The Joseph Kavanagh Company begins another year in an inauspicious way with its typical mix of fabrication and ornamental metal work. A small job for Coat of Armor Welding is finished on day one then orders for Belfort Instruments, Pardo, Warren-Ehret, R & R Fabrication and William Tarant & Sons are prepped and begun. January is a cold start to the year at the Shop. It’s the dreary start to the dreariest part of the year.
The Shop is closed for a couple of days after a blizzard rolls through Baltimore. Locally, most areas received at least fifteen inches of the stuff with some spots as much as twenty-two inches. It’s the usual pain of shoveling and then trying to get to work so we can shovel there. The City comes to a halt as the white stuff is everywhere. There are piles and piles of it all over town and streets that don’t get plowed are impassable for a week. I find out that my new wife Kim loves snow. It looks so pretty to her but for me, I think of the shoveling, the driving and the general mess of it all. That being said, she’s right. It is very pretty out.
It’s been a steady if not busy start to the year. The crew on the corner of Pratt and Central labor on, bending metal through the day as they have for many years. Today some cupro-nickel u bends are bent for RPC. They will be used in a heat exchanger and these jobs are often welcomed at the Shop. Copper means annealing which means torch work and in January that’s a good thing. These are copper and nickel combined. Ninety percent pre-annealed copper and ten percent nickel means they are malleable and no heat is necessary. It’s easier but the heat of a torch is missed in the winter. In addition to these tubes some big angles are rolled for Structural Steel in our largest machine the R-6-S.
The Dallas Cowboys defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-11 in the Super Bowl. I watch from my home on Charlesmont Road. Kim and I have settled into a very happy life together. I’m working at the Shop and she works at Specworks, an advertising specialty company. They do a lot of promotional work for local charities. They are located five minutes from the Shop and that is very convenient. We drive to and from work together and you couldn’t find two happier newlyweds. On a Sunday, I enjoy watching the big game but mostly I enjoy being with my girl.
The cold winter continues in the old Shop. The Kavanagh’s and crew have grown accustomed to it. The building was constructed in 1910 and not made to fight off the elements like modern facilities. Jobs for Structural Steel, Miscellaneous Metals, Anderson, Ackerman and Baynes, A.K. Metal are banged out today.
It’s leap day and the enthusiasm of an extra work day in the year is lost on everyone. The boys work on some pipes for Chesapeake Rigging, R & R Fabrication, Miscellaneous Metals and Warren-Ehret. The good news is we also have a heat exchanger to make for USF & G and some U-Bends to make for Stambaugh. The annealing of the tubes for USF & G and Stambaugh heat up the place. The snapper torches blast propane and every worker or owner takes any opportunity to walk close by. You have to get some warmth wherever you can.
Today is Friday and the crew on Central Avenue can not wait until the end of the day. Friday is just about every workers favorite day of the week. The day drags by, of course, as the Shop completes orders for Whiting Metals, Pangborn, Stambaugh & Sons and more work for R & R Fabrication. R & R has been a customer for about ten years. The place is run by two brothers Jimmy and Randy Williams. They are two good fellows to deal with and a company that regularly helps to keep us rolling.
Much of the day at the old Shop is spent finishing a big Anchor Fence job and then loading the truck. Orders for Codd Fabrication and Miscellaneous Metals are picked up as well. Spring and its warmer weather have arrived and that makes work a lot more comfortable for all of us.
After another long week at the Shop, I’m home on a Friday night watching a Capitals hockey game and the news hits that the new NFL team in Baltimore will be called the Ravens. It’s a tip of the cap to Edgar Allan Poe and quickly the name catches on and though I wasn’t expecting Ravens, I like it too. The Capitals beat the Ottawa Senators 5-0 so it’s a great game to watch. Lots of goals on our side and none for theirs. I know my brother Jack, the ultimate Washington Caps fan, is enjoying this one at home.
Today is the Orioles’ Opening Day at Camden Yards. All morning we talk about the game anxiously. Hope springs eternal in baseball and for me, this year is particularly hopeful. The Orioles have signed Roberto Alomar and B.J. Surhoff to bolster the roster. Surhoff is a pure baseball player who can play multiple positions. He’s an old school player and he can hit. Alomar is one of the premier second baseman of this era. Teaming him with Ripken at short seem like almost a dream team of double play combinations. Ann, Jack and I watch the first inning from the television in the office then everyone races home to watch the rest. The Birds beat the Kansas City Royals 4-2. The enthusiasm is that much stronger when the season starts with a win.
The Birds’ hot start has continued and they win six of their first seven games. This only amps up the excitement for the season and it’s the talk of the Shop. The games are dissected during lunch and coffee breaks. As a rabid Oriole fan, I am happy and feeling confident about this club. Despite the baseball distraction, we do manage to do some work knocking out jobs for Pardo, Durrett Sheppard, Warren-Ehret and the G-S Company.
The Washington Capitals start their opening round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a big road win 6-4. Jack is very excited and he seems hopeful this year may be the chance to beat the rival Pens and move forward toward the Stanley Cup Finals.
Once again, the Caps are eliminated from the playoffs by the Penguins. Pittsburgh wins game six in DC 3-2 and takes the series. Jack is disappointed but more irked by the fact it’s the same Pittsburgh team that the Caps just can’t seem to get past. I couldn’t agree more.
I stand in the open front garage door staring at Central Avenue. I watch traffic move along then pause as the light changes from green to red. Pratt and Central is a busy intersection especially during the work week. The crew have returned to work after their morning coffee break and some general chit chat. The Orioles and the pleasant weather dominating the talk. It’s a breezy comfortable day and the boys are rolling some steel for a rail for G-S Company, some big bars for Price Brothers and a sign for the State Highway Administration. The last one is an oddball to me. I don’t remember doing any work directly for the State Highway Admin before but we’ll bend for anybody.
It’s been one of those days where everything goes wrong. Murphy’s Law as my father liked to say. Problems with our hoist and the R-3-S Angle Roller complicate the day and I am anxious for its end as I write out delivery tickets for Fabricating and Welding, Codd and a few others. At least some jobs were finished. Mechanical breakdowns are part of life in an industrial business but they always seem to come at the most inconvenient time. I pick Kim up from her job at SpecWorks and we drive home to Dundalk.
The Shop’s crew and the Kavanagh’s are preparing for a long Memorial Day weekend. A well-earned but brief respite from the day to day. It’s another Friday and despite the clock ticking slowly, the crew finish a big structural steel order for Miscellaneous Metals as well as rolled pipe for Warren-Ehret, Whiting Metals and AS & L Industries.
The hot humid day is interrupted by a quick thunderstorm in the afternoon. The humidity breaks as the deluge of water covers the Shop and the sidewalk. Anything that cools the place off is a good thing. As the storm rages the crew finish jobs for three of our regular local customers, Winkler’s Inc., Stambaugh & Sons and Codd Fab.
It’s Father’s Day and after a couple of hours at my in-laws to celebrate with my father-in-law, I call my Dad from home and speak to him as well. Just after hanging up, the phone rings and it’s my friend and band mate Tim Heaps. Tim tells me his father has died. The family went out for a very nice Father’s Day dinner and had a great visit. Upon returning home, Barry suffered a heart attack and he passed very quickly. It’s a shock. Barry and Madge Heaps were the band parents for Lethal Injection. For years, I saw more of them than my own parents who lived on the Eastern Shore. They put up with a lot of noise and nonsense while we practiced and played in their basement. Mr. Barry would ask about work and Miss Madge would remind me when I needed a haircut. They said and did those things my parents couldn’t because of distance. Barry and Madge also hosted our backyard concerts. The Heaps seem to relish the idea of holding these shows. There was always plenty of food and drink for guests and lots of fun for all. My friends came to call Mr. Barry the Bill Graham of Rosedale. The man loved to throw a party. He was funny and irreverent but a fine man and his loss hurts particularly because it came so fast and was so unexpected.
It’s my birthday and a Monday but I’m not even thinking about it. I tell Ann, Jack and the crew about Tim’s father. My sister and brother certainly knew Mr. Barry but most of the crew know Tim. Tim worked at the Shop part-time for a few years. I promise to pass along the details of the arrangements as soon as I hear them. I focus on the jobs laid out before me. The Shop’s work is steady and strong. Summer is usually our busiest time. Today we finish some items for F & M Machine, Miscellaneous Metals & Codd. I pick Kim up from work and when I’m home, my wife makes me cupcakes for my birthday. She really has a way about her.
I’m rushing all day from office to Shop and back. That’s a good sign but makes for a hectic day. I hand out jobs to the boys and then call customers to arrange some pick ups. By the end of the day, I feel like I walked a mile. I pick up Kim at Specworks and we head home. I’m looking forward to a night cooling off in the air conditioning.
It’s a hot Tuesday in Baltimore and certainly inside the old Shop. The crew are focused on work for quite a few of our regulars, Turnbull Enterprises, D-S Pipe, Industrial Refrigeration and a few others. I pass out jobs and write tickets but my mind is on tonight’s All-Star game. It will be played in Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium and three Orioles will start. The double play combination of Ripken and Alomar were both voted starters while Brady Anderson will replace injured Ken Griffey Jr. During pre-game team photos, Cal Ripken is inadvertently knocked down and breaks his nose. Not to worry, Cal is ready by game time and if All-Star games counted in consecutive game strings, his remains in tact. The National League blanks the American League 6-0 but I enjoy the game. Seeing two Orioles manning the infield is a thrill for me.
Oriole fever gets that much hotter. The Orioles make a trade to bolster their lineup and bring back a former Bird from better days. Eddie Murray returns to Baltimore and is welcomed with open arms. I am beyond excited. Eddie was one of my childhood heroes. He even threw me a ball once during warmups. We were in our seats on the third base line near the tarp and lots of kids would be calling to players and asking for a ball or autograph and such. I never did. I would just call out a greeting or “have a good game” or something. One night just before heading to the dugout, Eddie looked right at me and said “Hey kid.” I looked and he threw me the ball. I caught it and was stunned. Before I could shout my thank you, Eddie was trotting into the dugout. A night and a game I will never forget. It was my Mean Joe Greene in the Coke commercial moment. To see Eddie back in the Orange and Black? That was going to be great. Eddie did not disappoint. He homered late in the game to win it and received a curtain call just like the old days. Sometimes you can go home.
In a couple of weeks, we will have our summer vacation and that adds to everyone’s motivation to get things done. The workers crank out orders for L & S Welding, Lenderking Metal Products and several others but most of my day is spent on a large angle and beam rolling quote for Miscellaneous Metals.
The long wait for Baltimore NFL fans comes to an end on this Saturday. The Baltimore Ravens host the Philadelphia Eagles at Memorial Stadium. It’s the Ravens first preseason game and though it’s meaningless, Baltimore fans are very excited and the Ravens win 17-9.
It’s a busy and anxious Wednesday at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Busy because we have a few jobs to finish and anxious because next week we are closed and no one wants that affected. Jobs for Turnbull, Codd and more are completed and now we are sure, everything that needs to be done will be done.
I am looking at the Orioles schedule as I sit at my desk. The Birds have some ground to make up but I know we don’t have to win the division this year. A wild card has been added to each league which basically means the best second place team in any division will qualify for the playoffs. I’m excited because this finally could be our year. I grab a stack of job cards and head out to the Shop. We finish work for a big group of our regulars including Codd, Kelco, Antenna Research and Ackerman & Baynes.
I’m relaxing at home on a Friday night watching the Orioles take on the Tigers at Camden Yards. The Birds are very much in the thick of it for a playoff spot. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Eddie Murray knocks one out of the park. Fans have been anticipating Eddie’s next homer for weeks. This one is number 500 and Murray becomes only the third player ever with 500 home runs and 3000 hits. He joins two of the greatest of all-time, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays in this exclusive club. I cheer and celebrate as all Orioles fans do when the balls leaves the yard. It’s not lost on anyone that this is one year to the day from Cal Ripken Jr. breaking Gehrig’s record. This game goes into extra innings and unfortunately, the Orioles lose in the 12th.
Today I’m busy on Central Avenue as the phone keeps ringing. Most days we get a steady stream of calls but occasionally it seems if I hang up the phone, it rings right back at me. Today is such a day with customers calling to check on the status of their orders. I’m able to inform Wilton, Codd, Yoder and Anderson their jobs are completed and ready for pick up. When I hang up the phone for the last time just before 4, I quickly turn on the answering machine. We are ready to close up, lock up and get out of there.
The MLB playoffs are approaching and the race is tightening up with just a few games to play. Baseball talk fills the hours of the day at the Shop. The Kavanagh’s have been Orioles fans for 100 years, In fact, the first confirmed Baltimore Orioles game attended by my family was August 1, 1896. My great-grandfather and his brothers celebrated his birthday at the ballpark. It’s one thing to be a fan but when the team is heading toward the postseason, it gets very exciting. Between talks of hits, runs and box scores, the crew completes work for Easton Steel, Interstate Steel, Anchor Fence and the George Eckart Company.
The Washington Capitals begin their 23rd season losing to the Chicago Blackhawks at home 5-2. Even with a loss, Jack and the rest of us are happy to see another hockey season begin. A new start means another chance to finally win that Stanley Cup that has somehow managed to avoid the team’s grasp. Jack started the Kavanagh hockey fandom over twenty years ago. Now, we are solid Caps fans though none of us are on Jack’s level of devotion.
It’s a tough day at the Shop and in Baltimore. The events of Game 1 of the ALCS are gone over in great detail. The already infamous catch/interference by a young fan, Jeffrey Maier, is discussed over and over. Everyone comes to the conclusion it would have been caught by Tony Tarasco. The defeat is a bitter one but that is baseball. Things happen and you either win or you lose. I get back to work and write up a couple of jobs. I hope we can bounce back and still take the series.
It’s a somber Monday in Baltimore as the Orioles were eliminated from the ALCS by the Yankees last night. Jack, Ann and I talk it over and it’s disappointing but that’s life. While eating my lunch, the phone on my desk rings and I answer with the standard, “Joseph Kavanagh Company.”
“Hey Joe, how’s it going?” I recognize my father’s voice immediately.
“I’m alright, Dad. How’s things down the Ocean?” I reply as I glance over to Ann who looks up from the ledger she is writing in when she hears me say Dad.
“It’s okay but it’s getting cold. I hate this damn cold weather.” He pauses a moment then quickly asks, “So what happened with the Birds?”
I sigh then speak. “They just couldn’t get it done. They lost that first game with that screwy catch. The kid reached out.”
“Oh that was crazy. It was clearly fan interference.” my father quickly interrupts me but I’m not bothered because he’s my Dad and he also agrees with me.
I grin over at Ann who smiles back, both of us knowing how Dad is. “Yep. It was very clear but they weren’t ever changing that play. Not gonna happen. Not in New York.”
“Oh Hell no. They would string up the umpire right on the field.” He chuckles briefly. “I guess it just happens sometimes. You know how it goes. Weird things happen but it’s baseball.”
I sit back a bit in my chair. “Yeah, that’s how it goes and we could have just played better. It was only one game. It may have changed the momentum and all that but we got beat.”
“Remember what Earl Weaver said about momentum in baseball. It all depends on your next pitcher.” Dad recalls one of Earl’s viewpoints on the game.
“I know. I know. We got beat plain and simple but at least we made it to the Championship Series.” I take a sip of water. “So I know you didn’t just call to talk baseball. You must have had some excuse.” I smile again and this time I hear my Dad’s laughter in the receiver.
“Well Mom needs to talk to Ann about some paperwork stuff. I just wanted to catch you first and talk about the playoffs. There’s always next year, kid. The team is going in the right direction.” He finishes with a decidedly hopeful tone in his voice.
I mouth the words “Mom wants to talk to you” to Ann then turn my attention back to my father. “Yes, there’s always next year. Let’s hope we can go a little further. That would be nice.”
“It sure would. Alright Joe, your Mom wants to talk to Ann. I gotta hand the phone to her.”
“Okay, Dad. I’ll talk to you soon.”
“Hey Darlin’.” I smile when I hear my Mom’s voice. She often calls us kids, darlin’.
I nod again to Ann and she prepares to grab the phone. “I’m okay, Mom. Busy but doing okay.”
“How’s that lovely wife of yours?” She asks.
“Kim’s great. She keeps me on the straight and narrow.” My smile broadens.
Mom answers right back. “Of course. That’s what she’s supposed to do.”
I laugh. “Well, she’s very good at it. I know you need to talk to Ann so I’ll send you over. You take care of you and Dad, okay?”
“Always. I always do and I love you and that sweet girl of yours. Give her a hug and a kiss for me then send me over to Ann.” I can almost picture Mom’s sweet smile when I hear her voice.
“You got it, Mom. I love you too.” I transfer the call to Ann who grabs the receiver and talks to Mom.
I sit for a moment in silence then I grab a stack of delivery tickets and begin filling them out. Yeah, there’s always next year.
It’s Halloween, and Kim has our house decorated to the nines. She loves the holiday and it’s an adjustment for me but a pleasant one. We never celebrated it much as kids, and as an adult, I kept my porch light out and was rarely home. It’s a new experience for me but I enjoy handing out candy especially to the little ones. Baseball season is over as the Yankees went on after defeating the Birds and took four of six from the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. It was a rueful ending for the Orioles but I still think it was a good season. I never like seeing the Yanks win it all but it hadn’t happened since 1978 so I suppose they were due. Jobs for Whiting Metals, Structural Steel and many of our regulars are worked on in the Shop. The crew are busy and they should be this time of year. We generally need to stay pretty busy from May to October. The other months are often disrupted by weather and there are the holidays. Relying on these times is a standard practice for most businesses and certainly for the Joseph Kavanagh Company.
It is election day with Democrat and incumbent Bill Clinton defeating Republican Senator Bob Dole and Independent Ross Perot, a distant third. Perot was included in the debates in 1992 but not this year after receiving far less media attention. I, of course, vote for myself and do all I can to get my wife to do the same. Only she really knows. I have been voting for myself since 1988. I have little hope of ever attaining the Executive Office but a man can dream. The other option is for either party to nominate someone I want to vote into office. Another dream.
The arrival of November always puts me in a turkey mood. My wife believes I’m much like the Darren McGavin character in the movie “A Christmas Story.” I may not be as fanatical as he is but I am close. We’re still steady at the Shop and I’m hoping it stays that way until the end of the year. Today we finish work for our usual mix of assorted welders and fabricators and one job for Center Stage.
Jack and I attend a Ravens Game at Memorial Stadium and unfortunately, we lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars 28-25 in overtime. Jack brings his sons, Paul and Patrick along as well. I haven’t been to an NFL game in over fifteen years. I went to several preseason Colts’ games when I was a kid. My Dad and Jack went to just about every game but Dad would make a point of taking me once each year. My brother is and always was a bigger football fan than I am. I’m a baseball guy. Still, I look forward to this game and it’s a good one. It’s a nice way to spend the day with my brother and his boys.
Thanksgiving has arrived and it’s my favorite holiday. No shopping or endless decorating but good food, football and family. On the drive over to Woodall Street, I go over in my head yesterday’s work schedule. Everything that needed to be handled was finished including work for Structural Steel, Anchor Fence, Miscellaneous Metal and several of our other regulars. Nothing was left hanging over the long weekend and that’s always a good thing. We have a wonderful holiday feast including a delicious turkey and I do all I can to steal some skin before it’s served. All the trimmings are there including parsnips. My mother-in-law makes a point of having them for me though no one else eats them. Before and after the food, my father-in-law and I sit and watch football. Watching football with Anthony becomes a yearly tradition. With the arrival of the Ravens, it’s that much more fun to view some NFL matchups. We have a good time no matter what game is on, though watching the Lions lose on Thanksgiving becomes a recurring theme.
It’s a cold day at the Shop and it seems winter arrived early. There is some annealing to do for a heat exchanger for East Coast Welding and that helps. Besides the heater, the workers finish stuff for Greencastle Metals, Kelco, Anchor Fence and others.
The holiday rush is on across the country and that includes 201 S. Central Avenue. Like every year, we take the week between Christmas and New Year’s off so the end of the December is always a hurried affair. I check the schedule and the calendar. We wait on trucks to pick up jobs for Mercy Hospital, Metropolitan Steel and four others before we can escape.
Christmas is here and we spend the day with Kim’s parents and her grandmother. The usual holiday trappings are in order. Lots of gifts, lots of fun and family time. It’s the end of the year and I always tend to get reflective. Kim and I are happy. The Shop is staying busy enough not to have to worry much. I see my friends often as they come by the house. I miss the band but I still have in my head, some day Tim and Ray and I will play together again. I don’t think it will be long but right now Kim and I are newlyweds and we love every minute of our time together. As my father said of my mother, she’s my girl and I want everybody to know it. So it is with Kim. I look forward to another good year at the Joseph Kavanagh Company, a second year of Ravens’ football and another good season for the Orioles. This year took us back to the playoffs and I’m confident next year will be better. A World Series would make for a thrilling Summer and Fall. I will have that thrill next year but not necessarily because of baseball.
Bill Clinton is the President of the United States. President Clinton signs the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty at the United Nations. Nintendo releases Nintendo 64 in the US. NASA launches the Mars Global Surveyor. A nail bomb explodes in Atlanta during the Summer Olympics. George Burns, Ella Fitzgerald, Tiny Tim, Howard Rollings and Carl Sagan die.
There are 50 states in the Union.
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