Another year has begun for the old Shop at the corner of Pratt and Central. Kavanagh’s and crew return from their holiday vacation. It’s a quiet group that gets back to work at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Time off between Christmas and New Year’s is a great thing but it doesn’t ease the pain of another year of labor beginning. We have a few things on the books to start 1997 including jobs for Kelco and Anchor Fence, two of our most reliable local customers.
The Green Bay Packers beat the New England Patriots 35-21 in the Super Bowl. I watch the game but with only a modicum of interest. My mind is on work tomorrow and the jobs we have lined up to start the week. We have an interesting job for a company called Runabout. We are bending parts for some restored motorized scooters. It’s always something different at the Shop. In addition, there’s another sculptural order and some angles to roll for Warren-Ehret.
We have completed a very large order for Codd Fabricators which includes rolled angles, flat bars and well over 100 round rods. It’s made for a good start to the year and when we are busy, it doesn’t seem quite as cold on that old corner in Baltimore.
Today we have more steel rods to finish for Codd Fabricators and several nice orders for rolled galvanized channels for Anchor Fence. Both are customers and Codd has almost single-handedly made this winter a busy one.
It’s a rainy chilly day and the crew are busy doing some work for Fred’s Welding, G-S Company, Fabritek and a heater for Egan Boiler. We also finish a recurring job for Turnbull Enterprises. These are 1” stainless steel pipes we bend in the Pines Bender and they are used for chairs for Navy helicopters. It’s cold for March but we know Spring is on the way and along with it to my delight, baseball.
We finish some parts for a set for Center Stage, a few small pipes for sculptor Stan Edmister and angles for Structural Steel Fab., Kelco and Dundalk Ornamental Iron. I have received some extremely important news of a very personal nature. Kim is pregnant. I can’t believe how happy and terrified I am at the same time. It’s the most exhilarating experience of my life. It’s the most on-the-fence thing I’ve ever experienced. I’m happy and excited but afraid and worried. I want to call my parents and Kim’s parents and tell everyone I know but I also want to keep it a secret that only Kim and I know. She’s happy and seems to grasp it better than I do. I try not to over think it and sort it out all at once as is my nature. I decide to just focus on one thing. I’m going to be a father.
It’s Opening Day in Baltimore and the Birds beat the Kansas City Royals 4-2. Expectations are high as the Orioles made it to the American League Championship Series last year. We can only hope we make it a bit further and it’s always good to start the season with a win. At the Shop, we work on jobs for Ackerman & Baynes, Whiting Metals, Codd, Winkler’s Inc. and Anchor Fence. The crew also make a sample piece for JAG Industries. After they review it, we may get a larger order. That’s how it goes with samples or even worse the dreaded “prototype.” These are jobs you can’t get too excited about. A potential large order after a small sample is still a gamble. It’s best to not do the first one too cheap. Sometimes it’s the only one.
I am watching the Washington Capitals final game of the year. They beat the Buffalo Sabres 8-3 but it’s bittersweet because the team will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1982. It’s a strange feeling. Hockey is a sport where after a long season, there is essentially a tournament for Lord Stanley’s Cup. As a fan, you grow accustomed to at least making the first round of that tournament.
Spring and baseball have both arrived along with warmer weather so by our luck, we have some annealing and filling to do. This heats up the place and we are thankful it’s not July. The tubes to be annealed and filled are for Bechdon Corporation. The boys also finish jobs for Wilton Corporation, a recurring order for EDCO and the production run for JAG Industries. Obviously, the sample was accepted.
It is finally hitting me that Kim and I will have a baby in the Fall. It’s an overwhelming thought. Kim seems to be a lot calmer than I am. That being said, I can’t help but be happy. Scared yes but mostly happy. I worry about her and I think that’s natural. Work is a reliable distraction. At the Shop, we are working on another recurring job. This one is for Belfort Instruments. The order consists of square aluminum tubes that must be annealed and bent in the Pines Bender. Each has two bends and must fit easily into a checking fixture which they provide along with the tubes. It’s a tricky job and there is always a good bit of tweaking at the end to get them to fit. We’ve done them before so it’s challenging but not overly so. In addition, some other items are rolled for some of our regulars and one for Stan Edmister. Stan is, to my knowledge, the first sculptor we had as a customer. We made parts for his playground sculptures in the past but this one is just a couple of pipes. The sculpture work is always interesting and it’s good to see Stan. Stan is a tall man, well over six foot and seeing him reminds me of the times I would see him and my Dad, who was more diminutive like me, discussing a job. Stan towering over my Dad but listening intently to everything he said. Stan was always very respectful of my father and they certainly liked each other.
Today is a Saturday and we celebrate Mom and Dad’s 50th Anniversary at Kensington Parkway with all the Kavanagh’s and assorted families. Jack and Betty Kavanagh met at a Knights of Columbus Dance in the Spring of 1946. By all accounts, sparks were flying that night. A year later on May 17, 1947, they wed and began an incredible life together. They proceeded to have nine children and find a way to have each and every one feel special. No one felt left out. Honestly, you didn’t have that much time alone to feel left out but I jest. Our house at the corner of Lakewood and Jefferson was the house where all the kids congregated. As if having nine of their own wasn’t enough, my Mom and Dad welcomed our friends and treated them like they were their own. It was a special way to grow up but now, Jack and Betty Kavanagh are grandparents eleven times over with one on the way. It’s a great party and us kids, we marvel to see Mom and Dad together. Such a love. They still hold hands and flirt. They cherish their time together but want to see the children and talk to us any chance they can. The most astonishing thing to me is whenever all of us or even most of us can get together, it quickly feels like Lakewood Avenue all over again.
It’s a beautiful Friday in Baltimore and I am looking forward to the weekend. Kim and I are going to spend Saturday at my in-laws to discuss and plan all things baby. As the hours tick away, I spend most of the day on the phone, making calculations for quotes, writing up jobs, then handing them out to the crew. Mostly today’s focus is angles being rolled for Miscellaneous Metals, Warren-Ehret and Yoder Steel.
The Birds have been playing well and remain in first place. They are the talk of the town and also Central Avenue. During coffee breaks and lunch, last night’s game is discussed. This is how it is when your team is good and the excitement is infectious to fans. You can’t talk about it enough. When not talking baseball, a few of our local fab shops and welders pick up their orders through the day. Trucks for ABB Power and Combustion, R and R Fabrication and Codd Fabricators are loaded and sent on their way. It’s what we call a “truck” day. You get what you can get done but mostly it’s backing trucks in and chaining things up. The good part is it gives the crew more room on the floor and you go on to the next job.
Today is my birthday and I turn 32. We are still a few months away from zero hour when our baby will be born but the excitement is building. I feel I am as anxious, worried, nervous and excited as I could possibly be. Each day it gets more intense but I tell myself that’s normal. The Shop is working on some rails for Hezekiah’s Welding which will go to the new Washington Redskins Stadium. Hezekiah is an old customer and it looks like we’ll be bending these pipes a few times over the coming months.
Belsinger Sign Works picks up some square tubes rolled for the sign at the Harbor Inn hotel at Pier 5. Most of the time, we don’t know where our pieces might end up. Occasionally, a customer will mention it or more often it’s indicated on the drawing. It’s nice to know, if nothing more than to be able to say, we did this for that building, stadium, hotel. Whatever. The boys also complete a big order for Chesapeake Rigging and some pipes for Anderson Contracting.
Tomorrow is Independence Day and that means a barbecue at my in-laws on Woodall Street and watching the Inner Harbor fireworks from their backyard. It’s actually a pretty good view. I’m not much for fireworks but this year I think of watching them with my child. I feel the same about baseball, movies, cartoons and the Sun and the Moon. I look forward to introducing our child to all these things. We make a short day of it at the Shop. When trucks are loaded for Hezekiah’s Welding, Dan’s Welding and A.J. Sackett, we’re done and out before 2 p.m.
I am relaxing at home watching the All-Star game. The Orioles are again well represented with Alomar, Anderson and Ripken starting and two pitchers on the AL squad, Mike Mussina and Randy Myers. It’s a good game and the American League wins 3-1. I enjoy the distraction from work but it’s still on my mind. We will have four busy weeks before our vacation in August. Meanwhile, we are getting closer to the baby’s arrival and Kim is handling it so well. She’s amazing and I am sure she will be a great mom.
We’ve got a couple more weeks before our break and it has been busy. Today is a mixed bag of work including a heat exchanger for Baltimore Gas and Electric, some more pipes for our sculptor friend Stan Edmister and more rails for Hezekiah’s Welding.
We are waiting patiently on this Friday for quite a few trucks to come for their orders. We deliver an order to C.R. Daniels. They can be hauled in a car. Trucks for Anchor Fence, Wilton, L and S Welding and Design and Production show up and then we are on vacation.
There is the usual bit of grumbling and a staggering start to get back to work. That’s just from me. Not the workers. Nonetheless our vacation is over and our first week back is always a busy one. All those who called last week must be dealt with and the jobs already on the books must be knocked out as quickly as possible. Today we ship out more tubes for C.R. Daniels and jobs for Miscellaneous, Stambaugh and D-S Pipe are picked up.
I’m at my desk and taking a quick look at the sports section of the Baltimore Sun. The Birds are still in first place and have been since Opening Day. It’s been a great run so far and we’re heading toward the end of the season. My hopes and expectations are high for the club. Of course, my expectations and hopes are more focused on Kim and our son. In my mind, I keep hearing the Who song “Mrs. Walker” from Quadrophenia. “It’s a boy, Mrs. Walker. It’s a boy. A son! A son! A son!” He’s a boy. We know that now. I can barely contain myself when I think of introducing my boy to baseball, the Orioles, music, guitar. All those things I love. I am sure I’d be equally excited about a girl. I have seen the “Daddy’s Little Girl” perspective close up. My father has seven girls and he has a special relationship with them all. Another of the many things I admire about the man but there’s something about fathers and sons. I suppose it seems a little easier for me to pass on my most ridiculous dreams to a boy. I really have trouble putting my finger on it but I think of my father and my mother, I think of Kim and I and I am equal parts amazed, humbled and excited with a small amount of fear. Mostly my fear is washed away by Kim. She seems to have an understanding of it more than I. It’s been a tough pregnancy so far. She’s handled it with absolute grace apart for a penchant for late night Taco Bell, tomatoes and coffee ice cream. She’s incredible but I do worry about her. Suffice to say my attention at work is suffering a bit but I do the best I can. It’s the job and I am very used to it. Today a nice order for Center Stage is picked up and a job for Dundalk Ornamental Iron. The beat goes on.
The Baltimore Ravens open their second season at Memorial Stadium. The team has been welcomed to town with open arms. This Sunday afternoon, they face off against the Jacksonville Jaguars and lose but it’s a close one. 28-27. The Ravens were 4-12 in their inaugural season and fans are not expecting a great year but hopefully a better one.
The Shop has stayed busy most of this year. There is no doubt it is an uptick from last. Sometimes it’s because of one big job but sometimes, you are just happy and don’t question a good year. I am still very distracted at my desk as we are about a month away from D Day/my son’s birth. My brother, sister and our crew help keep me focused on the job and we crank out work for Anchor Fence, Triangle Sign and JRC Construction.
We are very close to the baby’s arrival. I haven’t slept the last few days much at all as I am on alert to head to the hospital or Taco Bell at the drop of a hat. Nonetheless, my job goes on and we finish one order for R & R Fabrication and two for Ackerman and Baynes at the Shop. Kavanagh’s and crew are all spending part of the day talking about the Birds. Last night, the Orioles clinched the American League East title for the first time since 1983 when we won it all. The team managed to stay on top of the division from day one of the season to the end. A most impressive feat only accomplished by five other teams in baseball history.
The Washington Capitals begin their season with a victory over the Maple Leafs in Toronto 4-1. Last year, the Caps missed the playoffs and we are hopeful for a bounce back year. Jack became a fan when the team was created in 1974 and bit by bit, first Ann then I, became loyal fans. The Capitals will win their first four games in a row and it’s taken as a sign of good things to come. I’m not watching the Caps though; Kim and I are at St. Joseph’s Hospital having a baby. We have been here for hours as Kim’s labor begins then abates then begins again. Kim is a trouper and I have no idea how she does it. I try to help all I can but my assistance is limited to distributing ice chips. We have the television on in the birthing room and it’s tuned to Fox so she can watch Beverly Hills 90210. Meanwhile, the Orioles are in Seattle facing the Mariners in Game 1 of the Divisional Playoffs so I’m flipping during the commercials. After all, it is a big game. When 90210 is finished, Kim rolls her eyes and tells me to go ahead and change the channel. As Kim practices her breathing and hopes for progress, the nurse and I keep an eye on the game. The Orioles have taken a lead and we are discussing it enthusiastically. The nurse is much more interested in the game than Kim is. It’s a battle of aces as Mike Mussina takes on Randy Johnson. The Birds have beaten Randy Johnson three times this year and I’m hoping they can do it one more time. We have been in this birthing suite for hours and they have finally agreed to give Kim an epidural. She tried and tried but the baby doesn’t want to come out so a Caesarean delivery is in order. The epidural is coming and my wife is trying to be patient but she’s in a lot of pain. As she catches her breath, the nurse and I are discussing the ball game. The Birds have opened up a 9-1 lead and it looks like we’re going to take Game 1.
“It’s crazy how we are the one team that can hit Randy Johnson.” I say, glancing from the game to the nurse. “We beat him three times in the regular season.”
She nods her head emphatically. “He’s one of the best but we can beat him. That’s our Orioles.”
“So far so good and Mussina has been outstanding. He’s doing a great job—” I’m suddenly interrupted by an irate Kim.
“Hey! I’m the one having a baby here. You know.” Kim glares at the nurse and me as she speaks through gritted teeth. “Can you pay attention to the pregnant person in the room?!”
I quickly answer but rather nervously. “Yes, yes. I know. We know. I’m sorry babe. The anesthesiologist should be here anytime. Do you want some ice chips?”
“To Hell with them ice chips. I need drugs. Tell them I need the epidural.” Kim fires back then turns her gaze to the nurse. “Well?”
“I’m sure. He’s on the way, Mrs. Kavanagh.” She re-assures Kim who seems skeptical.
Just then the door swings open and a doctor appears. “Hello Mr. and Mrs. Kavanagh. I’m your anesthesiologist.”
I breathe a sigh of relief and Kim immediately asks a bit suspiciously, “Are you going to give me an epidural?”
“Yes, Ma’am. I am.” He smiles down at her after giving me a sympathetic look.
Kim seems triumphant. “Yes! Yes! Finally. I need it and I love you.” She was speaking to the doctor not me but I take no offense.
Once the epidural takes effect, it’s delivery time and I get dressed in scrubs, gloves and mask.
Joseph Michael Kavanagh Junior is born at 12:28 a.m. after the Orioles beat the Seattle Mariners. Mussina out duels Johnson and I’m a Dad. Birthing isn’t something I’d want to see every day but after a few disturbing moments, the doctor hands me our baby boy. Kim and I weep though Kim is a bit out of it. I am not and I do speak to Joe. “Welcome to planet Earth. We will be your hosts.” Soon mom and son are being taken to recovery and I walk down the hall and give the good news to my in-laws. Linda and Anthony are thrilled but look at me quizzically then point to the pants of my scrubs. They have dropped to my ankles and are draped around my feet and I was none the wiser. For some reason, I feel compelled to walk behind a screen to pull them up despite having jeans on underneath. I’m in a strange but very pleasant haze. My in-laws laugh loudly and so do I. I’m out of it but so happy. Soon I am on the phone making a couple late night calls to spread the word. My brother and sisters pass it along to my parents in Ocean City. Around 2 a.m., Kim, Joe and I are in a room resting, smiling and crying. Mom and Dad are both hungry so I decide to venture out to find us something to eat and drink. I scour the hospital but must leave the neo-natal wing to find a vending machine. I get us Three Musketeers and Pepsi but the door has auto-locked behind me so I now must search for a way back in. As I cross the grounds, I look up at the moon. The enormity of it all seems to hit me and I shout, “I have a son!” I look over and see a guard at one of the doors watching me. I approach and he opens the door. Speaking quickly, I explain how my night has gone and he accepts my excuse. I am allowed entrance and he smiles at me knowingly. Perhaps he’s a dad or I am not the only one to have done such a thing. I return to Kim’s room and we eat candy and drink soda before getting some sleep. We’re parents now. We’re a family now. Another Joe Kavanagh is born. My Joe is born. Let the pigeons loose.
After several weeks recovering at my in-laws, my family is home. We’ve had a whirlwind few days with family and friends coming to meet Joe. We had many visitors at the hospital including my Mom and Dad who were so very happy to see my little guy. I was thrilled to hug my Mom and have her hold my baby. We hope things calm down a bit now that most folks have met the young man-of-the-hour. We are naive. Meanwhile, the Orioles were eliminated from the playoffs. We did beat Seattle in the Division Series but lose the American League Championship Series to the Cleveland Indians in six games. That’s baseball.
Today we finish a job for a film titled “Enemy of the State.” The movie which stars Gene Hackman and Will Smith is filmed locally and they need some pipes bent. I love doing movie work. We’ve done more than a few especially the John Waters and Barry Levinson films. These jobs break up the usual tedious work and suddenly, you are doing something interesting. We also ship two orders for Whiting Metals and some small rolled beams are picked up by Seaford Steel.
Ravens fans’ are particularly interested in today’s match up. Baltimore visits the Washington Redskins in a battle of local clubs. They play in the newly opened Fedex Field, the same stadium we bent some railings for earlier this year. The Ravens win 20-17 and if it’s one thing Baltimoreans like, it’s getting the best of DC at anything. In the evening, the Florida Marlins defeat the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series. The end of the baseball season is almost a relief though it pains me to think such a thing. The Birds went wire to wire in first place all year then started the playoffs so strong. But I’m tired and it’s been an exhausting but exhilarating couple of weeks. I am walking about with Joe in my arms. I’m trying to get him to sleep and silently tell myself, “A World Series this year would have been even less sleep. Next year.” I resume pacing and patting my boy’s back until he slips dreamily into a snooze and I follow. When I place him in his bed I sing a few bars of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” to him. You can never start too soon with baseball. I dream of throwing him a ball and taking him to games. Through my life, I honestly haven’t known many Joe’s. I’ve been Joe, Uncle Joe and obviously, Joe Kavanagh at the Shop. Now, I have my Joe.
There is a mini stock market crash around the world and there are concerns about its impact on the economy. The Dow drops 554 points but the next day 337 are gained back. The country seems to have dodged a bullet or maybe simply delayed its arrival.
It’s not winter yet but you can’t tell it by Central Avenue. It’s a cold cold day in the old building but the crew soldier on. There are pickups for Tri-Fab of PA, Structural Steel, Power and Combustion and Thrifty Iron Works today. The year continues strong and I have no reason to believe we won’t finish up the same way.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving which is easily my favorite holiday. I love turkey but we do have a few things to finish up before the feast. Structural orders for DOVCO, Osprey Structural and Codd Fabricators are finished. After the last truck pulls out the back door onto Eden Street, we are ready to go and ready to eat.
Thanksgiving is spent on Woodall Street and everyone is hovering around the new baby. Joe Jr. is a very popular young man and is passed around all day. I also focus on eating turkey as that is the whole purpose of the holiday. It’s always a big spread and plenty to eat at Linda and Anthony’s. They include parsnips for me though no one else eats them. I assure them soon enough Little Joe will be having them as well. Our little guy adds a lot to the holiday. I may have even snuck him some turkey skin. I can’t quite remember.
The month of December is usually a wild one at 201 S. Central Avenue. We take the week between Christmas and New Year’s off each year so the weeks prior are fairly intense. We find a way to get at least four weeks worth of work done in three so we can enjoy that extra break. Today several angles are rolled for Lenderking, some 4” Pipes for D-S Pipe and tubes for another sign for Belsinger Sign Works.
The Cincinnati Bengals beat the Ravens 16-14 to finish out the 1997 season. Our football team finishes with a 6-9-1 record. It’s not particularly good but it is an improvement over last year. Fans are undaunted and the Ravens are becoming very popular in the City. Construction has begun on a new fancy football stadium near Camden Yards and I wait by the phone hoping to get some work from it. The Shop received a tremendous amount of work when Oriole Park was built but we shall see as far as this new one goes.
Again, the Kavanagh’s and crew wait patiently for the final pickups of the year. Bechdon and Huber Welding arrive in the morning while we try to finish three items for Codd Fabricators. Codd’s jobs are finished last as they are only five minutes away. We know they’ll get their truck up here in time. Once Codd is loaded, we head off to celebrate the Yule and we will return in the New Year. I’ll stop by once next week to get the mail and make sure the building is still there but otherwise, we’re done.
Christmas is upon us and it couldn’t be much sweeter. There’s a baby and that means toys, toys and more toys. My Joe is too little to quite grasp the importance of the day but he enjoys tearing wrapping paper from packages regardless of the gift. Kim and I are parents and the shock has begun to wear off. We are happy with “baby makes three.” Happier than I ever thought I could be. I have my girl and now I got my boy. Life makes a lot more sense now. It seems simpler. Keep them happy and I know I will be happy. I do dream of Joe working at the Shop some day alongside my brother’s sons. Perhaps, I’ll even have another boy to keep the Kavanagh two son tradition alive. My boys working with Jack’s boys would be such poetic justice and so in line with the Kavanagh way. We shall see and this is all assuming Joe doesn’t make it as a switch-hitting power-hitting third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles. It is always good to have a back up plan.
Bill Clinton is the President of the United States. Madeline Albright becomes the first woman to serve as Secretary of State. Princess Diana is killed in a car crash in Paris. A computer, Deep Blue defeats Garry Kasparov in chess. The Lion King premiers on Broadway. The films “Titanic,” “Men in Black” and “As Good As It Gets” are released. The NASA Pathfinder successfully lands on Mars. The last Woolworth’s store closes. OJ Simpson is found liable in a civil suit filed by the families of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. Curt Flood, Allen Ginsberg, Jimmy Stewart, Michael Hedges and James Michener die.
There are 50 states in the Union.
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