We return to work at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Everyone enjoyed the holiday break but it’s time to get back to bending and rolling. Kim has been in touch with Baltimore County schools and the MD Department of Disabilities. Kim is doing her best to find some way for Joe to begin speech and occupational therapy soon. OT is recommended because people with autism often have fine motor skill issues. Joe does. It’s small things like trouble holding a pencil or crayon and being able to tie a shoe. Apparently, this is not uncommon. We are hoping this helps him move forward. We are also trying to learn all we can about autism. The services available vary widely from school to school but Joe isn’t in school yet. He will be four this year so it is coming. There are Preschool programs but not many. Kim will find something for him.
The Shop at the corner of Pratt and Central is a busy one today. We have a few jobs we are trying to finish. Those that stand out are one for the National Aquarium and another for the Everyman Theater. We’ve done set work for theaters before but Everyman is a new customer. The set work and things for museums or in this case, an aquarium, make our job a bit more interesting at least when telling others about it.
I pull into the alley on Central Avenue. There’s a very light dusting of snow as I head into the building. I don’t like snow but a dusting is not a problem at all. I grab some job cards off my desk and distribute them to the boys. We have a few jobs for our regulars but also some work for the Coast Guard and the Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works.
The Baltimore Ravens beat the New York Giants 34-7 in the Super Bowl. I’m watching along with most of Baltimore. The City is jubilant and a ticker tape parade will be held this week. The Ravens have won it all and going forward, this is definitely Ravens Country.
The Ravens and the Super Bowl have been the talk of the town for over a week. Kavanagh’s and crew have discussed it over and over, reveling in the championship. Jack is particularly happy. He’s more of a football fan than I am but I’m getting there. Hockey will always be Jack’s favorite sport. That being said, this Super Bowl was the first championship for Baltimore in almost 20 years. Most of the City got very caught up in the excitement and that includes the Kavanagh’s.
It’s chilly today and we work on jobs for J.K. Cabinet and the Baltimore Opera Company. I assume the opera parts will be used for a set or a prop but I’m not sure. At home, Kim has finally been able to schedule some speech therapy and occupational therapy for Joe. They are separate programs with one at home and the other at a therapist’s office. We’re hoping this starts him on the road to dealing with his autism. We’re still learning about it and trying to get a handle on it. It takes time.
The day starts with shoveling. Yesterday we received 3-4 inches of snow. The boys dig a path pretty fast in the front then work their way along the longer Pratt street side of the building. The rest of us get to work inside and a few jobs are knocked out including another one for the National Aquarium.
I spend a lot of time today on the phone. The telephone is one of the tools I use the most in my job. I receive and make calls to quote, to get prices on material, to arrange pickups and most of all, to make sure the customer and I are on the same page with their job. I want to be sure I do exactly what they want with their material. Most of today’s calls are to arrange shipping and local trucking for John J. Kirlin, Quality Erectors as well as several others.
A new week starts with a very rainy Monday. It reaches 50 degrees so we open the front garage door during the afternoon break. I stand alongside my crew who are seated and we stare quietly and sullenly out onto Central Avenue. It rains most of the day and it feels so perfect for a Monday. We have caught up a bit on our schedule. We still have some work but it has slowed.
Today we finish a few jobs and also send some scrap to S. H. Landsman, our neighbor. Scrap sales help us to recoup some money and get the stuff out of the building. Landsman’s shop is a couple doors down on Central so selling them our excess material is convenient. In the office, I’m updating Ann and Jack about little Joe. We’ve found a program for speech therapy for him. Joe speaks but it’s just a few words. It isn’t as if he babbles a lot either. He mostly is quiet. Kim is handling the scheduling and the arrangement. She’s always calling agencies and trying to find any help she can for Joe. We’re excited about the speech therapy and anxious to see how it works.
Today is Opening Day in Baltimore and the Orioles beat the Red Sox 2-1. I’m happy to have baseball back and as always, hopeful for a good season, but it’s definitely less of a priority now. I’m focused on Joe and his treatment. In the Shop, we are filling some tubes with rosin for a Gable Signs job and beginning a nice order for Messick and Gray which is for the National Aquarium. We did an Aquarium job not long ago so I assume they must be doing some repairs or rehabs.
It finally feels like Spring in Baltimore. It’s a pleasant day and the boys are working on a rail job for Diamond Iron Works and a ring for McShane Bell. We roll channels into rings for McShane and the bells are suspended from the ring once installed. At home, Joe is speaking a little more but mostly with prompting. The therapist made it clear this is quite typical and we need to give this some time.
The Washington Capitals are bounced from the playoffs in the first round again by the Penguins. This time it’s six games to two. We seem to keep playing this scenario out every year. I know this has bothered Jack for a while now. Again, there’s always next year.
It’s a Friday and that is always welcome at the Shop. We don’t often work Saturdays anymore so the weekend is the respite for us all. Today we finish some museum exhibit work and some pieces for the Six Flags Amusement Park. I look forward to watching the ballgame tonight. The Birds are struggling out of the gate but I’m not as upset about it as I normally would be. Joe’s autism and our concerns for him have put thoughts about baseball and sports in general in perspective. Still, relaxing and watching a game on a Friday with my boy will be fun though the Birds are scuffling so far this season.
A new week starts with some small jobs for Diversified Welding and Ackerman & Baynes being completed. I’m busy in the office with quite a few calls. Mondays are sometimes like this. The calls will add up to more work so I’m glad the phone is ringing. We also ship an order to L & S Machine via Global Messenger.
It’s a warm and sunny Thursday and I’m writing up several job cards but my mind is on the coming Memorial Day weekend. We’ll spend Sunday at my in-laws for a cookout and Monday is a day off at home. They don’t come along often so I do look forward to a break even a one day one. Thoughts of the holiday are wiped from my head when the phone rings and it’s Don Anderson checking on an order. I tell him it’s ready then walk into the Shop to pass out the job cards.
Today is a bit of a throwback at the Shop as we roll some copper tubes for a fountain. This type of work reminds me of the old days even before my time. The Kavanagh’s have made fountains since nearly the forming of the company in 1866. The work is done in a remarkably similar fashion. We simply have better tools and machines for it now but the process is the same. Oddly enough, it feels like a fountain around us as it rains all day in Baltimore adding up to almost two inches total. We also finish another order for Six Flags and some for our welding and fabricating customers.
The boys are pretty busy on this hot day at the Shop. The summer is often our busiest time and the heat and humidity don’t help. Fortunately, an afternoon thunderstorm cools things off. We have our usual mix of work for fabricators, welders and one for artist John Maxwell. John sculpts and makes custom furniture and other things of that nature.
This Tuesday is the day before Independence Day. That means there will be no holiday weekend, just a one day break, so leaving early today is even more important and we are able to do so. Lee Badger of the Anvil Iron Works comes in to pick up his job. Lee is a talented blacksmith and a long time customer. When he and his partner Steve come in, they usually hang around a bit to chat and catch up. They always ask about my parents because they dealt with Dad and Mom before Ann, Jack and me. We manage to close up at 2 o’clock and everyone heads home.
It’s a stormy Independence Day on Woodall Street. Kim, Joe and I spend the day with my in-laws who always throw a nice cook out. Fortunately, the grill is under an awning and the food is good. Joe truly loves spending time with his Meemaw and Pop. We’re always watching our boy closely to see any signs of improvement or any signs of anything different. He speaks a little more but mostly he’s the same sweet little quiet boy.
On the way home from the Shop today, I hear on the radio there is a sixty car train derailment downtown. When I get to my house, I talk to Kim about it and we watch the television coverage. There is a major fire burning in the Howard Street Tunnel. This fire will burn for several days and the downtown area is basically shut down for about a week. Traffic is rerouted and the City comes to a standstill. We are fortunate to be on the other side of town. Central Avenue is only affected by an increase in traffic. The Orioles will be forced to cancel some games and it will be weeks before travel returns to normal in Baltimore.
The 90 degree plus heat hits Baltimore and it makes work on Central Avenue that much tougher. Still, the Kavanagh’s and crew have grown accustomed to it. The workers finish a sample for Long Fence and also a few sculptural pieces for the Polich Art Works in NY. We rarely receive work from someone as far away as New York but these are custom parts and we have a good reputation for doing such work. The Birds lose a doubleheader in Texas today and their record drops to 42-59. That’s a big hole and it’s likely a winning season isn’t going to happen.
Kim, Joe and I drive to Ocean City a day early for vacation. We attend a Delmarva Shorebirds game with my Mom and Dad. It’s Joe’s first ballgame. He seems very interested in everything around him. He particularly enjoys the carousel in the kids’ area but I like to think he had fun at the game too. I catch a foul ball, well rather, a foul ball bounces off the big screen TV behind us. I play it on the one hop. It’s a great souvenir. When my Mom sees I caught it, she quickly confiscates it so I don’t lose it. She feels more comfortable carrying it home in her purse. She wants to be sure it doesn’t get lost. As amusing as that sounds, that’s my Mom for you.
I’m already in Ocean City, but back home, vacation begins after several pickups at the Shop. Ann, Jack and the crew finish up and head to the annual August break from work.
Our first week of post-vacation work is finished today. This return week is usually a busy one but everyone is a little deflated. Our jobs are our jobs and we do them but we’ll take time off at home over it any day. We’re the same as everyone else. Still, this is Friday and the ride home after a long few days is a quick one.
It rains off and on for most of the day. At the very least, that keeps the humidity from being oppressive. I’m talking to Ann and Jack about my son, Joe. Kim has found a Fall program for him which includes both occupational therapy and speech therapy. My brother and sister are very supportive as always so I tell them everything that is going on. In the Shop, we complete a few orders including some set work for Center Stage.
September arrives with a burst of work which boosts our backlog past two weeks. Two weeks is just about ideal for us. This type of schedule makes scheduling and pickups work best. Today we finish some beams for Freeland Hoist. Freeland is one of those few customers who are also vendors. They service and repair our crane and chain fall systems so they get special treatment. We do our best to finish their jobs quickly and they return the favor when we have crane problems.
The Baltimore Ravens start their season by hosting the Chicago Bears. This town and this team are still celebrating a Super Bowl victory and excitement is high. The Ravens win 17-6 and people are hoping for a repeat.
I’m walking though the Shop a little after 9 am and a song on the radio is interrupted. The news breaks in to tell us a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center in NY. The boys and I stop what we’re doing and stare at the radio. I rush upstairs to the office and tell Ann. She puts on the TV and there it is live. A smokey smoldering high rise tower. I can’t believe it when moments later another plane crashes straight into the other tower. Ann, Jack and I watch in silence. What we assumed was an accident was intentional. News reporters try to explain what is happening but I don’t think they know apart from what we all can see. We watch it unfold then we decide to leave early. Everyone wants to be home but my problem is Kim is in Ocean City with Joe and her Mom. I call Kim to check on her and try to get her home. Unfortunately, tropical storm Felix is offshore and they’ve closed the bridges. They can’t leave. They watch military helicopters flying along the beaches. I am worried and I want them home. Through the day, we hear about another plane crashing into the Pentagon and another crashing in PA. This last one was crashed before it could be used in an attack. Heroic passengers intervened. It’s overwhelming and scary. The country will basically shut down for a while in order for some sense of safety to return. Baseball and football games will be postponed. There is a general malaise or a shock to everyone I know. People literally can’t believe what they’ve seen. America spends most of its next few days in front of the television. Waiting for updates. People are expecting perhaps another attack and I’m mostly worried about getting my family home.
I spend the day working but I’m happy because my father-in-law Anthony is driving to Ocean City. They’ve opened the bridges as the storm is downgraded. He gets Kim, Linda and Joe together and drives them back to Baltimore. I’m relieved. The world is still turned up side down but my wife and son are home. That helps a lot. Now, I’m like most Americans, trying to figure out what happened and what’s next. News updates are constantly flowing though I am not sure we are learning much more about it. We watch the television and listen to the reports again and again.
Things are slowly getting back to normal. News is still coming out and a major effort is underway to find out who is responsible for this horrible attack. In the Shop, the crew have been working on an order for Gable Signs and Graphics. The pieces are aluminum and they needed to be annealed and filled before rolling which means torch work. The annealing process is using direct heat to temper the metal for bending and the filling is a long process of melting rosin into a liquid and pouring it into a plugged tube. The tubes sit for about 24 hours before they can be curved. After that, the tubes are hung up on chains and several torches are used to melt the rosin back out. It’s long and laborious and most definitely hot. Still, it’s the only way to go with tubes such as these.
It is my Joe’s fourth birthday and we’re so happy for the little guy. After work, I drive home and we celebrate. There are presents for Joe and chocolate cake. Both Joe’s are happy about the cake part. It’s a small celebration with the three of us and our two dogs, Lilly Belle and Patti Cake, but it’s a good one. Joe is still not progressing very rapidly on the speech and occupational therapies. We see little changes and we’re happy about it but we’re hoping it speeds up. Our doctor and the therapists try to calm our anxiety. They tell us over and over. This takes time. We are still evaluating his limitations while trying to overcome them. It’s a process and not a fast one.
The Orioles lose to the Boston Red Sox 5-1. They finish the season 63-98 and in fourth place. I’m watching at home on a Saturday night after another birthday party for Joe at my in-laws. This game is the last in Cal Ripken Jr.’s career. He made an announcement early in the season that he was calling it quits after a very successful run in the game. He’s the embodiment of beloved by local fans. The game ends with Brady Anderson making the last out and Cal in the on deck circle. That’s baseball for you. It’s a game of inches and moments. In hockey, the Washington Capitals open their season at home by beating the New Jersey Devils handily, 6 – 1. That softens the sting of the Birds’ rough year and the end of the playing days of one of the all-time great Orioles. All this being said, my love of sports is still strong but now I know all too well, there are far more important things.
The crew spend this Monday finishing more work for Gable and a job for B and B Welding. I spend a large part of the day talking to Ann and Jack about baseball and a bit about the world. The end of the Orioles season and the end of Cal’s career are discussed. We agree it’s time for Cal but we know we’ll miss seeing #8 on the field. I also mention Barry Bonds breaking the single season home run record on Friday. Bonds’ numbers come with a lot of questions of Performance Enhancement Drugs so any enthusiasm is waned by all the rumors and speculation. Meanwhile in more important matters, the United States has invaded Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 attacks. Al-Quaeda, the terrorist group claiming responsibility for the attacks seems to be located there. The US will begin an effort to find, apprehend or destroy them.
Another week ends at Central and Pratt and we finish some parts for Charm City Skate Park and the Shakespeare Theater. Both are new customers but this is the second skate park for Charm City and the third group of set parts for the Shakespeare Theater. Hopefully, we keep hearing from them.
Halloween is getting close and that’s a big deal in my house. I was never a big “Halloween” person but my wife Kim sure loves it. She has the house very decorated and we look forward to a cavalcade of young goblins and ghouls requesting treats. I will take Joe around to trick or treat as well and I really enjoy it. At work, we are still busy and our backlog is staying strong. A few items are finished today including a recurring job for Turnbull Enterprises. The pieces are 1” Stainless Steel Pipes which we put two bends into and they are used for seats on Navy helicopters. It’s a good job for us and we do these several times a year.
It’s a sports filled Sunday for me. I watch the Ravens visit Pittsburgh and win 13-10 in the afternoon. The Baltimore/Pittsburgh rivalry is clear as this game is a dog fight and Ravens/Steelers’ games are always hard fought. In the evening, I’m watching as the Arizona Diamondbacks defeat the New York Yankees in 7 games to win the World Series. I couldn’t be happier. I had prepared myself for another year with the Yanks as champs but in the bottom of the 9th, Luis Gonzalez hits a single and the D-backs win 3-2. They did it against Mariano Rivera which is even more shocking. I’ll take it.
We are almost two months removed from the attack and rebuilding has begun in New York. Kavanagh’s and crew discuss what we have all heard about the repairs and what’s going on in Afghanistan. The shock has somewhat worn off but there is an underlying fear or trepidation which is lingering. After this talk which is probably going on all over America, we discuss the World Series. It was a thriller and it’s recounted a few times. All of us are happy that the Yanks were the losers. I also update Ann and Jack on Joe. He’s receiving speech therapy and OT. So far, there’s not a lot of change in him but we’ve learned it will take some time. We know there’s no quick fix and we must be patient. Today we bend two flat bars for the Association of Maryland Pilots. I have no idea what they are for but it stands out as an oddball. We like the oddballs.
Another week of work starts at the Shop and it appears we shall be busy through the end of the year. Our backlog is good and we always get some glut of work before the holidays. Today Rodney Carroll comes to the Shop and picks up. Rodney is a local sculptor and we’ve done a few jobs for him. He makes large scale pieces, big stuff. He often uses a mix of water in his sculptures as well. This means rolled pipe to allow water to pass through and rolled pipe means us. Rodney is pretty business savvy too for an artist and he’s a character but he’s a good guy and a good customer.
It’s Thanksgiving on Woodall Street which is my favorite holiday. It’s mostly about family, food and football and I enjoy all three. Linda and Anthony always overdo it on the feast but that is the festive way to go. There are all of the standard holiday fare plus parsnips for me to keep that Kavanagh tradition going. Joe has a great time with his grandparents and it’s a fun day for all of us.
It’s a cool Friday and it’s Ann’s birthday so we order turkey clubs from Haussner’s for lunch. I drive down Eastern Avenue to pick them up. Haussner’s is a great restaurant and their club sandwiches are the real deal. Also at Christmas, they have the best sugar cookies. After lunch, I call Fountaincraft to arrange pick up of some copper tubes for a fountain and Mercy Hospital for pick up of a heat exchanger. It’s a busy end of the week and at 4 o’clock, I’m very happy to head home.
That rush of end of year work has arrived and we have two weeks to do it. That’s fine. We go through this every year. We’ll take the work when we can get it. For a small business, that’s what you have to do. We finish a job for Dave Hess today. Dave is another local sculptor. He’s talented and a good guy. We’ve received multiple jobs from Dave in the last several years.
It’s Christmas with the Kavanagh’s at Yogi’s Restaurant in Harford County. On this Saturday night, my parents are in town and as much of the family as possible is there. We made reservations. Not simply to be sure they aren’t too busy but to give them a heads up. There are a lot of us and it’s good to forewarn people or else we can be overwhelming. Yogi’s is a nice place, the food is good and it’s great to see everyone for the holiday. I love seeing Mom and Dad and they certainly love seeing Joe. It’s fun and as low key as any Kavanagh gathering can be.
Today is the last working day of the year and everyone at Central Avenue is happy about it. The day is spent mostly waiting for trucks, loading them and occasionally looking at the clock. After a truck from Codd Fabricators pulls out of the back, we head to our holiday vacation.
Joe, Kim and I drive to Woodall Street for Christmas. My in-laws, Anthony and Linda, can’t wait for us to get there. Mostly, they can’t wait to see Joe, and I can’t blame them. Joe is four now and he understands presents a lot better. There is a cacophony of wrapping paper being torn and boxes being pulled open. The boy has a great time and that makes all of us have a great time. After the flurry of gift exchanging, we settle in to a quiet Yule together. Christmas carols are playing on the stereo and the holiday feast is abundant and delicious. I watch some football with my father-in-law. It’s been a fun year in the NFL, as we came in as Super Bowl Champions. Now, the Ravens are headed to the playoffs again. The City is amped for this team. I enjoy watching football with Anthony. It makes the expectation of the playoffs more fun and even the holiday more festive. Christmas is a special day. It’s a family day but even more so with young kids. Their anticipation of its coming and the jubilation at its arrival. Of course, the toys help. It’s a very good holiday and we spend the night in order to give Linda and Anthony more time with Joe. Plus, Mom and Dad are tired too. We’ll drive home in the morning.
Kim and I spend a quiet evening at home with Joe on New Year’s Eve. We’re not much for going out to celebrate. We prefer being home with our boy. It’s been a very tough year. When Joe was diagnosed last year, we were shocked. This year we have started to get into the nuts and bolts of it. Diagnosis is the start. Next is further evaluation and then treatment. Treatment is therapy and teaching him specific skills then possibly medication. There is no medication for autism though many on the spectrum take Ritalin or some other pills to even them out or keep them calm. This is something we intend to avoid if possible but we will always defer to our doctor. The strange thing about autism is sometimes now that I know the meaning, I see it in Joe right away. Other times? I don’t. It’s not like a bruise or a broken bone. You can’t always see it. Besides this personal family challenge, the world has changed. The world is different after that Tuesday in September. It’s more fearful. Things we may have read or seen on the news which were a concern are now much scarier. These horrors have come home to our country. The world feels smaller and that’s usually a good thing. Not now. It’s smaller in a frightening disturbing way. I imagine most Americans feel as I do. Suddenly, we don’t need to see something to fear it. We fear the possibility of it. The possibility of terrorism. The possibility of random violence striking you or your family seemingly from nowhere and for no reason. I don’t realize yet how much the world has changed. The events of September 11, 2001 will impact all our lives henceforth. It won’t go away. The memories won’t. The fear won’t. The possibilities won’t. The world has changed but tomorrow is another day and another year. Kim and I hope it’s a better one.
George W. Bush is the President of the United States. The NEAR Shoemaker becomes the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid. Wikipedia goes online. The Department of Homeland Security is established. After the September 11 attacks, a series of envelopes containing anthrax are mailed to media outlets and government representatives. In television, Bob the Builder and the Fairly Odd Parents premier. Adult Swim begins on the Cartoon Network. The films “Shrek,” “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “The Fellowship of the Ring” are released. Jack Lemmon, Carroll O’Connor, John Lee Hooker, Arlene Francis, and Willie Stargell die.
There are 50 states in the Union.
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