A new year starts for the Joseph Kavanagh Company on the corner of Pratt and Central. It will be an exciting year; in October, I am getting married. I learn quickly there is much work in preparing for a wedding and a great need for a large pile of yellow pads. Design & Production calls me and they have a big job for us. It’s a large order for parts for displays for the soon-to-be-built Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. I’m excited as I love music and the thought of a lot of work coming in is always good. We have a nice bit of work to start with jobs for DCA Food, Turnbull, C.R. Daniels and a few of our fabricator customers.
It has been a rough time for sports. Baseball is still on strike and the NHL locked its players out in the Fall in hopes of forcing a deal between owners and players. Finally, today the Lockout is over and a shortened season is planned. Soon enough there will be games to watch. I’m still waiting on baseball to resolve their work stoppage. The crew are busy in the cold Shop bending some elbows for C.R. Daniels, rolling some pipes for Miscellaneous Metals and a few other small orders.
The Shop stays fairly busy for January with some regular work for fabricators like Marelco and Miscellaneous Metals. We also have a small job for Center Stage. I love doing things for movies and plays. It makes my job more interesting and Center Stage has something for us once or twice a year.
The first Capitals game is a tie against the Hartford Whalers. It doesn’t matter as fans are thrilled to have games being played. Jack got his favorite sport back. Now let’s see what happens with baseball.
Skip Lepp from Design and Production comes to the Shop today and we meet face to face. He brings several orders with him and so begin months of work all for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. The scope of the job grows through the year. I knew we would have at least ten or fifteen displays to make parts for but as the year passes, the orders keep rolling in. Skip and I have hit it off well already on the phone, but in person we match even more so. He’s a baseball fan though a dreaded Yankee fan. Still, we get on well, making this long job and future ones move smoothly.
The San Francisco Forty-Niners beat the San Diego Chargers in the Super Bowl 49-26. I watch the game from Charlesmont Road after practice with my band Lethal Injection. With plans being made for the wedding and Kim living with me now, we have cut practices back a bit. The reality is the years together and over exposure to each other are as much the cause of our pulling back on the band as is my coming marriage. We’ve spent nearly every day together for the last 12 years and that leads to getting on each other’s nerves regularly. We still have fun but there are no plans to perform and no potential venues anyway.
February starts cold but the busy winter continues with an order for Whiting Metals shipped out today while we complete jobs for Anchor Fence and Scriba Welding. Anchor sends in their usual galvanized channels which we bend for fence rails and Scriba is also a railing though for a larger area, a section of a park or sports field.
It’s a very cold Tuesday at 201 S. Central Avenue. A day we wish we had some torch work but it’s all cold bending and rolling today. Another job for Center Stage is finished and some more galvanized channels for Anchor Fence but most of the crew are working on structural curves for Wilson Point Steel, Ackerman and Baynes, Industrial Fabricators and DOVCO. I finish going over some more drawings for Design and Production as more displays for the Rock N Roll Hall are in process.
No news on the baseball front is suddenly news. The players and owners are far apart on a deal and the league has given teams the go-ahead to use “replacement players.” These are non-union ball players who would most likely be out of the game but for this opportunity. The union and many folks call them “scabs” for crossing the picket lines and joining teams. Curiously enough, Peter Angelos the Orioles owner who is a successful union lawyer refuses to field a team of replacements. It makes the team stand out and I can imagine the other owners were none too pleased about it. Spring Training camps will open soon in Florida and Arizona but not for the Birds. The Orioles will stay in pause or strike mode.
Another load of work for the Rock and Roll Hall is finished and orders for George Eckart Company, stainless steel u bends for Stambaugh, more channels for Anchor Fence, and a long bar rail for Miscellaneous Metals make for a surprisingly busy February. The usual work is there but it’s always at a lower volume in the winter but with the Design and Production HOF jobs, this winter is rolling along well.
Springs gets closer at Central Avenue and the sun is shining as the crew move material in and out of the machines. I finish a tube sheet for a set of copper u bends for Stambaugh and write up a delivery ticket for yet another order for Design and Production, With every order from D and P, I get more excited. The idea of work of ours in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is very cool to me. I also know it’s been good for the bottom line.
The Shop is warm with the heat of torches as we complete a heat exchanger for Egan Boiler Service. Copper tubes are annealed, bent, then trimmed. Finally, they are expanded into a steel header and the unit is done. Heaters are old school on Central Avenue as we’ve made them for decades. A few of our regular customers have orders in the Shop too, Industrial Fabricators, Ed-K Machine and Fabricating and Welding Service.
It’s St. Patrick’s Day and things are busy at the corner of Pratt and Central. More Rock N Roll work for Design and Production is completed along with a set of stainless angle rings for J.L. Marshall and several structural orders for Codd and Bengies Welding. I’m also filling out job cards for another order for D and P as well as jobs for Fabritek Company, EA Enterprises, Anchor Fence and an EDCO regular order. Equipment Development Corporation’s pipe and rod rings is a recurring job we receive once or twice a year. On the personal side, plans continue for Kim and my wedding. Long lists are made on yellow pads. They are checked and re-checked while the specifics of menu and entertainment are discussed. It’s a little over six months away so I have no wedding jitters yet though the process is much more complicated than I knew.
The Shop knocks out some angle rings for Stambaugh and Lenderking, flat bars and pipes for Codd Fabricators, but the news of the day is the baseball strike has ended. The two sides finally come to an equitable way of making millions and sharing it, all the while returning the National Pastime to the nation. Baseball fans everywhere are elated, including this one. The fans of Baltimore have something else on their minds though. As soon as the schedule is released, Orioles fan count the number of days until Cal Ripken could eclipse Lou Gehrig’s Consecutive Games Streak. Cal’s streak or “The Streak” as it has come to be called will have him catching and passing Gehrig in early September.
Spring has picked up right where winter stopped, we are busy at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Jobs for several of our regular fabricator customers are completed while we bend some tubes for an exercise machine for German Health and Fitness as well. We’ve made these parts for their machines for several years. It’s a good job but not easy to make money on. The tubes are bent only slightly but we still must set up the machine with all the tools. It’s a job we can only charge so much for and the time allocated is a little tight.
We complete a job for the Maryland Science Center for one of their interactive displays. I can’t help but think of my youth spending several hours on a Saturday at the Science Center exploring the displays and playing with assorted simulations and such. I’m writing up a deliver ticket for Pardo as I think of those teenage days, hopping on a bus and a few minutes later I was downtown. They were fun days. A call from Mike Cooney at RMC Welding breaks my thought as he needs a couple pieces rolled. After I speak to Mike, I hear from Skip Lepp with more work for the Rock and Roll Hall. That job keeps coming back and I get excited each time.
12 Monkeys Productions picks up some pipes for their upcoming movie being filmed in town. I don’t know anything about it but I love film work. It’s not until I see it a few years later that I have an appreciation for what is a strange but very entertaining movie. I always love the movie work no matter the film. The crew are busy with angles for Southern Iron Works and Lenderking Metal Products, pipes for Industrial Fabricators and another order for the Rock N Roll Hall. These are tubes which needed to be filled before rolling so everyone is happy we’re not in the heat of the summer. They will be melted out after rolling and that will mean more fire and heat from snapper blow torches.
The Orioles visit the Kansas City Royals to welcome baseball back. Some fans are vocal in their disappointment at the strike that ended last season prematurely but most are happy to have the game back. Unfortunately, the Birds lose this one 5-1. Opening up on the road has never been good for the Orioles. They will lose two more before finally notching their first victory.
The Orioles home opener is today and they are shut out handily by the Milwaukee Brewers. Ricky Bones only allows two hits and the Birds lose 7- 0. I listen on the radio from the office at the Shop for the first inning or so then we all race home and catch what we can on TV. It’s a rough start to the year but I am happy there is baseball at all. The strike gave me pause as to the future of the game but now my hopes are high the Orioles can compete and like most Baltimoreans I look to early September for an historical feat to occur.
The NHL season comes to an end with the Capitals thumping the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-2. The Caps will face these same rival Pens in the first round of the playoffs. Jack is psyched. He knows the Caps history with the Penguins but he’s confident this year will be different. We discuss the upcoming playoffs as I write up another job for Design and Production, several standard channel orders for Anchor Fence and jobs for Rick’s Iron Works and Riggs Distler.
Another order for Design and Production is picked up today along with a job for Fabritek in Virginia. I know the D and P work will have to end soon as the Rock and Roll Hall’s opening is set for October. Still, I fill out another job card for yet another display. I pass on some quotes to Ann that we have received orders for. Anderson Industrial Contracting, Riggs Distler and Acme Iron Works have called to confirm jobs.
Yet again, the Pittsburgh Penguins knock the Washington Capitals out of the playoffs. The Caps had taken a 3-1 lead in the series but lose the final three and they are out again. This one bugs Jack a little more as he is beginning to really despise losing to Pittsburgh but in a couple days, he’s back to the ever hopeful loyal fan he has always been.
The crew and the Kavanagh’s rush out of the Shop as the long weekend is here. Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer and everyone is ready for it. Design & Production picks up a completed order as does Warren-Ehret, L & S Welding and Miscellaneous Metals. Having Monday off seems to make Friday that much longer. We count the minutes and the hours and with a little luck and trucks arriving early enough, we shut down at 2 pm.
The Shop’s summer has started busy with jobs for many of our regulars, Kelco, G-S, Codd, and more. The amount of work has certainly been boosted by Design and Production’s displays for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We have another order ready for them today and I know we must be coming close to the end of the job.
Kim and I both celebrated our birthdays a couple days ago and I start to realize our wedding is getting closer and closer. The plans are all made and now it’s the waiting. At the Shop, I call C.R. Daniels to arrange delivery of some of the standard elbows we make for them. The boys also bang out orders for Anderson Industrial Contracting, Codd Fabricators and a carny job for Amusements of America. We have several customers in the amusement/carnival industry. If they need replacement parts for rides or something for a repair, they will show up at our door. It’s often something unusual but we pride ourselves on not being fazed by the unusual.
Another week begins at the Joseph Kavanagh Company and we remain solidly busy. First thing in the morning, Ann, Jack and I discuss the Stanley Cup Finals. The New Jersey Devils swept the Detroit Red Wings to take the Cup on Saturday. It was a strange lockout shortened season but at least they played. We go over the schedule for the week too. There are jobs for Anchor Fence, G-S Company, Codd Fab., L and S Welding, Ackerman and Baynes and Winkler’s Inc. Almost a who’s who of our regular customers. We also have a set of stainless steel u bends for Stambaugh, another small order for the Rock N Roll Hall and a set of Vanstone flanges for Seagrams is shipped. The Shop doesn’t make these flanges anymore but we have had a stack in stock for years and as Seagrams needs them, we send them out.
After our Independence Day break, the Shop is back to work and unfortunately, we have some annealing to do. Belfort Instruments sent a set of square aluminum tubes in to be bent. This is a recurring job and a tricky one. They send a fixture and the pieces must fit snugly. Before they are bent they must be annealed to become soft enough to bend. The summer is the worst time for this kind of job but that’s how it goes. In addition, we roll some pipes for Hercules Iron, and a few other things for five of our regular customers.
I sit at my desk during lunch discussing the Orioles acquisition of Bobby Bonilla with Ann and Jack. I’m convinced this will give us the big bat in the middle of the lineup that could help the Birds make up some ground in the AL East. I’m a die hard Birds’ fan almost to a fault. As far as work goes, the month has been busy with orders for Lenderking, Anchor Fence, Professional Mechanical, McShane and Pardo all being picked up last week. A few jobs are on the docket to be completed before Friday including items for Codd Fabricators, Hamilton Iron Works and a set of the standard Anchor Fence channels.
As we prepare for our week long break, a rush job hits Central Avenue. It’s yet another order for Design and Production to go to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Apparently, this was an add-on at the end. We will have to finish it along with orders for Ross Industries, Food Instrument Corporation and DOVCO next week.
It’s Friday and the Joseph Kavanagh Company is officially closed for vacation. I have a solid week off with just two trips to 201 S. Central Avenue to pick up the mail. I look forward to a break and some time to relax. I also note how closer and closer my wedding day is getting.
We are back to work at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. We have a unique job in house today, some bent pipes for BGE. These will go into the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant. The phone is ringing and that’s a good sign that people missed us and they need work rolled. Several small jobs for COVCO and Cushing Manufacturing are picked up today.
The Rock N Roll Hall of Fame opens in Cleveland. I feel some sense of pride in that we did quite a bit to help with the displays. It doesn’t escape me that this is my best chance at having some work in the Hall. A much better chance than anything I did musically ironically enough.
It’s a cool Tuesday evening and the baseball world has all eyes on Baltimore. Tonight Cal Ripken Jr. stands one game shy of the great Lou Gehrig’s all-time consecutive games streak. It’s a sellout crowd with the California Angels in town. I’m watching from home with my friend Chris Voxakis. Kim’s bachelorette party is tonight and Chris’ girlfriend, Ellie, is a bridesmaid and off partying with Kim. I can’t for the life of me imagine missing this game for a bachelorette party but that’s my future wife for you. With the Orioles ahead after the top of the 5th inning, the game becomes official. Highlights of Cal’s career and images of Gehrig filled screen at the ballpark. I considered myself a pretty astute fan of baseball and its history. I knew this was big but suddenly, the enormity of it, the historical importance of it truly hits home. I cheered as most of Baltimore did. Proud of the local boy and the acclaim he brought to our team and our town. The Birds win 8-0 behind a complete game shutout thrown by Scott Erickson while Cal added his own flourish by homering in the 6th inning. After a long celebration, everyone heads home or switches off the TV, ready to do it again tomorrow.
Cal’s big night is discussed in detail the next morning at the Shop. It seems every television in the Baltimore area was tuned in to watch. Despite the excitement of what is to come tonight, we have work to do. A set of copper u bends are finished for Stambaugh along with some copper rings for Antenna Research. We also have several items for David Hess. David is a local sculptor and fabricator. After work, it’s back to Charlesmont Road to wait for a few hours until game time. The Orioles face the Angels yet again, this time with ace Mike Mussina starting. Cal homers again but in the 4th inning in tonight’s matchup. As happened last night, when the game reaches the bottom of the 5th and the Birds are on top, the game is official. It has happened. The nearly unthinkable, unimaginable has happened. I grew up analyzing old baseball records. What records might fall? Who in the modern era might do it? In the case of Gehrig’s record, it was set aside with no realistic chance of being broken but that’s exactly what happened at Camden Yards that night. After it sinks in and the game resumes, I call my father. We speak of how impossible we both thought this was. He agreed. Gehrig’s record seemed unassailable. I hang up and watch my team finish this one off winning 4-2. An even bigger celebration follows with Cal receiving accolades and gifts from baseball luminaries, political figures and celebrities. Cal is no longer merely called the Iron Man. He is the Iron Man.
The excitement that was Cal’s Streak has dissipated after a few days and the reality of the Orioles not making the playoffs sinks in. The Birds did their best to get back into the race but won’t make it this season. Such is life and I focus on the Shop. The crew rolled pieces for Cushing Manufactring, Pardo and Industrial Metalworks this week and all three send trucks to get their parts today. It’s a Friday and by 4 pm, we are all headed home for the weekend.
I can feel the pressure and anticipation mounting as I get closer to my wedding. It will be five weeks from tomorrow. Final details are still being sorted but for the most part, it is all planned. Kim and her Mom filled a lot of yellow pads with details. I make some calls late in the morning to arrange pickup of material. We bent some copper u bends for Stambaugh in the air bender while we rolled pieces for the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, NSI and Miscellaneous Metals.
The Fall starts as busy as the Summer ended. The year has been boosted by the Rock N Roll Hall work but even still, we are steady moving into the cold months. Today is a mixed bag of jobs at Central Avenue. There is one for the state, the Maryland National Park and Planning Dept and the usual mix of local fabricators and welders.
I’m standing on the first floor in the Shop when we get a delivery. A sample bend from the Coast Guard. They had called and told me they had a custom pipe they wanted us to match. I take a quick look and determine we can do it. I climb the stairs to the office and write down a few notes. We’ll do it next week. We are slammed right now with lots of structural work for R and R Fabrication, Miscellaneous Metals and Morse Fabrication and Design.
Kim and I are counting the days down to our wedding. It’s one week away and on this Saturday, we have lunch with my parents. We walked together from the restaurant and paused at my parents’ car. “We have some things for you.” My mother smiled at me as Dad popped the trunk. Dad handed Mom a bag from which she produced a copper pitcher.
“This is the first pitcher I made on my own, Joe. It was how they knew you were a full coppersmith and not an apprentice anymore when you could make this.” Mom handed it to me and my eyes opened wide as I held it. It looks very familiar as iced tea was usually served from one of these at our house. Being Dad’s first meant that much more to me and I passed it over to Kim. She seemed equally happy as she could see how much it meant to me.
Mom reached farther into the bag and pulled out a small box. She gave it to me and I opened it. Inside I see what appears to be a very old pocket watch. “This belonged to your great-great grandfather, James Long. It’s been in the Kavanagh family for over 100 years.” Mom gently took the watch from my hand then opened it up. Inside is a picture of James Long’s family. “That was your great-grandmother Johanna Long Kavanagh when she was a little girl.” Mom points to the elder of two small girls in the photo.
“She was my grandmother.” Dad beamed as he looked from me to Kim. “She was a doll. So sweet. Made great peach pie.” Kim chuckled a bit at that add-on. “She gave the watch to her 2nd son, my father. At my wedding, my mother gave it to her 2nd son, me. Now it comes to you, Joe.”
I’m blown away by this gift and Kim’s eyes fill up when the importance of it hits us both. “One day,” Mom smiled brightly at Kim. “You’ll give this watch to your 2nd son.”
Teary hugs are shared and I am overwhelmed with these presents. Kim and I head home knowing we are so close to the big day. Over time I will learn more about this watch that has been passed from Kavanagh to Kavanagh. The second son getting the watch is the tradition. In the old days, the oldest son would usually be president of the company and Johanna started this tradition as something special for the second son. I love it and am honored but what I do not know is the part it will play in my life and this story twenty or so years from now.
After being born 80 years to the date of the arrival of the Statue of Liberty in the US, on the anniversary of the Statue of Liberty’s dedication, I marry Kim DalFonzo. A strange coincidence of dates which I am not aware of at the time. Strange that the original Joseph Michael Kavanagh worked on Liberty and I am named for him. It’s of no importance especially on this day but eventually, it will mean something. A raucous party at the Del Capri follows the ceremony including fireworks and a great deal of rowdiness. They nearly have to kick us out of there but it certainly was a party to remember. When I get home, I flip on the World Series and watch the Atlanta Braves defeat the Cleveland Indians 1-0 to take the championship. Tomorrow Kim and I will drive to Ocean City for a few days at the Dunes Manor Hotel. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. What makes it that much sweeter is so is Kim. We begin our life as husband and wife with a few days at the beach.
While I’m on my honeymoon, the Shop goes on with a wide range of jobs for some of our regular local customers. In addition, the custom pipes for the Coast Guard are completed and ready for pick up. It’s good to not be at work but my mind is on the place even from the beach. It happens when you are an owner.
It’s a sunny but cool Monday in Baltimore and rumors are flying. Speculation has been building for several months that an NFL team might come to town. Sure enough, Cleveland Browns owner Art Model holds a press conference at Camden Yards announcing the Browns will re-locate to Baltimore next year. The NFL will return. People are exuberant. They can not wait as the City has missed football since the Colts left in 1982. The Stallions, a Canadian football team, has played here for several years but it’s not the same as the NFL. I talk it all over with Jack and some of the boys in the crew. We wonder what the team will be called? Will they be in the same division that the Browns were? This is all hashed and re-hashed but overall, what’s important is a team is coming here. I have to break the conversation up and get everyone back to work after their coffee break. I hand out cards for A.K. Robins and two for Belfort Instruments then return to the office.
The City is still buzzing with the imminent return of the NFL to Baltimore and it’s the talk of the town including the corner of Pratt and Central. Jack has always been a big football fan and though he roots for the Stallions, a new NFL team has him stoked. I’m excited too but I’ve always been more of a baseball or hockey fan than football. My brother just plain loves sports. Winkler’s Inc. and Belsinger Sign Works are both called when those orders are finished. I quote more work for Anchor Fence and Miscellaneous Metals. That’s the essence of my job. Quoting work, turning quotes to jobs, getting jobs finished then getting them out of here and billed.
The Baltimore Stallions defeat the Calgary Stamped to win the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup. This is a great win and a championship for Baltimore but it’s rather bittersweet. With the arrival of an NFL team, the Canadian Football franchise will no doubt be leaving the City.
It’s my first Thanksgiving as a married man and it’s a good one. The table at my in-laws house is laden with all the holiday favorites including parsnips for me. Kim nor any of her family has yet to take a liking to the root vegetable so popular among the Kavanagh’s but that’s fine. It’s more for me. After we eat, I enjoy watching some football with my father-in-law, Anthony. We talk about the team we will be getting and the old days of the Colts. Eventually, this leads to turkey sandwich time because what is Thanksgiving without a sandwich.
It’s a very Merry Christmas for me. Kim and I drive over to Woodall Street and spend the day with my in-laws. It’s reminiscent of my Christmases of old. Kim’s grandmother Dorothy is there and her brother, Paul. Presents, good food and good company make the day special. I think how fortunate I am. I have the love of my life with me and the world is my oyster. I’m finally happy. It is hard to grasp. The Shop has had a good year. The work for D & P and the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame has made a big difference. The project brought us work through most of the first half of the year and the numbers add up. Besides the financial positives, I relish the idea of some work of mine being in the Rock N Roll Hall. It’s surreal yet ironic. The band is in pause mode. I feel certain soon enough we’ll find a way to play and do our thing. I need to focus on my marriage and the Shop but Lethal Injection is not done. I put my attention to work and trying to assure a successful future for myself and now my family. I can’t help but think of family. It’s so entwined with work and the Shop. Jack has his two boys. Perhaps, some day I will have two boys and they will all work together. It will be as it has been. Family. Work. Common cause bringing all together. I suppose I dream as any newlywed dreams. Of the future but in a Kavanagh way. In a Shop way.
Bill Clinton is the President of the United States. The History Channel is launched. Yahoo is incorporated. Windows 95 is released. The Million Man March is held in Washington D.C. Timothy MacVie bombs a federal building in Oklahoma City. The films “Apollo 13,” “Braveheart” and “Toy Story” premier. Dean Martin, Jerry Garcia, Mickey Mantle, Ginger Rogers and Wolfman Jack die.
There are 50 states in the Union.
To read prior years, click on this link: Table of Contents