarah
Jeff, Phil and baby Sarah Morton. 1986.
1986 Betty, April and Sarah
Betty and April Ballard with baby Sarah Morton. November 1986.

October 27

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

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

November 3

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

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

December 1

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

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

December 3

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

Betty Kavanagh. 1986.

December 25

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

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

December 30

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



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

There are 50 states in the Union.

1987 Baby Sarah
Sarah Jane Morton. Late 1986.

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

Table of Contents



1985 Brothers and Uncles

January 11

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

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

January 19

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

January 20

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

January 24

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

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

February 5

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

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

February 11

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

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

March 2

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

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

March 8

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

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

March 29

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

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

April 6

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

Jack and Nancy Kavanagh. 1985.

April 8

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

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

April 16

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

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

April 25

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

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

May 6

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

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

May 7

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

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

May 22

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

Peabody Conservatory Handbook. 1985.

June 5

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

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

June 13

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

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

June 24

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

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

July 1

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

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

July 13

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 21

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


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

July 22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 10

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

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

August 19

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

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

August 28

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

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

September 3

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

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

September 7

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

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

October 13

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

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

October 21

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

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

October 27

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

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

November 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Can I bounce the bass?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 20

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

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

December 7

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

Jack and Betty Kavanagh. 1980s.

December 10

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

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

December 25

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

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



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

There are 50 states in the Union.

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

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

Table of Contents

1984 Out of the Frying Pan

January 22

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

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

January 27

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

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

February 4

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

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

March 9

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

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

March 29

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

Baltimore Colts souvenir sticker. Late 1960s.

April 2

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

Baltimore Orioles Souvnir cramic tankard.

April 7

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

April 27

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

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

May 22

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

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

June 1

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

June 7

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

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

June 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 5

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

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

July 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 16

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

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

July 20

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

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

July 22

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

July 23

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

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

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

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

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

August 4

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

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

August 20

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

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

August 25

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

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

September 2

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

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

September 4

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

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

October 13

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

October 14

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

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

October 23

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

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

November 2

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

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

November 6

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

November 7

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

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

December 7

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

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

December 21

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

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

December 25

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

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



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

There are 50 states in the Union.

1984 Phil 3
Philip John Morton. 1984.

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

Table of Contents



1983 Lethal Injection

January 30

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

February 10

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

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

February 19

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

February 28

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

March 9

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

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

March 12

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

March 19

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

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

March 29

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

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

April 3

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

April 4

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

1983 Baltimore Orioles Souvenir Program.

April 20

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

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

May 20

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

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

May 27

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

June 6

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

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

June 12

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

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

June 24

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

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

July 15

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

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

July 20

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

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

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

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

July 31

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

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

August 6

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

August 16

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

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

August 23

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

August 25

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

Baltimore Orioles Ticket Stub. 1983.

September 6

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

September 11

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

September 21

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

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

October 8

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

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

October 11

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

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

October 16

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

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


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

October 27

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

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

November 4

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

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

November 17

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

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

November 24

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

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

December 12

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

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

December 18

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

December 25

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

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



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

There are 50 states in the Union.

Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 1983.

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

Table of Contents



1982 Betty Kavanagh

January 11

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

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

January 24

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

Baltimore Skipjacks Ticket Stub. 1982.

February 14

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

Richard and Jackie Bosse. February 14, 1982.