1957 Learning to Quote

January 2

The first day of 1957 is a cold busy one at the Shop on the corner of Pratt and Central. Eddie(62) runs his Shop with a crew of of ten including his sons Jack(32) & Ed Jr.(37). Ed Jr. is one of his senior coppersmiths and Jack is close behind him in experience but also helps with expediting jobs and is learning to quote prices. The office end of the business does not interest Ed Jr. who also has a tendency to butt heads with his father. They are very much alike and therein lies the problem. Still, they work together well enough and Jack is happy to help with the business end of the Shop. Jack is a bit more like his mother which makes it easier for him to get along with his father and he wants to learn all he can about the business. His father sees Jack as a good leader and his potential replacement. Today both Kavanagh boys and the rest of the crew are working on a variety of brewery replacement parts. Jack is making a reducer for Gunther’s Brewery. The reducer will be 2 foot long and a 2” diameter at one end and 1 1/2” diameter at the other. With the fire of his torch, some tools and his strength Jack has it finished in a little more than half a day. In January, Jack is happy to have a torch in hand for a few hours.

The Shop’s job book entry. Gunther’s Brewery job. January 2, 1957.

February 12

Like clockwork it seems every winter, the Shop will receive some emergency boiler work from E. J. Codd. Codd has been doing business with the Shop for over fifty years and they send in work every couple of months, and this time of year, they are always busy repairing and replacing boilers for buildings throughout the City. These boilers sometimes need copper liners and the sort of brass and copper fittings the Shop makes. An emergency or rush job means extra hours this week for Jack and four other fellows and they are happy to have it. The liner is passed through the rolling machine they purchased last year and it takes half the time to finish. Jack makes sure his father is aware of that. Eddie had doubts about this machine but he’s slowly being convinced of its value

March 8

A set of perforated boiling plates is finished today for A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Sunset Hills, VA. The plates are carefully cut from copper sheet as maintaining the diameter is very critical. They must fit quite tight into the collar which the Shop is producing also. After cutting the plates, Ed Jr. drives them to Renneburg Inc. They are a local fabricator and will take care of the drilling on this one. John Benser, the Shop’s machinist, could drill them but he’s busy with other parts. Renneburg does a nice job on the plates and they fit well in the collar. The plates turn out quite well and Eddie adds $ 50.00 to the bottom of the bill for tools and what he calls a “knowing how to do it” charge.

The Shop’s job book entry. A. Smith Bowman Distillery job. March 8, 1957.

April 16

The Baltimore Orioles play their home opener against the Boston Red Sox on this Tuesday. The crowd of 38,000 strong at Memorial Stadium are disappointed as the Sox beat the Birds 4-2 but it doesn’t dampen their spirits. All of Baltimore is hoping for some big steps toward a better team this year. Eddie and Jack listen on the radio in the office and pass on scores to the crew. The Kavanagh’s are big supporters and their crew are fans too. The workers head home and the only ones left are Eddie, Jack and Ed Jr. but they are still talking baseball.

“It was a good game. You can’t win them all.” Jack says as he locks the office door. His brother, himself and his father are crowded into the vestibule at the front door.

“It was but Boston isn’t that good of a team. It’s not like they are the Yankees. They should win at home against them,” his brother answers with a shrug.

“You want to win them all at home, Ed but you can’t.” Jack fires back as he unlatches the inside lock. “And Boston is a decent team. Maybe not the Yanks but pretty good. It’s nice to win on opening day though and one day, I’m going to opening day.”

From behind him his father says, “You’ll have to work. It’s always a weekday.”

“That’s right.” says Ed Jr. as all three start to file out, “and on opening day it’s always packed. You won’t get a good seat.”

Jack looks over his shoulder at his brother, “One day I’ll have season tickets. I’ll get good seats. Maybe first row or close. You’ll see.”

Ed chuckles and shakes his head as their father chimes in, “That’s gonna be a lot of money, Jack. I’m not sure it will be worth it besides, you’ll have to work. Like I said.”

“He’s right, Jack. You ain’t getting any days off for Opening day.” his brother adds with a glance at his father.

“I don’t care what you think. One day, I’ll have season tickets and I’ll take the girls to opening day. I tell ya. I will.” Jack grins at both with confidence as his brother waves and climbs into his car. Jack and Eddie get in the Chrysler Windsor and head down Pratt Street. Jack is determined now to get to that opening day some day even with working at the Shop. He’ll figure it out. And they will be good seats too. First row. Maybe down the third base line.

May 13

A rainy spring day at the Shop is spent fabricating some custom beer lines for Globe Brewery. They are  made from 2” copper tube and each requires a 90 deg bend on a 10” radius on one end. Assorted fittings and special threaded couplings are needed. Jack takes care of annealing and bending the tubes, Louis Votta makes the couplings and a couple of younger boys assist them with cutting the long lengths of copper tube. The front door garage door of 201 S. Central Avenue is open to let the cool air in and the crew work away to the metronome like pitter-patter of rain all day. During his lunch Jack is thinking about his wife, Betty. They will be married ten years at the end of the week and they are going out for a special dinner at the Chinese restaurant they frequented when they first met.

The Shop’s job book entry. Globe Brewery job. May 13, 1957. Page 1.
The Shop’s job book entry. Globe Brewery job. May 13, 1957. Page 2.

May 17

Jack and Betty celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary on a warm pleasant Friday night. Eddie and Mimi watch the five girls while seven months pregnant Betty and Jack have dinner at the New Canton Inn like they did when they were dating. Afterward, they want to see a movie but Betty is tired and she wants to get back to the girls. Jack agrees and promises to take her to a film after the baby comes. They won’t do dinner that night but will go straight to the movies then back home. Betty likes that idea and they drive to Lakewood Avenue, collect their girls and share an iced tea toast to each other to celebrate ten years of marriage.

June 2

Jack is using the rolling machine the Shop bought last year at his request. It isn’t used every day but at least several times a week. His father’s doubts are lessening and Eddie has encouraged John Benser to make more tools for it. On this Friday, Jack is rolling some 1 1/2” diameter brass tubes for a railing. This type of job is what this machine is made for in Jack’s mind. The rolling process takes less than a third of the time it would have taken using blocks and heat. In addition, the pieces look better. They stay rounder and need very little cleaning or re-polishing which was required using their old way. He’s happy the machine is working out but his thoughts are also on tonight’s ballgame. He is taking his four oldest girls to see the Birds host the Detroit Tigers and Betty is staying home with the youngest Jackie. Betty is pregnant and due next month so she will spend a quiet night at home. Jack doesn’t want to be late and he wants to be sure to keep an eye on the girls plus the Tigers are sending Jim Bunning to the mound. He’s 7-1 and one of the best so far this season. After work Jack eats a quick dinner with his daughters and they drive to Memorial Stadium on Thirty-third Street. It’s a close game and it runs longer than Jack expected. The Birds come from behind scoring three in the bottom of the ninth to win 6-5 while the girls cheer enthusiastically and Jack worries what Betty will say about him keeping the girls out so late.

Betty Kavanagh and her five oldest daughters. Nancy, Betty Ann, Jane, Mary (left to right in front) Jackie in back. 1956.

July 17

Betty Kavanagh gives birth to her sixth daughter, JoAnn Theresa. She is named for three people. The Jo part is for her father, John Joseph Kavanagh. JoAnn is to honor Johanna, Jack’s paternal grandmother and Theresa is for his maternal grandmother, Theresa Hartmann. Jack and Betty are as excited about  this new baby as they have been for each one of the girls. When they bring her home, her four oldest sisters all want a turn holding her but Betty is careful about the new baby. She will only let them hold JoAnn if she or Jack is right there to help them.

JoAnn Theresa Kavanagh. 1957.

July 18

When Jack pulls up to the Shop today, his father and his brother congratulate him on his new baby girl. He is kidded about so many girls, six now but he takes it in stride and can’t wipe the smile off his face. During lunch he helps his father with a quotation for a beer heater for Paul Jones Distillery. His father wants Jack to learn his quoting system and Jack is a quick study. Eddie explains his quoting process, how he figures the labor and how much to mark up any material needed. The quote is discussed amid bites of ham sandwiches then Jack gets back out to the Shop to roll some copper tubes into circles for a fountain they are fabricating. Again, he uses the new rolling machine with tools made by Benser. It is another job that is complete much more quickly with Jack running them through his machine.

Quotation for Paul Jones Distillery. July 18, 1957.

July 22

The hot but busy summer continues with more brewery and distillery parts along with a few tubes to bend and some small plates to roll.  A set of custom couplings are finished today for National Brewery. Eddie made some drawings and Votta and one of the younger smiths, Charlie Owens fabricate the parts to match. A special “Orlando” thread is cut on one end of each coupling. Like most of the parts they make, these are fabricated specifically to match the National Brewery system.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Brewery job. July 22, 1957.

August 2

The crew of the Joseph Kavanagh Company remain busy with a mix of jobs but today the focus is on some repairs to a continuous still belonging to A. Smith Bowman Distillery. Boiling plates, a collar and a copper drop bucket have all been made over the last few days. There is cutting, drilling and some annealing and bending on this one as well. The bucket must be rolled from copper sheet. They have been making copper buckets for generations at the Shop. It’s all about using heat and curving copper sheet. It’s old school coppersmith work and easy for the Kavanagh’s. The job will be completed and billed tomorrow. Bowman is becoming another regular customer and Eddie makes note of this. He may have to add the men he deals with there to his Christmas gift list.

The Shop’s job book entry. A. Smith Bowman job. August 3, 1957. Page 1.
The Shop’s job book entry. A. Smith Bowman job. August 3, 1957. Page 2.
The Shop’s job book entry. A. Smith Bowman job. August 3, 1957. Page 3.

August 10

On this Saturday night, Jack makes good on his promise and takes his wife to the movies to see “An Affair to Remember” with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. They both enjoy the movie but Betty really loves this one. They hold hands in the dark of the theater as they watch and for a brief time it feels like they are those two young kids, one fresh out of the Navy and the other newly graduated from high school. When the credits appear, they come back to reality and head home to pick up their six little girls still hand in hand as they cruise through the Baltimore streets toward Lakewood Avenue.

Jack & Betty 1946
Jack Kavanagh and Betty Crew. 1946. Patterson Park.

August 29

Jack drives his father to work on this Thursday and they immediately break into discussion of last night’s ballgame. The Orioles drubbed the Indians 19-6 on the road in Cleveland. Jack really likes this catcher, Gus Triandos, maybe because Jack was a catcher at school when he played ball but he has always felt a certain respect for those behind the plate. Triandos homered twice and hit one of the team’s seven doubles last night. Eddie agrees with Jack that Triandos seems like a keeper and that it was a whale of game. It was exciting from the start when the Birds scored five in the first and never looked back. When they get to the Shop, most of the crew gathers around them both and the same conversation is had but with nine more men. This game is one that is great fun to talk about because in baseball, you don’t score nineteen runs very often.

September 5

It’s back to school for the Kavanagh girls. Betty Ann, Nancy, Mary and Jane all return to St. Elizabeth’s school for 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st grades respectively. Jack drives them down the street to the corner of  Lakewood and Baltimore where the school is located. He wishes them all a good day as they parade into St. E’s all dressed in their school uniforms. Their father watches them get inside safely then makes the right onto Baltimore Street and heads to the Shop.

Old Climax Hand Bender. Picture taken September 2019.

September 12

A new customer, Thau Manufacturing orders some small stainless steel tubes to be bent. The Climax bender is used for this order. It is a bender that has an arm that rotates around a die. The size of the die determines the radius or the tightness of the bend. By pulling the arm and carefully checking the turret which is marked with each degree of bend, the tube is bent to the proper angle. This machine was originally used for elbows and bends for their distillery work but now they have enough tools to bend for mechanical, ornamental and other applications. Eddie’s idea to have their machinist make more dies is paying off and this leads him to encourage John Benser to make more tools for the new rolling machine that Jack thinks so highly of.

The Shop’s job book entry. Thau Manufacturing job. September 12, 1957.

September 29

The Baltimore Colts open their season at home by beating the Detroit Lions 34-14. The fans scream and holler with each play. Football has really caught on and the crowds are very loud at each game. The Colts will just miss out on the playoffs by one win this year as they finish with a 7-5 record. They are led by a young quarterback named Johnny Unitas who started about half the games last year, his rookie season. This year he is the team’s #1 quarterback and he leads the league in passing yardage and touchdowns. Unitas’s prowess at quarterback raises the hopes for next year even higher. The Orioles showed a great deal of improvement too. The team wins its last four games to finish the season with a .500 record at 76-76 though that young third basemen, Brook Robinson struggles a bit this year. Overall their youngsters are starting to hit and pitch better and that adds up to more wins. Both Baltimore teams seem to be on the rise and the City is excited for the future.

October 10

The Milwaukee Braves defeat the defending champion New York Yankees in seven games to win the World Series. The Braves are led by ace pitcher Lew Burdette, who wins the MVP of the series after notching three complete game victories and young slugger Hank Aaron who bats a lofty .393 in the series and belts three home runs. Eddie still pulls for the Yankees because of his admiration for the great Babe Ruth but Jack is a fan of Milwaukee in this series. He likes the idea of someone different winning the championship and besides New York is an American League rival to the Orioles. Jack can’t wait for Baltimore’s baseball club to get their chance in a World Series. It might be a few years but he knows it will happen.

JoAnn Kavanagh in stroller. 1957.

October 14

Jack assists Eddie with another quote. This one for a repair to a bottling tank for Calvert Distillery. The tank needs to be raised higher so a bracing plate will be made and installed under the tank. They discuss how to safely raise the tank and how many man-hours that will take to do. Eddie shows him how he calculates how big of a plate to use and how much margin for error they have. The tolerance is tight on this one because they only have so much room to squeeze this new plate under the tank. Jack comes up with a price and Eddie likes it and the quote is sent to Calvert. In two weeks, the order will be placed.

Quotation for Calvert Distillery. October 16, 1957. Page 1.
Quotation for Calvert Distillery. October 16, 1957. Page 2.

November 28

Jack and Betty drive their six girls to Guilford Avenue to celebrate Thanksgiving with Betty’s family, the Crew’s. Betty’s brothers, Buddy and Bumpsey are there as is Buddy’s wife, Mack,  their sons, Barney and Steve. The Kavanagh’s make sure to get there in time for the girls to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC television. The girls sit with their cousins and clap and laugh as the floats and balloons pass across the screen. Betty’s mother Bernardine who is called Nannie by the grandchildren cooks a delicious turkey feast for them all and it’s a great family day. In the late afternoon, they return to Lakewood Avenue and have a second dinner with Jack’s parents, Eddie and Annie who is Mimi to her grandchildren. They eat more turkey with all the trimmings including parsnips, of course. During dinner, the adults discuss the recent health problems of President Eisenhower who had a stroke several days before. Ike is a tough man and all are confident he will be fine. He was a soldier and they feel he will bounce back from this and recover well.

Bernardine Crew. “Nanny” 1940s.

December 21

The crew work away on a few different jobs today as the volume of work has stayed strong. A custom “Y” connector is made for Gunther’s Brewery. These connectors are a challenge to make, splitting a tube and soldering two section to it. The reason Eddie knows the Shop gets these parts is the difficulty.  He knows his crew is skilled, in fact, he trained most of them and that skill and level of quality precedes the Kavanagh’s and brings them work. Their experience and talent makes these parts easier  for them than other metal shops.

The Shop’s job book entry. Gunther’s Brewery job. December 21, 1957.

December 24

The Kavanagh’s throw their annual Christmas Eve Party at 201 S. Central Avenue. After cleaning and decorating, the crowd gathers in the front half of the Shop to eat, drink and celebrate the holiday. A few customers are there but it is mostly family, friends and employees. Both a ham and a turkey were baked by Annie, Eddie’s wife, and sliced for sandwiches. There are pies for dessert, beer on ice and the Kavanagh favorite, rye whiskey. Eddie’s niece Mary and her family are there. Mary and her mother inherited half of the Shop when his brother Leo died several years ago. He misses his brother and partner whom he worked with for so long and he is happy to see Mary, her husband Albert and their small boys Jimmy and Leo. They play in the Shop with his granddaughters. Patsy, Ed Jr.’s daughter and Jack’s girls Betty Ann, Nancy, Mary, Jane and Jackie. Baby JoAnn is being held by her mother while Mimi, her grandmother plays with her and smiles down at the small babe. Eddie sees the family mixing with his customers and workers and he is reminded of Christmas Eve’s years ago in this same room. Family and friends wishing each other well celebrating and singing just as they did when his father ran the place. They do sing a few Christmas songs and there are a few toasts and the party goes well. When the guests leave, Jack gives a couple of workers a ride and Eddie drives Betty and the girls home. As Eddie locks up, he recalls again the parties of the past. He thinks of when his father Joe and his brothers James and Frank owned the place and they brought their families to celebrate. It was a long time ago and his memories have begun to fade. He shakes these thoughts out of his head, drops his cigarette and stomps it out as he climbs into his car and drives down Pratt Street. The Joseph Kavanagh Company has been located at the corner of Pratt and Central for 47 years now.



Dwight Eisenhower is the President of the United States. The first nuclear power plant opens in Pennsylvania. The frisbee, the slinky and the hula hoop go on sale. “American Bandstand” premiers on ABC television. Elvis Presley buys Graceland. “West Side Story”  and “The Music Man” premier on Broadway. The films, “The Bridge Over the River Kwai” and “Twelve Angry Men” are released. Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” is published. The Asian Flu Pandemic kills over 60,000 Americans. The first American soldier dies in Vietnam. Federal troops are sent to Arkansas to enforce school desegregation laws. Steve Harvey, Spike Lee, Frances McDormand, Patty Smyth, and Donny Osmond are born. Humphrey Bogart and Oliver Hardy die.


There are 48 states in the Union.

JoAnn Theresa Kavanagh. 1957.

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

Table of Contents

1956 The First Roller

January 10

The Joseph Kavanagh Company is a little slow to start this year. They have work but only a week’s backlog. Eddie is not very concerned as the winter can be a quiet time for jobs. Any pause between customer’s orders is filled with making parts for stock. Today Louis Votta, one of their most experienced coppersmiths, makes some washer unions in the Gunther Style. Eddie knows sooner or later, Gunther’s will need them.

The Shop’s job book entry. Stock Gunther’s Brewery parts made. January 10, 1956.

February 13

Things pick up at the Shop today when E. J. Codd orders a few parts for a boiler repair and this one is a rush. A building downtown has no heat and that has to be fixed as quickly as possible. Copper sheet is annealed which warms the place up, then bent slowly around to form a circle. Quite a few fittings, couplings and valves are made too. There is a rush charge applied to this job with Jack and five fellows working extra hours to get this one finished in three days. Things can change very quickly at the corner of Pratt and Central. It can change from slow to fine to swamped in a day.

March 27

Two Eccentric Copper Reducers are finished today for Calvert Distilling. Calvert is one of their regular customers who send work to the Joseph Kavanagh Company nearly every month. The Shop has been doing business with them for years and they do get special treatment. Their work is always given a priority by the Kavanagh’s. Jack and two other members of the crew are bending some 90 degree elbows from 2” tube that are also for Calvert. These take a lot of heat and slow pulling around blocks to finish. Jack thinks there must be a better way to bend these and begins to look into it.

The Shop’s job book entry. Calvert Distillery job. March 27, 1956.

April 14

A sunny Spring day is busy at the Shop for the ten man crew. They have more orders for parts to fabricate including a custom “Y” connector for National Brewing. Two sizes of tube, 3” and 2”, are cut and reshaped then soldered closed to created the “Y” shape. The reshaping is the slowest part of the process as careful hammering is done to round out the finished product. The purpose is to create a split or fork in the line to allow the passing of beer from one line into two. It has taken two days for two men to finish this short union. It’s only a small connector but it is a lot of work to get it right.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Brewery job. April 15, 1956.

April 15

Jack has been giving a great deal of thought to purchasing a metal rolling machine for the Shop. This machine has three rollers or round dies that are used to bend metal into circles, half-circles or whatever is needed. Jack thinks it will make things much easier for them to bend and curve sheets, pipes and tubes. It should pay for itself in several years and also open up other avenues for work. This machine can roll steel not just copper. It can roll any metal given the right tools. Jack is sure that John Benser can make tools for this machine and it will bring in even more jobs and money. He thinks this may be the way of the future. He feels they will have to learn to work with other metals besides copper and brass and this roller will help them do just that. He also knows that it will be a tough sell to Eddie who can be very obstinate especially about the Shop. Jack has his arguments in favor ready and decides to bring it up today. While eating their lunch, Jack suggests to his father that they purchase a metal rolling machine.

“Eddie, I think it’s something we should consider buying. With this three shaft roller, we can bend things easier and with more control. I know it will make things faster too,” Jack says while his father eats his sandwich.

His father places the sandwich down and takes a swallow of coffee, “Jack, it seems like a waste of money to me. I mean we can bend things well enough now. We’ve been doing it for years and it’s always worked out okay. I don’t see where we need it for anything.”

“We don’t need it but it will make things easier. Can you imagine if we had grooved rollers for pipe and tube sizes? All the pulling and then re-hammering will be eliminated. We can just set the machine up and get to it. When they come out of the machine, there won’t be any fixing of the tubes. They will look good,” Jack counters as he sips his own coffee.

Eddie answers back, “I don’t know that it will save us much time, Jack. These machines aren’t perfect and no one here is familiar with one. Who’s going to run it?”

“I will.” Jack replies immediately, “I will learn all about it and I promise it won’t take me long. I know it will speed jobs up Eddie. I know it will and with it we can roll steel too. The stiffeners and steel rings we make for people will all be easier and we’ll be able to roll heavier steel because it won’t be by hand. I think it will bring us more work.”

“Do you really think it will save us much time? I have my doubts, son. After you learn how to run this thing, you’ll have to show someone else how to do it. That will take some more time away from working on jobs.” Eddie sits back in his chair and places a cigarette between his lips.

Jack counters, “I’m telling you, Eddie. This will make us money. Like those 90’s we bent for Calvert last month. We might be able to do those in half the time with a roller. I know Benser has to make tools but from wood, it won’t take long. He makes those bending dies we use and that’s worked out great for us. The more tools we have the more sizes we can bend. This roller will be the same way. I am sure it will pay for itself fast. It’s gonna save us time on a lot of things and I know we’ll be able to find other work for it.”

“You think so?” Eddie lights his cigarette and takes a long puff, “Well, I’m not convinced, Jack, but if you think we should buy it, then go ahead and buy it. I don’t think you’re ever going to make any money with this thing. I don’t but I’ll go along with it.” Eddie is thinking to himself that these decisions will be Jack’s to make so he might as well let him make this one. “Go ahead and order it. Try to get the best deal you can, of course.”

“I will. You know that. I’ll call around and find the best price. You’ll see. I’m telling you, Eddie. This machine will help us and make us money.” Jack says as he tosses the last of his lunch into the trash. He’s happy with his father’s answer but not thrilled about his doubts. Jack orders the machine and plans on proving Eddie wrong when it arrives.

April 20

The Orioles welcome the Washington Senators to Memorial Stadium for Baltimore’s home opener. The Birds win 3-2 while the Kavanagh’s are listening on the Shop’s office radio. Jack gives game updates every time he steps into the Shop from the office which is about ten times during the ballgame. Each bit of news he passes along is welcomed by the workers and they too follow along. The win is cheered at the end of the day as the gents file out of the building. It was a very typical day at Central Avenue with several orders for brewery parts being made including some brass flanges for National Brewery.

May 18

The rolling machine arrives and is placed very carefully in the back section of 201 S. Central Avenue. It is moved slowly with blocks and tackles and strength. The men take their time setting it because they don’t want to have to move it again. The machine has a hydraulic motor that will pull the pieces between the three rollers. The front shaft of the machine spins and pulls the piece through while the two back rollers apply the pressure that makes the curve. There is a wheel on the side that is used to manually crank the back rollers closer to the front. As they are brought in closer the radius of bend will be tighter. Jack loves the machine and begins planning on tools to be made immediately. Eddie is still skeptical but he has confidence in his son and if Jack thinks it will work, Eddie will give it a chance.

May 31

The Kavanagh’s and crew discuss last night’s doubleheader as they work on a few jobs in the Shop today. The Orioles swept two from the Red Sox and are only a game under .500 for their record. It’s been a good start for the Birds and fans are enjoying it and it makes talking baseball even better when you win. The crew are making some manifolds for Clark Concrete Co. today. Something a little out of the ordinary for them but well within their capabilities. Copper tube is annealed and bent, fittings and couplings attached to make the two manifolds. This job takes a bit of mechanical engineering to get straight. Jack is up to the task. He studied mechanics at the Maryland Institute and has a mind for such things as well.

The Shop’s job book entry. Clark Concrete Co. job. Page 1. May 31. 1956.
The Shop’s job book entry. Clark Concrete Co. job. Page 2. May 31. 1956.

June 26

Jack’s rolling machine is used today to roll three galvanized bands for Eureka Coppersmith & Plumbing. Most coppersmiths don’t work with steel but the Kavanagh’s do. They specialize in copper but work with brass, bronze, steel and occasionally aluminum. Earlier this year, they would have had to pass on the galvanized steel. When heated galvanized melts there are noxious fumes emitted, so it can only be bent cold and that is hard, but with Jack’s new roller it is possible. Jack runs the bars through the machine a few times and gets it to the diameter Eureka needs. Jack smiles broadly as he tells his father how well the machine handled it. Eddie, not sold on the machine, does admit that this job could not have been done without it.

The Shop’s job book entry. Eureka Coppersmith and Plumbing Co. job. June 26, 1956.

July 27

For the last several weeks, the Shop’s crew have been focused on a few more items for Calvert Distilling. A few repairs were made and the distilling system was extended with branches of pipe and tube. All of this work is performed at the distillery in Raley, Maryland. The branches are on the fifth floor of the building and it is over a week’s work for three men, Jack, Funke and a helper (not always the same fellow each day). The building is hot already but add in the torches and soldering and it is a tough job. Mr. Funke is the Shop’s most senior non-Kavanagh smith and Jack is young but very skilled. It’s a long job but when completed, the branches work well and Calvert is pleased.

The Shop’s job book entry. Calvert Distillery job. July 27, 1956.

August 2

A candle heater is fabricated for Fairfield Chemical Company in Curtis Bay. They are another chemical company who require some distilling and the candle heater is used in maintaining a high temperature during their process. It is made of 10” copper tube with a few associated connectors and fittings to go with it. John Benser, the Shop’s machinist, makes a set of 10” rollers from wood for the new rolling machine. The wood is cut down, grooved and bored out in a lathe by Benser. It is grooved to match the 10” tubes and bored to the diameter of the shaft of the machine. The rollers are slid onto the shafts and they fit well. With Jack running the machine, the tubes are slowly passed through it. Jack cranks the back rollers in a bit after each pass. The tubes are bent to fit the curve needed and the piece comes out looking great. A few slow passes through the rolling machine but still much faster than pulling it around blocks. Jack seems to be getting the hang of the roller and they are using it more and more. Sometimes on just one small sheet that needs curving but they have been able to use it to roll steel and brass as well. Eddie is still dubious but he sees the results and he agrees with Jack that the more tools for this machine they have, the more they can do.

The Shop’s job book entry. Fairfield Chemical Co. job. August 2, 1956.

August 11

Jack and Betty are taking their daughters to Ocean City for the day. It’s a long ride but they want their girls to have some fun at the beach so they will leave late Saturday night and arrive Sunday morning. Jack drives to St. Vincent’s Church and attends midnight Mass while his daughters are sleeping and his wife is packing a few things. He heads home after the service and loads his Chrysler Windsor with a small bag and a cooler. He then carries the girls out, one by one, in their pajamas and he drives  to St. Vincent’s for Betty to go to 2 AM Mass. This Mass was for pressmen, those from the Baltimore Sun and the News American who had very early Sunday mornings. While Betty is in church, Jack waits in the car with the girls who are back to sleep. They head off as soon as Mass is finished and drive south out of the City. Jack and Betty chat a bit as they drive through the dark overnight hours and after crossing the Bay Bridge, they stop at a little restaurant and buy two egg sandwiches and a doughnut for each of the girls. The couple eat their sandwiches as they head east getting closer to the shore as the sun rises. The kids wake up and eat their doughnut, very excited for this little vacation until they finally reach Ocean City. The girls oooh and ahhh at the water and the beach. Jack parks near the inlet and the girls play on the beach all morning in their swimsuits with shirts over top to keep them from getting sunburned. A picnic lunch is pulled out from the cooler and they eat with each of the girls peppering their Mom and Dad with questions about the beach and the ocean. After eating, Jack takes a nap in the car for an hour or so while Betty sits on a bench on the boardwalk handing out pennies from a handkerchief. The girls play the claw machines in the arcade and try to win plastic airplanes, little soldiers and other small toys. The claw machines cost two cents so the girls only get so many plays before their money is spent. At about 2 PM, Jack is awake and ready to head home. Betty makes sure everyone goes to the bathroom and they all pile back in the Windsor and drive back to Baltimore. They get back to Lakewood Avenue before dark and the girls are in bed by 8:30 PM at the latest. Jack and Betty sit down to watch the “Ed Sullivan Show” which Betty enjoys and Jack invariably starts dozing through it. It is a lot of traveling for one day but it is well worth it to the couple because the girls love every second of it.

Jack & Betty 1946 by car
Jack and Betty Kavanagh. Before they were married standing next to Jack’s 1946 Chrysler Windsor. 1946.
Mary Kavanagh on rear bumper of Jack’s 1946 Windsor. 1952.

August 17

A set of copper sterilizing shelves are made for Gunther’s Brewery. Straight lines are annealed into copper sheet and the sheets are bent along these lines to create the corners of the shelves. All the surfaces are then tinned for sterilization. The tin is melted until it is a thick liquid, then quickly but thoroughly brushed over the shelves. This is very much old school coppersmithing as tinning is one of a smith’s basic skills. Even old Uncle Joe tinned the pitchers, pots and pans he made when the Shop was just started.

The Shop’s job book entry. Gunther’s Brewery job. August 17, 1956.

September 3

Jane Kavanagh starts kindergarten, joining her sisters at St. Elizabeth’s School. Jack and Betty have four girls at the school now with one daughter in each grade from kindergarten to third grade. They have breakfast around the table with their father as he glances through the morning paper, then he drives them the four blocks to school. They wave goodbye as they enter and Jack turns onto Baltimore Street and heads to the Shop.

Mary and Jane Kavanagh with a neighborhood friend. Mid 1950s.

September 30

The Baltimore Colts begin their season at home against the Chicago Bears and beat them 28-21. Jack is there with three pals and he has a blast at the football game. Colts fans are boisterous, loud and supportive and after this win they hope for good things. It doesn’t work out that way though as the Colts will finish with a meager 5 wins while losing 7. They finish fourth in their division for the second year in a row. The Orioles didn’t do any better though they improved their win total by twelve.

October 10

The Yankees win the World Series, defeating the defending champion, Brooklyn Dodgers. The Series goes seven games but Yankee pitching is too much for the Dodgers especially Don Larsen who pitches a perfect game in game five and wins the MVP of the series. Eddie and Jack discuss this championship series throughout it. Eddie pulling for the Yanks and Jack for the Dodgers as it’s been for the last few years. Brooklyn scores nineteen runs in the first two games winning both but only manages six more in the final five games. New York out homered them twelve to three with Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra both knocking out three in the series. The Kavanagh father and son baseball fanatics were able to watch games three and four on the weekend but both rue missing that perfect game from Larsen. They both know that is something they will probably never see again.

November 6

President Eisenhower is re-elected defeating Democrat Adlai Stevenson as he did in 1952. The Kavanagh’s voted for Democrat Stevenson. Eddie has been a very loyal member of the party and his son served and ran as a Democrat so they vote as such. They do “like Ike” as the slogan goes and he is held in high regard by them for his military service and leadership during World War 2. The economy has been good for them during his first term and they assume the same for the second.

Betty Ann, Mary and Nancy Kavanagh. Left to right. Backyard of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1956.

November 24

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is spent at the Visitation Convent spending time with Aunt Anna (Sister Mary Agnes). She is Eddie’s sister and they are very close. The family sees her several times a month and certainly near the holidays. The Visitation Nuns are cloistered so visiting her has certain rules and she can only leave the convent for specific reasons. Aunt Anna loves spending time with the little ones, Ed Jr. and Lillian’s daughter, Patsy, and Jack and Betty’s girls, Betty Ann, Nancy, Mary, Jane and Jackie. Her brother catches her up on the Shop and she tells them all about her teaching at the convent’s school.

December 14

While Eddie Kavanagh sends out a few Christmas ties and the odd bottle of whiskey, the crew are working away in the Shop on the usual mix of brewery and distillery parts. Four reducers are made for Gunther’s from bearing bronze. There is cutting, soldering and a small bit of machining to fabricate these but they are standard parts and have been made a few times before.

The Shop’s job book entry. Gunther’s Brewery job. December 14, 1956.

December 24

The annual Christmas Eve Party at the Joseph Kavanagh Company is held today and a very festive one indeed. The Shop is cleaned and prepped for the party then family, friends, customers and employees celebrate as one. It has been another good year for the Shop. The company wasn’t as busy as 1955 but close and well enough for the Kavanagh’s and crew. Jack’s idea for buying a metal rolling machine seems to have worked out well. Quite a few jobs have been handled quicker due to this machine and also they are able to do more with steel than they could before. This has brought in a few more jobs and has got them some more customers in the fabricating and construction industries. Eddie was doubtful but he is pleased to see his son make a decision, follow through on it and then have it pay off. He’s proud of Jack and is gaining confidence that when he is gone, his son will take care of everything. The Kavanagh’s and guests eat, drink and sing as they welcome Christmas. The kids play among the party goers and are very excited for Christmas and Santa to get here. Jack is happy to play that part as he does every year and even happier at some news from his wife, Betty. She is pregnant and baby #6 will be born in July.

B N M J J 5
The Kavanagh girls. Betty Ann, Nancy, Mary, Jane and Jackie(Right to left) Christmas 1956.



Dwight D. Eisenhower is the President of the United States. Rocky Marciano retires as the only undefeated heavyweight champion of boxing. Elvis Presley releases his first big hit “Heartbreak Hotel” and appears on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” The musical “My Fair Lady” premiers on Broadway. Disposable diapers and the computer hard drive are invented. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis perform together for the last time. The films, “Guys and Dolls” and “The Ten Commandments” are released. Eddie Murray, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tom Hanks, Carrie Fisher and Larry Bird are born. Jackson Pollack and Bela Lugosi die.

There are still 48 states in the Union.

The Shop’s first metal rolling machine. Make unknown. 1956

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

Table of Contents

1955 Running for City Council

January 3

The Joseph Kavanagh Company starts its 90th year in business with little fanfare but rather with the heat of torches, the clang of hammers and men shaping and bending copper like any other day. It’s a cold January Monday and the crew are busy with a few fittings and repair parts for breweries, distilleries and a small boiler repair. During lunch, Eddie speaks to his son Jack about the idea of running for State Senate. Jack failed in his re-election bid for the House of Delegates last year but a run at the Senate might be worth a shot. Eddie is confident Jack would find support within the Democratic Party.

“I don’t want to run for Senate, Eddie. I lost last year so I probably wouldn’t win. It hardly seems worth the try,” is Jack’s first response to his father’s question.

“You don’t know that. The Senate is a different thing and Jack Pollack would be supportive. He would love to have another of his guys in the Senate. You could do a lot of good work, Jack. You were good in the House and you could do even more as a Senator.” Eddie says as he warms his hands by holding a cup of hot coffee.

“No. I want to be close to home and Betty doesn’t want me back in Annapolis every day for three months a year. It would be more in the Senate. And they call you in for special sessions. I want to be close to home.” Jack counters and then bites into an apple.

“Jack, you should think about it. Look, Betty’s a good girl. She’ll understand. You know it. I think you should really consider it, son.” Eddie persists.

“No, I want to be here in Baltimore. You need me here at the Shop. You do. It will be too much if I’m not here all year.” Jack replies with the argument he didn’t want to use with his father.

Eddie’s eyes open wide and he answers quickly, “Oh, Jack. I’ll be fine. I can handle it. It would be like last year. You help out on Saturdays and we plan the week. I don’t think it will be a problem. I’ve worked here for forty years and you don’t have to worry about the Shop. Can you give me a really good reason you don’t want to run?”

“Well, Pop, we got a baseball team here now. I want to be around for the whole season including Opening Day. I want to go to Opening Day some day and that won’t happen if I’m in Annapolis. Every summer there are several emergency sessions it seems and that’s more games I won’t be around for. I want to be here.” Jack answers with a thought that he assumed would sway his hard-headed but baseball crazy father.

After a long pause, Eddie says, “Well, that’s a good reason. Okay. I can understand that.” He takes a sip of coffee and seems lost in thought for a moment when he continues, “All right. You want to be in Baltimore. What about City Council?”

Jack is thrown by this suggestion for a second, “City Council? I never thought of that, Pop.”

“Well think about it.” Eddie grins and picks up the telephone to order some stock steel from Seaboard Steel. Jack waits a moment thinking, then rises and heads into the Shop to check on the crew. He will talk to Betty about this City Council idea.

January 4

Jack tells his father he spoke to Betty and she is supportive of him running for City Council. He will be close to home and that’s what matters most to her. He’ll give it a shot, and his father is very excited to hear it. Both Jack and Eddie get in touch with the Democratic Party leaders they know and a campaign to send Jack to the City Council representing the second district is set in motion. Jack will meet with groups and individuals and speak of what he will do for Baltimore if elected. He always is a strong supporter of the working man. Jack believes in the better nature of most people. If given an opportunity to work hard and support their family, he always thought most people would take that opportunity and do it. “A Vote for Kavanagh is a Vote for Progress” is his campaign slogan.

Back cover of Jack Kavanagh’s campaign for City Council pamphlet. 1955.

February 7

A photographer visits 447 N. Lakewood Avenue to take a promotional photo of Jack, Betty and the family for his campaign. The picture is taken in the front room of Lakewood Avenue with parents and girls all sitting together on the couch. The picture is printed in election flyers supporting Jack’s campaign. Jack holds Mary. Betty holds baby Jackie and Betty, Nancy and Jane are seated before their parents.

Page 2 of Jack Kavanagh’s campaign for City Council pamphlet. 1955.
Page 3 of Jack Kavanagh’s campaign for City Council pamphlet. 1955.

February 17

A frigid day is spent at the Shop working on distillery and brewery fittings, valves and other parts. A boiler replacement job is brought in by E. J. Codd Fabricators, one of their oldest customers. Copper sheet is heated then curved around blocks and wheels to reach the diameter necessary. The liner serves to smooth out the inside of the boiler which is made of steel and has a rough texture. The copper liner improves the efficiency of the boiler. The most popular part of this job, in the winter anyway, is the annealing of the sheet. Three fellows with torches heat the sheet and for a few moments the whole crew gathers close to get warm. The sheet glows red and throws a lot of heat back and that is very fine with the workers. A blast of heat from a torch and then from copper is very welcome in February at 201 S. Central Avenue.

March 1

Eddie has high hopes for his son’s election but Jack loses the primary in his run for City Council. He finishes sixth in a field of seventeen with the top three receiving a nomination. This will end his political career but Jack is not very disappointed. He enjoyed his time in Annapolis and the idea of serving in Baltimore City appealed to him but it didn’t work out. Eddie is more disappointed than his son but he too accepts it and realizes that politics isn’t going to work out for Jack. It might even be for the better as Eddie knows that soon enough, his time at the Shop may be over and Jack’s time has only just begun. He knows that his oldest son Ed Jr. enjoys coppersmithing but is not interested in running the Shop and that Eddie’s job will certainly fall to Jack. Eddie decides it’s best to focus on preparing Jack for this.

March 7

The musical “Peter Pan” is broadcast on NBC and the Kavanagh girls are so excited. They watch with their Mom and Dad eyes fixed on the television. It stars Mary Martin and is a huge hit around the country.

A letter from Gunther’s Brewery informing Eddie Kavanagh that he will receive a complimentary case of the newest beer style of their beer. March 21, 1955.

April 12

It’s Opening Day in Baltimore for the Orioles and over 38,000 fans flock to see the Birds’ first home game. They lost their first game in Washington to the Senators 12-5 and the home opener isn’t much better. They lose 7-1 to the Boston Red Sox. It will be another tough year for the Orioles. The start of the season is horrible. The team loses the first six games and can never recover. Fans can’t imagine a worse start then 0-6 but they still support the team enthusiastically. This includes the Kavanagh’s who have begun a love affair with this team that will continue and grow for the next sixty plus years. Eddie and Jack discuss the game at the Shop and the team in general. This season will be a struggle but the Kavanagh’s will enjoy every minute of it and they know eventually this club will be much more competitive.

April 22

Eddie quotes Mr. Fred Schneider at National Brewing for a few replacement parts. Mr. Schneider assures Eddie that this will be a job but it may be down the road a bit so Eddie makes note of it and waits for an order to come. The Shop is still busy with a few drip pans being made for Calvert Distilling and a brass railing being rolled for a fancy residence in Baltimore County. Brass is more difficult to anneal and bend than copper. It is still well within the scope of the Shop’s capabilities but it takes an experienced hand to curve it properly and not damage the material. Jack and two helpers tackle this one. They heat it carefully then after cooling, it is slowly pulled around wooden dies and wheels to get the radius that the customer wants. After bending, the rail is cleaned and polished. The rail looks great and Eddie knows the customer will be happy. This is why Eddie gave this one to Jack personally. He knows he has great skill as a coppersmith and also is a good leader of a crew. Jack does good work and he also seems quite adept at getting the best work from his helpers.

Quotation to National Brewery. April 22, 1955.

May 10

The Shop on the corner of Pratt and Central is humming along with plenty of work. Today the usual mix of brewery and distillery parts is augmented with a fountain that is fabricated. They have worked on fountains nearly since the company’s inception. Copper tube is annealed, then drilled to allow the water to pass through it. The now soft tube is gently and slowly pulled around blocks to achieve the diameter the customer wants then the ends are soldered together to form a ring. It’s slow work but when finished, the customer picks up and covers the copper tube in the marble or the stone that is visible when the fountain is installed. The Shop makes the interior that controls the water in the fountain while the stone mason or contractor will do the exterior work.

June 13

A hot Monday morning at the Shop is spent making spare brewery parts and another railing. The talk among the Kavanagh’s and the crew is baseball. The Orioles split a doubleheader with the Kansas City A’s the day before. The A’s were sold and moved from Philadelphia during the off-season and Eddie thinks of his father Joe. Joe was an old acquaintance of Connie Mack, the A’s former owner and manager. Joe would occasionally take the train to Philly, visit Mr. Mack and take in a game. Eddie’s father loved baseball and that is where his son got his passion for it. He wonders what Joe would think of the team moving. Teams move so rarely Eddie was taken by surprise by it. The country has grown and cities in the midwest and the west coast are clamoring for teams. Jack and Eddie both are curious if and when another club will move.

Baby Nan 3
The Kavanagh girls In the pool in the backyard of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Nancy, Patsy, Betty Jane, Betty Ann and Mary in the back. 1956.

June 25

Jack and Betty take their four oldest girls to the movies to see Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp.” Not quite one year old Jackie stays with Jack’s parents, Eddie and Mimi. The girls love it and they chatter all about it on the way home in the back seat of the car. Jack and Betty smile at each other and say no words but the joy of their children makes them happier than anything else.

July 15

The Shop is flush with work and they have a solid three week backlog. Today it is more replacement parts for National Brewery. Several Beer Nose Couplings are fabricated for them. The breweries certainly help keep the place busy especially National and Gunther’s. Gunther’s has an order for some special bronze caps that will be made next week. The Shop and specifically Eddie has a great reputation with the beer brewing industry. In the twenty years since Prohibition was repealed, Eddie and his crew have made countless parts and many repairs that have helped his friends in the industry. Emergency and rush jobs are dealt with expeditiously and Eddie’s customers don’t forget that.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Brewery job. July 15, 1955.
The Shop’s job book entry. Notes on Calvert Distillery job. July 30, 1955.

August 1

A large repair job for Calvert Distillery has been the focus of the Shop’s workers for the last week. Copper plates needed replacing in a section of a column still. The plates need to be drilled and 3” copper cups soldered to them. There was a lot of soldering in this job but Eddie is very proud of the crew’s performance on this one. They promised it would be completed in two weeks and they did it in one. That makes them more money and makes them look good to the customer. Eddie knows the money is good but the latter is just as important.

The Shop’s job book entry. Calvert Distillery job. August 1, 1955.

September 2

The Shop completes a heating coil for the City of Baltimore. The City furnished a set of drawings and under Eddie’s supervision, 3/4” copper tube is annealed and bent with multiple turns and the coil is braced with brass and copper to immobilize it when in use. Eddie kept a careful eye on this job because he very much likes the idea of doing work for the City. Of course, he wants as many customers as possible but with the City, the chances of them going out of business is slim. The coil is a good job that makes some money including 39 cents in scrap.

The Shop’s job book entry. City of Baltimore job. September 2, 1955.

September 5

Another of Jack and Betty’s girls, Mary, begins kindergarten at St. Elizabeth’s School joining 2nd grader Betty Ann and 1st grader Nancy. Jack drops off his girls at school every morning and Betty picks up Mary at lunch then the older girls later in the afternoon while Katherine, Betty’s friend and babysitter stays with the younger girls, Jane and Jackie.

September 17

Jack, Betty and their girls attend a Saturday afternoon Orioles game against the Washington Senators. The Birds win 3-1 in a close ballgame. The Kavanagh’s and the rest of the 5,000 + fans at the game cheer on their team enthusiastically. A young rookie make his first appearance. He goes 2 for 4 in the game and drives in one run. He plays third base and will become one of the greatest players to ever put on an Orioles uniform and will eventually be considered the greatest defensive third basemen in baseball history. His name is Brooks Robinson.

September 25

Jack and his friends head out to Memorial Stadium to see the opening game for the Colts and he finally gets to see his first Colts win in person. He’s been to several games over the first two seasons but all losses. The Colts defeat the Chicago Bears 23-17 and will go on to win their first three games. Unfortunately, they will only win two more the rest of the way and though they do not make the playoffs, the team is getting better. The fans have embraced this team just as they have the Orioles. Baltimore loves having two sports represented in the City and they are confident that both teams some day will bring a championship home to them.

October 3

The Mickey Mouse Club premiers and the Kavanagh girls love it from the start. The program runs for an hour each weekday starting at five pm. The four older girls, Betty Ann, Nancy, Mary and Jane eat their dinner as quickly as they can then sit in front of the TV and watch every minute of the show, including “Spin and Marty,” on ongoing series about two young cowboys. The girls become Mouseketeers, regular viewers; they sing the theme song loud and clear, M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E!

October 4

The Brooklyn Dodgers beat the New York Yankees in the World Series. The Series goes seven games and the Dodgers win the finale 2-0. The Dodgers lost the first two games but win four of the next five to take the championship. Jack is thrilled for the Dodgers; he pulls for them because his favorite player, Roy Campanella is on the team. Campy smacks two home runs out of the park during the Series while playing stellar defense behind the plate. After seeing the Yanks beat Brooklyn several times, this one is particularly satisfying to Jack. His father Eddie was always a huge fan of Babe Ruth and thus a fan of the Yankees. Jack’s team finally gets the win in this one and he is happy about it but dreams of the Baltimore Orioles playing in a World Series some day. The Birds finished the season by winning ten out of twelve to total three more wins than 1954. Jack and Orioles’ fans throughout Baltimore take that as improvement but they know that a World Series won’t happen for a while.

October 27

The Joseph Kavanagh company remains steady. They have jobs though not quite the three week backlog they had earlier. Still, they have work to do and more coming in. Today, a dozen bronze caps are made for National Brewing. These caps are used to close off pipes that are not in use. A brewing system is complicated and built to fit the building it is housed in and often section of pipes and tubes are not used and closed off for periods of time to be cleaned and sometimes repaired.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Brewery job. October 27, 1955.

November 24

Thanksgiving is a busy day for Jack and Betty and their girls. They have dinner at Betty’s mother’s house first around lunch time. The girls call her Nannie and she is as sweet as could be to them. Very loving and caring and she loves every second she can get with her granddaughters. Betty’s brothers “Buddy”(Lawrence) and “Bumpsy”(Howard) are both there as well. Buddy is married and his wife, Mack and young sons Barney and Steve are there and the boys play with Jack and Betty’s girls. The food is good and plentiful and it’s a wonderful holiday feast. After several hours there, Jack drives them all home and they walk over to his parents house at 434 N. Lakewood for another turkey dinner. Annie or Mimi as the girls call her is very similar to Nannie. She cherishes the time with the girls and cooks a terrific dinner. The girls love both their grandmothers a great deal and everyone eats until fully stuffed in the Thanksgiving tradition. Jack is particularly happy because both his mother and mother-in-law serve parsnips with their holiday dinner.

December 12

Eddie has John Benser make several beer cocks for stock this week. These are custom fittings that are used to connect tubes to the beer vats and pass the beer through the different stages of brewing. The cocks are different for each brewery but they know which to make for Gunther’s Brewery and which for National Brewery who are their two biggest brewery customers. They get regular calls for replacement parts from both so stocking some is a good idea. Benser is a vary talented machinist and he takes care of the cutting, machining and drilling all on his own. Eddie also sends out Christmas gifts to several customers. As in the past, most get ties but a couple receive a bottle of rye whiskey as well. The list is dominated by his pals at the breweries and distilleries who regularly order repairs and parts from the Shop. Eddie is on friendly terms with these fellows and he wants to thank them for their loyalty and patronage.

The Shop’s job book entry. Brewery parts made for stock. December 12, 1955.
Thank you letter from an employee of Gunther’s Brewery for Eddie’s Christmas gift. December 22, 1955.

December 24

Another Christmas Eve party is thrown at the Joseph Kavanagh Company for family, friends, customers and employees. After a Saturday morning of work, the Shop is cleaned and decorated, then guests begin arriving. The number of customers that attend has gone down the last few years but there are still a few gents from Gunther’s and National Breweries and Calvert and Seagrams’s distilleries. The Kavanagh family are all there and the Shop’s employees. There is food, drink and song as there is every year. It’s not quite like it was when Eddie’s father, Joe was there. He would sing old Irish songs, Christmas carols, of course including “O Holy Night” but the this year’s party is a fun affair and everyone has a good time welcoming the holiday and celebrating another year finished. Just as last year, Jack drives several employees home or to a bus stop that is halfway home. He drives those fellows who celebrated a bit too much and either don’t drive or shouldn’t drive in their state. Jack doesn’t mind it at all and his father will take his family home for him. Jack takes these workers to their destination each with a Christmas turkey in hand. Jack goes over the year in his mind as he passes Pratt and Central on the way back. He ran for City Council and didn’t win but he’s okay with it. He enjoyed his time in the House of Delegates but political office just may not be for him. Also, his responsibilities at the Shop have increased and certainly will continue to do so. Finally, he’s happier to be able to spend as much time as he can with his growing family. The Shop takes enough time away from that so perhaps it’s for the best that he did lose. He cruises along Patterson Park on Baltimore Street and turns left onto Lakewood Avenue. In less than five minutes he is parking at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue ready to see all his girls. And ready to pull out that red and white suite to be Santa. It is one of the highlights of the holiday for him. He climbs the marble steps and walks in the door with a bright Merry Christmas to Betty and his daughters.

B N M J J 4
The Kavanagh Girls, Betty Ann, Nancy, Mary, Jane and Jackie(left to right). Christmas Mid 1955.



Dwight D. Eisenhower is the President of the United States. He sends the first American military advisers to South Vietnam. The Pentagon announces it will make a new missile called an ICBM, an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. The first McDonald’s opens. Chuck Berry records his first record, “Maybelline.” Disneyland opens in Anaheim, California. Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white person. The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merge and form the AFL-CIO. “Rock Around the Clock” becomes the first rock and roll song to reach number one on the US record charts. John Grisham, Bill Gates, Whoopi Goldberg, Reba McEntire and Eddie Van Halen are born. Charlie Parker, Emmett Till and Albert Einstein die.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Cover of Jack Kavanagh’s campaign for City Council pamphlet. 1955.

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

Table of Contents

1954 Leo Kavanagh

January 11

Jack returns to Annapolis to finish his term in the House of Delegates and gives thought to what he will do next. He could run for re-election but he misses being home. He has to talk to his wife Betty about it and will decide before April when the Legislative Session comes to an end.

January 18

The Shop starts the year strong but not swamped. They are busy but not working on Saturdays which is understandable for the winter. Today a few repair parts are made for stock while a copper liner for a boiler is fabricated. Eddie gives Calvert Distilling an estimate on a vapor pipe repair. Large copper tubes have to be made then bent to 90 degrees in several spots. It will be a nice job to get and Eddie has a good feeling about it.

Quotation for Calvert Distilling. January 18, 1954.

January 30

On this Saturday, Leo M. Kavanagh has a sudden and fatal heart attack at 4 am in his home. The family is stunned as Leo was a healthy man and only sixty-one years of age. His wife, Maymie and daughter Mary are devastated and in a state of shock. The Kavanagh’s rally together and work to get through it. Eddie is hit hard by this as well. Leo was his older brother and they had worked together day in and day out for over forty years. They had only begun to even consider their retirement but now Leo is gone. He was not just Eddie’s brother but his partner at the Shop, his co-worker and co-owner and friend. Eddie won’t be able to grieve for long as decisions will have to be made about the Shop. Leo’s will must be read and his wife and daughter will inherit his half of the Joseph Kavanagh Co. Leo’s funeral is held at St. Elizabeth’s where his family and friends including many of his fellow Knights of Columbus members mourn and say their farewells. Leo is buried at New Cathedral Cemetery where his parents and other ancestors are laid to rest.

February 10

Jack, Betty and their girls, Betty Ann, Nancy, Mary and Jane have Sunday dinner with Jack’s parents, Eddie and Annie. Annie loves anytime she can get with the girls and they feel the same way. They love Mimi as they call her and she welcomes each with a hug and a kiss as if she hadn’t seen them in weeks. Eddie and Mimi live across the street and see the girls almost every day. The girls call Eddie, Eddie. It is his preference just as his father Joe didn’t go by Grandpa or Pop. Eddie is the same. He is called Eddie by his granddaughters and his sons generally. Jack called him Pop as a boy and occasionally now but never at the Shop where he was always Eddie. Annie bakes a ham and there is pie for dessert which is the young girls’ favorite part. After dinner, Eddie pulls Jack aside into the front room to talk while the girls play with their mother and grandmother.

“Jack, Leo’s will was read and Maymie and Mary get his share of the company. They won’t be involved in the day to day but will be paid some rent for the property. They own half of the building.” a slight shrug of his shoulders as he pauses, “We’ll keep doing what we do and it should all be fine.”

“What can I do to help, Pop? I know without Leo you will have a lot to do,” Jack offers, realizing that his father’s work will just about double.

“I might need some help with drawings and I’ll be glad to have you back from Annapolis. That’s for sure but I know you gotta focus on being a Delegate, son. You do your job in the House and I’ll be fine. If it’s busy, that’s a good thing. You know how it is at the Shop.” Eddie assures Jack.

Jack glances over his father’s shoulder as he hears Mary’s voice rise from the next room, “I’ll be back full time in April. I’ll do whatever it takes to help.”

His father smiles at him, “I know, Jack. I know you will. It’s strange already without Leo. It’s not the same without him. We worked together our whole lives in that building.” A somber frown crosses his face, “He was my brother but we’ll get it worked out. I know you’ll help. I will need you more in the office part of the day but you should be doing that anyway. You gotta get used to dealing with customers,” a pause as he taps a cigarette from its pack, “and doing everything else.”

“What about Ed?” Jack asks. It’s his turn to frown as he watches his father with the cigarette.

His father places the cigarette to his lips, “He doesn’t want any parts of the owning and running the Shop. He told me so and, Jack, he doesn’t have the demeanor. He’s not serious enough. He….,” Eddie seems to think better of complaining about one son to the other when he finishes, “You’re better suited for it, Jack and honestly, Ed, is more of a Shop guy: a good coppersmith, and that’s what he wants to be.”

Jack takes his time, then answers his father, “If you say so, Pop. You know best. I’m ready to learn all you want to teach me. I want to help out and help the company. I did go to school for drafting and mechanics so I can handle the drawings. Whatever it takes, I’m ready for it.”

Eddie nods and pats his son on the shoulder than calls for the ladies to come in and gather around the piano. It’s Eddie’s way of telling Jack he’s happy he’s willing to help and the conversation is over. Eddie begins to play the piano and soon the girls are dancing and singing along. Jack takes his turn playing too and they all join in together. The same sort of Kavanagh Sunday dinner with song that Eddie had with his parents.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Brewery job. March 11, 1954.

March 25

Jack has decided to run for re-election in the 2nd District of Baltimore City. He and Betty discussed it and though she would prefer to have him close to home, she understands it is important to him and will support him 100%. He and his father confer with Jack Pollack, one of Jack’s mentors in the party and Jack Kavanagh will be on the ballot for re-election. On Central Avenue, the Shop received an order for the vapor pipe repair job that was quoted to Calvert Distilling earlier this year. It takes a week to finish the tube and then find a way to work the bends with the proper radius. Eddie has been having John Benser, the Shop’s machinist make a few bending dies when he can. This makes it simpler to achieve the specific curve needed. In the case of this order, the tubes are over ten inches in diameter and their only choice is to made a new set of tools from wood. Benser machines a die and clamp block while the tubes are filled with sand. The sand is poured in, then pounded down with a pipe. Once full, the tubes are carefully pulled around the die. It’s a very slow process for each bend but a good job and Eddie is happy to see this one billed.

The Shop’s job book entry. Calvert Distilling Job. March 25, 1954.

April 1

Some of the Shop’s distillery work is not related to the whiskey industry. Today a dished copper top for a column still is finished for US Industrial Chemical Co., a chemical producer who requires alcohol distilling. The top is made from copper sheet and weighs over four hundred pounds when finished, so most of the crew have been working on this order for the last two days.

The Shop’s job book entry. US Industrial Chemical Co. job. April 1, 1954. Page 1.
The Shop’ job book entry. US Industrial Chemical Co. job. April, 1, 1954. Page 2.

April 10

The House of Delegates session closes and Jack returns to the Shop full-time but is running for re-election. On a Saturday, the crew are not working, but Jack is in the small corner office with his father. Eddie and Jack are there to plan the schedule for the week. Since Leo’s passing, Jack has tried to help his father at the Shop and now can do more. He will handle expediting jobs while Eddie focuses on taking calls and making quotations. The absence of Leo is felt, as the drawings as well as any engineering on stills and brewing vats, falls to Jack now. He can handle it but it is more work. It is a transitional period with Leo passing but they are managing and each day is focused on the jobs at hand.

April 15

The Baltimore Orioles play their first game in Baltimore at Memorial Stadium. Thousands line the streets as the team leads a parade to the game. Players sign autographs and speak to fans as the crowd cheers. The Orioles beat the White Sox 3-1 in their first home game in Baltimore before 46,000 excited fans. The Kavanagh’s have the game on the radio in the Shop’s office and they work but keep an ear on the game through the afternoon. It’s the first Opening Day in Baltimore and tomorrow it will be discussed in depth throughout the City and most certainly at the Joseph Kavanagh Company

May 9

Jack takes his father to their first Orioles game on a fine spring Sunday. Eddie and Jack can hardly contain themselves. Two true lovers of baseball at a major league game here in Baltimore. They sit and talk as they wait for the game to start. Bob Turley is the starting pitcher for the Orioles facing Art Houtteman of the Cleveland Indians. This game is a true pitching duel with the game tied at one through nine innings. Turley pitches ten innings and in the bottom of the tenth, his sacrifice bunt sets up Center fielder Gil Cloan who lines a single to center scoring the winning run. The crowd goes wild and Eddie and Jack are both whistling and cheering. It’s a very exciting game and a great first trip to Memorial Stadium for baseball. Father and son talk on the ride home about the game and the players. Jack decides he will bring the whole family out to a game or two and he can’t wait to bring his girls to see the Orioles and share some baseball with them.

June 22

The Shop is busy fabricating a railing for a residence. The usual array of brewery and distilling parts are made as well. Jack is working but also campaigning with his fellow Democrats. The Primary is next week and influence in the party seems to come down to two camps, Jack Pollack leading one and gubernatorial candidate George Mahoney the other.

June 28

Jack loses his re-election bid to the House of Delegates, He and two of the other Pollack men were defeated by the Mahoney group in the Democratic Party. Jack seems to have fallen victim to some political infighting. The people have spoken and Jack does not receive a nomination to return to the General Assembly. He is disappointed but at the same time he’ll be happy to be home with his family and to devote more time to the Shop. Betty is quietly relieved though she would have supported Jack no matter the result.

July 2

Jack, Betty and their girls attend their first Orioles game on a Friday night. Betty is eight months pregnant but going means so much to Jack and the girls, she wants to be with them. Jack told her he would take the four girls and she could stay home but she would have none of it. So they take in a ballgame on a warm summer night. Sitting in the lower box on the third base side, they watch Baltimore welcome the Detroit Tigers to town. The Orioles, though still in the bottom of the standings, win tonight in another close well-pitched affair. Joe Coleman out duels Art Aber and the Birds beat the Tigers 2-0. The girls cheer on the Orioles and Jack is in high heaven to be watching a game with his wife and kids.

July 9

Betty meets a young woman from the neighborhood named Katherine. Jack and Betty have been looking for someone to help with the girls on a more regular basis. Katherine fits the bill perfectly. She lives in the neighborhood and is a friend from the Kavanagh side of the family. Betty grows to trust her quickly and Katherine will keep the girls whenever Betty has errands, trips to the store, doctor or school.

The Kavnagh girls in the backyard of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Mary, Betty Ann and Jane(left to right). Mid 1950s.

July 21

Betty Kavanagh gives birth to another girl, Jacqueline who is called Jackie. She is named after Jack her father and he is as thrilled as he could be. He loves his Daddy’s little girls. The family is excited for another baby in the family. Her older sisters are all excited to hold her, and Mimi and Eddie along with them. Jack and Betty are also very happy they have found Katherine because with a new baby and four older girls, they will need all the help they can get.

Betty Kavanagh and baby Jackie.

July 31

The Summer at the Shop is busier and they are back to working Saturday half-days. Calvert Distilling has been keeping them busy a lot this year with repairs and replacement parts. Calvert needs some baffles replaced in an evaporator and today they are completed at the Shop. Copper sheets were cut and drilled and the ends annealed. The old baffle plates are pulled from the evaporator and the new ones installed. Five men handle this one while the rest are busy on a few boiler parts.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Brewery job. August 10, 1954.

August 16

Gunther’s Brewery orders some replacement unions. This is a repeat job. They made these last year and now they make another set. Gunther’s is another customer who sends work to the Joseph Kavanagh Company nearly every month and they have been doing business with the Kavanagh’s for decades. The small fittings whether stock or custom parts flow out of the Shop regularly. Repeat jobs are welcomed because if they did it once, they know they can do it again.

August 22

Jack takes his girls to a Sunday afternoon Orioles game. Betty stays home with baby Jackie this time and Jack corrals the girls into his Chrysler Windsor and heads to Memorial Stadium. The Orioles are hosting the Cleveland Indians today. The Indians are at the top of the standings and the Orioles are mired at the bottom. The game goes as most would guess with first place Cleveland pounding the Birds 12-1 today. The girls have a good time and cheer when they can as Jack explains to them that baseball is a game and sometimes you lose. Jack drives his girls home and they chatter to him and to each other. He saw his team get beat pretty bad but doesn’t care. He has a soft smile of contentment on his face as he answers his daughters queries and listens to them discussing the game.

September 6

Betty Ann and Nancy start their school year at St. Elizabeth’s, Betty in first grade and Nancy in kindergarten. Jack drives them down Lakewood Avenue to where the street is interrupted by Patterson Park. The school is on this corner at Baltimore Street. He drops both girls off and wishes them a good day. At lunch, Betty will walk down to pick up Nancy then return several hours later to pick up first grader, Betty Ann. Katherine will stay with the girls while Betty is at school. Katherine is a great help to Betty and the girls all love her.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Brewery job. September 10′ 1954.
The Shop’s job book entry. Gunther’s Brewery job. September 10, 1954.

September 13

More fittings, unions and adapters are made for both Gunther’s and National Brewery in the Shop, and Eddie has his own project to work on today. He has begun making a copper pitcher for his sister to honor her twenty-five years of service as a Visitation nun. He will make a pitcher like others have been made at the Joseph Kavanagh Company since Old Uncle Joe started it in 1866. Eddie will anneal a piece of copper sheet, then hammer and bend, shaping the sheet into a bowl at first, then a pitcher. The inside will be tinned and a small handle annealed, bent and soldered to the pitcher. Eddie does a special cleaning with acid to finish this particular pitcher giving it a very handsome look. He engraves his sister’s name and the years of her vocation and involvement in the Visitation Convent.

The Shop’s job book entry. Gunther’s Brewery job. September 13′ 1954.

September 26

The Baltimore Colts begin their second season at Memorial Stadium. They play in the same place as the Orioles and will do so for a long time The two franchises share the space and make many memories for Baltimore sports fans but not so much so far. The Orioles finished their season yesterday losing 11-0 for their 100th loss of the season. The Colts are crushed today 48-0 by the Los Angeles Rams. Both clubs are new and not expected to compete at this point. Things will change in a few years.

October 2

The New York Giants sweep their way to the World Series, winning all four games against the Cleveland Indians. The Indians had taken the American League Pennant by winning a record-setting 111 games. They were favored to win it all but the Giants were up to the task. In game one, Willie Mays makes one of the most incredible catches ever on a long drive by Vic Wertz. It is remembered as one of the greatest defensive plays of all time and is symbolic of this series. Leo Durocher wins his first World Series and the Kavanagh’s enjoy the games. They also assumed Cleveland would win easily, but that’s why they play the games, because you never know. If possible, they may be even more interested in the Series this year with a home team in the league. Jack hopes some day to see the Orioles play for the championship. If you have a team, you can dream.

November 13

Jack and Betty go to the movies on a Saturday night for the first time since the baby was born. There is a new holiday movie out with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye called “White Christmas.” Eddie and Annie keep the girls including baby Jackie while their parents go out for the night. They love the movie and the music and mostly love getting out for a couple of hours. They would love to go for egg rolls as they used to but Betty wants to get home to the baby. Five young girls (Annie has cousin Patsy at her house every Saturday night) and a baby is a lot to handle for Annie. Both Jack and Betty don’t want to tire her out. Eddie is there and he will play a little on the piano with the girls and watch some television but eventually he’s likely to disappear behind the newspaper. When they get to 434 N. Lakewood Avenue, they tell Jack’s parents and their girls all about the movie and the girls tell them how much fun they had with Mimi. In a few minutes, the Kavanagh girls are walking down the street and back home for the rest of the night.

Betty, Nancy, Patsy2 (1)
Nancy, Patsy and Betty Ann Kavanagh(left to right) on the grounds of the Visitation Convent. Mid 1950s.

November 27

After celebrating Thanksgiving with both Jack and Betty’s families, the Kavanagh’s visit Aunt Anna, Sister Mary Agnes on the following Saturday. She is celebrating her Silver Jubilee having been part of the order for twenty-five years. After Mass at the Convent, Eddie presents Anna with the pitcher he made for her. She thinks it’s beautiful and is very touched that her brother would do this. It reminds her of the Shop and her father and all the family that worked there. She thanks him and she thanks God for giving her the calling that has changed and enriched her life for so many years. Eddie loves his sister dearly and she feels the same. They are that much closer to each other now with their brother Leo gone.

Sister Mary Agnes(Anna Kavanagh) on the grounds of the Visitation Convent.

December 15

Eddie sends out a few Christmas gifts to customers. He has decided that some of his friends in the industry deserve a small token. Most get ties but a few get a bottle of whiskey. It is becoming an industry custom as he receives some too. His wife Annie shops for the ties and he takes care of the lucky few who get rye.

Thank you note from one of the men from Gunther’s Brewery that Eddie Kavnagh knew. He received a tie and whiskey. December 26, 1954.

December 24

The Shop’s annual Christmas Eve Party is thrown on a cold Friday. The place is converted from messy Shop to less messy holiday party in a couple of hours. The front room of Central Avenue is full of people eating, drinking and celebrating. Customers recognize and greet each other, shaking hands and wishing each other well and a fine party is held. The guests talk of the Colts who had another tough season and the hopes for the Orioles next year. The new baby, Jackie, is held and passed around while the older kids play about. The party is just like every year but Eddie misses his brother. Leo and Eddie worked together for so long and his death was so unexpected. Eddie goes over it in his mind quite often and today certainly. He feels so many unresolved issues as he never said a proper farewell to his older brother and he has trouble getting past it. When a few folks call for some songs, he puts it into the back of his mind. They do sing and toast the Shop, the holiday and the future. After the party, two employees are a bit inebriated and Jack offers to give them a lift home. Eddie is not too pleased with the workers but seems fine once his son decides to drive them home. Eddie and Annie take Betty and the kids back to Lakewood Avenue while Jack drives the two workers, each with a Christmas turkey in hand, to their destinations. One is driven to his house and the other just needs a ride to a bus stop and he will take a bus to West Baltimore where he lives. Finally, Jack drives East across town headed back home. He can’t wait for Christmas with all his girls. He even has a red and white suit picked out to wear later tonight.

Thank you note from one of the men from Gunther’s Brewery that Eddie Kavanagh knew. He received a tie. December 31, 1954.



Dwight Eisenhower is the President of the United States. Elvis Presley records his first record. The first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus, is launched. Mass vaccinations of children for polio begins. The Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision rules segregation in schools is unconstitutional. The words “Under God” are added to the Pledge of Allegiance. The Tonight Show hosted by Steve Allen premiers. The first Burger King opens. The films “the Caine Mutiny” and “On the Waterfront” are released. Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington, Condoleezza Rice, Ron Howard, and Stevie Ray Vaughan are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Copper pitcher made by Eddie Kavanagh to honor his sister Silver Jubilee. 1954.

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

Table of Contents

1953 The Colts and the Orioles

January 5

Another year starts with the Shop still busy and the Kavanagh’s are happy. Busiest of all of them is Jack who besides the Shop and having four little girls, is also a member of the Maryland House of Delegates. He is a Democrat as is his father and his father before him. Jack is happy to serve and is getting more experience at legislating as well as the ins and outs of politics in Annapolis, but it is a grueling haul sometimes. He lives in Baltimore, but while the House is in session he must be in Annapolis five days a week. It is a lot of driving and a lot of relying on his wife, Betty. Betty has almost completely recovered from polio and walks freely now with just a small limp. No crutches or wheelchairs in sight and she manages the four girls and the household well. She occasionally gets help from one of the young women in the neighborhood who will stay with one or two of the girls while Betty goes to the store or takes the other girls to the doctor or wherever. Still, Jack knows it’s hard work for her, though she is as supportive as she could be. They have a very busy life and are handling it as best as they can.

The Joseph Kavanagh Company. 201 S. Central Avenue. Picture taken in early 1970s.

January 15

The NFL awards a football team to a Baltimore group of investors lead by Carroll Rosenbloom. The team is named the Baltimore Colts, a new franchise built from what was left of the Dallas Texans who had folded after one year. Baltimore is very excited and that includes the Kavanagh’s. There was a Baltimore Colts team in a rival league for several years but this is the NFL, the big leagues of football. Jack Kavanagh is very interested and makes plans to attend some games and will become a big fan of the Colts. To Jack, it’s sports. It’s a local team, a Baltimore team so he is all for it. They will play at Memorial Stadium on Thirty-third Street.

January 19

On a very cold Monday night, nearly 70% of the country watches on TV as Lucy from the I Love Lucy Show has a baby. Jack, Betty and their four girls sit, watch and laugh along with one of the most popular shows on television. Each week the Kavanagh’s and most of America tune in for laughs with Lucy. This episode will become a classic in TV history.

February 11

The Shop’s crew are busy laboring through the day while Leo and Eddie take calls and prepare jobs for the next day. It’s a typical Wednesday at the Joseph Kavanagh Company, a winter’s day whose chill is fought with the heat of torches and the annealing oven. February is not such a bad time to be a coppersmith at work. The men of the Joseph Kavanagh Company are working on a variety of jobs today including a brass railing, a storage tank and some custom brewery fittings. All of these require heat so the place is warm at the very least. The Shop has always worked on a wide scale of jobs. Large jobs that take weeks, the average job that takes a few days and the small one or two hour job. Today machinist John Benser threads some copper tube for Brass and Copper Supply Co. The Kavanagh’s have accumulated a large inventory of copper tube of different sizes. A nine inch piece is cut from an old drop or leftover piece and Benser does the threading. Five dollars is made on this job.

The Shop’s job book entry. Brass & Copper Supply Co. job. February 13, 1953.

March 13

Friday the 13th is good luck in Baltimore today because news reports are stating that Bill Veeck, the owner of the St. Louis Browns baseball team, has reached a deal to move the team to Baltimore and they will begin play this season in Memorial Stadium. Baseball fans in this City are joyous and celebrating in the streets. The Kavanagh’s are among them. There is much slapping of backs and clasping of hands between them. To finally have a local major league team after all these years is a dream come true, especially for Eddie. He’s a die hard fan and is old enough to remember the old Orioles that his father loved so much. Leo and Eddie reminisce a bit about their father and the tales he would tell of the old Orioles. The brothers know he would be thrilled.

March 19

On this Thursday at the Shop, a few custom unions are made for Gunther’s Brewery. These parts are their bread and butter and hardly a day passes without some brewing or distilling parts, large or small. The rest of the crew are making brass fittings and two copper liners for a boiler repair job. It’s a very typical spring day in Baltimore, but tonight the Academy Awards is broadcast for the first time on television and Jack and Betty Kavanagh watch it live. This is the first time they have seen most of the stars out of their film roles and they both enjoy the show. “The Greatest Show on Earth” wins Best Picture.

The Shop’s job book entry. Gunther’s Brewery job. March 19, 1953.

March 23

The baseball season gets closer to starting but there will be no Opening Day in Baltimore. The American League owners have voted to block the Browns’ move claiming it would be impractical to relocate a team this close to the start of the season. Baltimore baseball fans are enraged and rightly disappointed while Mayor Tommy D’Alesandro threatens to sue. These are moot points as the St. Louis Browns will begin the season April 14 by hosting the Detroit Tigers at Sportsman’s Park but a move by the Browns is not out of the question. Rather it is merely tabled until after the season. The Kavanagh’s slip into a “I’ll believe it when I see it” mentality.

April 10

The regular session of the House of Delegates comes to an end and Jack is happy for it. He does enjoy his involvement with the Assembly but he misses his family. He knows that Betty has a lot on her hands and Jack is very glad to be home so she can get a break. He is happy to be back at the Shop full time as well. As much as likes politics and being involved in the General Assembly, coppersmith work/ Shop work is his forte and what he has done since he was an apprentice.

Delegate Jack Kavanagh. Democrat. 2nd District.

May 14

A railing is finished today at Pratt and Central. This rail is long and serpentine with curves that twist back and forth to match a winding sidewalk. It is made in sections, then will be assembled on site. The crew heat brass and pull the pieces around blocks and dies to match a thin flimsy steel rod they are given as a template. They will match it as close as possible to make the contractor’s installation easier. It’s acceptable to the customer and picked up today. Another job out the door and they move on to the next.

May 25

Nine steel tubes are bent today for a new customer, Sterman Mechanical Laboratory. They have needed a few bends several times this year and have another order placed for June. The Shop, after so many custom bends for still parts and brewing parts, has acquired a fair stock of bending dies. The die is a steel block that is rounded and tubes are bent around them manually with heat if necessary. They come in different sizes depending on the curve needed. A die is grooved to fit different size pipes or tubes as well. It is grooved to keep the pipe or tube from flattening or collapsing as it is being bent. Eddie believes this is another area of work where they can make some money. Even for a few pieces, if they have the tools, they can find a way to make money. While they eat their lunch, Eddie talks to his brother Leo about having John Benser, their machinist make some more dies.

“Leo, I think we should have John (Benser) make some bending dies whenever he gets the chance.” Eddie says chewing his sandwich as he shuffles through some orders on his desk.

“It sounds like a good idea but we can’t spend too much time on it or too much money unless we have a specific order to fill.” Leo sips his coffee as he considers his brother’s idea.

Eddie replies, “I only mean when he has some idle time. There are a few hours every week when he does some clean up and organizing. I’m not saying that isn’t important but he could set a piece in a lathe and take some cuts while he does all that. There would be no rush since there’s no order but bit by bit, he can get some tools made.”

“He does have a few hours here and there. I agree on that. It’s fine with me but it can’t interfere with any real jobs he’s working on.” Leo stands and pours himself another cup of coffee, “Jobs need to always take precedence.”

“Of course,” his brother answers, “but I’m confident that pipe and tube bending for these sort of general mechanical purposes is a good market for the Shop now and down the road. The more tools we have, the more variety of bends we can make.”

“Well, we have received some work like this and it seems to be increasing. Let’s do it. Tell Benser to start fitting in some die-making, but we should figure out what sizes to make first. Maybe give him a list. We can use any spare steel that we have laying around but not buy any steel for these. Just use some excess.” Leo says as he bites into an apple.

Eddie lights a cigarette, “Fair enough. We won’t buy any steel. We’ll use what’s laying around and I’ll give John a list of sizes to start making.” He takes a long puff, “It might not be much but I’m sure we’ll make some money at it.” The phone rings and Eddie quickly grabs it. The brothers get back to work and in the morning, Eddie has a chat with John Benser, who starts making dies whenever he can.

The Shop’s job book entry. Sturman Mechanical Laboratory job. May 25, 1953.

June 29

The crew discusses the new football team. Leo and Eddie are baseball fans almost exclusively and have only a passing interest in football but Ed Jr., Jack and some of the younger workers are very interested in this new Baltimore Colts team. This is a local team in the National Football League and having your own team makes it more fun as you have someone to root for. Several fellows are already set on going to a couple games including Jack. Another set of unions are made for Gunther’s Brewery, who have sent a steady stream of work in all year, and a large circular fountain is fabricated.

The Shop’s job book entry. Gunther’s Brewery job. June 29, 1953.

July 7

The Shop completes a copper water bath for Calvert Distillery. It is a rectangular basin that is tinned completely on the inside. The tinning will stop any contamination. This is another fairly standard part for the Kavanagh’s and crew. Sheets of copper are heated and bent vertically to make a box. The seams and corners are soldered and the inside surfaces are tinned. Then some clean up to finish the bath and it is ready for installation. The Summer has been a busy one and they are working five days plus a half-day on Saturday. The crew welcome the extra hours. Summer is a good time to have a little extra money to spend.

The Shop’s job book entry. Calvert Distilling job. August 7, 1953.

July 27

The US, the People’s Republic of China, North Korea and South Korea sign an armistice agreement bringing an end to the Korean Conflict. Leo and Eddie, sitting in their corner office, discuss the story in the paper, both relieved this war is finally over. It always seemed so far away to them but they knew there were Americans in danger, fighting for our country. Like most Americans, regardless of the result, they are happy to have our soldiers home. The Korean War started so soon after World War Two ended, the nation is war weary and happy for peace.

Quotation for Calvert Distilling. August 20, 1953.

August 28

The Shop is busy on one of those hot and hazy August dog days. The crew are heating and hammering, working hard while Eddie is putting the finishing touches on a quotation for Calvert Distilling for a heating coil. The coil will be made from 5/8” copper tube and he has quoted it two ways. They need a heating coil with two passes through its system and Eddie has given them a price but also quoted the cost of a four pass coil which will perform must better. Calvert will order the two pass in a few weeks but it’s always worth a shot to try to get as much work as possible especially to Eddie. He took his shot and perhaps next time, they will order the four pass.

Quotation for Calvert Distilling. August 28, 1953.

September 7

Betty Ann, the oldest of Jack and Betty’s girls begins kindergarten at St. Elizabeth’s of Hungary School. St. E’s is located at the corner of Lakewood and Baltimore Street just four blocks from their house. Parents and daughter are nervous but excited as Jack drops her off for her first day of school. Betty will walk down to pick her up at lunch time while a neighbor keeps an eye on the girls. Young Betty does fine and tells her mother and sisters all about her first day at school. Jack and Betty will grow very accustomed to this school because they will have at least one child in St. Elizabeth’s school for the next twenty-five years.

B N M J 5
Betty Kavanagh with her daughters, Betty Ann, Nancy, Mary and Jane.(left to right). 1953.

September 27

The Baltimore Colts play their first game at Memorial Stadium on Thirty-third Street. The stadium is a work in progress with construction not quite finished. The Colts beat the Chicago Bears 13-0 in their inaugural game before a crowd of 24,000 very excited Baltimoreans. The Kavanagh’s listen on the radio, rooting and cheering for their new and victorious team.

September 29

The American League owners meet and vote to approve the sale of the St. Louis Browns to a group of owners in Baltimore headed by Jerry Hoffberger. The owners dislike Bill Veeck; his showman’s ways and unusual approach to promotion rankles the more traditional owners in the league. They only approve the move if Veeck agrees to sell his shares completely. Baltimore is one very happy town. This time it is for real, a done deal and there will be no changing it. The other owners wanted Bill Veeck and his large personality and flair for the unconventional out of baseball. Once it was clear that Veeck would sell out completely, an agreement was reached quickly. The team will no longer be called the St. Louis Browns but the Baltimore Orioles just like that team of old. Leo and Eddie can’t believe it. Their memories of the old National League Orioles and their short-lived appearance in the new American League are vague at best but their father’s stories of that team were a constant in the two brothers’ lives. Joe spoke often of the Orioles and how they played such a hard-nosed style and were always competitive and more often than not, winners. Eddie’s son Jack is jubilant. He has an NFL team to pull for and the Baltimore Orioles are coming back to town. Jack too heard Joe’s stories and he thinks of his grandfather and how happy he would be at this moment. It’s slightly bittersweet for Joe’s sons and grandsons who know what this would mean to Joe, but mostly it’s a very good feeling and they can not wait for Opening Day.

B N M J & DAD 1953
Jack Kavanagh and his daughters, Nancy, Betty Ann, Mary and Jane(left to right) 1953.

October 3

Jack Kavanagh and several friends attend their first Baltimore Colts game. They are very excited to be at the game, but are disappointed as the home team falls to the Detroit Lions 27-17. Jack has a great time despite the result and will soon become an ardent fan of this team. Though always a baseball fan, he finds a special connection to this Colts franchise. This first year will not be a good one record wise as the team finishes with three wins to nine losses but the fans hardly care as they begin to love these chilly Fall and Winter Sundays of football.

October 5

The Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers again in the World Series. It’s a repeat of last year except it only takes New York six games this time. Just like last year, Eddie and Jack’s loyalty is split with Eddie pulling for the Yanks and his son rooting for Roy Campanella’s Dodgers. They watch games four and five together over the weekend while sharing a beer. It’s an exciting series with offensive highlights from both teams. In game six, Brooklyn rallies from two behind in the top of the ninth to tie the game at three but in the home half of the inning, second baseman Billy Martin lines a single up the middle to send right fielder Hank Bauer scampering home with the game-winning and series-winning run. Martin records twelve hits to lead the Yanks to their record setting fifth World Series Championship in a row. The Kavanagh’s love every minute of it but are more excited about the prospect of having their own team in the league next year.

October 22

Eureka Coppersmiths & Plumbing Company orders some steel u-bolts from the Shop. These are annealed just as copper is but you have to do the bending while it’s still very hot, cherry red. Eureka doesn’t bend steel but the crew at Central Avenue are well trained in using heat and working with steel whenever necessary. The rod is clamped down and then the torch is put on them until they are red. Next, the piece is pulled over a round die while the heat is still on them. For good bending with steel, it’s best to keep the torch on it as you work it, a hot job, for sure, but on a cool October day, a torch is a welcome tool to have in hand.

The Shop’s job book entry. Eureka Coppersmith & Plumbing Co. job. October 22, 1953.

October 27

The Joseph Kavanagh Company will finish the year strong as they continue to have a great mix of big jobs every month along with a steady stream of small repairs and replacement parts. Today some nose couplings are fabricated for National Brewing Co. They do these all the time and even these small orders help keep the doors open.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Brewing job. October 27, 1953.

November 11

The Shop purchases another old lathe from Medler’s Copper Shop. Medler’s closed up last year and Leo and Eddie bought several pieces of equipment from them and today adds another one, a twelve inch lathe. It is re-conditioned and cleaned up for use in the Shop. The Kavanagh’s have one of this size but it’s even older than the one from Mercer’s. They haul this one up to the second floor with a block and tackle. It swings in the air for a moment but these men know what they are doing. Once it’s high enough, the lathe is swung into the large upstairs side door and placed where machinist, John Benser wants it. Soon, it is set and anchored upstairs and ready to be used as needed.

The Shop’s job book entry. Re-conditioning a lathe purchased from Medler’s Copper shop. November 11, 1953.

November 26

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is spent at the Visitation Convent visiting Aunt Anna, Sister Mary Agnes. The family spend some time on the grounds taking pictures and letting the girls run and play. Afterward, they have tea and talk, catching up on the family and speaking of the coming Christmas holiday. Aunt Anna grins and chuckles a bit as Eddie speaks of the Orioles return. She agrees that Joe would be very happy and her brother’s excitement reminds her of when he was a young man and she a small girl. The family is close and has been so since she was a girl and through the nearly twenty-five years of her vocation.

Kav at Visitation
The Kavanagh’s at the Visitation Convent. Eddie and Annie with their sons, Ed and Jack, their daughter-in-laws, Lillian and Betty and granddaughters, Patsy, Betty Ann and Nancy. 1953.

December 24

The Shop’s Christmas Eve Party is held as it is every year on the corner of Pratt and Central. In short order, the dirty, messy Shop is cleaned and decorated for the holiday. Friends, customers and employees celebrate with the Kavanagh’s. The party is not merely to welcome the Yuletide holiday but also to toast another year of work finished. It has been a good year with the work remaining abundant. The guests mingle about the first floor of the building, eating, drinking and singing together. They talk of the City and the Colts who finished their first season. They finished next to last in their division but hopes are high for improvement. The partygoers speak quite a bit in anticipation of the new baseball team with the old name. Baltimore will get its Orioles back. This is what truly has the Kavanagh’s anxious for the Spring. This City has not had a team in over fifty years but the memories are still there of that old National League team led by John McGraw. Leo, Eddie and their children are reminded of their father Joe and his strong love of the Orioles. The man truly loved the game and when the Birds were here, he was a mad fan. Even with the passing of Joe and Johanna in the last two years, three generations do party and play in the Shop this year. The brothers, Leo and Eddie and their children and grandchildren are all there. Leo’s grandson Jimmy and Ed Jr.’s daughter Patsy play with Jack and Betty’s girls, running about the place. Leo and Eddie drink a quiet toast together as they watch the fun. They are doing well and keeping the Shop and its tradition alive. They are honoring the past and preparing for the future. Today they are watching the future as the kids run by them laughing. Sitting with Betty, Jack smiles to see his girls having such fun, knowing that they can’t wait for Santa to come. This part of being a father is something that thrills Jack. He has another thing to be happy about as well. No one else knows yet but Betty told Jack last night, she is pregnant and next year they will have baby # 5.



Dwight D. Eisenhower is the President of the United States. The first Corvette and the first color television go on sale. Hugh Hefner publishes the first issue of Playboy Magazine with Marilyn Monroe on the cover and in the centerfold. Swanson sells its first TV Dinner. The first Denny’s opens. Narcotics Anonymous is founded. The films, “From Here to Eternity,” “The War of the Worlds” and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” are released. The first polio vaccine is developed by Jonas Salk. The Korean War ends in a stalemate. 33,000 Americans die and over 100,000 are wounded. Hulk Hogan, Ken Burns, Cyndi Lauper, Pat Benatar, and John Malkovich are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Dad & Eddie (Father)1946
Eddie Kavanagh and his son, Jack. Late 1940s.

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

Table of Contents

1952 Johanna

January 7

1952 starts well for the Kavanagh’s and the Shop. There is another new baby, Jane Frances born on December 26 of last year. Dr. Insley who delivered her said, “she was the last thing in Santa’s bag.” Jack and Betty are so happy and excited with another baby. They have four little girls now. Representing the 2nd district, Jack is preparing for the House of Delegates to begin its session next week. The Shop remains busy with a solid backlog of a month’s work. That’s great for January. Jack’s father Eddie and his Uncle Leo are very happy. Busy in January? Old Uncle Joe would be thrilled.

Jane Kavanagh. 1952.

January 15

Frank L. Wright Distillers orders some custom quick opening valves and the Shop’s crew gets to it. These valves are made specifically to the size of the pipe or tube. It takes a little longer than anticipated to make some patterns, but the cutting, soldering and fabricating the valves goes quickly once the template is right. The patterns will be saved in case another set of valves are ever needed of this size and configuration. This is how it is done at the Shop. The first time a specific size valve or coupling is made it takes longer. Longer to develop and make a template to match so they may not make as much money as they hope but down the road they will have a pattern and the job will go much quicker.

The Shop’ job book entry. Frank L. Wright Distillers job. January 15, 1952.

January 29

The Shop finishes several jobs for National Brewing. These are standard replacement parts, copper lids and couplings. All small parts but these are what keep the cash flow flowing. The crew splits up on these two orders. Thin sheet is heated and shaped for the lids and the couplings are worked and machined from brass. These are parts they have been making for years. They keep a good stock of them but often they are custom made for the customer’s needs.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Brewing job. January 28, 1952.
The Shop’s job book entry. National Brewing job. January 29, 1952.

February 4

Leo and Eddie’s men spend a busy day primarily on a boiler repair job that includes rolled steel bands for stiffeners. The stiffener does exactly what it sounds like, stiffening and maintaining the curve and contours of the boiler tank. The more accurately this shape is maintained the better the productivity of the boiler. The quality of work of the Joseph Kavanagh Company has at this point been established. Their presence and longevity in Baltimore industry attest to their capabilities. The Shop’s work is exacting. Detail and precision matter and are maintained so their parts and pieces work better. The standard was set long ago and the reputation precedes the work now.

February 7

Betty Kavanagh is doing her exercises nearly every night while Jack watches the girls. Jack lays on the floor with his daughters and he pretends he is a baby along with their dolls. The girls giggle and tickle their Dad. An abundance of hugs and kisses from all four of Daddy’s girls are given every night. It makes Betty smile and gives her the time to exercise her legs. The doctor is sure theses exercises will speed her recovery from the effects of polio. The virus is gone but her muscles are still weak. He has given her six months at minimum before she can walk without crutches but Betty means to beat that. She goes at it hard and feels she is getting stronger and her legs are more steady the more she works.

B N M J 2 1952
Jack and Betty Kavanagh’s daughter. Left to right. Mary, Jane, Nancy, Betty Anne. Outside of backyard of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1952.

February 14

Johanna Kavanagh falls in the kitchen of her house on Thirty-third Street just before 4 pm. She is able to make it to the telephone and calls the Shop where they are just about to close up for the day. Her sons call an ambulance and meet it at the hospital. Johanna is admitted to St. Joseph’s Hospital. She has fractured her neck and right leg. Her sons are very worried for her, a fall at her age is a bad thing. She is resting comfortably but the family’s concerns continue.


February 19

Jack Kavanagh is in Annapolis as the House of Delegates has a whole slate of bills to vote on. The primary is a bill that gives the University of MD more autonomy over its budget and purchases and control of any surpluses. The bill passes but Jack and a few others are opposed. Their thinking was this is the only State agency that would have such control. They are concerned that other schools, hospital, etc. would now demand the same power. Jack’s mind is on his grandmother in the hospital but he must be here.

Jane Kavanagh next to Jack Kavanagh’s 1946 Chrysler Windsor. Note the House of Delegates License Plate. 1952.

February 27

Johanna Kavanagh dies at St. Joseph’s Hospital. She is the last of her generation and passes quietly in her sleep. The family grieves and her sons are both stricken hard. They were both close to her and she had a deep love for her children and grandchildren. She was a source of both comfort and wisdom, each given out as needed. She had a gentle but strong way about her. Very able to stand up for herself but much more likely to stand up for others. The family remember her as the woman she was, loving and smart. They lean on each other and think of the love she gave them. She is buried at New Cathedral Cemetery with her husband Joe and their daughter Alice and granddaughter also named Alice.

Graves Kavanagh Joe & Johanna (1)
Joseph and Johanna Kavanagh’s Grave. New Cathedral Cemetery. On other side is noted that their daughter and granddaughter both named Alice are buried in same grave.

March 13

After Johanna’s death, her will is read and as expected her sons and daughter receive the bulk of her estate. A religious trust is set up for Sister Mary Agnes and her inheritance is placed there. The house on Thirty-third Street will be sold and the grandchildren and several cousins will all receive something from the estate. The biggest asset, the property on Pratt and Central goes to Leo and Eddie equally. When their father Joe died, he had already passed the business on to them so there was little change to the Shop but now the property is owned by the brothers as well as the company. The Shop is suddenly more valuable as there is no rent or note on the property anymore. Leo and Eddie work well together and get along as only brothers can. They make great partners.

The Last Will and Testament of Johanna Kavanagh.

March 30

The Kavanagh brothers sit in their corner office and enjoy a lunch of corned beef sandwiches. It’s still close enough to St. Patrick’s Day and they send Ed Jr. up to the deli. Ed is happy to leave a few minutes early for lunch and get a free sandwich. As they eat, Leo and Eddie discuss the news that President Truman will not seek re-election.

“I think Truman has done a good job and he stepped up when FDR died. I know people don’t like that he fired MacArthur but the president is the boss. He makes those calls,” Leo says before taking a bite of his sandwich.

Eddie picks his corned beef up and pauses, “Yup and I agree he did well but this war in Korea seems like a mess we can’t seem to get out of. That being said I would have liked to see Truman run again. He’s a good man, but I understand it. It’s a tough job and it’s gotta weigh on you.” He shrugs then continues eating.

“It’s so much responsibility and he finished Roosevelt’s term then had one of his own. I say if he wants to retire and rest, he deserves it.” Leo replies to his brother.

Eddie drops his sandwich on the desk and takes a sip of coffee. “Oh I agree. Let the man rest. He’s done his part but I wonder who will win the nomination. It sure looks like General Eisenhower will run for the Republicans.”

Leo nods, “He said he would accept the nomination if he’s called upon and I think he can do the job. If you can lead men to battle then you can lead a country.”

Eddie raises an eyebrow for a second. “You are right but there is a lot more to it than that. Let’s see who the Democrats nominate. I always feel loyal to the party but, yeah, let’s see who they pick.” The phone rings and Eddie grabs it and answers, “Joseph Kavanagh Company.” As Eddie speaks to a customer, Leo moves to the drafting table and gets back to work on a sketch for an upcoming job.

April 13

The Kavanagh’s visit Aunt Anna at the Visitation Convent on Roland Park Avenue for Easter. A sunny Sunday is spent with the girls playing on the grounds and catching up with Sister Mary Agnes. They discuss her teaching and her service while she is happy to hear about the Shop and especially the deeds of all the small girls of the next generation. Anna and her brothers speak of their mother and their shared love and memories of her are a comfort. Her brothers also promise to help her and they will manage the religious trust that is in her name. Leo, Eddie and Jack Kavanagh are named as trustees. They assure her that even if this money runs out, they will always support her and if she needs anything, she should ask them. The convent has very little amenities or comforts and Joe and Johanna always made sure Anna had anything she needed. Leo and Eddie will do the same.

April 17

Jack finishes his 2nd legislative sessions and is happy to be back in Baltimore full-time. He’s home with his girls, all five of them. He can focus on family and the Shop which is what he wants. He has enjoyed his first two years in the House of Delegates but still it is work and almost two hours away. Jack knows it’s tough on Betty and especially since she’s still fighting polio. She’s getting better and stronger. Jack sees that and he knows Betty is getting closer to walking. He wants to do something special for her when she does to celebrate and to make up for his time away.

Mom, Betty & Nancy
Betty Kavanagh with daughters, Jane(left) and Mary(right). 1952.

May 7

Betty Kavanagh walks into her doctor’s office without her crutches with a broad grin on her face. Her doctor is stunned that she can move so well without her crutch or brace and nearly two months faster than he thought possible. She has a limp and is a little slow afoot for now, but she is walking and can “keep moving along” as she likes to say. Betty will get stronger and steadier still though she does have a small limp for the rest of her life. It never stops her from chasing a child, grandchild or great-grandchild or to hop up when company arrives and tea needs to be made and cookies distributed. Jack and the girls are so happy for Mom, and Betty feels much more herself. She can do what she has to do now with nothing holding her back.

Jane and Mary Kavanagh. 1952.

May 18

The weekend ends for Jack and Betty with the Red Skelton show on Sunday nights. It is one of their weekly favorites especially one of Jack’s who laughs throughout the entire program. Skelton is a comedic master to Jack, and he is a man who loves to laugh. His laugh is loud, genuine and infectious.

June 20

Jack finishes a sheet metal table at the Shop. The place has needed a very square solid steel table for some time and Eddie asked his son to make one last week and it is finished today. Jack keeps careful records of the materials used and his time. His father Eddie likes that and records it all to assure they have a sense of how much time and money went into something as simple as a table.

The Shop’s job book entry. A steel table made for the Shop itself. June 20, 1952.

June 30

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge opens to traffic led by a cavalcade of cars with Governor McKeldin at the lead. Jack speaks to his wife Betty about the two of them taking a trip to the beach. He would love to take her and get away from it all. He has been visiting Ocean City since he was ten. Every couple of years, Eddie and Annie would take their boys on a trip there and Jack is sure his parents would be happy to keep the girls for a couple days. Betty is hesitant at first bur she realizes it would be a rare chance at a break for both of them and she’s all for it if they can make the arrangements.

B N M Patsy
The Kavanagh Girls including cousin Patsy in the back. Also Betty, Nancy & Mary. Lakewood Avenue. 1952.

July 17

A busy summer day at the Shop is spent on a handful of brewery and distillery repairs and one installation. Ed Jr. and Jack along with two helpers are installing a new vat at Gunther’s Brewery. They arrive at the brewery first thing in the morning. The plan is to get this job done in one day on site. It’s a lot of work with many connections and valves involved. Having four men should help and they get to it as soon as they arrive. The vessel is hauled into the building and Ed and Jack, each with a helper, begin connecting it to the existing system. It’s a hard day but neither wants to tell their father they are coming back here tomorrow and they get it done. The four men are sweating and dirty when they pull in front of 201 S. Central Avenue with ten minutes to spare before closing time.

B N M Patsy 2
Four of the Kavanagh Girls. Ed Junior’s daughter Patsy and Jack’s daughters Betty Anne, Nancy and Mary. Summer 1952.

August 8

Jack and Betty take their first vacation and they do it without their girls. Their four daughters are staying at Eddie and Annie’s while the young couple get a weekend at the beach. Jack drives his 1946 Chrysler Windsor along Route 50 East then they cross the new bridge on their way to Ocean City. Jack and Betty marvel at the view as there is nothing but water on both sides as far as the eyes can see. It is a little unsettling for many folks on their first drive across but not to Betty and Jack. They arrive Friday evening and have a weekend of sand, seafood and boardwalking before driving back to Baltimore on Sunday. Betty quickly grows to love the town and the ocean as Jack does. It is a much needed vacation for both and a chance to spend some time together alone.

Jack & Betty at the beach
Jack and Betty at the beach.

September 10

The Shop’s usual work is interrupted by an ornamental brass job for a hotel. One of the fancier downtown hotels needs a brass hand rail and foot rail for its bar and restaurant. It has to look good too. It must be cleaned and polished after bending and will take over forty feet of tube. Half of the crew attend to this one while the other half keep at their regular orders. This rail job takes heat and very careful rolling. The curve is irregular and it must match the existing wall or the customer can not use it. The tube is bent inch by inch and checked over and over closely. The finished piece looks great and is right on the template provided.

September 20

On a Saturday night, Jack, Betty and the four girls sit in front of the television and watch the first episode of a new variety series called the Jackie Gleason Show. Gleason had worked for the DuMont Television network on a show called the “Cavalcade of Stars” but CBS offered him more money and he brought the same type of show over to their network. The family laugh a lot and enjoy the show and Jack believes he’s found another comedic genius in Jackie Gleason.

B N M J 4
The Kavanagh Girls. 1952. The backyard of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue.

September 30

The volume of work continues to be high at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. They have very much found their niche with the brewery and distilling industries. They make quick fixes and fabricate parts fast. Today a custom tee fitting is made for Calvert Distilling. Mr. Funke and a young fellow named White work on the coupling with the usual heating and hammering. Copper sheet is curved into a tube and split at one end to accommodate two of the entry points. It isn’t easy but Mr. Funke has worked at the Shop for years and he does a good job. He is Leo and Eddie’s most senior man and they rely on him in a pinch.

The Shop’s job book entry. Calvert Distilling job. September 30, 1952.

October 7

The New York Yankees win their fourth straight World Series defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers. This was a see saw series going back and froth and it comes down to a winner-take-all game seven. The Kavanagh’s usually root for the Yankees due to Eddie being such a Babe Ruth fan but this year, they are split. His son Jack is pulling for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Jack wants to see another team win for a change as the Yanks have done it three years in a row. Also, the Dodgers have Roy Campanella on their team now and Jack was a fan of his from the Negro Leagues. He came up playing for the Baltimore E-lite Giants and he was Jack’s favorite player. In Jack’s eyes, he was the greatest baseball player he ever saw. He had all the tools and knew how to use them plus he was a catcher, Jack’s old position when he was a kid. New York does win that final game and take the championship. Eddie and Jack watch games four and five at 434 N. Lakewood, both cheering hard and analyzing the games as they are played. Father and son are students of the game and they talk about every play and discuss strategy throughout each match up. Even when they disagree, they enjoy talking baseball.

October 20

Today in addition to their usual copper work, the Kavanagh’s are refurbishing an old lathe. They have always maintained a machine shop for tools and parts but this lathe will give them the chance to make bearings and other parts to make their job easier. They purchased the lathe along with some other items from Medler’s Copper Shop. Medler’s was going out of business and Eddie paid them a visit. He bought the lathe, a hand truck and some tools and with time and a little money the lathe and everything else will make money for them. Eddie is sure of it and the lathe is set up and running in short order. The Shop’s machinist John Benser is glad to have it. The bigger lathe has wider jaws and larger sections can be spun and shaped.

The Shop’s job book entry. Reconditioning a lathe purchased from Medler’s Coppersmith Shop. October 20, 1952.
The Shop’s job book entry. Reconditioning an old hand truck purchased from Medler’s Coppersmith Shop. November 5, 1952.

October 31

This Friday, Halloween is celebrated on Lakewood Avenue and the four Kavanagh girls are all in costume. The oldest at four, Betty Anne is a majorette, Nancy is Bo Peep, Mary is a bunny and not quite one year old Jane is a clown. Their mother has a bowl of candy but she doesn’t take the girls trick or treating. This is a new tradition to Betty. Her family did not celebrate Halloween in this way and besides, she has candy. She does hand it out to kids who knock on the door but she keeps her girls on the steps of 447 N. Lakewood Ave. She will give her girls the right amount of treats for the night and she really loves their little costumes. Jack does too but he loves any time he gets with the four girls who seem to be growing faster every day. Betty and Jack sometimes can’t believe they are the parents of four.

Baby Nan 1
The Kavanagh Girls. Lakewood Avenue. Halloween 1952.

November 4

Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower wins the Presidential Election defeating Democrat Adlai Stevenson. This year, the Kavanagh brothers vote for different men. Leo voted for Ike impressed with the man’s military experience and his drive. Eddie voted for Stevenson. Eddie is involved with the Democratic Party and was always a Labor man with so many years of leading the coppersmith’s union. It doesn’t matter at all between the brothers. They simply have different views on this election and in those days, such a thing was typical and acceptable.

December 22

Despite the House of Delegates not being in session, a resolution is signed by nineteen Democratic members of the House looking for a change in leadership. Theses members, including Jack Kavanagh are challenging John Luber as speaker and they wish to replace him with Chester Tawney. Tawney is a 3rd District representative and the insurgents choose him because they want a stronger City representation at the top post in the House of Delegates. It will be resolved when next year’s legislative session begins.

December 24

The Shop’s Yuletide celebration is an even madder rush today as a job ran late into the morning. Several workers were still finishing soldering on a tank while others were sweeping and making room for a tree. The tank is finished and delivered with the Shop’s truck beating guests by five minutes when the party starts. Leo, Eddie and family welcome their customers, vendors, employees and friends to a yearly gathering in honor of the holiday and the Shop. Good times or bad times, the Joseph Kavanagh Company has held a Christmas Eve party for years and it has come to symbolize the end of another year of work. A great sense of completion is felt by the Kavanagh’s who work at the Shop. There is some satisfaction in being able to turn the calendar again and move forward. The guests have a grand time eating, drinking and singing with the family. Leo and Eddie are both grandfathers now, ready to lead the family forward. They miss their mother, Johanna. She was more than the matriarch of the Kavanagh’s. She was the family’s heart. She had a caring way about her mixed with more than the average dose of wisdom. Her sons were both more apt to ask her advice or guidance than their father Joe. She was that wonderful mother and grandmother who made the perfect peach pie and ran a household so that it appeared effortless but she was also that suffragette who fought for the right to vote, to have her voice heard and even to drive. In fact, she was one of the first women in Maryland to receive a motor vehicle license partly due to her husband’s horrendous driving. She was Joe’s wife and played that part but she was never invisible or silent. When Joe and his brothers broke from Martin and formed the new Shop, she was the one who came up with the money. She loaned them the starter money and was always last in line to get paid when other things came along but she did get paid. That money she had saved was for her children and Johanna made sure it was paid back. She was never a wallflower and was very comfortable expressing her opinions. She was way ahead of her time and both lead and loved this family for years; but they will be fine. Her mark is left on all who knew her, her children and grandchildren most of all. Her love is carried on through them and passed on in the same fashion. To this writer who knows a thing or two about Joe Kavanagh’s, she was the best of them and certainly the kindest.



Dwight D. Eisenhower is elected to the Presidency. The bar code, roll-on deodorant, Mr. Potato Head and the hydrogen bomb are invented. The first Holiday Inn and the first Kentucky Fried Chicken open. The Today Show premiers on NBC. “The Diary of Anne Frank” and the first issue of “MAD” magazine are published. The films “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Quiet Man” are released. The Korean War rages on with little or no progress on the armistice talks throughout the year. There are over 50,000 cases of polio reported in the US. Mr. T, Roseanne Barr, Paul Reubens, Alfre Woodard, and Douglas Adams are born.

There remain 48 states in the Union.

Johanna's Cameo
A cameo owned by Johanna Kavanagh that was passed down to great-granddaughter Betty Ann Kavanagh.

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

Table of Contents

1951 Polio and Politics

January 3

Betty Kavanagh sits on the steps in front of a store on Monument Street. She’s taking a brief break from shopping for a dress for the Governor’s Ball that will be held at the end of the month. Her husband Jack is a newly elected State Delegate. She wants the right dress and will find it but she needs a moment to sit. Betty has polio and she walks with crutches and she has her newborn, her one year old and her two year old with her. Her mother-in-law, Annie is there as well to push the little ones in a stroller. It’s a cold day but not too bad for January so Betty braved the weather to find that right dress. Suddenly, she hears a voice calling her. A group of finely dressed men are passing by and one, sure enough is Governor-elect Theodore McKeldin, and he greets Betty Kavanagh by sight. Calling her Miss Kavanagh, he asks about her crutch and she says she has polio but is fine. She feels a bit embarrassed as he speaks to her. She informs the governor she’s shopping for a gown for the ball today and looks forward to the big event. He bids her farewell and tells her he will see her and her husband at the ball. That night she vows to Jack that she will NOT be using her crutch at the Governor’s Ball. She doesn’t care if she has to lean on her husband all night, she will walk without a crutch and also dance. She has chosen a long white dress with violets on it to cover her brace.

Mom 1947 color
Betty Kavanagh. 1947.

January 13

Today is the first day of Jack Kavanagh’s first legislative session in the House of Delegates. Jack will need to spend a lot of time in Annapolis but he commutes back to Baltimore every night. He must attend whenever the House is in session but will also work as much as he can at the Shop. The regular session runs from early January to mid April but there are sometimes emergency sessions later in the summer to resolve certain issues. He is a fast learner even as a freshman in the House of Delegates. Jack follows the lead of those more experienced in governance but will always stay true to his own nature. Jack is a smart young man with a great deal of common sense and an uncommon heart. He has compassion but more than that he understands the life of a working man and is quick to support legislation that helps them. He believed in man’s good nature. To Jack, a man given a fair chance to work and support his family will do just that.

Delegate Jack Kavanagh. Democrat. 2nd District.

January 27

The Governor’s Ball is held on a cold Saturday night in Annapolis. Jack and Betty attend along with all elected state legislators Betty doesn’t take her crutches. Betty is determined to stand on her own or at least with Jack’s help. She loves the white dress she wears and it does conceal her brace. She leans on Jack as they enter this very fancy ball. Jack holds her when they walk and even as they dance. He basically carries her through the dances but they dance them all.

In the receiving line for Governor-Elect McKeldin, the governor recognizes Betty and quickly says, “Miss Kavanagh, you were on crutches when I saw you last. Where is the crutch?”

Betty answers proudly, “My husband is my crutch. He is here to lean on whenever I need it. We’re both fine and enjoying this lovely ball, Governor.”

“Thank you and what a beautiful gown that is. Congratulations to you both,” Governor McKeldin finishes, shaking Jack’s hand as the receiving line passes.

Jack and Betty have a wonderful night and Betty is very proud of her husband and herself for making it through the night without a crutch and to have had such a special celebration. This is a night they will never forget.

February 9

Leo and Eddie’s Shop on Central Avenue finishes a set of custom bends for A. Overholt and Company, one of their distilling customers. The bends are of 5” Type L Copper tube which is very thin and difficult to work. The only option is to fill them. They must be annealed first, which is an easy task for a coppersmith. Using a torch, the tube is heated to an orange color and is now malleable. The tube must be cooled. Copper is a metal you can quench with water to cool unlike brass or steel. Next, a plug is hammered into one end of the tube and is stood up and wired to a post. Rosin is heated and liquified until it looks like black tar then it is poured very carefully into the tube. It’s a slow process and the rosin is hot, and handling it can be dangerous but it will keep the tube very round during the bending process. Once filled, the tube must sit a few hours then it will be topped off before the end of the day. The next morning, the rosin is hard and the tube is bendable but also supported well enough to hold its shape. A good bit of work for six bends but the Shop makes a profit on this one.

The Shop’s Job book entry. A. Overholt and Co. job. February 9, 1951.

February 16

Jack introduces his first piece of legislation, a bill to limit liquor licenses in Baltimore City co-sponsored by his fellow 2nd district delegates, Rudy Behounek, Joseph Mach and James Welsh Jr. The bill will bring an end to alcohol package goods sales in grocery stores, pharmacies and candy shops. Liquor establishments with a valid license will remain in effect but will be subject to renewal. The motion does pass. Jack feels some pride though he is just a junior member of the 2nd district team.

March 16

Jack is balancing the House of Delegates and the Shop. Betty is still in a wheelchair at home but is determined to not let it stop her taking care of her house and family. She cooks and cleans from her wheelchair, running a house of three small girls on her own. Betty has an inner strength that becomes apparent as she manages to keep a houseful going while her husband is working his regular job at the Shop and another in Annapolis. Jack marvels at how Betty does it. She rolls along in a wheelchair through the row house on Lakewood Avenue but meals are always hot, the kids are always having fun and they are are all happy, despite the challenges they face.

April 7

Eddie has purchased a new television with a 14” screen. It’s a little bigger but the picture is incredible to Eddie and Annie. They pass their old TV on to Jack who is happy to have it. He carries it over to the corner of Lakewood and Jefferson. The young girls are very excited to have a set in their house. Betty has received some news for Jack. Her doctor has given her a list of exercises to help strengthen her legs. The virus seems to have abated and he is convinced over time she can give up the wheelchair and crutch for good, though it will take time and hard work. Betty is determined to get her legs back and as soon as she can. She begins to fit her exercising into her busy day of caring, cleaning, cooking and mothering.

Eddie and Annie Kavanagh. Patterson Park. Early 1950s.

April 30

A rainy spring Monday is spent appropriately enough on a fountain. Several lengths of copper tubes were purchased and today it is annealed and rolled into a circle. The ends are trimmed and soldered shut. Holes are drilled to allow the water to pass through and after some final cleaning the tube is a perfect ring and ready to be installed. A fountain is something the Shop has been making almost from its beginning over eighty-five years ago. The process is similar but has changed over time. The tube was made in the past from perforated sheet that was drilled first but now, it is cheaper to buy the tube pre-made then anneal, bend and drill. It is still very similar to the way it was done in the 1870s by the original Joseph Kavanagh.

May 16

Jack watches the late news before going to bed. The news is of the fighting in Korea. It’s been a back and forth war or conflict. This year alone the capital of South Korea has fallen and then been retaken. Jack feels for those young men in the middle of it. It wasn’t so long he was on the USS Strickland during World War 2. He hopes this one ends soon. He gets ready for bed and says a prayer for the boys in Korea. As he lays down, he goes over in his head meetings he has had with several leaders of the Baltimore Democratic party. Jack is finding his niche in the House and in the party. His personality and honesty make him a compelling legislator and candidate. That being said, Jack is happy the first legislative session is over. He has been covering a lot of ground in his Chrysler Windsor between Baltimore and Annapolis but he has made it work mostly due to his wife. Betty tends to everything and keeps the home for Jack and the girls no matter the hours her husband is working.

June 17

Betty learns she is pregnant and her husband is thrilled again. They love children and they seem to have a natural ability as parents. The young couple are as excited with the new baby as they have been for all of the girls. Betty can continue with her exercises for now but must be careful to not overtax herself. They will have baby number four around Christmas

The Shop’s Job book entry. Renneburg Job. June 26, 1951.

June 26

The Shop’s work load remains high and the crew are busy. Today, they make their usual litany of brewery and distillery parts and also a brass job. Renneburg, a customer who the Shop uses as a vendor occasionally needs some brass bars rolled into circles. Rolling or curving metal is one of Renneburg’s primary skills though it is usually in steel. Brass is unusual for them. They call Eddie and soon the boys at Kavanagh’s are rolling some brass flat bars “the Easyway” into circles. The Easyway is rolling a piece across the thinnest side of the bar. The Hardway is the opposite. These rings will be used for decorative bands around furniture after they are cleaned and highly polished. Rolling metal, steel, brass or otherwise, has been a standard process at the Joseph Kavanagh Company for years and will grow in importance over time.

Johanna Kavanagh.

July 4

A big Independence Day party is held on Lakewood Avenue. Actually, a few parties are thrown by folks on the block. The Fourth is a celebration of the nation’s birthday and a summer tradition with cook outs, steamed crabs and fireworks. The Kavanagh’s are no different and a bushel of crabs are steamed while burgers and hot dogs are grilled. Platters of assorted salads and sides add to the holiday feast. At Eddie and Annie’s house, the party includes music as well. Eddie and Jack takes turns on the piano and the family sings and the small girls dance and twirl about to the bemusement of all. Johanna is there and she is doing well. She misses her husband, Joe who died last year but she was more prepared for it than the rest of the family. Johanna is focusing on her grandchildren and their children and is happy to spend the holiday with them. As evening comes on, Eddie and Jack take the older girls, Betty and Nancy to Patterson Park for a better view of the fireworks. Jack takes turns carry them both and the other walks along hand held by their grandfather Eddie. Betty, Annie and Johanna remain at the house. Betty would not be up to the walk on her crutches though she does feel she’s getting steadier and her doctor’s prescribed workout is helping. Johanna plays with baby Mary while Betty tries to help Annie clean up. Her mother-in-law shoos Betty to a seat while she quickly puts everything away. Then they enjoy a quiet cup of tea and they sit at the front window and chat about the family and Jack. Both Annie and Johanna have always been proud of Jack. He served in the Navy and now he’s in the House of Delegates. Annie smiles brightly as Betty speaks to her of what Jack has been doing in his new position.

“He sponsored a bill to limit liquor licenses,” Betty says to a very approving nod from Annie who was a Prohibitionist, “and he wants to find a way to limit the truck traffic on Orleans Street. It’s crazy some times down there.” Betty motions south to the end of the block.

“It is. They drive those trucks like madmen. Leave it to Jack to take care of it.” Annie beams.

Johanna, setting Mary gently down at her feet joins in, “Our Jack can do it. I’m not surprised at all he’s doing so well. Look how he was in the Navy and school and,” she raises an eyebrow in a knowing way, “the Shop.”

“Jack knows how to talk to regular folks. He will do the best for them. They trust him and he has a good way with people.” Betty answers, reaching an outstretched hand to the baby.

“He’s got a lot of Joe in him,” Annie grins and quickly glances at Johanna.

Johanna smiles back with a twinkle in her eye, “Well, let’s hope not too much…”

The room fills with the three women’s laughter at the thought of the old gent. Baby Mary’s not amused though and begins to cry until her mother gently scoops her up.

Joseph A. Kavanagh’s business card. Circa 1915. It references both his brothers Frank and James as partners.

July 26

A large job for United States Industrial Chemicals is finished after six weeks of work. A variety of copper sheet and tube was bent, tinned and brazed at the Shop. Eddie makes note that the labor hours on this one may have gone over. It is a busy summer and some jobs are run “free style” by the coppersmith in charge with hours being approximated as the focus is getting the job done. They are making money and things are good so it’s understandable to Leo and Eddie in a busy Shop.

The Shop’s Job book entry. US Industrial Chemical Inc. job. July, 26, 1951. First page.
The Shop’s Job book entry. US Industrial Chemicals Inc. job. July 26, 1952. Second page.

August 10

Jack and Ed Jr. work on a hot one this Friday. Seventeen inch diameter tube must be made then bent into elbows for National Distillers. It will be a torch day all day. The copper sheet is annealed then must be carefully turned around dies. Next it must be soldered closed to form a tube then this tube must be filled and bent tomorrow. It’s a challenge to get enough finished on day one to set yourself up to be able to bend on day two. The tubes are topped off with rosin a few minutes before closing and the brothers make it but just barely. First thing Saturday, they will bend them then melt the rosin out. Another hot day with torches blasting fire will be in order.

The Shop’s Job book entry. National Distillers job. August 13, 1951.

September 3

Betty Kavanagh is still in a wheelchair and pregnant but she does her exercises every day while watching just a little television. She has found a new television soap opera that begins today. It is called “Search for Tomorrow” and it premiers on CBS. Betty quickly becomes a fan and makes the time to watch the fifteen minute serial every day and will watch this program until it goes off the air in 1982. Her husband Jack is spending the day at National Brewery with three other workers on an installation. They will spend the better part of the next three days there and as good as three days at a brewery sound, they are never allowed to imbibe so it’s just work.

September 20

The Joseph Kavanagh Company continues strong through the year. A steady stream of brewing and distilling work keeps rolling through the place. There are always other jobs whether they be boiler work, fountains or ornamental items and today it is a railing. A long brass railing for a large residential garden. One of the homes outside of the City is being rehabbed and repaired. In addition to work on the home, the garden is redone as well including this brass rail. The brass is carefully heated then it sits to cool in the air. After an hour, the slow work of bending it around wooden wheels and dies begins. A template bent from steel bar is provided and the crew match it. The closer they are to the curve of the template, the easier the installation will be for the customer.

October 3

Eddie and Jack are driving home from the Shop when they hear the latest news from the world of baseball on the radio. Today, in game three of a playoff series, the New York Giants walked off with a win when Bobby Thompson homered off the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Ralph Branca in the 9th inning. This homer becomes known as the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” and it sends the Giants into the World Series. The Giants had come back from 13 games behind in the standing to tie the Dodgers with 92 wins. The three game playoff was scheduled with the teams splitting the first two setting up what has become a seminal moment in baseball history when Thomson’s three run home run ended it in exciting fashion. They talk about the game and how it sets up another “Subway Series” against the Yanks until Jack drops Eddie off at 434 N. Lakewood. He then cruises to the corner, turns right and parks on the Jefferson Street side of his home, anxious to see his girls.

October 10

The Yankees win the World Series defeating the New York Giants in six games. This championship matchup was full of highlights with the Dodgers’ Monte Irvin stealing home in the first inning of game one and the Yankees’ Gil McDougal blasting a grand slam in game five. The Yankees prevail and win their third Word Series in a row. Yankee great Joe DiMaggio retires after this Series which included two young rookies, his eventual replacement in center field, Mickey Mantle and National League Rookie of the Year, Willie Mays. Eddie and Jack follow this one closely watching game three in its entirety, the only weekend game. The Yankees combination of strong pitching and power were too much for the young Giants.

October 15

I Love Lucy” premiers on CBS. The Kavanagh’s along with many Americans begin watching this one regularly. It is one of the first scripted comedies filmed in front of a live audience. The show is a smash hit and the Kavanagh family will watch it for years.

November 24

The Kavanagh’s visit Sister Mary Agnes at the Visitation Convent on this Saturday after Thanksgiving. Johanna is very happy to spend a day with her daughter accompanied by her sons and their families. Jack and Betty are there with the three girls. Anna holds baby Mary and gets many hugs from two year old Betty and one year old Nancy. She tells the family some stories from her classroom at the school at the Visitation. She loves teaching and working with children. The family visits Anna usually once a month and they all remain close to her. She also is a prolific letter writer and corresponds with most of them occasionally. The Kavanagh’s are a close lot.

Sister Mary Agnes - Visitation2
Sister Mary Agnes (Anna Kavanagh) Visitation Convent Grounds. 1930s.

December 7

Jack and Betty go to the movies to see “A Christmas Carol” starring British actor, Alistair Sim. They leave the three girls at Eddie and Annie’s and have a very rare night out alone. Jack drives them and helps his wife in and out of the car carefully. She has left her crutches at home and leans on Jack through the evening. They attend the movie and then drive to the New Canton on North Avenue for egg rolls. This was their favorite place when they dated. Instead of a quiet walk, they sit in the restaurant and talk of the movie which they both loved. They also talk of the coming baby and they are very excited. They drive back to 447 N. Lakewood Avenue and collect their girls ready to face the holidays and welcome a baby.

December 24

The Shop’s Christmas Eve party is held at Pratt and Central. Cleaning and decorating is done quickly as the annual conversion from work place to party place occurs. Customers, vendors, employees and friends join the family to eat, drink and be merry. They have another good year to celebrate with the Shop busy all year. Christmas carols and old Irish tunes are sung including “O Holy Night” in honor of Joe. The party is more festive than last year and Joe’s memory is more a pleasant reminder this year to celebrate as he would. They toast him, the holiday and another year of success at the Shop. Jack’s three young girls toddle and play among the party-goers. They are chased by their father this time as he keeps a careful eye on his wife. Betty did not bring her crutches and has remained seated as much as possible. She is enduring more than enjoying the party, after all she is nine months pregnant.

December 25

After spending Christmas day split between the Crew’s house on Guilford Avenue, Betty’s family and the Hartmann’s house, Jack’s mother’s family, the Kavanagh’s are exhausted. The girls received toys and clothes but they are thankfully tired as well. The parties are all done and they were festive and fun but Jack and Betty are glad to be home. After the girls are asleep, they head right to bed. Jack is sleeping next to his very pregnant wife just after midnight when she tries to wake him.

She nudges him and says, “Jack, I’m going to have a baby.”

Still dozing, Jack answers into his pillow sleepily, “I know hon, I can’t wait. I love you.”

“Jack! I mean I’m having a baby now!” Betty shakes her husband who bolts awake and sits up.

“Now? You mean now.” he asks, suddenly wide awake. She nods and smiles and Jack begins rushing around to get them ready. He calls Dr. Insley who has delivered all three of the older girls and they head to the hospital. Jane Frances Kavanagh is born about an hour or so after this phone call. Jack and Betty welcome baby # 4 with love and happiness.

Jane Frances Kavanagh. 1952.



Harry S. Truman is the President of the United States. The Twenty-second Amendment is ratified which limits the President to two terms. Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are convicted of espionage and sentenced to death. In Kansas, the Great Flood of 1951 causes more damage and destruction than any flood ever in the Midwest. Rogers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” premiers on Broadway. J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” is published. The films “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “The African Queen” are released. The phrase “Rock N Roll” is used for the first time by Disc Jockey Alan Freed. Charles S. Dutton, Sally Ride, Robin Williams, Mark Hamill, and Chrissie Hynde are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Jack and Betty Kavanagh with baby Jane Frances. Early 1952.

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