1983 Lethal Injection

January 30

Dad, Jack, myself and our brother-in-law Handy Brandenburg are at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue watching the Super Bowl. My sister Mary(Handy’s wife) is talking with my Mom. The Washington Redskins beat the Miami Dolphin 27-17. It’s a good game and everyone enjoys it but I am a little more focused on doing some homework. I’m finishing my Senior year at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel High School and making plans to enroll in Loyola College and start there next fall.

February 10

The Shop’s start to the year has been mediocre at best. My father has a little work but it’s very similar to every winter. Jobs come in but in dribs and drabs. Machines are repaired and the place is cleaned during any down time. Dad isn’t worried. This is how it goes most years and he has a few jobs to work on including a 4” Pipe being rolled for Codd Fabricators.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. February 10, 1983.

February 19

My brother Jack and I are at 201 S. Central Avenue on a chilly Saturday morning. We’re annealing and bending some tubes for the Harvey Stambaugh Company. We knock them out quick then run them across downtown to Woodall Street where Stambaugh is located. I am blissfully unaware that my future wife is playing in one of the row houses across the street. I’ll meet her in ten years. On the way home, I ask Jack if my father has been using the Bow Formula I came up with last year. He says yes they are checking it on each piece but Dad still has the crew making templates in the street. Jack thinks Dad knows it works but he’s not ready to trust it yet. Change can be hard I suppose. We get home about noon with Burger King for lunch with sleep and rest on our minds.

February 28

My family like much of the country are gathered around the television tonight watching the last episode of MASH. The series has become a viewing staple and it’s sad to see it end. That being said the show has run longer than the Korean War in which it is set. A mix of humor, good writing and acting has made the program one of the most successful ever and it will be missed.

March 9

The crew of the Joseph Kavanagh Company are scattered around the Shop today. Three fellows are upstairs putting away stock tubes while the rest are on the first floor rolling parts for Stromberg Sheet Metal. Dad would rather have the whole crew on paying jobs but the stock does have to be put away and the floor does need to be swept so whenever there is a slow time, these are the things that are done.

The Shop’s job book entry. Stromberg Sheet Metal job. March 9, 1983.

March 12

After several months of listening to music and trying our hands at free form stream of consciousness poetry, my friends and I decide to take up instruments and form a band. The band starts as Jack, Greg and Tim Heaps, Ray French and me. After much debate and discussion, we agree to call the band Lethal Injection. We take our name from the new “painless” form of execution invented last year. We consider misspelling one of the words as this has worked for bands like Led Zeppelin but decide against it. We become a band with no musical skills or instruments but many plans for songs, albums and more. We have a lot of scraps of poetry but not much more. Jack and I can both tinker on the piano since we’ve had one in the house our whole lives. Over the years, Dad has sat us all down next to him on the piano bench and taught us a few notes and chords. Just as with the Shop, my father enjoys teaching. In fact, the piano and how to lay down a bunt may be the only things he liked teaching more than his Shop skills.

March 19

I acquire my first guitar. My sister Mary has an old C.F. Martin acoustic. It was new in 1968 and it’s a beautiful instrument. Too nice for a beginner but by fortune, I learn on this guitar. I buy books and try to teach myself to play. The guys and I talk a lot about playing though we aren’t nearly ready for that and we listen to music,  broadening our musical spectrum a little at a time. Mostly, we have fun and dream of being a Rock ‘N’ Roll band.

CF Martin guitar
Joe Kavanagh’s C.F. Martin OO-21 1968 acoustic guitar. Photo taken 2018.

March 29

My father is buried in paperwork today. He has five sets of drawings to review and three quotations to finish. Sometimes the boys in the Shop aren’t the only ones who have such crazy days. Dad gets through it as he always does but this time, he’s tired and happy to get home. Without being aware of it, I’ve rarely noticed my father bothered or frustrated by work. Even as he sips a beer, his mind is on the Shop. He makes a mental note to call Union Iron Works tomorrow to let them know they have a completed order for pick up.

The Shop’s job book entry. Union Iron Works job. March 29, 1983.

April 3

My brother Jack is jubilant. He is as excited as I have seen him because the Washington Capitals have made the postseason. They will make their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Tournament. This is what my brother has been waiting for since the team was formed and he began following them. He’s gone from curious about hockey to a hockey player and diehard loyal Capitals fan. Unfortunately, the Caps will lose to the New York Islanders in the first round three games to one. Jack is disappointed but he loved his first experience of cheering his team in the tournament for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

April 4

Led by Eddie Murray, Rookie of the Year Cal Ripken Jr. and new manager Joe Altobellii, the Orioles open up the season against the Kansas City Royals. I am there with five friends this year. Mom, Dad and Jack are all working so the tickets are mine to use. KC wins the game 7-2 with young Dennis Martinez tagged with the loss. It’s disappointing but I am confident this team can compete. They were so close last year to the playoffs, I feel sure we will make it this time.

1983 Baltimore Orioles Souvenir Program.

April 20

The busy spring continues with most of my Dad’s crew spread over a handful of fabrication jobs including angle flanges and pipe rings. In addition, the Shop completes a job for Playcatering, Stan Edmister’s company. Stan is a local sculptor who has found a niche designing and building sculptural playgrounds for Baltimore City Schools. Dad has known Stan for about ten years and always makes a point of getting his work done fast. On top of Stan’s job, an order for B & B Welding is begun.

The Shop’s job book entry. Playcatering job. April 20, 1983.
The Shop’s job book entry. B and B Welding job. April 21, 1983.

May 20

A rainy Friday is spent finishing an order for Ramar Manufacturing and beginning one for Ackerman & Baynes Fabricators. My Dad has everybody busy on these two jobs while Jack bends and assembles a heater for Johns Hopkins. Jack will disassemble it and get things ready then he and I will make the tubes tomorrow.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ramar Manufacturing job. May 20, 1983.
Joe high school pic
Joseph Kavanagh. Graduation picture. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel High School. 1983.

May 27

I am a high school graduate and finally done at Mt. Carmel. Loyola College awaits me in September. My Mom and Dad are very proud and to show their appreciation, they let me use our house at Royal Palm Court in Ocean City for a week, Senior Week as it were. Suddenly, I am very popular and three friends and I will have a great week there with lots of my classmates stopping by. It’s a lot of grownup fun for a gang of seventeen and eighteen year olds. Sunday we drive home and I start working on Monday at the Shop.

June 6

I return to the Shop for another summer of work. I will be starting college soon and working feels different. It seems more permanent since I am not in high school anymore. I am glad to see the guys and there are a couple of new faces. It is often like that at the Shop. The basic core is usually the same for years but there are often one or two additions and subtractions throughout the year. Mom and Dad pass on some news. My sister Jackie is pregnant and is due in November. This baby will be grandchild number five for my parents.

1983 Mom and Dad at Jane's Wedding
Jack and Betty Kavanagh. Jane Kavanagh’Morton’s Wedding. 1983.

June 12

The Kavanagh’s gather together and celebrate the marriage of my sister Jane to Jeff Morton. Jeff is from Delaware and Jane met him through work. My Mom and Dad like Jeff and the families get on well. Their wedding rehearsal dinner is a memorable and entertaining dinner at Carson’s Restaurant in Middle River. Many stories and laughs are exchanged and both party and wedding are a lot of fun.

1983 Jane and Jeff's Wedding Party
Jeff and Jane Morton’s Bridal Party. June 12, 1983.
1983 Jane and Jeff at their wedding
Jeff and Jane Morton. June 12, 1983.
1983 Jand and Dad Jane's Wedding
Jack Kavanagh and Jane Kavanagh Morton. June 12, 1983.
1983 Jane and Maura at Jane's Wedding
Jane Kavanagh Morton and Maura O’Neill. Jane’s Wedding. 1983.

June 24

Jack and I are working on a big heater for Egan Marine, fifty tubes and three brass baffles to go along with a steel head. The head and baffles must be marked and drilled and the tubes annealed and bent before the unit can be put together. Most of the rest of the crew are rolling some structural pieces for Bethesda Iron Works.  It’s a breezy day on Central Avenue and not a bad one to work. Even with a torch in my hand when the wind rolls through the second floor of the Shop, it seems cooler than a blast of winter. A pleasant day at work is still a day at work but I am finally having more of these. Work is hard but I am older and have grown accustomed to it after after three summers.

The Shop’s job book entry. Bethesda Iron Works job. June 24, 1983.

July 15

Dad has everyone working on Saturdays and busy through the week. August vacation is getting close and Dad doesn’t want anything hanging over. Jack and I make a heat exchanger for the Housing Authority while the rest of the crew roll some heavy angles and bars for Codd Fabricators.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore job. July 15, 1983.

July 20

The busy and hot summer continues and my brother and I are stuck on a tough job. We need to bend some aluminum tubes for Baltimore Tube Bending. The die is old and the tools do not match as well as we’d like. As always, I’m annealing while Jack is bending. A couple mandrels get broken in the process. The mandrel is a round rod that sits inside the tube during bending with a ball attached that moves with the curve and keeps the tube round. Occasionally, the balls don’t pass through smoothly enough and are pulled off the mandrel. Between needing to replace two mandrels and the slow deliberate pace the job is on, my father isn’t very happy and he rides us pretty good through the day. When four o’clock arrives, Jack and I are not too happy with Dad either. It happens. You are working and he’s the boss. His job is to yell sometimes and he needs results. That being said, I rarely saw Dad yell at anyone but Jack and me. My father is decidedly tougher on us. We both know it. Dad expects more from us but today it doesn’t matter. We just want to get home and we are both silent on the ride. Dad tries to engage us in chat about the Orioles who won last night on the West Coast defeating the Mariners 8-1. Ripken hit one out. We are fairly non-responsive when he addresses our silence.

“Are you mad at me? The both of you?” My father looks left to Jack in the driver’s seat then over his shoulder at me in the back. I avoid his eyes. “Well you can’t be.” He continues angrily, his voice not at the yelling volume but loud enough to make his seriousness clear. “You think I like yelling at you, giving you a hard time? It’s the job, boys.” He looks back and forth between the two of us. Neither of us responds. “I got a job to do just like you do and that’s just how it is. If you are mad about something, you gotta let that go.” His voice rises a bit. “As soon as I get in this car and for sure when I step ONE FOOT on those marble steps, it’s over. I forget it all. If not, it will eat you up.” He turns and faces forward.  “This is the job. This is how it is. The both of you better damn sight learn what the life is like and the sooner the better.”

The car moves along Lakewood Avenue in silence again. Jack pulls up along the Jefferson Street side of our house and as we come to a stop Dad speaks again. “So, you can’t be mad at me. You’re not allowed.” He places his hand on the door handle and climbs out. “Just forget about it.”

Jack’s eyes meet mine in the rear view mirror,  then we both hop out of the car and wish we could forget it.

July 31

Brooks Robinson is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He was and is one of my heroes. The man could pick it at third and he could hit pretty well but mostly, he was genuine. Even as a boy, I like to think the honesty, fairness and every man approach he exhibited is what drew me to being a Brooks’ fan. Of course, in Baltimore, EVERYone was a Brooks’ fan. I’m proud and happy for my hero and the whole of the City feels the same way.

Brooks Robinson Hall of Fame Plaue postcard signed by Brooks.
Brooks Robinson signed Baltimore Sun. August 1, 1983.
Brooks Robinson’s Induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. 1983. Baltimore Sun.

August 6

After a week of playing around and cleaning the Shop, we enjoy our vacation at Royal Palm Court as a family. I’m eighteen now and spend much of my time alone or visiting my sister JoAnn. JoAnn takes me to the Cork Bar for the coldest beer on the beach and it lives up to that reputation. I roam the boardwalk and hit the arcades or rides whenever I want. It’s a fun week and when it ends my thoughts are on college. I’m attending Loyola next month and it will be a big change. I don’t really know what to expect.

August 16

It’s a typical hot August day but it feels even more sweltering to me. Most of the boys are busy on two railings from steel molded caps and a job for Imperial industries but my father has given me the job of annealing several thousand short pieces of aluminum tube. They must be loaded in and out of the Shop’s old annealing oven. I spend most of the day on the second floor monitoring and annealing these tubes which Jack will bend for C.R. Daniels. The oven is heated with propane and it throws the heat right in my face every time I move the tubes in or out. My father’s only advice is to not get drowsy. He tells me a quick story of him using this oven to anneal small copper fittings for his father in the same Baltimore August heat many years ago. I sense a certain satisfaction in his assigning me this task. Jack takes some delight in the “drowsy” comment and periodically through the day, he sticks his head through the doorway and asks if I am drowsy. I’m soaked in sweat and stink of the place when I get home and a shower is now my favorite thing in the world.

CR Daniels tubes on air bender
C.R. Daniels Aluminum Tube Elbows on Leonard Air Bender. Photo courtesy of Nancy Kavanagh O’Neill Photogrpahy. 1990.
The Shop’s job book entry. Imperial Industries job. August 16, 1983.

August 23

It’s another Housing Authority heater for Jack and me as the summer is drawing to a close. Work will be ending for me soon and college starting. The band is coming more into shape if not into being. Jack and Greg who were never seriously interested are out. Greg will be too busy with college and Jack with the Shop. A friend of mine from Mt. Carmel, Chis Voxakis is in and we are now a foursome. We have finally agreed on instruments largely decided by me having the Martin. Tim has purchased a guitar and Ray is looking for a drum set. Chris can sing and play some piano already so he is a welcome addition. Now with very little talent and very few instruments, we at last seem to be a band in some way.

August 25

It’s a hot Thursday night at Memorial Stadium and the Orioles are in the midst of a Pennant Race. The Birds are in second place behind the Milwaukee Brewers with three other teams right behind us. Jack and I and our friends are at the game cheering our team on against the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s a nail-biter with the game going into extra innings. The Jays get a run against our closer Tippy Martinez in the top of the tenth but it’s Oriole Magic again in the bottom half of the frame. A two-run double by Dan Ford give the Birds a victory in walk off fashion, 2-1. We drive home in a great mood but know we have to get to bed for work tomorrow.  The Minnesota Twins come to town this weekend and when they leave on Sunday, the Birds will be in first place and never relinquish it the rest of the season.

Baltimore Orioles Ticket Stub. 1983.

September 6

My classes begin at Loyola College. I am majoring in Computer Engineering with the thought being some day the equipment at the Shop will have digital controls and it would be helpful for me to understand such things. Also it sounds better than Business Administration which makes a little more sense but sounds exceedingly boring. I enjoy the computer classes from the start but the curriculum is a challenge compared to Carmel. I do my best to focus on schoolwork but I’m distracted by the Orioles. They are winning and look destined for the playoffs.

September 11

Today is the first Colts game of the season and they face the Denver Broncos and lose 17-10. Jack and Dad are there at Memorial Stadium while I work on some German homework at home. The night before was spent with the guys talking about all the great albums and songs we would write while we each begin to learn our instruments. I have begun guitar lessons at Baltimore Bluegrass on Belair Road as has Tim.

September 21

The Shop is still rolling along very well and Dad is still offering Saturday hours to everyone. Most of the guys are in for any extra money they can make but usually every week, two or three fellows pass on it. Jack and I have no option so we are there weekly. Today a job for Barrera Corporation is completed. Barrera makes furniture and we bend some flat bars for parts for chairs. It’s a good-sized order and has  taken a few days to get them all cranked out.

The Shop’s job book entry. Barrera Corporation job. September 21, 1983.

October 8

Dad, Jack and I are watching game four of the American League Championship Series with great interest. The Orioles are playing the Chicago White Sox and after the Sox won game one, the Birds have taken two in a row. With a win tonight, the Orioles punch their ticket to the World Series and that’s just what happens. The two teams play nine innings of scoreless ball until the Birds put up three in the 10th starting with a home run by Tito Landrum. The three of us cheer and celebrate with excitement for we are World Series bound.

1983 Americkan League Championship Series Souvenir Program.
1983 American League Championship Program.

October 11

Here I am at game one of the World Series with my family and my buddy Ray French as well. My Orioles are hosting the National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies. I’m ready for the first step toward a championship but it doesn’t happen tonight. The Birds lose to the Phillies 2-1 with a Jim Dwyer homer the lone Oriole score. I worry that maybe we’ve run out of steam after the ALCS.

1983 World Series Game 1 ticket
1983 World Series Game One Ticket.

October 16

The ballgame is a 5:00 pm start on this Sunday and I can not wait. The Orioles have a chance to eliminate the Phillies and win it all with a victory today. Just as happened in the Championship Series, the Birds lost the first game only to storm back and win three in a row. This time they need to make it four and the Word Series is theirs. The Orioles take an early lead and behind two homers from Eddie Murray and a complete game shutout by Scott McGregor, they take the day. Jack and I are exuberant. We are crazy with excitement. My Dad takes it all in. He gets some pleasure out of seeing my brother and I celebrate probably more than I think. Dad’s grandfather was a fan of the old National League Orioles and his father was a fan of the Birds when they returned to Baltimore. Baseball has been part of my father’s entire life and sharing a championship with us must mean the world to him. Jack and I decide to circle the block banging pots and pans and cheering. We take off with Mom frowning at our borrowing a soup pot, pans and spoons and are greeted along the way by neighbors and friends. Some are doing the same thing but all are cheering and celebrating a Baltimore victory. The team and its fans are in bedlam. There will be parties, toasts and a very big parade. The Orioles are World Series Champions. All is right with the world.

Scott McGregor, Rick Dempsey and Cal Ripken Jr. 1983 Baltimore Orioles World Series Championship Photo.
Cal Ripken Jr. and Dan Ford celebrating 1983 World Series win. Baltimore Sun.
1983 Baltimore Orioles World Series Trophy Photo.
1983 Baltimore Orioels Souvenir World Series Championship Button.
1983 Baltimore Orioles World Series Souvenir Baseball.


R-6-S with Square tube being rolled into a ring
R-6-S and Rolled Square Tube Ring. 201 S. Central Avenue. Photo Couresty of Nancy Kavanagh O’Neill Photography. 1990.

October 27

With thoughts of the Birds’ World Series still fresh in everyone’s minds, the work has finally slowed a little and Dad has ended the Saturday hours for the crew. Jack and I will still be there. Dad always finds things for us to do whether it be a small job, a set of tools or some machining to do. He makes sure we are in every Saturday morning. My brother and I have gotten rather good at it. We maximize our time and find a way to do four or five hours of work in closer to three hours. We are extra motivated to get home and get on with our weekend.  Despite stopping the weekend work for the crew, the Shop is busy otherwise with two sets of square tubes being rolled today, one for Bethesda Iron and one for Washington Stair. Both jobs are 2” square so only one set up is required. Any time my father can group two jobs of the same size together, he does it. Saving setup time will make a job more profitable and sometimes makes the difference between making money or not

The Shop’s job book entry. Bethesda Iron Works job. October 27, 1983.
The Shop’s job book entry. Washington Stair and Iron Works job. October 27, 1983.
1983 ONeills Halloween
Maura, Katie and Rose O’Neill and April Ballard. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Halloween 1983.

November 4

The weather has turned cold and I rush across the Loyola Campus. After finishing my morning classes, I hop on a bus and head home. I feel I have ten times the homework at Loyola than I did at Mt. Carmel and I am always busy. In addition, I am learning the guitar,  and the guys and I continue to make our plans and continue to write poems, stories and songs. We are learning slowly but progressing. My Dad and Jack are at Central Avenue finishing another workday. Just before closing, Dad has an angle rolled for Stan Edmister. Stan is Dad’s first sculptor customer and we do a few jobs a year for him but this one is small. It’s one little ring for a personal piece of Stan’s. Dad gives him a break on the price and clearly doesn’t make any money but he likes Stan. My father always said Stan was a bit of an odd ball but he liked him.

The Shop’s job book entry. Stan Edmister job. November 4, 1983.

November 17

Lisa Kavanagh Bosse is born to Jackie and Richard Bosse. Mom and Dad are so happy at the arrival of grand daughter number five. The Kavanagh’s are excited with this family continuing to grow and the next generation getting bigger. I continue to assume I should be in the Guinness Book of World Records since I am an uncle five times over at eighteen.

Jackie Kavanagh Bosse and Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 1983.
1983 lisa&grandad dec
Jack Kavanagh Sr. and baby Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1983.
Betty Kavanagh and Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 1983.
Joe and Lisa 1983
Joseph Kavanagh and Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1983.

November 24

The usual Kavanagh Thanksgiving feast is held and there is a crowd at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. The food is delicious as always with turkey, ham, stuffing, potatoes and parsnips, the Kavanagh traditional favorite. After the meal and before the sisters and their families leave, Christmas is discussed. All the grand daughters want a doll called a Cabbage Patch Doll. They are the biggest thing this holiday and are very popular. My mother has never heard of them but she decides if the girls want them then each shall get one.

Handy Brandenburg and Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 1983.
Mary Brandenburg and Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 1983.

December 12

My father and mother are eating their sandwiches for lunch at the corner of Pratt and Central. They are talking about the Shop and what needs to be finished before the holiday but much more importantly, my Mother is updating my Father on the Cabbage Patch search. These dolls have proven to be more elusive than originally thought. My Mom is undaunted and has recruited all the sisters in the search. JoAnn is looking in Ocean City while Mary ferries Mom around in her Dodge Dart from store to store. Mary’s in-laws, the Brandenburg’s in Ohio and Michigan have even been looking. Mom tells Dad she is getting close to having enough for all the girls. They will all have one of these Cabbage Patch dolls she assures him. Dad smiles. He loves her determination and has no doubt she will find the little ones their dolls. He has never regretted Mom coming to work and it makes his days better. He’s happy about the successful Cabbage Patch campaign but is more focused on the Shop and a job for Superior Iron. This order is a mix of angles, channels and flat bars. That’s a few different setups, two on the R-5 and two on the R-6-S.

The Shop’s job book entry. Superior Iron Works job. December 12, 1983.

December 18

The Baltimore Colts win their final game at home over the Houston Oilers, 20-10. Jack and Dad are there and enjoy the win but the Colts finish the season 7-9 and do not make the playoffs. They show some improvement over last season and my father says, there’s always next year. Only this time, he is wrong. There will be no next year for the Baltimore Colts.

December 25

The Christmases on Lakewood Avenue seem to be getting bigger again. When I was small, the sisters started to move out but now they come back with husbands and kids, more every year it seems and my parents love it. They truly love family. They want all the girls, with their spouses and their little girls. Mom and Dad love a holiday with more food than anyone needs and ample drink and enough song to fill their hearts and lift their spirits. Dad holds court when he’s at the piano. I marvel at his level of play. Now that I am learning the guitar, I really have an appreciation for Dad’s musical skills. He can play it all if you have the sheet music. If not? He can fake it pretty well too. He looks as comfortable at the piano as he does standing in the front of 201 S. Central Avenue surveying his crew at work. The man knows fun and loves to pass it around. It’s a wonderful holiday with every granddaughter receiving their very own personal Cabbage Patch Doll including the new baby, Lisa. If Dad has his music, Mom has this, a resiliency to her love. A matter-of-fact confidence that when her kids or grandkids need something, it’s done. They will get it. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. The Cabbage Patch Doll is the opening salvo in the annual “must have” Christmas toys. There will be many more but Mom shall be up to the task. For my part, it’s been a great year. My hero Brooks Robinson is in the Hall of Fame. My Orioles have won the World Series and I have begun college, I am working at the Shop and have three years of experience under my belt. I have begun learning to play the guitar. I am in a rock band and I’m eighteen.

1983 lisa group shot
Betty Kavanagh and granddaughters Maura, Katie and Rose O’Neill, April Ballard and Lisa Bosse and Cabbage Patch Dolls. Christmas 1983.
Lisa with CabbagePatch xmas1983
Lisa Kavanagh Bosse with Cabbage Patch Dolls. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Christmas 1983.
Rose with CabbagePatch xmas1983
Rose Kavanagh O’Neill and Cabbage Patch Dolls. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Christmas 1983.
April xmas1983
April Kavanagh Ballard and Cabbage Patch Doll. Christmas 1983.
1983 Jim xmas with dolls-Lakewood
Jim O’Neill and Cabbage Patch Dolls. Christmas 1983.



Ronald Reagan is the President of the United States. The President proposes a space defense system called the Strategic Defense Initiative dubbed by the media “Star Wars.” The US begins deploying cruise missiles in Europe. Martin Luther King Jr. is honored with a federal holiday. The IBM PC XT goes on sale. Microsoft Word, Lotus 1 2 3 and Chicken McNuggets are invented. The US invades the island nation of Grenada. The Space Shuttle Challenger has a successful maiden voyage. Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space. Guion S. Bluford becomes the first African-American in space. Michael Jackson does the Moon Walk for the first time. The movies “the Right Stuff,” the Big Chill,” and “War Games” are released. Carrie Underwood, Nick Markakis, Jeff Eldon (author of the Giant’s Rebellion), Matthew John Benecke (author of the Kosomogonia Series) and Renee Hurteau (author of the Antiquity’s Gate Series) are born. Tennessee Williams, Jack Dempsey, Muddy Waters, Ira Gershwin and Eubie Blake die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

Lisa Kavanagh Bosse. 1983.

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

Table of Contents



1982 Betty Kavanagh

January 11

The year starts slowly for the Shop. One constant in the one hundred and sixteen year history of the Joseph Kavanagh Company is that winters are problematic. Many industries are effected by the cold especially if it involves outside work. This washes down to the Shop and almost always brings a slowdown. It is anticipated, and my father and his predecessors are prepared for it. He deals with the drop in work and does anything he can to keep the crew busy. He definitely finds something for Jack and I to do every Saturday. If nothing else, he has us in the machine shop making rollers and spacers. I have very little experience with a lathe but Jack has been taking classes at Eastern Tech for a couple years and he teaches me about the machines and how to use them. Jack is a good teacher and always patient with me. Of course, we are brothers and we have grown to enjoy working together nearly as much as we like playing together.

1982 Ann and Maura
Ann Kavanagh and Maura Kavanagh O’Neill. 1982.

January 24

Dad, Jack and I are watching the Super Bowl on television. I’m doing some homework while the game is on. The NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers defeat the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals 26-21. Jack and Dad are pulling for the Bengals as they are in the same conference as the Colts but I am fairly indifferent. I watch because it’s on and it’s tradition.

Baltimore Skipjacks Ticket Stub. 1982.

February 14

The Kavanagh’s gather for a wedding. My sister Jackie weds Richard Bosse. Mom and Dad are very proud and happy to see Jackie settle down and Richard is a good hard-working man who fits right in from the start. The Bosse’s are very similar to the Kavanagh’s and the two families match well together. It’s a good party and the first time I can sneak drinks at a wedding. Later that evening, I learn that rum and coke is not my drink.

Richard and Jackie Bosse. February 14, 1982.
Jack Kavanagh Sr. and Jackie Kavanagh Bosse. February 14, 1982.
Jackie and Jack 021482
JoAnn Kavanagh, Joe Kavanagh, Jack Kavanagh, Jackie Kavanagh Bosse, April Kavanagh Ballard, Jackie’s wedding. February 14, 1982.
Jackie's wedding 3 flower girls
Katie and Maura Kavanagh O’Neill and April Kavanagh Ballard. February, 14, 1982.
Jack Kavanagh Sr. and Jackie Kavanagh Bosse with Handy and Mary Brandenburg in the background. Lakewood Avenue. February 14, 1982.
Marty Hanson, Ann Kavanagh, Jane Kavanagh, Jack Kavanagh Sr. Jim O’Neill holding Rose O’Neill. Richard and Jackie Bosse’s wedding. Post wedding party at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. February 14, 1982.

March 23

Spring is here and has brought more work to the corner of Pratt and Central. One job is a very large order of tee bars and pipes for the Criss Brothers Company. My brother Jack is bending some heater tubes for Stambaugh and a set for a heater for the Housing Authority but every other man at the Shop has time on this Criss Brothers job. Dad is happy to have everyone busy and finally a bit of a backlog of work on the books. He and Jack discuss the Orioles on the way home. Spring Training has started and Manager Earl Weaver has announced this will be his last season. He will retire at the end of it.

The Shop’s job book entry. Criss Brothers Company job. March 23, 1982.
The Shop’s job book entry. L & S Welding job. March 23, 1982.
Earl Weaver commemorative figurine.

April 5

The Orioles open up their season at Memorial Stadium hosting the Kansas City Royals. The Birds get their hitting shoes out and hammer KC 13-5. Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray, Gary Roenicke and Dan Ford all homer for the hometown team. I am there with some friends and my Mother. We took the bus out just like last year and I have to say. I love being able to take four friends to the game. A friend with baseball tickets is truly a friend but a friend with opening day tickets is a popular friend.

Baltimore Orioles souvenir seat cushion. Front side. 1982.
Baltimore Orioles souvenir seat cushion. Reverse side. 1982.

April 6

Baltimore is hit with a very rare April snow and it’s bad enough to cancel school and the Orioles’ second game of the season. This is something we don’t see in Spring in this City but I enjoy the free snow day and the extra sleep. The storm is much worse in cities farther north,  some getting over two feet of snow.

1982 August Katie April Maura
Marua and Katie O’Neill and April Ballard. 1982.

April 20

The flow of work continues to improve and Dad’s crew are spread over a handful of jobs on a rainy April day. A set of sprayer tubes for a fountain, some angle flanges for Codd Fabricators and two railings are finished today including one for Tuttle Aluminum and Bronze Inc. The Tuttle job consists of some aluminum channels and tubes which need to be annealed and rolled. Mike Glenn and two fellows handle the job and my father is reminded that this is the summer I will learn to anneal aluminum, the most challenging metal to soften.

The Shop’s job book entry. Tuttle Aluminum Company job. April 20, 1982.

May 29

The Orioles play a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays at Memorial Stadium. In game two, Manager Earl Weaver sits young infielder Cal Ripken Jr. to give him a game off.

Cal Ripken Jr. Commemorate Photo/Plaque.

May 30

The Orioles lose to the Toronto Blue Jays 6-0 with Jim Gott & Roy Lee Jackson combining on a one hit shut out. The lone Orioles hit being a single by Rick Dempsey.  Cal Ripken Jr. plays in game one of what will be a very long streak.

Baltimore Orioles Ticket Stub. May 31. 1982. Game 2 of Cal Ripken Jr.’s streak.

June 7

I return to the Shop for the summer and the crew welcomes me back.  The guys know me now and this level of acceptance by them is a good feeling. After some brief chatting and catching up, everyone gets to work. I’m rolling some pipes into rings for B & B Welding while the rest of the men are rolling some angles and bars and Jack bends some stainless steel pipes for Turnbull Enterprises. Another Kavanagh starts working at the Joseph Kavanagh Company today. My Mom has decided to come in and start helping in the office. Helen Glodek is my father’s secretary but she is getting older and wants to cut back to working three days a week. Mom will shadow her for a bit and learn all she can about the billing, payroll and other clerical jobs that Miss Helen does. Mom told me she doesn’t have kids at home anymore and wants to keep busy. It makes sense to me. My mother was never one to take it easy much at all. She will drive in each morning with Dad, Jack and I,  then one of the crew will drive her to Lakewood Avenue at 2 p.m. so she can have dinner ready when the rest of us get home.

Assorted pipe and tube rollers for R-3 Round Roller. Picture taken March, 2020.
Roundo Angle Roller Owner’s Manual.

June 14

I’m annealing and bending some copper u-bends for Harvey Stambaugh. My father put Jack and I on it but when we are halfway through the tubes, he pulls Jack off and gives him a job bending some pipes for L & S Welding. Dad tells me to handle it from here on out and tells me to grab someone when I need it. For a second, I pause. This is the first time I am left alone to finish something at the Shop and then tell someone what to do. I anneal the last set and get back to bending, then get Ralph Bell to help me knock the burrs off the tubes. I’m happy my father has confidence in me but it is unspoken. Dad has always told me he’s proud of me but at the Shop, things are different. He doesn’t need to tell me of his pride. It’s a show don’t tell kind of thing.

The Shop’s job book entry. Harvey Stambaugh job. June 14, 1982.
Baltimore Orioles Ticket Stub. 1982.

July 10

It’s a hot and humid Saturday morning. Mom and Dad are down the Ocean for the weekend and Jack and I are working on a set of tubes for Stambaugh. I’m annealing and Jack is bending. We work best this way and we plan on cranking these tubes out and getting home as quick as we can. I put pencil marks on each tube before lighting the torch. These marks indicate the start and stop of the bend and I only need to anneal between them. Annealing much past those lines will not hurt per se but will make the tube too soft and floppy to handle. My mind is a little clouded by my hangover. Mom and Dad being away meant a small party at my house. My friends, Ray French and Greg and Tim Heaps were with Jack and I at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue having a few beers and listening to music. We made a drinking game of listening to Stray Cat Strut. We played it thirty times in a row and a good time was had by all. I’m paying for it a little this morning but I am determined to get home and nap as soon as possible. I think of my father’s lessons and smack the torch with my striker which sparks and lights the propane. I point the torch at the tubes as the heat hits my face then I begin. “Black and Orange Stray Cat sitting on a fence. Ain’t got enough dough to pay the rent. I’m flat broke but I don’t care. I strut right by with my tail in the air.”

Cover to Stray Cat Strut Single.

July 16

Busy, busy, busy is the Shop suddenly. Several rush jobs have added to the volume of orders and everybody who can will be working Saturdays until vacation. Jack and I are rolling some pipes for Thrifty Iron in the R-3 while flat bars on the same job are rolled in the R-5. I can see my father is particularly pleased as truck after truck drops off straight material to be curved. I finally start to understand his mood at the place. There is much to be concerned about when owning a business and having things to do is clearly at the top of the list.

The Shop’s job book entry. Thrifty Iron Works job. July 16, 1982.
1982 August Maura April Katie Rose
Maura, Katie and Rose O’Neill and April Ballard. 1982.

July 21

I’m standing in the front of Central Avenue with the heat of a torch blowing in my face as I anneal some copper tubes for Codd Fabricators. I meet Pete Kolb who runs Codd’s shop for the Kaufmann’s who are the owners. Pete shakes my hand and wants me to call him Pete not Mr. Pete. My Dad is okay with that and chuckles as Pete corrects me. They chat in the front of the big door about work and upcoming jobs. I can see my Dad and he are alike and seem to be genuine friends. Afterward, Dad tells me Pete is as smart a man as he has ever known and as hard of a worker too. Dad likes him and trusts him and I like Pete from the start.

The Shop’s bjo book entry. Codd Fabricators job. July 21, 1982.

August 2

It’s Hell Week at the Shop in anticipation of the pending week’s vacation. The last jobs are completed, the place is cleaned and a variety of pranks, jokes and “play” occurs. Water is dropped from bread bags and poured through holes in the second story floor. My uncle is at the heart of a lot of it. Jack and I call him Ed not Uncle Ed. Initially, I thought this was simply for brevity but it’s Shop and family tradition. There are no uncles at the Shop just co-workers. Ed is always the instigator and gets even more involved this year. He sends Forest Glenn or Peanut as he is called into the basement under the guise of retrieving some old tools. Ed flicks the basement light off and slams the trap door shut. Jack and I watch from the front corner near the Pines Bender as Ed proceeds to grab a sledgehammer and pound the floor hopping about like some merry gremlin. I learn Ed is more spry than I knew. Apparently, he was a former jitterbug champion. Jack and I go from stunned to laughing in a flash. Peanut screams loudly while Ed calmly drops the sledgehammer and walks into the office. When Peanut pushes the trap door open and climbs out, he is covered in dirt and bits of floor. He takes it surprisingly well but lambastes my uncle as soon as he appears from the office. Ed, of course, denies any involvement or knowledge of the whole event.

Roundo Angle Roller brochure. Front cover.
Roundo Angle Roller brochure. Inside pictures.

August 7

We are in Ocean City at Royal Palm Court for the week and it’s every bit as fun as it is each year. There is a little less fishing and crabbing now we are older. Jack and I prefer to spend as much time as possible on the boards, playing games and amusements. My fascination with skee-ball continues and with all of these new video games added to pinball, I spend hours in the arcades. I most enjoy the fact that at seventeen now, I am allowed to go about the city on my own. There are some nights Jack and I go out together but sometimes, he does what he wants and I do what I want. Another bonus of working full-time in the summer is I have money to burn at the beach. And burn it I do, but it’s well worth the fun. The week goes fast and next thing I know we are heading home with school on the horizon.

1983 July Katie Ann Maura Rose at park
Ann Kavanagh, Maura, Katie and Rose Kavanagh O’Neill. 1982.

September 3

Jack celebrates his twentieth birthday by bending a copper serpentine coil for the Allen Mitchell Company. I anneal while he bends in the same way we always handle these type of orders. The rest of the crew are spread over three jobs including some bars and tubes for the Wallace Welding Company. My Mom has learned her job very quickly. She asked Miss Helen questions and observed her and Dad as they went about the billing, payroll and receivables. She soaked it all up and is now able to handle any of the secretarial duties. Not bad for someone with no clerical experience at all.

Bent Copper tubes
Assorted coppr tube bends including serpentine coil with 5- bends. PHoto courtesy of Nancy Kavanagh O”Neill Photography.
The Shop’s job book entry. Wallace Welding Company job. September 3, 1982.

September 4

It’s the last Saturday of the summer and I will be returning to school soon. I’ll keep working Saturdays but my weekdays will be spent as a Senior at Mt. Carmel. Today Dad is giving me a lesson in annealing aluminum. I coat the aluminum tube in motor oil. The dirtier the oil the better, my father says. It makes it easier to see the transition of hard to annealed. Aluminum anneals at approximately 600 degrees Fahrenheit and by chance that is about the same temperature this oil burns off at. It’s a slow process and takes control because aluminum can melt easily. If you get one small spot of the tube too hot too fast, it will melt or break. Even a slight melting compromises the integrity of the piece and it will just break when bent. Dad has me anneal four pieces then bend them. The torch must be kept in motion constantly and the pieces as well. Using a stick, I keep the tube rolling while I move the torch along it. I sing while I use the torch knowing that he is watching. He stays silent for the most part but has his eye on me. Jack is bending some small 1/2” tubes for the Readybuilt Company and is upstairs by himself. Dad seems a little impressed when none of the four pieces I anneal break. He tells me I did well and he likes the way I handle the torch. He says it almost looks like I know what I’m doing then chuckles broadly. He calls Jack down stairs then asks me what I was singing. I spend the drive home trying my best to explain the Stray Cats to my father. To his credit, he listens to the song with me after lunch. His assessment is it’s better than most of the “Rot N Roll” I listen to.

September 12

My father and brother are attending the Baltimore Colts’ first game of the season. It’s been a tough few years for the Colts and they lose today 24-13 to the New England Patriots. Dad and Jack are diehard fans and go to a few games each year. They continue to hope this franchise can find a way to turn it around.

Baltimore Colts Preseason Ticket. 1982.

September 26

The NFL Players go on strike and the NFL season is put on hold. Seven games will be completely canceled and one is rescheduled for the end of the season. The Colts finish up 0-8-1 in last place with a dismal winless record.

Baltimore Orioles Ticket Stub. Twi-night Doubleheader. October 2, 1982.

October 3

The Birds lose their last game of the season and miss the playoffs. They came into the weekend needing to sweep four from the first place Milwaukee Brewers and did win the first three including a twi-night doubleheader on Friday. Palmer gets shellacked in this game and the Brewers win 10-2. Earl Weaver receives a huge ovation after the game. This ends years of Oriole success led by the “Earl of Baltimore.” We were at Friday’s games but listen on the radio to this very disappointing end to the season and to Weaver’s illustrious career.

Baltimore Orioles Manager Earl Weaver Commemorative picture.
Earl Weaver signed baseball.

October 9

It’s a Saturday afternoon and I sit in the living room doing Trigonometry homework after a morning at the Shop. The movie “The Abominable Dr. Phibes” is on television in the living room with Jack, Dad and I watching. When the movie goes to commercial, Dad turns to me.

“J-J-Joe?” My father says my name with a certain cadence when he really wants my attention.  He draws out the first letter. “I gotta question for you. You know at the Shop when we roll big radius stuff, we have to get out in the street with a long chalk line to mark a template.” I did know this. At the Shop, we cut templates for whatever radius we need for each job.  A drafting tool called a tram is attached to either end of a long stick with a pin point on one end and a pencil on the other. The distance between determines the radius and this works well up to twenty-five feet. Longer than that requires a trip into the middle of Central Avenue, stopping traffic and using a string to make a radius. It’s time consuming and impractical but necessary. “It would be nice if there was some easier way to check big radii.”

I look up from my homework.”It would be. It’s a pain whether we use a long stick or go out in the street using twine. Plus, the drivers of the cars never seem to appreciate it much.” My eyes drop back to my work then I scoff. “It’s not even accurate.”

“I know. I know.” Dad nods and takes a sip of tea. “Do you think there is any way with your “high class” mathematics, we can figure out a way to measure it without a template. If we held a straight piece across the arc and measured how much the piece is bowed, for instance. I would imagine there’s a way to figure that out.” He quickly draws an arc on a yellow pad and then a straight chord across the bottom with a question mark between the arc and the chord.

I grin at the “high class” mathematics comment then sit for a moment and consider. Firstly, I am surprised to be asked such a question and secondly to think about the possibility. “There should be. I mean. It’s math. It’s an absolute. These dimensions are related. I never thought about it before.”

“Well, think about it.” Dad leans forward from his recliner and hands me the sketch. He opens the newspaper and begins reading. “Let me know what you come up with.” Jack who didn’t say anything but listened and watched our exchange returns his attention to the movie without a word. His mind is on hockey. The Washington Capitals are playing their home opener tonight against their Patrick Division rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers.  I keep my mind on my Dad’s questions staring at the paper for a moment and then return to my trig homework. Jack drives a couple of friends to the Capital Centre in Largo Maryland that night. The Caps lose 3-2 but my brother is convinced this will be the year his team makes some noise in the league and hopefully makes the playoffs for the first time.

Basic hand sketch of an arc with location of radius, chord and bow indicated.

October 14

My schoolwork has been on the back burner this week as I have tried to solve my father’s “Bow” problem. I drew a triangle into the drawing at the base of the chord. I determine that by defining one side of the triangle with the radius and the other with the radius minus the bow, I can use trigonometric functions to find the bow. Good old cosine. I am as excited as I can be but ask Sister Doloretta, my Trig teacher about it. After being impressed that I use my math skills in the real world, she confirms this should work. I check with Jack who gives me the thumbs up and is anxious for me to show Dad. I take it to my father and make my case that this equation will work.

“Dad? I think I figured this thing with the bow out.” I speak up while my father and I watch the Gong Show on a Thursday night. Mom is in the front room reading and Jack is out with some friends.

His gaze breaks from the TV and he turns to me. “What are you selling?” This is his way of saying he didn’t hear me. He has Shop ears as we call them. It’s the result of working in a loud Shop with the whir and grind of large machines for years.

I speak up. “I said I think I figured out the bow problem.” I hand him the diagram I made with the triangle drawn in and the equation at the bottom.

“You did huh.” He takes a long slow look at it. “You think this will give us how much the piece needs to bow across a straight chord?” He seems dubious to say the least.

“It will. It will work, Dad. It’s math. It works out, It can’t be wrong” I smile though he still seems skeptical. Dad even appears perturbed that I have an answer at all or have it so fast. I begin to think he meant to stump me.

He folds the paper up and slips it into his front shirt pocket. “Sine and Cosine it is huh? I know what they are by the way. I had all of that in school too.” He adds rather gruffly.

“I know you did. I know you know math.” I try to clarify my opinion quickly. I know my father had a good education if not exactly “high class mathematics” as he called it. Dad always had a mathematical mind.

“Well, we’ll try it out sometime and see if it works.” Dad turns his attention back to Chuck Barris and I know the conversation is over. I expected a little more reaction than this but Dad has to process it then consider verifying it before he trusts it at the Shop. I realize all this and decide to wait for him to bring it up to me. I sit back in my chair and watch the Unknown Comic.

Jackie and Joe 021482
Jack Kavanagh Bosse and Joe Kavanagh. Jackie’s wedding. February 14, 1982.

October 20

The Milwaukee Brewers lose to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. The series takes all seven games but the Cards prevail. Dad, Jack and I are watching each game and we pull for St. Louis. It was such a tough end to the Birds’ year, we have to root against the Brewers.

Baltimore Orioles Souvenir Cup. Orioles Hall of Fame game. August 1982.
The Shop’s job book entry. Clark Machine job. October 20, 1982.

November 2

The Shop has had a fair year with some ups and downs but my father is okay with it. There will always be years like this and it could have been much worse. The boys are busy today with a few orders including some large structural channels being rolled for Tydings, Lynch & Lorenz. My parents have lunch together in the office and it’s Mom’s birthday. This is an unexpected benefit of Mom working at the Shop and they both appreciate it.

The Shop’s job book entry. Tydings, Lynch and Lorenz job. November 2, 1982.

December 20

School is on holiday break and as most of my classmates revel in the time off, I am at the Shop. Dad has a lot of work to crank out before Christmas and since I have no school, I am there with my father, mother and brother. Mom has become a great help to Dad. She has transitioned easily to work and has mastered the varied mix of paperwork that passes through the place. She takes messages and returns calls for my father. Whatever he needs. Not to mention, Dad really likes having “his girl” at work with him. I anneal another set of copper tubes for Jack to bend and the rest of the crew are rolling some angles and pipes for F.H. Klaunberg. My father is not taking any chances about having any work hanging over the holiday. The crew work hard. They want that time off between the 25th and the 1st. I know already I won’t have that time off but I still look forward to Christmas. Who doesn’t?

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. December 20, 1982.

December 25

It’s Christmas on Lakewood Avenue and the family assemble. All my sisters are there and their families. The Ballard’s, the O’Neill’s, the Brandenburg’s and the Bosse’s arrive through the late morning and early afternoon along with my other sisters. Finally at 1 p.m., the family sit around the extended dinner table to eat and officially begin the holiday. It’s turkey, stuffing, potatoes and parsnips with much more. Everyone enjoys the food but also the company. It’s becoming more and more rare for all of us to gather around one table and without speaking of it, I think all my siblings are aware of it. The older kids are married and growing their own families while the youngest three of us are grown up or nearly there. Only Jack and I remain at home. I even have my own room for the first time in my life. The highlight of the day is Dad at the piano and the rest of us gathered close in song. It’s something we do when we can but always on holidays and special occasions. Dad has a way of turning that small front parlor into a grand musical hall. Some drink beer, soda or tea while others sip a bit of whiskey but all join in voice throughout Dad’s performance. Performance isn’t the right word. It’s more his way of sharing with all of us. His way of making us all remember. We are family.

Jackie & Richard Bosse xmas Lakewood Ave.
Richard and Jackie Bosse. Christmas Lakewood Avenue. 1982.
Maura and April xmas Lakewood
Maura O’Neill and April Ballard, Christmas. Lakewood Avenue. 1982.

December 28

The week between Christmas is a break from school but Dad, Jack and I are at the Shop making some heater tubes. Once again the customer is Harvey Stambaugh and Jack and I are very motivated to finish these tubes fast. The City is still in holiday mode and we want to get home to enjoy it like everyone else. Dad spends a couple hours in the office doing some paperwork and finishing a quote for B & B Welding.  He wanders out to the Shop and watches me anneal. He grins as he hears me warble through the Stray Cats muffled by the blast of the torch. I cut the torch off and he approaches.

“I thought you wanted to get out of here early. I’m ready to go.” Dad glances down at the cooling tubes in front of me.

I scoop the tubes up in the crook of my arm to keep them from bending. “I have one set to do and after Jack bends them, we can go. I’m going as as fast as I can.” I grab the final two straight tubes and being marking the bend area on each. “I want to get home just as fast as you, Daddy-o.”

Jack begins bending the tubes I just finished annealing. “I’m catching up on you, brother.” He chimes in smiling.

“Maybe you’re using the wrong song.” Dad chuckles and slips his hands into his pockets shifting from side to side then heads back to the office to lock it up.

I answer indignantly. “It’s not the wrong song.” I shake my head as I light up the torch then take a quick look to make sure he’s not there. Then I bring torch to tube. “Fly me to the moon. Let me play among the stars. Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars. In other words, hold my hand. In other words. I love you.”

The Shop’s job book entry. Harvey Stambaugh job. December 28, 1982.



Ronald Reagan is the President of the United States and becomes the first American President to address Parliament. Seven people die in Chicago from poisoned Tylenol capsules. The first execution by Lethal Injection occurs. The first artificial heart is used on an American. Micheal Jackson’s “Thriller” album debuts. Elvis’ home, Graceland, opens to the public. Late Night with ‘David Letterman premiers. USA Today is first published. The films “E.T.,” “Blade Runner,” “The Wall” and “Diner” are released. The Epcot Center Opens. The Vietnam War Veterans Memorial is completed. TIME magazine declares the Computer its “Man of the Year.” Tara Lipinski, Anne Hathaway, Danica Patrick, Pete Collins(author of “Within the Red Valley”) and Joseph Samaniego(author of “In The Court of Dreams and Shadows”) are born. Thelonious Monk, John Belushi, Satchel Paige, Grace Kelly and Philip K. Dick die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

Mom Kensington Pkwy
Betty Kavanagh. 1980s.

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

Table of Contents

1981 Jack and Joe

January 19

The Shop’s year has started well. Most of the nation is in recession but the Shop’s variety of customers has kept them safe from it so far. It’s winter so they are not swamped but definitely steady. Big Jack has decided to bring his boys in on Saturdays as long as the work warrants it and as long as he has things to teach them. To my chagrin, I will not be sleeping in but working on Saturdays. Today is a Monday and a nice order for Thrifty Iron Works is finished. This job is a mix of angles, channels and pipes. It’s three different setups but that’s fine with Big Jack. On the ride home he and Little Jack hear the news, the American hostages in Iran have been released. The deal has been in the works between the US and Iran for sometime and soon they will be returned home.

The Shop’s job book entry. Thrifty Iron Works job. January 19, 1981.

January 25

My father, brother and I watch as the AFC Champion Oakland Raiders defeat the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles to win the Super Bowl 27-10. Jack and Dad are interested in every play but I’m a more passive football fan. Baseball is my passion and I am constantly attentive to a ballgame. I join in and cheer for the Raiders but my mind is more on the approach of Spring Training.

Maura April Katie yard fence Lakewood
Maura and Katie O’Neill and April Ballard. Backyard of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Early 1980s.
Rose Lakewood ave sofa baby
Rose Kavanagh O’Neill. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Early 1981.

January 31

Dad, Jack and I are at 201 S. Central Avenue on a bitter cold Saturday morning. We are assembling a heat exchanger for Egan Boiler and Contracting. The tubes were bent yesterday and now we must get the tubes into the head and expand them. Also, Dad gives me another lesson in annealing. He wants me to be able to anneal copper on my own by the summer. The torch work does warm the place up so I like that part. He sings “Harvest Moon” this time though I can’t be sure why. His lessons are brief but educational. Between the torch lesson and putting the heater together, we spend five hours at the Shop,  then the three of us are on our way home. Dad lets us know he may not be coming in every Saturday. Mom has convinced him to take some day trips and run errands on Saturdays. He will trust us to get ourselves to work and take care of whatever needs to be done. Jack is happy with that. He enjoys working without supervision and likes doing so at his own pace. I’m fine with it but jealous of Dad having a full weekend off.

The Shop’s job book entry. Egan Marine Contracting job. February 3, 1981.

February 13

It’s a Friday night and I am happy to be done with school but lamenting work tomorrow. I know it will be cold and Jack and I are rolling some small angle flanges so no torches will be used. I’ve grown accustomed to work but I still miss sleep on Saturdays. After work tomorrow, we plan on playing some street hockey in the tennis courts of Ellwood Park. Jack got me interested and it spread to some of our friends. Jack also plays on skates at the Patterson Ice Rink but that has been curtailed a bit during the week. My brother is also attending night classes at Eastern Technical School learning machine shop basics and mechanics.  I know Jack is doing well. This is his kind of thing to study most definitely. I contemplate starting my weekend’s homework but opt to watch television and go to bed early. 7 a.m. comes early on a Saturday.

Jack_Jr old shop
Jack Kavanagh Jr. 201 S. Central Avenue. 1981.

March 30

I am riding the #23 bus home from Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School on a very typical Monday when a friend from my neighborhood, Eddie Legg gives me some news. President Reagan has been shot. I can’t believe it and when I get off the bus, I race home to get the details. The president was wounded by a lone gunman, John Hinkley Jr. Also injured were a DC police officer, a secret service agent and Press Secretary James Brady. Brady is the most critically wounded and will remain partially paralyzed until he dies 33 years later from his injuries.

April 10

The Birds open up against the Kansas City Royals and the Kavanagh’s are there or at least some of us. My Mom takes me along with some friends out on the bus because this time Dad and Jack can’t leave the Shop. Dad’s got a customer coming in to go over some drawings and Jack is bending some pipe for Baltimore Tube Bending. The bus is full of folks on the way to Thirty-third Street and it feels pretty cool to have four friends with me. Ken Singleton and Rick Dempsey both homer and the Orioles win 5-3. Steve Stone gets the win but only lasts five innings. Sammy Steward finishes it up with four innings of solid relief. We ride back home with a busload of excited Bird fans.

Baltimore Orioles Pennant. Early 1980s.

April 28

The Shop at Central Avenue has stayed steady through the winter and things are picking up with the warm weather’s arrival.  A job for Custom Fabricators is finished today, a couple bars and three aluminum tubes are rolled in the R-3. Jack Kavanagh Sr. has decided to buy a new Roundo Angle Roller. This one will be bigger than any machine he has. It’s called an R-6-S and can roll 6” angles, 12” beams and has special hydraulic guide rollers for angles. The -S in the name denotes these special attachments. It should arrive in August and it will be the first of this size in America.

The Shop’s job book entry. Custom Steel Fabricators job. April 28, 1981.
R-6-S. Photo taken March, 2020.
R-6-S and some of its tools. Photo taken March 2020.

Betty Ann Wedding Picture Group. 1976.

Michael Ballard. 1976.

May 16

It’s a breezy and cool Spring Saturday and Jack and I are at the Shop. We’re rolling some 1 1/4” steel pipes for a railing. The railing is over 60 feet long and the customer has furnished several cardboard templates for us to match. It is a two line rail which means we need two pipes rolled to each template. The pipes are 21 ft. long and must be taken in and out of the machine repeatedly to check them against the template. As we are working on template #2, the doorbell rings and it’s our brother-in-law, Michael Ballard. We let him in and he tells us he wants to see the place so we give him a quick tour. When we tell him what we are rolling, he offers to help. I am pretty excited about that as I need to keep moving from one side of the pipe to the other to keep the rail flat. With another person, I can stay on one side and Michael on the other. The whole thing sounds good to Jack. In fact, Jack is amped to have Michael there. Maybe it’s the long hair and beard or maybe it’s the kind of guy he is but Michael is very cool in Jack’s eyes. Jack is older than me and has a better sense of “cool” than I do at this point in our lives. Jack talks to Michael most of the time while we roll and I get the feeling it’s as if Jack were working with Elvis or some other superstar. I also admire Michael. He is cool yes and I always have fun when he’s around but I think Jack has a better understanding of him at the time. Michael is very much a free-spirited individual with a gentle demeanor. We complete the rail much faster than anticipated and Michael asks if he can take something from the scrap since he helped us. Scrap is scrap so that is fine with us. He takes a look and pulls out a sample bend from a brass job that was completed two weeks ago. Michael has a friend who’s a sculptor and he thinks his friend can use it. Jack is quick to offer a second piece but Michael assures us this one will do just fine. Jack then shows him something else. Behind each of our chop saws is a build up of carbon. After each cut as the sparks fly, they pile up and gather in a pointed pattern on the wall behind the saw. Dad has given these to Stan Edmister a few times. Stan is a sculptor and the Shop has done work with him for almost ten years. Michael is intrigued by it and describes it as “a sideways stalagmite.” That is about the most accurate description I have ever heard of these blocks of carbon. Jack snaps it off and hands it to Michael. He’s appreciative, shakes our hands and heads out the door. Elvis has left the building.

April Lakewood front steps
April Kavanagh Ballard on front steps of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1981.

June 8

I doze sleepily in the back seat of the car while Jack drives us along with Dad to Central Avenue. It’s the first Monday after school and I begin my second summer at the Shop. I will be working forty hours a week at least and usually four or five more on Saturdays. I am not looking forward to it but I know what I am in for now and that helps. As I am almost sixteen now, I like the idea of having money to spend so I do see an upside to the job. It’s hard to feel great about it on Monday but on Friday? It makes the week very much worth it. There is no die cataloging or broom pushing for me this summer. Dad puts me with Jack on a heat exchanger for the Housing Authority first thing. A hot job with a torch in June but still better than writing tool lists or cleaning up the place.

Katie Maura April Lakewood sofa
Maura and Katie O’Neill, April Ballard. Front room of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Early 1980s.

June 12

The Major League Baseball Players Association goes on strike. I can’t believe it. It’s summer and there will be no baseball. The season is paused while the owners and players try to negotiate a new contract. I’m conflicted as I blame the players but the owners have the money to work out some agreement. I think what are they doing to our great American game?

Baltimore Orioles Souvenir National Premium collapsible cooler. 1981.
Katie and Maura swings
Maura and Katie O’Neill. Early 1980s.

June 20

I have caught a break at the Shop or so I thought. A box of very small copper o-rings is sent over from the Eljay Corporation. They need to be tinned and my father has given me the job. Tinning is an old school coppersmith skill but very simple for these little pieces. A pot of tin is brought to a boil then the o-rings are dipped one by one in the tin then into water to cool them. A very repetitive job yes, but also a very easy one. I sit in the small space just beyond the office on a stool and dip happily. In a few minutes, my Dad exits the office and makes a beeline for me.

“What are you doing sitting down?” He asks me.

I’m flustered but answer. “Well, I figured it didn’t matter. I can do these while I sit just as easy as while standing.”

“No sitting. The job is easy enough. You don’t have to sit.” He growls at me and stomps to the back of the Shop.

I resume my dipping and he returns to the office. I am tempted immediately by the small wood stool again and give in to the allure of sitting. I don’t sit but I lean on the seat as I dip the rings. Again, the office door swings open and my father appears. I jump up but not fast enough and he sees me. Dad glares at me but says nothing. He approaches me not breaking eye contact and I ready myself for whatever he will say. He remains silent but grabs one end of the wooden stool and slowly drags it across the front of the Shop to the alley. VERY slowly so that you can hear every bump or crack in the floor as the stool passes over it. All the employees who are up front could hear it too. I say nothing. No one says anything. A strange level of fear seems to hit us all. A terror that my father is actually angry which happens very rarely. My father’s gaze stays locked on me as he heads to the back of the building. I decide not to sit down for the remainder of the tinning.

Mom Dad dressed up with April Lakewood
Jack and Betty Kavanagh with April Ballard. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1981.
Katie Maura April lakewood
April Ballard and Katie O’Neill with Maura O’Neill stooping down. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Early 1980s

July 18

It’s about 11:30 a.m and Jack and I pull onto the Jefferson Street side of 447 N. Lakewood our hands full of Burger King bags. For three days in a row, Jack and I have made copper u-bends for Harvey Stambaugh. Today we worked a half-day on the last set of tubes for Stambaugh. I handled the annealing and Jack the bending. We have developed a good system between us. We get the lengths down together then Jack starts cutting while I set up stands for the annealing. I start annealing the first set while Jack cuts the second. After this, Jack gets on the Leonard Air Bender, setting it up and starting to bend the first set. I then take over the cutting and keep annealing with an effort to stay at least one set ahead of him. Over the last two months, we have developed a cadence to our work. Perhaps due to years of playing together, we make a good team. Each of us knows right where the other is at any point during the process. Jack and I have learned to combine our skills to make good quality U-bends and make them fast. We walk through the front door and plop into chairs and begin pulling our burgers out. My father walks in from the kitchen.

“What are you doing home? It’s not noon yet.” Dad asks us as he looks from Jack to me and takes his seat in his recliner.

Through a mouthful of burger, Jack answers. “We’re finished. They’re all done.” He shrugs as he finishes and stuffs two fries in his mouth.

Dad’s eyes widen in a flash. “Well, did you take them over to Stambaugh? You were supposed to deliver them. Remember?”

“We did.” Jack says with a mix of confidence and defiance in his voice.

My father is quiet for a second, taken aback perhaps at our efficiency. “You got ‘em done and you took them over to Stambaugh too?” There’s a bit of doubt in his voice.

I  speak up. “Yes, Dad. We did. We got on a good roll, finished them up, delivered and then came home.” I’m busy carefully piling fries on my burger which is how I like it.

Jack is smiling wide as he eats and Dad glances at him then me. “Oh, well. That’s okay then. Good.” He still seems skeptical but I can sense a bit of surprise and pride in his voice. He turns to look at me and grins. “Sooo, you met Harvey. What did you think of him?”

I’m stunned at the question and don’t know what to say. “He’s nice. I mean he’s funny and he seemed fine.”

Dad seems to understand my curiosity at the question. “How old do you think he is,  Joe?”

In my mind I assume he must be older than he appears so I say. “I don’t know. 67? 66?”

“He’s 81.” Dad chuckles as he answers me.

Reflexively I pull my head and shoulders back in surprise. “81? You gotta be kidding me.” Dad is laughing harder now. “Is it some kind of deal with the devil kind of thing? Or like a Dick Clark thing?”

Dad nods his head. “Yeah, something like that.” He smiles and stands as he walks into the front room to play some piano. “Good job today both of you, by the way.”

We finish our lunch as the sound of “Ebb Tide” fills the front room with Dad singing as he plays.

The Shop’s job book entry. Harvey Stambaugh job. July 16, 1981.
The Shop’s job book entry. Harvey Stambaugh job. July 17, 1981.

July 31

Hell week is nearly over and our vacation is looming. The crew have been cleaning, finishing up a few jobs and of course playing jokes and throwing water at each other since Monday. It’s a raucous week at the Shop as it is each year. The jokes on each other seem to break a year’s worth of tension and my father allows it as long as what has to be done is done.

1981 Two Jacks at old shop
Big Jack and Little Jack. Clowning around in the office of 201 S. Central Avenue. 1981.

August 1

Millions of teens in America are tuned in to watch the premier of a new television channel called MTV.  I am not one of them. I am in my Dad’s Chrysler Cordoba as we drive to Ocean City for vacation. I wish I could have been watching but I am happy to be on the way to the beach. The teenagers listen AND watch as the Buggles start it off with “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Music and television will never be the same. I enjoy our annual week of crabbing, fishing and amusements. I will spend countless hours playing pinball and skeeball. This year there are a couple new video games to join Space Invaders. Pac-man is one and it becomes popular very quickly. It’s a great week off but a fast one and soon we are making the long quiet ride back to Baltimore.

1982 August Maura April Katie Rose
Maura, Katie, Rose O’Neill and April Ballard. Early 1980s.

August 8

I am relieved to hear the baseball strike is resolved and the season will re-start in two days. A different playoff format will be used with the season split. The winners of each half of the season will play each other in a series to determine who goes on to the Championship Series,  then the World Series.

Maura rocking chair
Maura O’Neill. 1981.
Katie with puppet
Katie O’Neill. 1981.

August 11

It’s a hot, hazy and very sweaty day at the Shop. Jack and I are busting out another set of tubes for Stambaugh. As we head up the steps to the second floor, we are discussing last night’s Oriole game. Baseball is back on after the work stoppage and we were at Memorial Stadium. The game went into extra innings but we hung around enough to see the end. Some young infielder named Cal Ripken scored the winning run in the 12th. He had pinch run for Ken Singleton and I ask Jack if he knows anything about him. He doesn’t but we guess maybe he’s fast since he pinch ran. We’ll see if he develops into a decent player. Jack and I pull the tubes from the racks, cut them then I anneal and Jack bends. The system we have works great. We’re in sync on heater tubes and I know my father has noticed. He watches us some days, often telling me I am getting the tubes too hot. I tell him if they were too hot, they would melt. It’s not meant to be disrespectful. It is more my assessment of how I anneal and the results. Jack likes that I get them hot. It helps to avoid wrinkles in the bends. Jack has gone so far as to tell me, my tubes bend better than his. My father isn’t bothered when Jack or I disagree with him. He takes it well and in stride. I realized later, he is happy we are taking the initiative and finding our own process. Dad is relieved we have developed enough confidence to stand up for our work and our technique. Some days, he’ll suddenly appear in the Shop quietly and I see him watching us out of the corner of his eye. It will only be for a couple of minutes but I can sense the satisfaction he gets from it. He’s proud of us. Jack and I know that but there is more to it. There’s something about this place and brothers working together. My second summer at the Joseph Kavanagh Company is nearly finished and I feel much more a part of it now. I fit in this year and I know I can do good work. Also, it’s nice for a sixteen year old to have a regular pay check every week.

The Shop’s job book entry. Harvey Stambaugh job. August 11, 1981.

August 19

The Shop takes delivery of its new machine, the R-6-S. I am astounded along with the rest of the crew at the size of the thing. It weight 14 tons and can pull up to 3 1/2” Square solid steel bar. The machine is a powerhouse. It takes the better part of the day to get the R-6-S unloaded, moved and set on the ground. The next day an electrician will power it up for us. My Dad is so excited. He can’t wait to see it in action and see what it can really do.  He, Jerry Purnell and Jack will spend a few hours each week testing it and practicing on their new toy.

Record of purchase of R-6-S. August 19, 1981.
R-6-S with Angle being rolled into a ring
R-6-S with 6″ Angle being rolled inot a ring leg out. 1980s. Photo couresy of Nancy Kavanagh O”Neill Photography.
Original 5″ Pipe rollers purchased along with the R-6-S. Photo taken 2020.

September 8

It’s the day after Labor Day and school is back in session. I find myself on the bus heading to Mt. Carmel in Essex. My friends and I are catching up with each other and discussing our summers. I regale my pals with tales of the Shop and the work I did over the last few months. It’s real work not just burger flipping or newspaper delivering and my friends think it’s pretty cool. I know it’s not that cool, if anything it is hot. That being said, it was a much better summer for me. I am more comfortable and my skills are beginning to grow. I know of the legacy of the place. 1866 was 115 years ago and I feel the pride in this longevity. I also know, most likely, some day it will be Jack’s and mine. I feel much better about that future now and I suppose my friends are right. It IS pretty cool.

Pass to the Hit & Run Club at Memorial Stadium. September 18, 1981.
Katie and April Birch Dr
Katie O’Neill and April Ballard. Early 1980s.

September 25

The heat exchanger work continues to drive the Shop through another good year despite the rest of the country still fighting to escape recession. A unit is completed for the Housing Authority of Baltimore with Little Jack doing the bulk of the work. Jack is very confident in himself and it shows in his quality and in his quickness with jobs.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore job. Setpember 25, 1981.

Heat Exchanger brochure

September 27

After winning their first game of the season on the road against the New England Patriots, the Colts have lost two in a row and today face the Miami Dolphins. The two Jack’s are there and it’s a close game but a tough loss with Miami taking it 31-28. It doesn’t get much better as the Colts will lose fourteen in a row and suffer through one of the worst defensive seasons in NFL history and again they will fail to make the playoffs.

Baltimore Colts Ticket. September 27, 1981.

October 10

The first Washington Capitals home game of the year is a victory versus the Detroit Red Wings 6-3. My brother is in attendance with one of his friends and is hoping for a good season from his favorite hockey team. Unfortunately after this victory they lose thirteen in a row. Jack starts to think he’s jinxed with both the Caps and Colts on long losing streaks.

Washington Capitals ticket. October 10, 1981.

October 14

Yet another heater is finished today for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City. This one is a rush so six men have time on it to get the unit completed on the same day it came in. It is assembled and finished by 3 p.m. and Big Jack calls Mike Winchester at the City who dispatches a truck to pick the thing up.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore job. October 14, 1981.

October 28

Dad, Jack and I are watching the World Series per tradition. The Birds didn’t make the playoffs. It was a good season but a strange one with the work stoppage. The New York Yankees take the pennant in the American League while the Los Angeles Dodgers win the National League crown. We are pulling for LA as we can not root for the Yanks. It’s not possible for us die hard Orioles fans and we are happy to watch the Dodgers take the championship in six games.  My father tells us a few tales of the old Brooklyn Dodgers franchise especially about Roy Campanella. He saw Campy as a young player for the Baltimore E-lite Giants in the Negro Leagues and tells us he was the best player he ever saw. Dad thinks he could have broken a lot of records if his career wasn’t ended so abruptly by a tragic automobile accident.

Baltimore Skipjacks Ticket. October 31, 1981.
Katie Maura April Masked Girls
Maura and Katie O’Neill, April Ballard. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Early 1980s.

November 20

Big Jack has stopped the Saturday half-days as the work has slowed some. This would seem like good news for me but Jack and I will continue to work on the weekend. Dad always finds something for us to do even in the winter. The Shop is still steady and Dad is very pleased with the way the year has gone. He is happy Jack and I are progressing particularly Jack who has already become one of our father’s top mechanics. Dad calls them mechanics but he really means a bender and a roller. The new R-6-S is already making money for the Shop. It has a great deal of power and can roll big angle with ease and the hydraulic guide rollers keep the angle’s legs very straight. one 5” X 5” Angle and a 3” Square Tube are curved in this machine for Niro Atomizer and the finished product looks great.

The Shop’s job book entry. Niro Atomizer job. November 20, 1981.
R-6-S with Square tube being rolled into a ring
R-6-S with 4″ Square steel tube being rolled into a ring. 1980s. Photo courtesy of Nancy Kavanagh O”Neill Photography.

December 8

As the year nears its close, the Shop has become a cold place to work. There is heat but it only helps if you are working directly under the heater. The crew are used to it and go about their jobs. A fountain sprayer tube and a steel pipe railing are made on the first floor today while my brother is upstairs bending some small tubes for Danzer Metal Works. They are custom replacement parts for one of Danzer’s machines.

The Shop’s job book entry. Danzer Metal Works job. December 8, 1981.

December 20

The Baltimore Colts finish up this tough year with a victory at home against the Patriots, the only team they beat this year doing so twice. Big Jack and Little Jack hope this final win can propel them to better things next year. My Dad is beginning to think the glory days of the Colts are long gone.

Maura Katie April sitting backyard Lakewood
Maura and Katie O’Neill, April Ballard, Backyard of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Early 1980s.

December 25

Christmas on Lakewood Avenue is as crowded as ever. My four nieces liven up the place and bring that kids feeling back to Christmas when it had almost disappeared. I am the youngest and older now and there is a some special wonderment that small children bring to the holiday. For my parent’s grandchildren, there are gifts, toys, holiday mysteries and stories to be discovered. I envy the young ones and the magic that is Christmas to them. For the rest of us, the turkey is good with all the fixings including parsnips as per Kavanagh tradition. I have started my Junior year of high school and finished my first full summer at the Shop. This was a much more pleasant one and my father has begun training me while I also learn from my brother. Jack and I make a good team. I still follow his lead but there is a level of comfort between us that flows naturally. Years of sports, school and games seem to have payed off for us. I know Dad can see it and the workers at the Shop. We’re as comfortable and as confident as we could be with each other. I give some thought to my future on Christmas night after the rest of the family have gone. The plan seems set in stone. I will work at the Joseph Kavanagh Company like my brother, father, uncle and all the rest.  Still, I do want to go to college and I have other plans or rather ideas about plans. At sixteen, I am not ready for real plans. I know I’m growing up with both the good and the bad of it. Suddenly, more is expected of me and I have responsibilities. I’m ready for all that but sometimes, especially at Christmas, it can be fun to still be a kid.

Katie April Maura Ann backyard Lakewood
Ann Kavanagh, Maura and Katie O’Neill. April Ballard. Backyard of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1981.
Rose baby
Rose Kavanagh O’Neill. 1981.



Ronald Reagan is the President of the United States. The first case of AIDS is identified. Sandra Day O’Connor becomes the first female Supreme Court Justice. The Space Shuttle Columbia flies for the first time. Mozart’s Undiscovered Symphony is discovered. Lady Diana marries Prince Charles. The first American test tube baby is born. MS-DOS & the first IBM PC are released. Frequent flier miles are invented. The films “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “On Golden Pond,” and “Chariots of Fire” debut in theaters. Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Serena Williams, Hope Solo and Elijah Wood are born. Natalie Wood, Joe Louis, William Holden, Paddy Chayefsky and Harry Chapin die.

There are 50 state in the Union.

Jack Joe Kav stripes
Jack and Joe Kavanagh. Mid 1970s.

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

Table of Contents


1980 Singing While Annealing

January 20

Jack Kavanagh Sr. is watching the Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers pitted against the Los Angeles Rams. Jack is sipping a National Premium while talking to Betty. The game is on but they are excited about some news from Nancy and her husband Jim O’Neill. Daughters Maura and Katie will soon be joined by another baby. This will be grandchild number four for Jack and Betty and they can’t wait. Grandparenthood seems to suit them just as well as parenthood. The O’Neill’s get some more good news today when the Steelers win the NFL Championship 31-19.

1980 pic7 Maura Katie Lakewood
Maura and Katie O’Neill. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1979-80.

January 25

The Shop’s start to the year has been steady and Jack is satisfied with that. This is usually a slow time so steady is fine. The crew work on some angle flanges, a brass pipe rail and some bent 1” Dia. steel rods for Atlantic Health & Fitness. These rods are parts for an exercise machine.

The Shop’s job book entry. Atlantic Health & Fitness job. January 25, 1980.

February 22

Baltimore has had a cold winer,  but no blizzard. Joe laments it a bit missing last year’s unexpected school free week.  My Mom, Dad, Jack and I are watching the US Olympic hockey team face the heavily favored Soviet Union. The Olympics are the talk of the nation and it’s a pleasant change to the normal news of the day which includes daily updates on the American hostages in Iran. Even at fourteen, I feel a sense of worry. The games in Lake Placid are a nice distraction. After two periods, the US takes a lead 4-3. The arena fills with this incredible chant of “USA. USA”. It is like nothing I have seen or heard before. As the clock ticks to below one minute, Jack has an “I told you so” attitude about the whole thing. He’s a mad hockey fan and has been playing street hockey and even ice hockey at the Patterson Park rink of late. As the final seconds slip away, Al Michaels shouts “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”  The players hug and pile on each other as the same chant erupts even louder. My Mom, Dad and I jump to our feet and cheer. My Mom hugs each of us and we join in with the “USA. USA.” My father finishes by clapping his hands and rubbing them together fast. It is a habit he picked up from his father. Jack cheered and smiled but it turns out he knew it all along. The game was televised on tape delay and he knew the result but kept it to himself. He gave us that moment of surprise and celebration. Two days later, the US wins gold defeating Finland 4-2.

Miracle on Ice. 1980. Phot courtesy of wallcreator.com.
1980 pic13 Katie Jack Maura Lakewood
Jack Kavanagh Jr. with Katie Kavanagh O’Neill and Maura Kavanagh O’Neill. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1980.

February 29

On this Friday, a cold week of work comes to a close. The talk all week at the Shop was the US Hockey beating the Russians and taking the gold medal. Men who know nothing about hockey suddenly were cheering like rabid fans. A few jobs are finished including a set of angle rings for F.H. Klaunberg Fabricators.

The Shop’s job book entry. F.H. Klaunberg job. February 29, 1980.

March 21

Jack drives a couple of his friends to the Capital Center to take in a hockey game on this Friday night. The Caps are hosting the Minnesota North Stars and Jack Sr is confident enough now to allow Jr. to drive long trips on his own. He has even made the drive to Ocean City. Tonight, Washington loses a tough one 4-3 but Jack and his buddies have a great time.

Washington Capitals Ticket. 1980.

April 15

The Orioles start the season 1-3 on the road and come back to Baltimore today. The Kavanagh’s are on the third base side right behind the tarp and cheering them on. Last year’s loss in the World Series was a bitter pill after having been so close, taking it to game seven and then losing. The prevailing hope is for a return to the Series and a better result. The Kansas City Royals are visiting and the Birds thump them pretty good 12-2. Jim Palmer pitches eight outstanding innings and Ken Singleton and Rick Dempsey each hit two-run homers. A very fun and comfortable win for any baseball fan.

Baltimore Orioles opening day ticket. 1980.
Baltimore Orioles Student ID Card. 1980.
April Ballard’s third birthday party. April with cake. Maura and Katie O’Neill seated with Handy Brandenburg in the background. 1980.
Betty Kavanagh and April Kavanagh Ballard. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1980.

April 29

Ann, Jack and I are at a Tuesday night ballgame at Memorial Stadium. Dad and Mom are home enjoying a quiet evening alone with Jack driving tonight and three friends with us too. The Yankees are in town and those are always exciting games. The Orioles are up 2-1 after two innings when something strange happens. The booming voice of Rex Barney comes over the speakers at the stadium and Joe Kavanagh is requested to go to the Courtesy Desk. I look at my brother and sister. They heard it too so Ann and I make our way to the back. We speak to team officials and my mother has called. I am entered in a speech contest through school and the county finals are tomorrow. The contest is sponsored by the Optimist’s Club and my subject is Nuclear Proliferation. Apparently, we had the days wrong and it is tonight. My parents are on their way to pick me up as we speak. I leave and wait out front and Mom and Dad pull up to rush me to Dundalk for my competition. I know things must have been a rush because my mother isn’t wearing her Emeraude perfume and Dad’s shirt is unbuttoned. They must have left in a hurry. My mother hands me my suit on a hanger and tells me to change. I pull clothes off, very aware of those in other cars seeing me in my underwear, and then put my suit on and after a frantic drive, we make it and I win. I am going to the state finals in Ocean City next weekend. The Orioles don’t fair as well. They lose 4-3 despite two homers by catcher Rick Dempsey and despite my high pressure last minute win in the county finals, I lose in OC.

Baltimore Orioles Ticket. 1980.
1980 Pic15 Maura Ann Katie Lakewood
Ann Kavanagh with Maura Kavanagh O’Neill and Katie Kavanagh O’Neill. 1979.

April 30

My father sits at his desk recounting the events of last night to his brother. My Uncle Ed is laughing as Dad describes me changing clothes in the car and possibly mooning passersby on Thirty-third Street. Ed is still chuckling when the phone rings and Jack grabs it. The caller is from Atlantic Health and Fitness inquiring about an order. Jack lets him know it will be ready for pick up in an hour.

The Shop’s job book entry. Atlantic Health & Fitness job. April 30, 1980.


May 30

My Dad is anxious to get home on this last Friday of May. He’s cruising down Baltimore Street and thinking of what was finished today including a 10” Channel for Thrifty Iron Works. That’s a big piece of structural steel. Dad is distracted a bit because my brother Jack graduates from Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School tonight. My parents are very proud. Jack is a good young man. He did well in school and has advanced rapidly at the Shop. My Dad trusts Jack on some of the most difficult jobs he receives. Jack is thinking of attending Eastern Technical and studying machining. My father encourages him but doesn’t tell him to do so. He leaves it up to Jack who can run a lathe but only from his father’s training. Learning in a school environment will be a good thing. Jack celebrates with his friends,  and my parents return to Lakewood Avenue. My Mom tells me about the graduation while Dad and I watch “The Incredible Hulk.”

Jack Kav June 1980 Mt Carmel
Jack Kavanagh Jr. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel High School. 1980.
Jack, Mom, Dad - grad HS Lakewood
Big Jack, Little Jack and Betty Kavanagh. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Jack Jr.’s graduation. 1980.

June 5

I am nearly finished with my first year of high school. I sit in Ms. Sprankle’s home room in a small crowd of boys gathered around desks. The topic of discussion is what everyone will be doing over the summer. Trips to the beach, Gunpowder State Falls and hanging at Golden Ring Mall are shared. Several have summer jobs, fast food or at the mall. When my turn comes, I mention I’m working at the Shop. The Shop always requires an explanation. We called it the Shop around the house and anytime the place was mentioned. No one called the Shop the Joseph Kavanagh Company but me. I found out early on that having a name in common with an old business was interesting to kids. I had pencils to prove it with the name embossed. What kid wouldn’t want to act like he had a company? After my explanation, the Shop does metal bending like pipes and rings for people, the boys seem a little impressed and a little doubtful. I am only 5ft. 4 in. and do not present the impression of a smith of any sort. I tell them it is my first summer there but I had helped with bending a bar rail last winter. There is an innate coolness to working on something in a bar to any teenager and I gain a little favor in the other boys’ eyes that day. I do wonder what it will be like. The place is dirty. That’s for sure. No wonder my father looked dirty every day of my life but Sundays.  I’ll find out next week when I begin working Wednesday to Friday unless the Shop is busy enough to work Saturdays too. I’ll have Monday and Tuesday off just as Jack did his first summer.

1980 pic14 Katie and Joe Lakewood
Katie Kavanagh O’Neill and Joe Kavanagh. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1979.

June 11

It’s 7:30 AM on the first Wednesday of the summer and I am at the Shop on Central Avenue. This is my first full day and I have no idea what I am to do. The crew are gathered around the open garage door when Ed comes out of the office and claps his hands and passes out some instructions to the crew. The men, mostly in their 20s but one or two older gents, hop up and wander to the back of the Shop and get to work. Jack heads up the steps to the second floor where he is bending some heater tubes for a Housing Authority heat exchanger. My father appears from the office and tells me he wants me to make a list of some tools. He gives me paper and pencil and points me in the direction of a large mass of steel dies under the stairs. These are for the Pines Bender which is located on the other side of the front of the Shop. The stairs are on the Pratt Street side and the machine is near the alley side. Dad gives me a tape measure, making sure I know how to use it first, and returns to the office. I set to work assuming there is some end goal to this which I do not quite grasp. I measure the size of the groove that matches the size of the pipe or tube to be bent and the diameter of the die itself. The diameter determines how small or tight the curve is. I know none of this at the time and give it little thought. I focus on scooting around on the dirty floor and taking measurements and notes. At lunch, Jack and I sit on buckets in a circle with the rest of the crew. I’m surprised how dirty I am and how little regard for their own dirt the men have as they eat their sandwiches. I speak very little and eat my ham on white square bread listening. The men all introduce themselves to me and are polite. Jack fits in well already, deep in discussion with two younger guys about music. The half hour passes quickly and I get back to my bending die cataloging.  At 3:30 PM, the crew begin to knock off, as they call it, and head up the stairs to change on the small indoor porch or loft which serves as a locker room. I follow them up and change as well,  then wait outside the office for my father and uncle. When Ed leaves, the crew follow behind. A few minute later, Dad and Jack are closing and padlocking the large green metal door,  then we are driving east on Pratt toward Patterson Park. I’m tired though I am not sure I did much. I can’t wait to get home, to shower and sleep. Maybe eat somewhere in there too.

Bending dies for Pines Bender. Photo taken 2020.

June 13

After two days of measuring and recording, I find the pile of dies to be nearly as large as it was when I started. The tedium is only broken by the lifting, sliding and maneuvering the larger dies around the floor. I jump at the chance when Mike Glenn asks me if I’m ready to do some real work. He leads me over to the R-3 which is located on the other side of an interior wall that splits the front of 201 S. Central. We roll a few pipe rings from 1” Pipe. Mike and I lift the lengths up and into the machine. With each pass Mike takes a “bite,” meaning he brings the back two rollers forward to tighten the radius of the circle. I hold the pipe up to keep it flat and between passes I hold one end of a tape measure while he checks the diameter. It isn’t anything fancy or particularly difficult but I am thrilled to be lifted from die duty. My mind is on sleep. My father has given me tomorrow off though Jack and the rest will be working. He told me next Saturday I will be there but for tomorrow, I suppose he took pity on me. When the day is done, Dad hands me an envelope with $57.60 in it. Twenty-four hours at two dollars and forty cents an hour. I can’t believe it. I am being payed off the books and this is more money than I have ever had. With fifty bucks in my pocket, suddenly the week doesn’t seem so bad.

Bending tools for Pines Bender. Photo taken 2020.
The first Pines Bender. Out of service. Photo taken 2020.

June 27

Summer has brought a glut of jobs to Central Avenue and the crew are very busy. Jack is enjoying having both of his boys at work. He can spend more time with them and teach them what they need to know. There is too much going on for teaching today as a large set of 4” angle rings are finished for Codd Fabricators. These took nearly a full week and loading the truck will take two hours. While most of the crew handle the truck, Jack and a couple fellows are bending some pipe for Baltimore Tube Bending in the Pines Bender.

The Shop’s job book entry. Baltimore Tube Bending job. June 27, 1980.

July 5

It’s a hot Saturday morning when Dad, Jack and I pull up at Central Avenue. The workers arrive a few minutes after us. We are working a half day which isn’t so bad as the heat really hits in the afternoon. The mornings are stagnant in the old building especially with no breeze but the humidity doesn’t crank up until after lunch. The men are scattered between some angles being rolled in the R-5 and some pipes in the R-3 while Jack and I are working on a set of heater tubes for an exchanger sent in from the Housing Authority.  After the tubes are cut, my father shoos Jack away to set up the machine. Dad gives me my first lesson in annealing. He shows me how to light the torch with a manual striker, just flick the edge across the flint for a spark. He talks me through how he starts moving the torch along a few inches of the copper then begins to push the heat along. Only the part of the tube which will be bent is annealed and it glows red as you go. I stand next to him, feeling the blast of heat from the torch on my face but listening. As he moves the heat along the tube, he begins singing softly. It’s “Fly Me to the Moon,” one of his favorites.

When he blows out the torch, he turns to me. “Any questions?”

“No. I get it. You keep the torch moving so the heat isn’t concentrated on one spot. Keep it moving back and forth until it turns red then move on. You use the conductivity of the copper to “push” the heat along.” I answer as I look from the now cooling tube to my father.

Dad sets the torch carefully on the top of the tank. “Conductivity? Oh that’s a ten dollar word.” I blush caught trying to impress him with my vocabulary but he lets it go. “You’re right, Joe. Always keep it moving and always be watching it.”

I nod and smile. “What about the singing?”

He grins back at me. “The singing helps. It keeps you focused on the job. On the torch and the tube. Singing is good.”

“Okay, that’s fine but you know that sounds kind of crazy?” I reply in the chiding way my Dad and I have with each other.

He chuckles and takes a step back. “Well, kid. It’s all crazy. This job is crazy. What we do is crazy.” His eyes widen as they fix on me. “Life is crazy. You might as well sing.” He turns his back to me and walks to the office slipping into song under his breath as he goes. “Fill my heart with song. Let me sing forever more.”

1980 pic8 Maura and Grandad
Jack Kavanagh Sr. and Maura O’Neill. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1980.

July 29

The Shop has been busy most of the summer including Saturday half-days, The work is dirty and hard and it’s a struggle to grow accustomed to it. I feel so young and so much smaller and weaker than everyone there but they don’t seem aware of it. I look forward to a week’s vacation and then for the first time in my life, to school. We will be heading to Ocean City this weekend and I hope the remaining days go quickly. This week is primarily spent finishing up jobs that must be done to allow for the holiday next week and doing some cleaning and maintenance on machines. My father does this to be sure nothing interferes with his week off. It’s sort of a buffer week but the crew call it Hell Week. I learn quickly why when a bevy of pranks and practical jokes begin occurring. Boots are nailed to the floor, tool boxes hidden from the owner and clothes are stolen, folded and frozen in the freezer of the small old refrigerator. I have learned my Uncle Ed enjoys a few laughs along with the men every day but this week I see he is the instigator in a great deal of shenanigans. He has someone wash the Shop’s truck in the front of the building and I watch with a couple guys as suddenly a bread bag full of water falls from the sky and splatters the target. The place fills with laughs as another comes flying down crashing into the truck this time. The bags are being hurled from the front window of the machine shop upstairs. Those on the first floor are in on it and gather around to laugh. Uncle Ed is nowhere to be found,  having departed for the office. He wanders back out into the Shop and remarks where’s all that water coming from, as he chuckles. Jack had given me very little warning about Hell Week other than saying it’s the easiest week of the summer. The crew seem to have more fun than work this week but it’s also a good release for them. My father, for his part, spends most of each day in the office. He knows what’s going on but chooses to ignore it. As long as the work is finished and some cleaning too, he is happy. He will occasionally make some crack about one of the workers in a soaked shirt or something but not often. I found out later he also stayed in the office to complete all the paperwork he could. He has a lot to finish each year to earn that week at the beach.

1980 pic4 Katie Maura April Lakewood
(left to right) Katie Kavanagh O’Neill, Maura Kavanagh O’Neill and April Kavanagh Ballard. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1980.

August 2

Our week in Ocean City is finally here and we arrive at Royal Palm early on a Saturday morning. Ann, Jack and I spend the week crabbing and fishing with Dad and Mom and hitting the boardwalk every night. Much of my time is spent in Marty’s Playland or Sport Land on 9th street, skee-balling the night away. We visit JoAnn on the Amusement Pier and she gets us on all the rides for free. She’s introduced us around and some of the other carnies let us ride even if she’s busy. JoAnn fills our pockets with slugs for the claw machines too. All this fun is combined with Thrasher’s fries, funnel cakes and soft ice cream. The week is over before we know it and the long drive back to Baltimore takes us home.

April Ballard. 1980.

August 19

Rose Kavanagh O’Neill is born on this summer Tuesday. Her parents, Jim and Nancy and sisters Maura and Katie, are excited for the addition to the family, the two girls having picked her name. Jack and Betty are thrilled and feel so blessed and lucky to have four grandchildren now.

1980 pic2 Rose
Rose Kavanagh O’Neill. 1980.
1980 pic1 Rose
Rose Kavanagh O’Neill. 1980.
1980 pic18 Maura Katie Lakewood yard
Maura and Katie Kavanagh O’Meill. Backyard of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1980.

August 27

It’s my final week at the Shop before returning to Mr. Carmel and I won’t miss it. It’s hot and humid and I am dripping with sweat. Another heat exchanger is completed for the Housing Authority and my Dad lets me anneal a few sample pieces for practice. I don’t melt them and Dad is happy with that. The torch makes things that much hotter when it’s in your hand and I am none too happy about that.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore job. August 27, 1980.

September 1

The Labor Day holiday marks the end of summer and the return of school. This year I am rather relieved. I did enjoy my time at the Shop some. The work could be hard and was very hot. I have never been so dirty and sweaty in my life but there were times when jobs went well and I had some fun. The crew are good guys and there is always some joking and kidding going on but still, it was hard work and the drudgery made me crazy some days.  As we watch Jerry Lewis sing “Walk On” my mind is on being a Sophomore at Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School.

September 15

The work has stayed strong as the weather has begun to turn and today Little Jack is handed his first heat exchanger to make from start to finish, another job for the Housing Authority. Big Jack tells his son to get the heater taken apart, pull the new tubes, cut, anneal, bend them then, re-assemble the new unit. Jack Jr. has done all these things but never been in charge of the whole process. This unit is short so most of the work can be done by Little Jack alone. With a small bit of help when he needs it, the unit is completed, stamped for recording purposes and ready for pick up.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore job. September 15, 1980.
April Kavanagh Ballard. 1980.

September 28

Big Jack and Little Jack are at Memorial Stadium watching the Colts take on the New York Jets. Father and son talk about their week at the Shop. Jack has taken on his duties at the Shop with deliberate intent if not enthusiasm. Jack Senior is proud of his son who works hard and learns fast. He’s a top notch pipe and tube bender already and a very talented roller as well. The Colts win their second game and even their record at 2-2. Fans hope the team is on the right track but the don’t make the playoffs yet again. The team wins seven games this year so there is improvement but it’s still not enough.

Baltimore Colts Ticket. September 28, 1980.
1980 pic9 Katie
Katie Kavanagh O’Neill. 1980.

October 2

It’s a chilly Fall day outside but you wouldn’t know it at the corner of Pratt and Central. A set of large copper tubes for Antenna Research are being worked on and it takes heat. They must be annealed and filled before rolling. After rolling, they must have the rosin melted back out of them. It’s almost a constant blow of propane torches while these are in process. The Kavanagh’s crew may be the only ones sweating in Baltimore today.

The Shop’s job book entry. Antenna Research Inc. job. October 2, 1980.

October 4

The Orioles are playing a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians this Saturday night. The Birds face elimination with the New York Yankees ahead by three games. Jack, Betty and the boys are there and watch as we win in dramatic fashion in the 13th inning of the first game, but the nightcap is a loss and the Orioles must settle for 2nd place. I am disappointed but not nearly as much as last year when we felt like we were going to win the championship. It’s hard to be down on a team that wins 100 games but fails to make the playoffs this year.

Baltiomre Orioles ticket for twi-night doubleheader. 1980.

October 10

The Washington Capitals season starts and Little Jack is listening on the radio at home. The Caps are facing the Winnipeg Jets and win 4-1. Jack keep hoping his hockey team can start moving toward being a playoff contender.

Jack grad pic Mt. Carmel
Jack Kavanagh Jr. Graduation picture. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel High School. 1980.

October 21

The Philadelphia Phillies win the World Series defeating the Kansas City Royals in six games. Jack and his boys watch each game like every year. The Kavanagh father and sons following the World Series has been going on since the Series itself started. This one was close with only one game decided by more than two runs.

1980 pic11 Grandad Katie Maura Birch
Jack Kavanagh Sr. with Katie and Maura O’Neill. 1979-80.

November 4

Ronald Reagan wins the Presidential Election defeating incumbent Jimmy Carter. Jack and Betty vote for Reagan like most of the nation. Carter’s administration struggled to lift the country from the Recession,  and the Iran Hostage situation hung heavy over his presidency. Despite Reagan being a Republican, the Kavanagh’s want a change.

Jack Kavanagh Sr. , Handy Brandenburg holding Rose Kavanagh O’Neill. 447 N. Lakewood Aveue. 1980.

November 18

The work has finally slowed a little and Big Jack has cut out Saturday hours for the rest of the year. They have steady work but at a lower level as is usually the case in the cold months. A brass railing is rolled to a complicated template with multiple turns while Little Jack and a couple of the boys bend some tubes for Mr. Rogers at Baltimore Tube Bending.

The Shop’s job book entry. Baltimore Tube Bending job. November 18, 1980.

December 8

My father and I are watching a Monday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins. I am doing a little Geometry homework while the game is on. Suddenly, Howard Cosell announces that former Beatle John Lennon has been shot dead in New York. I am hardly a Beatles fan as yet but everyone in my generation knows who John Lennon is. My father does not,  apart from recognizing the band’s name. I quickly tell him what I know about Lennon. I can’t understand why someone would shoot him. I have heard of political assassinations and random murders but this doesn’t fit either of those. There are gatherings and memorials in his honor to remember a talented musician, a genuinely kind person and a strong proponent of peace.

December 9

Big Jack is shocked to hear all the talk about John Lennon’s death during the morning break with the crew. He agrees it was a tragic thing but had no idea how much this man was loved. The younger fellows that work for him and his son Jack do their best to explain what the Beatles mean to the younger generation. Jack Sr. guesses it must be what it would be like if and when Frank Sinatra dies. It’s a shame and it makes no sense to him. He sets the boys back to work. Some heater tubes are made for Harvey Stambaugh and a small railing for F. H. Klaunberg.

The Shop’s job book entry. F.H. Klaunberg job. December 9, 1980.

December 25

The Kavanagh’s gather at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue for Christmas. The usual feast is held and an abundance of gifts,  especially for the four grand daughters are handed out. Maura, Katie, April and newest, Rose are doted on and held throughout the day as much as possible. There is music and laughter and something new on the TV. Jack and Joe received a video game console, the Intellivision for Christmas. The boys requested it over the Atari which most of their friends already had or wanted. This one seems a step up to them and is recommended highly by George Plimpton in the commercials. Tennis, hockey and a few other version of Pong are played on it through the day and late into the night after everyone is gone and Jack and Betty are asleep. Jack and I stay up til nearly dawn playing on it. We are sure this is the newest and latest thing. It is so cool with such a variety of games. Most likely, this will put Atari out of business I think.

JoAnn Kavanagh and friend John Potts, Betty Kavanagh. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Christmas 1980
Joe Kavanagh, JoAnn Kavanagh, John Potts and Betty Kavanagh. 447 N. Lakewood AVenue. Christmas 1980.
Betty and Jack Kavanagh and Mary and Bob Wirth. New Year’s Even. 1980.




Jimmy Carter is the President of the United States but will be succeeded by Ronald Reagan. The hostage crisis in Iran continues after a failed rescue attempt. The US boycotts the Moscow Summer Olympics after the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan. The Mount Saint Helen’s volcano in Washington state erupts. The MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas is destroyed by fire. The Rubik’s Cube is invented. Pac-Man debuts in arcades. CNN goes on the air. The films “The Shining,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Raging Bull” are released.  Channing Tatum, Abby Wambach, Macaulay Culkin, Venus Williams and Mark Teixeira are born. Colonel Sanders, Jesse Owens, Jimmy Durante, Mae West, and David Janssen die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

1980 pic3 Rose
Rose Kavanagh O’Neill. 1980.

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

Table of Contents











1979 The Last Joe

January 21

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Dallas Cowboys 35-31 in the Super Bowl. The game is on at 447 N. Lakewood with Jack watching. He pulls for the Steelers for his son-in-law’s sake. Jim O’Neill is from Pittsburgh and a die hard fan. Jack can’t deny if they lose, he might issue a little good-natured ribbing but he prefers to be able to congratulate Jim with a victory which he does.

Dad Jack Jan. 1979 - Lakewood Ave.
Jack Kavanagh Sr. Living Room. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. January 1979.

January 27

The two Jack Kavanagh’s attend a Washington Capitals game on a chilly Friday night. Big Jack promises his son that as soon as he gets his license and his father is convinced he can handle it, Little Jack can start doing the driving. Jack Jr. can’t wait. He’s taking drivers ed and should have his license in a couple of months. They see a very good game with the Caps beating the Chicago Black Hawks 4-1

Jack - 1979 The Goalie - Lakewood
Jack Kavanagh Jr. Living Room. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1979.

January 30

The work at the Shop has been steady to start the year and Big Jack is content. The weather has been cold but the work consistent. Today a short heat exchanger is made for General Plumbing Supply. The copper tubes are annealed and bent then the unit is assembled in quick order.

The Shop’s job book entry. General Plumbing Supply Company job. January 30, 1979.

February 19

The heavy snow that began last night is a full blown blizzard now. School is canceled for the week and the City will be at a stand still for two or three days. The Kavanagh brothers are thrilled as they have never seen a snowfall like this one. It’s the kind of storm that happens once in a childhood. Nineteen inches in total will fall at Lakewood Avenue. Neighbors have to rally together to help out.  Those who have plenty help those who do not.  The working together and supporting each other reminds them neighbors are friends not just folks who live near you. Jack will close the Shop Monday and Tuesday and worry about finding his way to Central Avenue and digging out on Wednesday. Jack and Joe Kavanagh are out and about early Monday evening with Joe’s best friend, Ray French, trekking through Ellwood Park as the snow blows and piles around them. They are astonished at the mounds and snow dunes all over the park. The three boys find themselves on the baseball diamond and play a few at bats of mock baseball complete with sliding through the snow into home plate. They are quickly soaked and cold but at the ages of 13-16, cold is of little concern.

They walk home down the hill on Jefferson Street silently. The wind has picked up and the only talking would be shouting. As they pass Kenwood Avenue, the walk levels off and they move quicker when they spot a snowball battle at the intersection of Belnord Avenue. One boy seems to be pinned down behind a car while four others are pelting away with snowballs. Jack, Joe and Ray are feeling the cold now and are ready for home so they are intent on avoiding the snow skirmish. Jack Jr. looks into the wind and snow and recognizes the lone combatant. “It’s Muldowney!” Jack cries into the cold air. John Muldowney, a friend from school and the neighborhood is usually referred to by his last name as there are three Johns in the area. All three boys charge because this is different. It wasn’t some random fellow with the odds against him. Under a volley of snowballs, the three slide behind the car with John.  Arming themselves quickly with the snow piling at their feet, the four stand and begin a rapid snow fire counterattack. The other boys suddenly face even odds with John Muldowney and Jack Kavanagh clearly taller and older than their biggest. They waver a bit and John and Jack lead a full frontal assault with extra ammo stuffed in coat pockets. The four aggressors retreat north along Belnord Avenue under a hail of snow spheres flying through the air.

The four victors whoop and slap five in jubilation. It’s dark and snowy so the celebration is brief. After a hasty thank you and goodbye, John races east up Jefferson while the Kavanagh’s and Ray French finish the short walk to Lakewood. Ray crosses the street to his house and Jack and Joe head through the door to their home. Betty orders them to change all their clothes. She can’t imagine how they are soaked to the bone. The boys change quickly still smiling from the win. Snowball fights are usually draws. That’s how it is as a kid. It’s a battle or a fight certainly but it’s just fun. This one though, during the biggest blizzard in years, this one they win.

John Muldowny & dog
John Muldowney on right with Les Metcalf and dog Duke. Late 1970s.

March 1

The snow still lingers in white hills piled around the City but things are back to normal. A few days of clean up threw Big Jack’s crew behind but they are catching up. On this Thursday, some boiler parts and an angle stiffener are rolled for Codd Fabricators while another heater is made for General Plumbing Supply. Jack Sr. will be glad to see the snow go and looks forward to the arrival of spring warmth and work.

The Shop’s job book entry. General Plumbing Supply Co. job. March 1, 1979.

April 6

A Friday afternoon is spent at Memorial Stadium for the Orioles opening game. Baltimore and the Chicago White Sox are matched up with the Kavanagh’s sitting on the third base side cheering on their Birds. Ace pitcher Jim Palmer throws a solid complete game victory with the score 5-3. The Kavanagh’s are hopeful this year Baltimore can finish on top.

Baltimore Orioles Opening Day ticket. April 6, 1979.
1979 Baltimore Orioles.. World Series Program. 1979.
Ken Singleton. American League Championship Program. 1979.

April 19

The Shop is humming along now the warm weather is here. The crew make a set of u bends for Egan Boiler while a brass railing is rolled and a rare order of still bonnets is received from A. Smith Bowman. The bonnets are small caps for a distillery pot and the Shop has a stack in stock. They had made these for years and now if an order is placed, they are shipped out immediately. The level of distillery and brewery work is down to nearly nothing but a fair few parts are kept around for just such an order.

Ths Shop’s job book entry. Egan Boiler & Contracting job. Apirl 19, 1979.

May 25

Joe Kavanagh’s confirmation is tonight and will be followed next week by his graduation from St. Elizabeth’s Elementary School. Confirmation is the sacrament which transitions a Catholic child to an adult in the Church. Mary’s husband Handy is Joe’s sponsor, a mentor or guide. Joe looks up to Handy and his brother-in-law has always been especially supportive of Joe. The boy is chosen to read one of the scriptures during the service and after he returns to his seat, Handy leans close and whispers in his ear, “You made it and you done good.” A smile crosses the boys face as he feels this is a step toward growing up. Handy’s words will ring in Joe’s ears for the rest of the night and his life whenever any achievement or success is felt. Simple words that carry a heavy meaning and affirmation for Joe. His graduation marks the end of almost 50 years of a Kavanagh being enrolled in the old school at Lakewood and Baltimore Street. Jack Sr. went there as a boy and so have all nine of his children. That has to be some kind of record.

Joe confirmation 1979 Lakewood
Joe Kavanagh. Confirmation. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. May 1979.
Joe and Ray French confirmation 1979 Lakewood
Ray Fernch and Joe Kavanagh. St. Elizabeth’s Confirmation. Jefferson Street side of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. May 1979.
Joe & April Lakewood Ave 1979
Joe Kavanagh and April Ballard. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1979.

June 19

Little Jack is back at the Shop for the summer. He’s learning every day and Big Jack is very proud and duly impressed with his boy’s burgeoning skills. Little Jack bends some boiler tubes in the Pines Bender today for Tydings, Lynch & Lorenz, another local fabrication shop. With drivers license in hand, Jack Jr. drives himself and his father back and forth from Central Avenue each day.

The Shop’s job book entry. Tydings, Lynch & Lorenz job. June 19, 1979.

June 22

Joe Kavanagh and Ray French are at a Friday night Orioles game. Baltimore is playing well with six victories in a row. Joe turned fourteen a few days ago and his parents have deemed him old enough to take the bus to Memorial Stadium on nights the Kavanagh’s do not have tickets. The two best friends sit in the upper deck behind home plate and watch a close game. The Birds are trailing the Detroit Tigers in the bottom of the ninth and the game seems lost. Joe and Ray decide to try to beat the rush to the exit and maybe catch the bus ahead of the crowd. They stand in the aisle with one out and watch as Ken Singleton belts a homer to bring the Orioles within one. Eddie Murray follows with a single and the winning run steps to the plate. The boys take their seats as the fans start getting excited. Gary Roenicke pops out to the infield and the boys stand up again and take a few steps toward the ramp, still planning a quick escape. A dull rumble runs through the stadium as Doug DeCinces steps to the plate. “Something Magic happens,” as the song goes and DeCinces crushes one deep to left field. It soars out into the night and is gone, the Orioles win 6-5. Pandemonium breaks out as fans go insane with joy and in that moment, Oriole Magic is invented. Fans jump, scream and hug complete strangers. The boys slap hands and cheer then make their hasty getaway in the midst of the celebration. It is an incredible win but what’s more it starts something with this team. Suddenly, no opponent’s lead is safe and, in fact, another comeback win is completed tomorrow when Eddie Murray hits a walk off home run. Something happens with the City too. A sudden strength of faith in the club appears where you can’t count them out no matter the score. This day Oriole Magic becomes something real. Something palpable. The fans and the Orioles feel it and the team gets on a roll stretching their win streak to nine games. Joe gets home after walking back form the bus stop and his father is waiting to greet him. He listened on the radio and wants all the details of how it went. They drink iced tea, Joe tells him all about it and they share a sweet moment of a very sweet victory.

Baltimore Orioles Ticket. Orioles Magic starts. June 22, 1979.
Page rfrom World Series Progragm 1979.
Eddie Murray Commemorative Placqu.

June 30

A special celebration is held today at the St. Elizabeth’s School for Special Education on Argonne Drive. Sister Mary Agnes celebrates her Golden Jubilee as a nun in the Visitation Order. Jack and Betty make the arrangements and fly her in from Minneapolis. The family honors here fifty years of service to the Church and on the next day, they drive her to Ocean City for a day trip visit before she returns to Minnesota.

Card commemorating Sister Mary Agnes’ (Anna Kavanagh) Golden Jubilee. St. Elizabeth’s School for Special Education. Argonne Drive, Baltimore. June 1979/
Aunt Anna Kavanagh ( Sister Mary Agnes) Ocean City, Md. June 1979.

July 7

The Kavanagh’s are spending a weekend in their Ocean City home at Royal Palm Court. Jack and Betty drive down with Ann, Jack and Joe but only Jack and the older two children will return. Betty and Joe are spending an extended vacation at the beach. They will stay there through the second week of August and Jack and the rest will come down each weekend. That second week of August will be a solid week of vacation for all of them. Mother and son walk the boards each night, read and make puzzles during the day. Betty loves some alone time with her youngest. She knows he will be working next summer and once he’s working, this time is gone. Joe loves the fact that he is older now and he can take small trips of his own during the day, exploring the beach town like he never has before. Each weekend, the rest of the family arrive and they fish and partake of the various OC amusements. Then each Sunday they return and Betty and Joe continue their quiet pastoral enjoyment of the small resort.

Ann 1978
Ann Kavanagh. 1978.
Jack Lakewood Ave. January 1979
Jack Kavanagh Jr. Bedroom. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1979.

July 12

The summer has brought heat and work to the old Shop. Ten 6” Angles are rolled for Danzer Metal while a small tube coil is curved for Russell William Ltd. Little Jack is bending a set of u bends for J.E. Hurley. Big Jack is on the phone most of the day coordinating deliveries of material and pick ups of completed parts. Jack Sr. likes these days. Keep him on the phone or in the Shop, as long as it leads to work, he’s all for it.

The Shop’s job book entry. Russell William Limited. July 12, 1979.

July 19

A rush order of copper u bends is received from Harvey Stambaugh. The tubes need to be knocked out quick because a municipal building is without hot water so several fellows jump on the job with Jack Jr. doing the annealing. He’s nearly mastered the skill of softening metal with heat. He can do copper and brass with ease and his father and the crew trust him to do so with no supervision necessary. His last test is annealing aluminum, the most challenging metal. This takes more heat and a very careful eye to avoid melting the piece. He’s practicing and progressing under his father’s watchful eyes.

The Shop’s job book entry. Harvey Stambaugh job. July 19, 1979.

August 1

As the crew counts down to their oncoming vacation, a set of stainless steel tubes are bent for Harvey Stambaugh. Stainless steel requires no annealing and the men are happy. A torch in Baltimore’s summer heat and humidity is unpleasant to say the least. The crew handle their assignments well but most of them are looking forward to the end of the week and the start of a holiday.

The Shop’s job book entry. Havey Stambaugh job. August 1, 1979.

August 3

Right after work on this Friday, Big and Little Jack and Ann drive down to Ocean City to join Betty and Joe. The usual week of family time with carnival fun and food commences. The kids are old enough now to take care of themselves. They visit with their older sister JoAnn who works at the amusement pier and knows all the best places in the beach town. Jack and Betty enjoy their time alone and continue to dream their dream of living here full time some day. The week goes by in a flash and before they know it, the Kavanagh’s are packing and heading home. This will be Joe’s last long visit to OC with work starting for him next year. His thoughts are not on work but school. In September, he will begin at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel High School.

JoeJ(GI) Kavanagh. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1978.

September 4

Jack and Joe catch a very early bus to Mt. Carmel in Essex. It’s a big adjustment for Joe as the ride is about forty minutes each way. The days start early and end late. Joe feels very out of place in this new school but his brother being there helps a great deal. Not to mention, being friendly with a Senior is good for any Freshman. Jack Jr. has already begun petitioning his father to drive to school. In addition to the old station wagon Big Jack takes to work each day, the Kavanagh’s own a Chrysler Cordoba. Jack and Betty use the Cordoba on weekends for day trips, church and errands. Little Jack is doing his best to convince his father to allow him to drive that car to Carmel.

Mt. Carmel Group Shot with Joe 1979
Joe Kavanagh on far left. Mt. Carmel High School. 1979. Photo courtesy of Pat Shanahan Sr.
Mt. Carmel Mrs. Stevens' Class, Joe & BWilliam Burham
Joe Kavanagh in French Class. Will Burnham in foreground and teacher is Mrs. Stevens. Mt. Carmel High School. 1979. Photo couresty of Pat Shanahn Sr.

September 30

The Baltimore Colts are hosting the Buffalo Bills in a football game and the two Jacks are there. They both love the Colts deeply and keep waiting for a return to the glory days of old. It won’t be this year as the fans must suffer through another disappointing season. The team finishes in last with a record of 5-11.

Baltimore Colts Ticket. Setpember 30, 1979.

October 3

The American League Championship Series starts today with the Orioles playing the California Angels at Memorial Stadium. The game begins at 8:30 pm and it runs late with the teams stuck in a tie going into the ninth inning. Betty insists they go home as the boys have school tomorrow. Jack Sr. knows not to argue with Betty when she is determined and the family grudgingly leaves their seats and drives home. The game is on the radio and it goes into extra innings. The Kavanagh’s walk through the door, flip on the TV and see pinch hitter John Lowenstein blast a 3 run homer to win in the bottom of the 10th inning. It’s Oriole Magic again.

Game 1 Ticket. 1979 American League Championship Series.
1979 American League Championship Program.
Page from World Series Program. 1979.
1979 California Angels. American League Championship Program. 1979.

October 6

The Kavanagh’s are watching game 4 of the ALCS from home. The series has moved to California and the Birds need one win to go to the World Series. There is little doubt in this one with Baltimore leading the whole way, winning 8-0. Manager Earl Weaver’s formula for winning proves true, good pitching and the three run home run. Scott McGregor contributes the pitching by throwing a shut out and outfielder Pat Kelly adds the three run dinger.

Manager Earl Weaver. American League Championship Series Program. 1979.

October 17

It’s game 7 of the World Series in Baltimore. The Birds had a 3-1 lead in the Series but lost the last two, one in Pittsburgh and one here. This game is a winner take all for the championship. Snow falls early in the evening and the field conditions are rough. Left field has a large gash of mud in the green outfield. The Kavanagh’s are there pulling with all they have to see Baltimore’s Birds win. It’s not to be. The Pirates led by Willie Stargell are too much for them and win 4-1. The family and the rest of the fans sit almost transfixed as their hopes of celebrating tonight are gone. When the last Oriole out is recorded, much of Baltimore’s faithful suddenly get the same idea. The fans charge onto the field as the Pirates players are jumping up and down in victory. It wasn’t planned but both Kavanagh brothers and Ray French find themselves on the field. Third base is grabbed by one fan and carted off within seconds. People are gathered around home plate trying to dig it up. The boys not knowing what else to do stuff dirt from the infield into their pants pockets. It’s a chaotic scene as disappointed fans mill around excited to at least be on the diamond. In the midst of the insanity, Jack Sr. appears and ushers the boys to him with an understanding but scathing look. They make their way through the crowd and back over the barriers into their seats. Betty glares as they walk up the aisle, out of the park and drive home in near absolute silence. They had their dance on the field but not one of victory.

Game 7 Ticket. 1979 World Series.
1979 World Series Program.
1979 Pittsburgh Pirates. World Series Program. 1979.
Willie Stargell. World Series Program. 1979.

November 4

Jack Kavanagh Sr. is watching the news and is shocked to hear of the events in Iran. After a revolution, Iranian protesters take 63 American hostages at the US Embassy in Tehran. Americans around the country feel the same way and they will begin checking for daily news updates as the hostage situation plays out over the next year with little progress.

November 8

The sting of the World Series loss is still felt but the approaching holidays should hopefully push it out of everyone’s mind. On Central Avenue, another job is bent for Baltimore Tube Bending. This order is some 2” OD Aluminum tubes bent in the Pines. With his son at school, Big Jack anneals these himself. He has a habit of singing as he anneals. It helps him focus and also keeps a good rhythm with the movement of of the torch along the tube. Jack’s song of choice is Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” and his voice is audible but muffled in the blowing of the propane torch. Jack Sr. times it just right as the last “I love you!” is uttered right before he blows out the flame.

The Shop’s job book entry. Balltimore Tube Bending job. November 8, 1979.

November 30

The year’s end gets closer and it has been a good one. The heat exchanger work and their fabricator customers keep the Shop busy.  Big Jack is pleased with his oldest boy’s work and can’t wait to get him back to 201 S. Central Avenue. Next year, he’ll be joined by his little brother and Big Jack looks forward to having them both there. As a father, he missed so much of their younger years due to the Shop. Working together will be a pleasure for him. Splendor in Brass, a brass bed and furniture maker, has an order for some tubes being bent today. The pieces will be used as part of a few brass headboards.

The Shop’s job book entry. Splendor in Brass job. November 30, 1979.

December 8.    (The writer takes his place at the Shop)

My mother is waking me from a deep slumber. She’s talking to me. I can see that through half-closed eyes and shaking me. It’s Saturday? In a moment it comes to me, last night my father told me he needs some help at the Shop today. I’m going to work. I was surprised not only did I want to sleep but there was no warning. I knew it was coming but I assumed next summer. I convince my mom I’m awake by putting my feet on the floor and she scuttles off down the stairs to make breakfast. I get myself dressed and ready and plop down in my usual chair trying to catch a few more winks of sleep the whole time. A plate with three chocolate chip cookies is in front of me. I am not much of a breakfast person but I sleep and chew through two of them while my father reads the paper and my older brother Jack devours an inordinate amount of cornflakes floating in milk. In ten minutes, we are out the door and in the car driving to 201 S. Central Avenue. Jack is at the wheel and he and my father are in conversation about the Colts. It’s been a rough year again for the team. I’m closing my eyes and relishing the heat coming on in the car as we bump along. I convince myself I am asleep and get some rest until we pull up in front of the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Jack and Dad unlock the padlocks and swing the big green metal door wide and in we go. Jack puts on the lights and Dad checks for phone messages in his office. I wander around a bit. I’ve been here many times. We would often stop on the way home from Ocean City. Dad always seemed to want to check on the place. If we were downtown for any reason at all, we drove by the Shop,  and as young boys, Jack and I played in the office every once in a while as Dad did paperwork. The door of the office swings open and out comes my father and he calls us to the small room behind the office on the Pratt Street side of the building. Jack flicks the power switch on the old roller that has been in the Shop for decades. This machine has an old manual crank to control the tightness of the curve and is particularly useful if the bend needs subtle adjustments. We are rolling a foot rail for a local bar that is being renovated. The contractor has furnished a wooden template and the curve is a little irregular. This machine will work well for those small changes in the radius. My father tells me my only jobs are to keep my side of the tube flat, keep my eyes open and if something goes wrong, get out of the way. Jack slides a 12 ft. long piece of brass tube into the machine and Dad begins passing it through a couple times until the contour is close enough by his eye to check. He backs off the rollers and we lift the tube out and check it against the template. It needs to come in more my father mutters with Jack agreeing. That means nothing to me as I stand freezing in the cold Shop. What he meant was the radius had to be tighter at some spots. Dad makes some marks with soapstone on the tube and we put it back in the machine. This process is repeated four or five times for three sections of brass rail. Each time Jack listens intently to our father and defers to his decision while I continue to be cold and bored. My father occasionally tells me to hold my end up higher or lower but otherwise I do very little. I wonder why I am there though later I think my father believed it was time and wanted me to have a little taste of what the Shop was like. Just after 11 AM, the bar rail is finished: three sections which the contractor will combine and they all look good on the templates. Jack shuts off the lights, my father locks up the office and soon the big green doors are closed and padlocked. We drive home and Dad and Jack’s chat about the Colts seems to pick up where it left off while I sit in the backseat watching houses go by. When we step through the door to 447 N. Lakewood, Jack races upstairs and my Dad puts a hand on my shoulder to keep me from following him.

“What did you think?” He fixes his gaze upon me.

Not knowing what to say I answer, “It was okay. It was cold though.”

Dad grins wide and reaches into his pocket. “Well it is December. You know.” He hands me a ten dollar bill. “You did alright when you were awake.” He walks toward the kitchen with a twinkle in his eye to greet my Mom. I stand there holding probably the first ten dollar bill that was all my own. As a boy who still measured currency in candy bars and comics, I felt like a rich man. That was that. My career at the Joseph Kavanagh Company begins quietly and with very little fuss at all.

The Joseph Kavanagh Company. Corner of Pratt and Central. Circa 1970.

December 19

Four 1 1/2” aluminum pipes are annealed and bent for Mr. Rogers at Baltimore Tube Bending as the  holiday gets closer. The workers are hard at it but restless. All are very anxious for Christmas as Jack has decided to close the Shop on the 25th and not re-open until the 2nd of January. Another full week of vacation for his men with pay. Big Jack wants the time off and in order to get that, he must do the same for his crew. Fair is fair, thinks Jack.

The Shop’s job book entry. Baltimore Tube Bending job. December 19, 1979.

December 25

On Christmas morning, I wake to the sound of conversation downstairs. My brother is still snoozing loudly in the next bed. It’s Christmas and I hop out of bed faster than any other day. When I was a small boy, Jack and I would be up at the crack of dawn. As it is, we sleep until 9 and instead of a mad rush along the stairs, I walk quietly down them. I avoid glancing into the front room as instructed but at fourteen, the amazing mystery that is Christmas is a little muted. I know there are presents in the front room but the piles will be smaller though each item most likely will be more expensive than in the past. As I reach the bottom of the steps, I see Mary and Handy are already here and in discussion about the holiday with Mom and Dad. I pull down my stocking and find baseball cards, candy and a few other small goodies inside. Merry Christmas is wished around the room and soon Ann and Jack are up and about and the Kavanagh’s begin assembling on the corner of Lakewood and Jefferson. The O’Neill’s and the Ballard’s are there. JoAnn comes in from Ocean City and Jane and Jackie drive over from their apartments. The full clan is here including the three grandchildren. A big holiday turkey feast is served and consumed, presents are exchanged and then the home is filled with songs,  both Christmas and old standards. It’s always a festive home this time of year and always full of music, laughter and good cheer. Newly received games are opened and played. Eggnog, beer and whiskey are shared by the adults and sweets, treats and in particular Mary Brandenberg’s chocolate chip cookies are enjoyed by all. It’s a long crowded holiday just like Jack and Betty love. Christmas is a big affair at the Kavanagh’s, loud and boisterous throughout the day and into the evening. When the last of the siblings are gone and it’s just my parents and Ann, Jack and I, things settle down. The night grows quiet and sleep begins calling us. Christmas is over and the year nearly too. I head to bed with thoughts of sleeping in late and having the week off of school. As I turn to climb the stairs, I take one last look right and see the lights, the tree and the piano, vestiges of the holiday. I glance left and see my mother sitting on the arm of my father’s chair. They are hand in hand smiling at one another in silence. Another Kavanagh Christmas is a success and somehow, my parents made it look easy.

Jack & Jane Lakewood Ave. Jan. 1979
Jane and Jack Jr. Kavanagh. Living room. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1979.
Lakewood Ave stairway
Stairway at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue.



Jimmy Carter is the President of the United States. The Three Mile Island accident occurs when the nuclear reactor has a partial meltdown. The space station Skylab crashes back to Earth. The US and China establish full diplomatic relations. Seven die during a riot at a Who concert in Cincinnati. Pope John Paul II visits the US. The Happy Meal, the Walkman and the snowboard are invented. The first version of Trivial Pursuit is sold. ESPN is launched. “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,”    “Alien” and “Apocalypse Now” are released. Chris Pratt, Pink, Kate Hudson, Drew Brees and Chris Daughtry are born. John Wayne, Nelson Rockefeller, Thurman Munson, Jack Soo, and Richard Rodgers die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

Joe school pic 1979
Joe Kavanagh. Mt. Carmel High School. 1979.

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

Table of Contents


1978 Big Jack

April and Dad Lakewood Ave
Jack Kavanagh Sr. and granddaughter April Kavanagh Ballard. Late 1977.

January 7

On the first Saturday of the year and Jack and Jack Jr. are at the Shop rolling some pipe rings. Just the two of them working,  and Senior is grateful for the time alone with his son. Jack Jr. is the fifth generation and his father is ready to teach him the skills he will need. It’s a chilly winter day but his son is keen to learn. Even more than most boys, Jack loves to impress his father and he does so often. Jack Sr. has been running the Joseph Kavanagh Company for over twenty years. His father was still involved until the early 60s but Jack took care of the day to day and made all the pertinent decisions. His father’s role was more advisory. Jack’s crew is led by his brother Ed who hires the men and keeps track of the progress of jobs. Ed doesn’t own any of the business but came to work for Jack after his father’s retirement. The two Ed’s did not work well together but the brothers do. Ed is Jack’s eyes and ears in the Shop and he also helps with quoting and phone calls. Jack spends more time on the phone, reading drawings or working specific jobs if something challenging or out of the ordinary comes along. Or in the case of today, a set of pipe rings need to be rolled fast. He likes working with his boy and the time goes by quick. The two Jack’s talk sports and father tells son the ins and outs of the job they are doing. When Jack Jr. came to work at the Shop he became Little Jack despite the fact that he was slightly taller than his father already. For pragmatic reasons, the workers needed some way to specify one Jack from the other so they became Big Jack and Little Jack. They work until noon and talk the whole time.

Jack Kav school pic 1978
Jack Kavanagh Jr. Our Lady of Mount Carmel School picture. 1978.

MEANWHILE on Lakewood Avenue, Joe Kavanagh is eating cereal while watching the Super Friends with nieces Maura and Katie O’Neill. Wonder Woman and Batman and Robin are taking on an evil genius in the opening segment. Joe and Maura sit on the floor, their eyes glued to the TV as Cheerios are consumed. Maura is a big Wonder Woman fan even at two and Joe is a fan of super-heroes so he’s loved the Super Friends since its inception. He collects comics and has some of the “Super Friends” issues. Baby Katie is watching as well from a high chair while her mother Nancy feeds her. Nancy and husband Jim and their two girls have moved back to Lakewood Avenue temporarily as they re-locate to Baltimore. Jim has taken a job at Social Security and they are looking at houses. The corner of Lakewood Avenue is crowded again but Jack and Betty’s home and life always have room for family.

Joe(GI) Kavanagh and Maura O’Neill. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1978.
Maura Joe treadmill Lakewood
Joe(GI) Kavanagh and Maura O’Neill. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1978.

January 15

The Super Bowl is today and the Dallas Cowboys defeat the Denver Broncos 27-10. Daughter Mary and her husband Handy visit to watch the game. Handy is a big football fan as is Jim O’Neill. The three men have a beer or two and take in the game with Jack’s sons. All are rooting for a Dallas loss that doesn’t happen. For Jack’s part, he is hoping and anxious for the Colts to get back to the championship game themselves.

January 24

The heat of torches warm the Shop at Pratt and Central. A large heater with over one hundred tubes  for Major Welding is finished today. The torches are used to anneal the copper tubes to bend them into U- bends. The U’s allows the passage of warm water in and out of the exchanger. The tubes are assembled in a cluster and inserted into a brass or steel header. They are expanded to a tight seal and these units are used to heat boilers, hot water heaters steam cleaners and some cooking apparatus. Boiler companies need them. Construction businesses and municipal agencies use them. The Shop has customers that do the assembly and installation and some who prefer to order a completed unit. Jack is happy either way. Those who order the tubes simplify the job for him making it primarily bending which is their forte and those who want the heater finished and ready to install will pay more. Either works. Heat exchanger work is a very big part of the Shop’s regular and reliable sales. There’s a connection to the old coppersmith days because of the tube as well. Jack keeps a strong stock of copper with most of it on the second floor on racks. He keeps many 20 ft. sticks of several diameter tubes and has longer sections of 3/4” tubes which is the most commonly used. More than anything, the heaters help to keep him steady while much of the country still struggles to escape the recession. Inflation and particularly high gas prices continue to dog the nation.

The Shop’s job book entry. Major Welding job. January 24, 1978.

February 6

One foot of snow buries Baltimore on this Monday and the kids are thrilled to have a couple days off of school. Jack closes the Shop for one day then meets the crew at the Shop on Tuesday and they set to digging the place out. Shoveling can be a dreary heavy task but when a group are working together it goes faster. They talk as they shovel,  each man discussing how the snow has affected their street and their families.

The Joseph Kavanagh Company. Corner of Pratt and Central. Circa 1970.

February 17

Jack Sr. and Jr. attend a Washington Capitals game on a Friday night. The Canadians thump the Caps pretty bad 8-2 but the two Jack’s have a good time. Junior’s enthusiasm for hockey and this team are starting to make his father a fan too.

Washington Capitals Ticket Stub. February 17, 1978.

February 27

Several rectangular tubes are filled and rolled for Middlestadt Machine.  Again, the use of blow torches is welcomed in the cold Shop. Jack is pleased with the start to the year. The winter lulls have not arrived and his crew has stayed busy through a cold winter so far.

The Shop’s job book entry. Middlesatday Manchine Company job. February 27, 1978.

March 14

One of Jack’s regular customers has ordered twenty 4” Pipe returns. Returns are another way of saying U-bends or 180 deg. Bends. These are made from 4” pipe and will be rolled in the R-5. The customer is John Rogers at Baltimore Tubes Bending. Jack has known Rogers for years and whenever he runs into something too big for his equipment he sends it to Jack.

The Shop’s job book entry. Baltimore Tube Bending job. March 14, 1978.

March 22

Maryland Shipbuilding and Drydock has three large vessels being repaired and each needs heat exchanger replacements before they set to sea. Maryland Drycock can repair the heaters but they need the tubes bent and Jack Kavanagh gets a call. It’s a substantial bit of work and a great start to the spring. The tubes are cupro-nickel or copper nickel as opposed to 100 % copper. Curpo-nickel tubes are  a mix of annealed copper and nickel depending on the ratio they are very bendable. This eliminates the annealing phase for Jack’s men so it is a job that focuses on accurate and quick bending of large quantities of tube. One man cuts while another bends then one man trim cuts and another deburs the ends smooth. Teamwork and keeping a good pace make the difference in this type of production job.

The Shop’s job bok entry. Maryland Shipbuilding and Drydock job. March 22, 1978.

April 1

The O’Neill’s move into their own home on Birch Drive in Woodlawn. The old house needed a big clean up and the family all helped out. The two Jack’s,  Ann and Joe worked with Jim and Nancy to get the place all ready for the move. Lakewood Avenue suddenly seems quiet again to Betty and Jack.

April 14

The Baltimore Orioles have had an atrocious start to the year losing their first five games on the road. They come home on this Friday for their home opener facing the Milwaukee Brewers. Jack, Betty, Ann and the boys are there and are rewarded with a win, Dennis Martinez gets the victory with reliever Don Stanhouse registering a save. Jack and the family hope the Birds can build on this for the rest of the season.

1978 Baltimore Orioles Opening Day ticket stub.
Baltimore Orioles souvenir helmet. Late 1970s.

May 27

Jack Senior and Junior are at the Shop on a Saturday hard at work along with the crew. Little Jack will soon be returning for the summer and working full time. His father puts him on the books now and brings him in today because he needs the help. Another heater is being started and a set of angles are being rolled for Codd Fabricators.  Little Jack has a few more days of school,  then this is the summer his father will begin to teach him how to use a torch and how to anneal. How to work copper and other metals, very much like his father taught him.

The Shop’s job book entry. Egan Marine Contractors job. May 31, 1978.

June 4

Ann Kavanagh graduates from Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School. Jack and Betty are very proud as they watch their seventh daughter receive her diploma. Only the two boys remain at school with Joe soon joining Jack at Carmel next year. Ann will soon take a job working for a lawyer downtown but will continue to live at home for now.

Ann grad 1978
Ann Kavanagh. Graduation picture. 1978.
Ann Kav side Lakewood cars
Ann Kavanagh. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. View looking east on Jefferson Street. 1978.

June 6

On a warm Monday, Jack Jr. begins his second summer at the Shop and is working on two heat exchangers. One is for the Housing Authority of Baltimore and the other for Towson State College. Little Jack helps to assemble the units sliding the tubes into brass baffle plates and then into a steel header. The tubes must be square and held straight before they are expanded to seal. Jack Sr. can see his son fits in well with the workers and seems more comfortable already this year. It will be tougher for him adjusting to working every day but it’s necessary and it’s time. His father is sure of that. His son has a natural aptitude for mechanical things and that will only make it easier for him. The day passes quickly with half the fellows on the heater and another few on more pipe returns for Baltimore Tube.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore job. June 6, 1978.
The Shop’s job book entry. Towson State College job. June 7, 1978.

July 4

The Independence Day holiday is celebrated on Lakewood Avenue with the traditional crab feast and cook out,  but before it starts, the Kavanagh boys have a baseball game. Their team, the Robin-Blair Sons are taking on a group of boys merged from two neighborhood teams at Patterson Park. Both teams are excited as they have managed to gather enough boys to have nine a side, a rarity in Highlandtown. The Robin-Blair Sons are trailing by three heading into the ninth inning but rally back. They score two and with two more on, Joe Kavanagh belts a long drive to center field. It appears to clear the large tree that by ground rules indicated a home run. The tying run scores and Joe cruises to second when the ball is thrown into the infield. What occurs next is a few moments of chaos while the opposing team protests claiming the ball did not actually pass over the tree. Little Jack and Junior Delaney, captains of the two squads, are nose to nose in protest. Joe tries to appeal to Jack to let it play out with the winning run on second base but Jack will have none of it. Joe is joined at second base by John Muldowney who was playing left field at the time. John had been at St. E’s a year ahead of Joe and they played ball together often over many summers. The argument escalates to absurdity when both teams decide to forfeit, neither wanting the other to do so. Joe and John share a laugh but Jack is not amused. The game breaks up and all the boys head home. Jack and Joe trudge home to 447. N. Lakewood Avenue, Jack still fuming with this game forever remembered as the double forfeit.

That Old Gang of Mine
The Robin-Blair Sons. Standing- Ray French, Greg Heaps, Jimmy Stakias, Jack Kavanagh Jr. Crouched George Stakias(holding little brother Hadiaraki), Stayaul Stakias, Joe Kavanagh. Late 1970s.
John Muldowney in St. E's uniform
John Muldowney in St. Elizabeth’s school uniform. Mid 1970s.

July 8

The Kavanagh’s are heading to Ocean City for the weekend but this time Betty and their youngest Joe will be staying. Jack and Betty have decided Ann and Little Jack are old enough to take care of themselves or Ann is old enough to take care of Little Jack,  and Betty can have an extended vacation at the beach with Joe. Jack, Ann and Little Jack will return to Baltimore the next day,  then back to OC each weekend. Jack doesn’t mind the drive and he wants Betty to have this time to enjoy their summer home. Betty and Joe get a serious taste of beach town life. It’s hectic and crowded on the weekends, both the town and the house,  but it’s very quiet and serene during the week. They take daily treks to the boardwalk and Joe plays in the arcades. They read poolside or play board games. Joe misses his friends from the neighborhood but he has a lot of fun and freedom. Being the only child in the home means some solitude besides time with his Mom.

Apirl Royal Palms Summer of 1978
Joe(GI) Kavanagh and April Ballard. Royal Palm Court. Ocean City. Summer of 1978.
Betty and April Royal Palm in OC
Eetty Ann and April Ballard. Royal Palm Court Ocean City. Summer of 1978.

July 14

The summer has been busy with Jack and the crew of the Joseph Kavanagh Company working every Saturday morning. His son is working with him and learning fast. Jack has taught his son the basics of annealing, starting with the first thing to learn; how to light the torch properly. Safety and consistency are stressed by Big Jack. A torch is nothing to be played with but you can’t be afraid of it. You must learn to balance ease with wariness before you can hone your skills. Jack is a fast learner and a dutiful worker. Today he’s helping Jerry Purnell roll an angle for Codd Fab. Codd is five minutes away and it’s common for them to order one, two or three pieces and bring them right up to 201 S. Central. Jack treats their work with a priority due to their reliability as a customer and the many years the two companies have worked together. Right after work, the two Jack’s pick up Ann and drive to Ocean City to join Betty and Joe who had a visit from daughter Betty Ann and baby April this week.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. July 14, 1978.
Ann Jack Lakewood
Ann and Jack Kavanagh Jr. Jefferson Street side of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1978.

August 5

It’s Jack’s week of vacation at the beach. He, Ann and Jack drive to OC early Saturday morning. Jack closes the Shop and the crew get a week’s pay and a well-deserved break. They arrive just before noon at Royal Palm Court. 1231 St. Louis Avenue is the address of their place and Betty and Joe are waiting for them. The kids are getting older but still have a great week hitting the boards, riding bikes and swimming in Royal Palm’s pool. The Kavanagh’s still fish and crab, eating what they catch but they don’t spend days on the beach anymore. Ann, Jack Jr. and Joe would rather hit the arcades and rides especially with their older sister JoAnn who lives in OC. JoAnn works on the Pier, a set of amusements and assorted carnival rides placed on a pier jutting out from the boardwalk. It extends several hundred feet over the beach and into the surf with the last section reserved for fishing the ocean. JoAnn has worked here for three years and knows everybody it seems. Free or discounted rides and games are to be had when JoAnn is around and the younger three take advantage of it. Jack and Betty appreciate the kids spending time with JoAnn. It gives them some rare time alone. As much as their children love the fun of Ocean City, Jack and Betty love the peace. They dream of one day living here full time in their retirement.

Ann Kav Royal Palm OC
Ann Kavanagh. Royal Palm Court. Ocean City. 1978.
Jane and Maura bday
Maura O’Neill and Jane Kavanagh. Maura’s third birthday party at Birch Drive. Woodlawn. 1978.
Nancy and Betty
VBetty Ann Ballard and Nancy O’Neill. Maura’s third birthday party. Birch Drive. 1978.

August 20

August is usually the worst month to work at the corner of Pratt and Central and this August is no different. Heat and humidity do not mix well with propane torches and the old Shop is a hot box this time of year. The crew sweat but are accustomed to it as much as one can be though it’s tough on young Jack Jr. He doesn’t let on to the men but everyday like this he can’t wait to get home, stand in a cold shower then step out into air conditioning. Heater tubes are finished for Harvey Stambaugh today with Little Jack doing the annealing. Big Jack watches from a few feet away and gives him full marks.

the Shop’s job book entry. Havery Stambuah job. August 20, 1978.

September 1

Big Jack is driving home from the Shop with Little Jack. His boy will be turning sixteen next week and that has only brought one thought to Jack Jr.’s mind.

“Dad? I want to get my license. I mean, when I can. I’m sixteen on Monday.” Little Jack asks his Dad as they cruise quietly home after a long week. It’s Little Jack’s last day of work at the Shop for the summer.

Big Jack glances right for a second then looks back at the street ahead of him. “If you want to. You gotta take Driver’s Ed. I bet they teach at school.” He flicks on his blinker to turn right then raises his voice one notch. “And you gotta be serious about it. This here. This ain’t no toy. This is an automobile. You gotta stay focused and pay attention.”

“I know Dad.”Little Jack answers back without pause. “You see me at work. I can handle that stuff,  then I can drive. You know I can.”

Big Jack chuckles. “I know it, Huh?” His wide grin spreads over his face. “Yeah, I know you can but no shenanigans, no playing around in the car but sure. Sign up for the class and I’ll take you out to teach you to drive.”

“Great. Thanks Dad. I know they teach it at Carmel.” Jack nods to his Dad and looks up Orleans Street reflexively as they cross it.

“We’ll have fun when I take you out.” Big Jack teases a little. “I’ll be real nice like I am at the Shop. I’ll be like a pussy cat.” Big Jack breaks into resounding laughter as they pull to a stop on the side of their house.

“I bet.” Little Jack laughs back at him.

Jack the elder turns the car off and gets a little more serious. “You’ll be fine and you can start driving us to work. One less thing for me to do.”

Jack Kavanagh Jr. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1978.

September 10

The two Jack’s are at Memorial Stadium for the Baltimore Colts’ home opener and they get beat bad by the Miami Dolphins 42-0. It’s a sign of the times as the team will limp through a difficult 5-11 season setting them in last place.

Baltimore Colts Opening Day Ticket Stub. September 10, 1978.

September 18

It’s a rainy fall Monday and everyone is running a little late at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Jack offers to drop Ann and the boys off, Jack Jr. and Ann at the bus stop and Joe at St. Elizabeth’s. Ann takes a bus downtown every morning to work and Jack takes one going the opposite direction to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel High School in Essex. Senior pulls up to the corner of Fayette Street and Lakewood. Ann and Junior hop out of the car and their father drives off down Lakewood Avenue with Joe in the back. Jack is listening to the radio and he slows at Baltimore Street then turns right. His drowsy son in the back seat  perks up and grins but stays quiet. Jack heads up Baltimore Street and makes the left onto Patterson Park Avenue when he notices Joe.

“Damn it! You could of said something.” Jack looks in the rear view mirror at Joe who yawns.

“I was half asleep, Dad. I wasn’t paying attention.” Joe suppresses a small smile.

Jack make three rights to get back onto Baltimore.”Yeah. Half-asleep my foot.” He mutters through a small grin of his own. He drops Joe off at the corner and drives to work shaking his head along the way. This isn’t the first time he’s forgotten the kids in the backseat but with Joe joining Jack Jr. at Carmel next year, it will be the last.

Joe(GI) Kavanagh. 1978.

October 3

Jack has copper tube coming in and going out of the Shop almost every week. Today it’s a small exchanger for the Union Trust Company. Besides municipal agencies some banks and businesses have a maintenance department who tend to their boilers. Union Trust is one such company and when the Shop fabricates and assembles their heater, the maintenance crew will handle the installation.

The Shop’s job book entry. Union Trust Company job. October 3, 1978.

October 10

Jack and Ed Kavanagh eat lunch at their desks in the small corner office. Ed having a shrimp salad sandwich from the deli while Jack enjoys his ham sandwich made by his wife. They are discussing the afternoon’s schedule. A local manufacturing company, Niro Atomizer, needs some repair parts, two pipes and two flat bars to be bent, and they need them today. Jack tells Ed to pull a couple men away from a job for L & S Welding and get these parts made as fast possible. The pipes and the bars are rolled in the R-3 Roundo machine that sits in the front half of the building.

The Shop’s job bok entry. Niro Atomizer job. October 10, 1978

October 14

The Caps home opener is this Saturday night and Big Jack and Little Jack are there to welcome the team. Jack Sr. drives but he promises Junior that after some experience behind the wheel, he’ll be the one doing the driving. Washington loses 6-3 to the Atlanta Flames and despite the Caps struggles to win, Little Jack loves this club and this sport more every season.

Washington Capitals Ticket Stub. October 14, 1978.

October 17

This year’s World Series is a rematch of the last. The Yankees take on the Los Angeles Dodgers and just like last year, New York prevails. Baltimore’s Birds have a good year with 90 wins but that only amounts to fourth place behind the Brewers, Red Sox and Yanks who win 100 regular season games. Jack and his sons are watching the series and discussing nearly every play. It’s just as it was with Jack and his father Eddie. They love the game but they treasure the time together, sharing the sport and going over it all as one. The talks, the thoughts and opinions are as important as the play on the field.

Jack Kav Lakewood his room
Jack Kavnagh Jr. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Late 1970s.

November 2

The year is finishing strong with a nice two week backlog of work for Jack. Today some angles are rolled for long-time customer J.C. Pardo while a set of heater tubes are started. The tubes are annealed and bent today then the exchanger, which is for Springfield Hospital will be assembled tomorrow. Jack is in and out of the Shop most of the day. He speaks to Denny McCartney from B & B Welding about rolling six 3” angle rings needed for next week and scribbles a note on a pad to remember. He glances down at the note and sees “Betty’s Birthday” next to it. After a long day, the first thing he says to his wife as he comes through the door is “Happy Birthday.”

The Shop’s job book entry. J.C. Pardo Company job. November 2, 1978.
The Shop’s job book entry. Springfield Hospital job. November 2, 1978.

December 6

Two thousand feet of copper tubes is delivered to Central Avenue from C-S Metals. The truck is backed into the building from the Eden Street side and bundles of tube are picked up using cloth straps to protect them. Hoists and chain falls do the work while the men keep a careful eyes on the load. Jack has gotten to know the salesman from C-S Metals very well, Bob Yingling. They have a good relationship and Bob helps Jack keep his stock up and Bob appreciates the business. Another heater is finished today for the Housing Authority while a set of 2” copper tubes are rolled into circles for a fountain. Even in the halcyon days of coppersmith work, the Shop has rarely used so much copper in a year as they have in this one.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore City job. December 6, 1978.

December 25

Christmas with the Kavanagh’s is the usual large crowded, festive and loud affair. Two turkeys are prepared to accommodate the family and friends. Gifts are exchanged and Jack and Betty delight at the little granddaughters as they ooh and ah at the toys, the tree and the lights. Three generations of the family welcome Christmas and celebrate together with food, drink and song. Jack is very thankful for the uptick in work this year and is very happy with his son’s progress. Little Jack has another year after this one in high school and should be well-prepared by then to take on working at the Shop full time. Jack Jr. has aptitude, skills and is not afraid of hard work. He can be moody and headstrong but that’s of little concern to his father. He was no different at that age. Little Jack has passed his drivers test and is growing into quite the young man. Jack’s proud of the way his boy has handled himself among the men at the Shop. Not overly proud but not in any way intimidated as he could be at sixteen. Big Jack’s mind can’t help but wander into the future envisioning Jack at the helm of the business while he takes a step back and then a step down eventually. He takes a long look at his younger son, Joe playing a game with his nieces at the base of the Christmas Tree. Soon Joe will be at the Shop as well. A flood of visions of brothers at the Shop hit Jack. He and his brother, his father and his brother and his grandfather Joe and his brothers all worked together there. The thought of the tradition going on pleases him. Big Jack’s train of thought is broken as there are calls for “Sentimental Journey,” one of the family’s favorites and he presses his fingers to the keys.

Jack Sr., Betty Ann and Jane Kavanagh. Front room of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Christmas 1978.
Joe(GI) Kavanagh, Jim O’Neill and Michael Ballard. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Christmas 1978.
Mary Handy xmas 1978 Lakewood
Handy and Mary Brandenburg. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Christmas. 1978.



Jimmy Carter is the President of the United States. The Neutron Bomb is developed but President Carter delays its production. Carter’s Camp David Accords yield a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. Jim Jones and 900 People’s Temple followers die in Guyana in a mass murder/suicide. “Hustler” publisher Larry Flynt is shot and paralyzed. The Susan B Anthony Dollar is minted. Women become fully integrated into the Army. The first legal casino opens on the East Coast in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Affirmed wins the Triple Crown of horse racing. Space Invaders ushers in the video game craze. The night time soap opera “Dallas” premiers. The films “Grease,” “Animal House” and “Halloween” are released. Kobe Bryant, John Legend, James Franco, Ashton Kutcher, Zoe Saldana, and Josh Hartnett are born. Edgar Bergen, Norman Rockwell, Margaret Mead, Harvey Milk and Ed Wood die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

Big Jack Kavanagh in his office at 201 S. Central Avenue. 1970s.

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

Table of Contents

1977 Little Jack

January 9

On a cold Sunday, Jack watches Super Bowl 11 as the Oakland Raiders take on the Minnesota Vikings for the NFL Championship. He watches every year as do most Americans. It’s becoming a winter tradition in the US. The AFC’s Raiders lead this game the whole way and win 32-14.

January 28

Jack drives home from Central Avenue on this Friday. He drives along Pratt Street until reaching Patterson Park then turns left. The day passes through his mind as he waits at the light on Baltimore Street. A set of admiralty brass tubes were bent for Harvey Stambaugh. That was an easy one, no annealing necessary as admiralty is soft and Stambaugh furnished the tube. Charlie Owens tinned some very small pieces for ElJay Corporation. They still get tinning jobs occasionally but that old school coppersmith work is disappearing. Jack turns left onto Lakewood Avenue and is almost home. He pulls up to the corner, turns the quick right and parks on the Jefferson Street side of the house. He heads inside ready for dinner and then to watch a mini-series the family has been engrossed in. The Kavanagh’s have been watching “Roots” on channel 13. The series began on Sunday and has been running all week. The tale of an African-American family and its struggle from slavery to freedom is compelling. Jack and Betty enjoy it a great deal and their son Joe is particularly interested. He begins to ask questions about his family and how they came to America. While certainly not the story of an ancestor kidnapped into slavery, he imagines it’s a story worth hearing. During commercial breaks, he peppers his parents with questions about the Kavanagh family history. For several weeks, it is often the subject of conversation at the dinner table and afterward. Jack regales him with tales of Old Uncle Joe, the bootlegging and, of course, Jack Hart and Aunt Kitty. Betty chimes in as well or adds knowing nods when Jack reaches some particular point. When Jack and Kitty come up, Betty is quick to say they truly were in love. Joe is more fascinated after each chat. Jack and Betty instruct Joe to send a letter to Aunt Anna, Sister Mary Agnes, who now lives in Minnesota. She is a member of the Visitation Convent and they have re-located from Baltimore to Minneapolis. They tell him Aunt Anna will have some family information for you. The Kavanagh’s watch every minute of every episode of Roots and their interest is more than a curiosity with genealogy. They are also moved by the ordeal of this family as jt is portrayed and the inspired performances of the actors.

The Shop’s job book entry. Eljay Corporation job. January 28, 1977.

February 11

Jim and Nancy welcome their second child, Katie Kavanagh O’Neill in Denver Colorado. Jack and Betty have been waiting patiently and are so anxious to meet the new baby. Long distance congratulatory calls are made and then plans to fly out to meet Baby Katie.

Nancy Maura Katie 1977
Nancy and Katie Kavanagh O’Neill. Denver. 1977.
Jim Nancy Maura Katie 1977
Jim, Nancy, Maura and Katie O’Neill. Denver 1977.

February 18

The Shop finishes a large heat exchanger for Spring Grove Hospital today. It takes nearly five hundred  feet of 3/4” copper tube but the Kavanagh’s have kept a big stock of tube for years. Jack must have close to five thousand feet of it on the racks upstairs. It’s another job from a hospital and Jack hopes that trend continues. He can always use more customers.

The Shop’s job book entry. Sprng Grove Hospital job. February 18, 1977.

February 25

On a Friday night, Jack, Jane and Jack Jr. attend their first Washington Capitals game at the Capital Centre in Largo, Maryland. It’s a bit of a drive but with no school or work on Saturday, Jack is fine taking his daughter and son. Jane likes hockey and has scored tickets to Baltimore Clippers games in the past from the telephone company where she works. This is the NHL though and Jack Jr. is very excited and he’s transfixed as he watches. Hockey is a game that is very dynamic to watch in person with a lot of fast action. The Caps are hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs and they win 4-2. The three Kavanagh’s have a lot of fun and even the ride home is full of chatter about the game.  If Jack wasn’t hooked on hockey before, he is now.

Ticket to Jane and Jack Kavanagh Sr. and Jr.’s first Washington Capitals Game. February 25, 1977.

March 1

The weather has warmed a little but the work is still fair at best. Several angles are rolled for Codd Fabricators, some flat bars for Klaunberg and a finned heater is fixed for the Maryland House of Correction. A finned heater is a unit that is made from 180 deg and 90 deg elbows connecting copper tubes in a serpentine shape. The tubes are embedded in steel fins which conduct some of the heat. Repairs are problematic as you must fix the leaking tube while doing your best not to ruin too many fins. The Shop has fixed these for years so the crew can do it without much damage. Elbows are replaced and Foster’s Welding seals some gaps and the heater is returned to City Jail.

The Shop’s job book entry. Maryland House of Corrections job. March 1, 1977.

March 18

Jack Jr. and a friend drive to the Capital Centre to see the Caps play the Colorado Rockies. Jack sees a rare rout for the Caps as they beat the Rockies 5-0 with Goalie Roger Crozier getting the shutout.

Washington Capitals ticket. March 18, 1977.

April 7

The Orioles Opening day is this Thursday and the starting lineup looks a little different. Doug DeCinces is playing third base and a young hitter named Eddie Murray is DHing. Murray is a standout and looks to be the first baseman of the future but the absence of Brooks Robinson is most notable. Brooks is on the roster as a player-coach but his playing days are coming to an end. The Orioles lose a squeaker today in ten innings. Bert Blyleven out duels Jim Palmer 2-1 with both pitchers throwing 10 innings of ball.

Brooks Robinson commemorative button. 1977.

April 19

April Kavanagh Ballard is born to Michael and Betty Ann Ballard today. Jack and Betty are able to visit this baby the day she is born. Betty Ann and Michael live in Arlington Virginia which is driveable from Baltimore. Jack and Betty can not believe they are suddenly grandparents three times over.

April infant2 1977
Apirl Kavanagh Ballard. April 1977.
April and Michael
Michael Ballard and April. 1977.

May 13

Jack’s crew spend a beautiful spring day trapped indoors in the Shop at the corner of Pratt and Central. The garage doors are opened wide in hopes of letting much of the sunshine and warmth into the building. The volume of work is still not where Jack wants it to be but getting better. The crew are busy bending  round copper tubes for a fountain and three square tubes for Baltimore Tube Bending. Jack’s idea of having John Benser make rollers during his idle time continues to pay off for him. Benser has made a variety of flat rollers and spacers for the Roundo and the Shop is able to curve a wider range of items and sizes. Square tubes are a perfect example.

The Shop’s job book entry. Baltimore Tube Bending Co. job. May 13, 1977.


The Kavanagh’s are descending on Arlington Virginia for Baby April’s Baptism. The ceremony is being held in Michael and Betty’s backyard and is officiated by Father Tim Madsen, a friend of Betty’s from college. Most of the family are there except for JoAnn who is April’s godmother. She is hung up in traffic on the Bay Bridge coming from Ocean City and Mary gladly stands in during the sacrament. Mary is always happy to help especially if it means more time with the baby. April’s big day is a beautiful one. Jack and Betty are either holding the baby or snapping pictures all day. April’s parents are very happy to be surrounded by many friends and relatives from both of their families. Little Joe is there and rides with sisters Jane and Ann. He’s excited to be an uncle again. Joe passes the time during the ride by reading a book in the backseat, a book recommended by Ann who read it because of Betty. Jane loves it too and they discuss it between chapters. The book is called “the Hobbit.”

Aparil, Betty, Mary, Michael at April's Christening
Mary Brandenburg holding April, Michael and Betty Ann Ballard. April’s Christening. Arlington Virginia. May 15, 1977.
Mom, Dad, & April at April's Chrstening
Betty Kavanagh holding April Kavanagh Ballard with Jack Kavanagh taking picture. April’s Christening. May 15, 1977
April & Betty April's Christening
Father Tim Madsen, April and Betty Ann Ballard. May 15, 1977.

June 6

Today is Monday and the first day of vacation for the Kavanagh kids.  Ann(16), Jack Jr.(14) and Joe(11) are happy to be finished with school and out in the early afternoon sunshine of summer. They are walking across the park to the Patterson Theater to see a newly released movie, a science fiction film set in space. All three of the Kavanagh’s are excited to see it. The commercials look great with spaceships and lasers. The movie is called “Star Wars” and they are seeing a matinee. The film is incredible. The Kavanagh’s love it. Action packed and thrilling with astounding special effects, compared to most B movie Sci-Fi Ann and the boys have seen, it looks almost real. After Chewie gives his call, Han and Luke receive their medals, the credits roll and the kids start talking about the show. Each thought it was incredible as did the rest of the audience. As they file out still chatting about the movie, they see something they have never seen before: a line running from the Patterson Theater up Eastern Avenue. The Kavanagh’s walk along it and are asked by many if they saw Star Wars? How was it? They say it was great and keep going. The line is over a block long, all to see this movie. Ann, Jack and Joe talk about it the whole way home. The movie, the effects, the line; they all agree maybe this Star Wars thing will be something big.

Jack Jr school pix st_ es
Jack Kavanagh Jr. Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School picuture 1977.

June 8

Jack Jr. goes to work at the Shop for the first time. His father has informed Jack he will only have to work three days a week unless they are working Saturdays. He can still have off on Monday and Tuesday. Jack Sr. knows his boy is still young at only fourteen but so was he when he started. Little Jack, as he is called by the crew, is nervous but he is dutiful and does what he is told to do. Today he is told to sweep up and clean metal shavings from around the lathes and other machines. It’s not what he expected but he didn’t know what to expect. The workers are focused on getting a heat exchanger out for Housing Authority. It’s not a large unit but does have twenty-four tubes and Jack was told they needed it picked up by the end of the day. Jack is always a man of his word and the unit is out of the Shop by 2:30 pm. At the end of the day, Jack and his father are heading back to the house. They talk about the day and the men at the Shop. Jack Jr. is glad he got through this first one. Hopefully, it’s all downhill from here. After dinner, his younger brother fires questions at him about the Shop while Jack changes into clean clothes..

“So what was it like Jack? Did you run any of the big machines?” Joe asks as Jack pulls a Capitals t-shirt over his head.

“Dirty. It was dirty and no I didn’t run any machine unless a broom counts.” Jack’s wide grin spreads over his face.

“Sweep? You had to sweep? You mean you cleaned up? That seems boring.” Joe wrinkles his nose in thought.

“It’s work. It’s not supposed to be fun and you gotta start at the bottom, G. The first thing you do is help clean up. I guess.” Jack stands in front of the mirror and brushes his hair carefully.

Joe watches him curiously. He has noticed Jack’s sudden interest in his hair looking just so. Joe is accustomed to Jack calling him GI or just G. That’s the nickname Jack stuck on Joe as a baby. “How were the men? Do they have to listen to you since your Dad’s son?”

“No, No. It’s not like that. I am just a worker there. Nobody listens to me. I listen to them. Dad says by next week I’ll be helping to roll pipe.” Jack sends his brother a quick glance then returns his eyes to the reflection in the mirror.

“But what were the guys like? Were they nice?” Joe wants to learn all he can because he knows he will work be there some day too.

“Weird. They were weird but,” Jack pauses and sits on his bed across from his little brother. “Listen Joe. Its a work Shop. It’s not like school or anything like that. They were all fine to me. Maybe because I’m Dad’s son. I don’t know but it’s work. You are mostly too busy to care what anybody is like. You do what you’re told and can talk a little during breaks and lunch but most of the day you are doing stuff.”

“Was it hard work? I mean. You’re bigger than me. Do you think I’ll be able to do it?” Joe seems to be getting closer to the question he really wants answered.

Jack smiles. “Yeah, you’ll be fine and you’ll be bigger by then. You got a few years. You’ll see. Besides, I’ll be there. I’ll take care of you and Dad will be there too. Don’t worry about it.” he places a hand on Joe’s shoulder. “Come on. Let’s get the guys and play three flies up Ellwood Park before it gets dark.”

Joe hops off the bed. “Okay. Sounds good. Thanks ….. J.” Joe’s eyes widen and he chuckles and follows his brother down the stairs and out the front door.

July 15

The Shop has gained some more work but it’s still not the average summer. Jack has decided to alternate working half days on Saturday. The crew are happy to have any extra hours so it works for everybody. Everybody but Little Jack who seems to enjoy sleeping in on his Saturdays and would prefer to have them all off. Today Jack is finally working on a job. He’s cutting some copper tubes for  Harvey Stambaugh while five 4” pipe elbows are rolled in the R-5 for the Harry Campbell and Sons Co.

The Shop’s job book entry. Housing Authority of Baltimore job. June 8, 1977.
Jack at bat Lakewood yard
Jack Kavanagh Jr. bunting. Backyard of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Mid 1970s.

July 19

Jack is watching the Major League Baseball All-star game and he can’t believe his eyes. Orioles ace Jim Palmer, the all-star starter, has given up three home runs and even thrown a wild pitch. Palmer will get saddled with the loss as he has a very rough night. It’s an exhibition and Jack hopes he got this out of his system and can return to his normal form for the Birds. The only other Oriole all-star is outfielder Ken Singleton. He is a solid hitter with a very good batting eye something that Jack believes is sadly lacking in many of the “free swingers” in the game today.  Singleton is hit by a pitch in his one at bat so there are few highlights for Baltimore fans with the National League winning 7-5.

1977 MLB All-Star Souvenir Program. Signed by Ken Singleton.

August 6

The Kavanagh’s annual vacation to Ocean City starts today and this one will be very special. The O’Neill’s are visiting from Denver so granddaughters, Maura and Katie are spending the week with them. Jack and Betty can’t wait to show them off all over this beach town they love.. The long ride on Route 50 across the Bay Bridge is well worth it when they arrive at Royal Palm Court. They unload under the direction of Jack and put things away under the guidance of Betty. Soon the small house is set up for a week of living. The family spends days fishing and crabbing or at the beach, Jolly Roger Amusement Park or at miniature golf. Nights are spent walking on the boardwalk and visiting Marty’s Playland and Trimpers rides. Sister JoAnn lives in OC and is a great guide for the younger kids. She can take them out for a night of fun in the town better than most locals. She knows all the best places and the best deals. Jack and Betty spend as much time as possible with their grandkids. It’s a wonderful trip with lots of fun, games and great food. Soft ice cream, funnel cakes, cotton candy and Thrasher’s Fries are all consumed. The week goes by very fast but they enjoy the break. They head home on Sunday with school on the horizon.

Jim Jane Jack Joe Katie Royal Palm 1977
Jim O’Neill, Jane Kavanagh holding Katie O’Neil with Jack Jr. and Joe Kavanagh crouching. Royal Palm Court. Ocean City Md. Summer 1977.
Ann Jack Kav Royal Palm OC
Ann and Jack Kavanagh Jr. in the pool at Royal Palm Court. Ocean City. Mid 1970s.

August 20

It’s a hot, humid and sticky Saturday in the old Shop. Jack Jr. has nearly made it through his first summer but today puts him to the test. A set of copper U-bends for J.E. Hurley Company and a copper coil for Tydings, Lynch & Lorenz both require annealing. The heat of the torches make it almost insufferable in the old building. Both units are completed before the crew heads home and they will be picked up on Monday. This was a very tough day on Central Avenue. Little Jack manages but for the first time he begins to look forward to school starting next month.

The Shop’s job book entry. Tydings, Lynch & Lorenz Co. job. August 22, 1977.

August 21

The Baltimore Orioles are in the thick of a pennant race and when catcher Rick Dempsey is ready to return from the disabled list, Brooks Robinson voluntarily retires. He knows his skills at the plate have diminished and the team needs the roster space. He can still “pick ‘em” as they say in the field but his batting skills are falling. Baltimore saw it coming but is saddened especially Joe Kavanagh. Brooks was his hero and he idolized him. The young boy spoke to Brooks a few times when he came over to sign autographs. Joe was always in awe but like it is for all boys, one day your hero steps down and this is that day.

Brooks Robinson signed mounted picture. Courtesy of Joseph Kavanagh’s memorabilia collection.

August 22

A meeting of the Robin-Blair Sons is held before a Monday afternoon game in Patterson Park. With Brooks retired and both Frank Robinson and Paul Blair no longer with the Orioles, they wonder if they should change their name. The boys, Jack and Joe Kavanagh, Ray French and the Stakias brothers all agree to continue to play as the Robin-Blair Sons. Those players may be gone but they are not forgotten. With Jack working part-time they have less days to play but they still take on all challengers from the area. The six boys sometimes add another player, Greg Heaps a friend of Joe’s from St. Elizabeth’s or some other boy from the neighborhood.

Jack Joe Kav gang1
The Robin-Blair Sons. Standing- Jimmy, George(holding Haderacki) Stakias and Jack Kavanagh Jr. Crouched- Greg Heaps, Stayaul Stakias Ray French and Joe Kavanagh. Jefferson Street side of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1977.

September 18

A special celebrations is held today before the Orioles and Red Sox game and it is called “Thanks Brooks Day.” The Kavanagh’s are there along with a full house of Baltimoreans to pay tribute to the man who embodied the Orioles for over twenty years. His skills and competitiveness were what made him stand out but what made him memorable was the style and demeanor he displayed. He seemed like an average fellow. He could just as easily have been a fan in the stands but for his innate ability to grab a ball when it was bouncing in his direction. He was beloved by the Orioles fans and in their eyes he represented the last twelve years of success. Joe Kavanagh sits with his brother, sister and parents and his eyes fill with tears. He had this dream of playing second for the Birds alongside of Brooksie. He is just a boy who thinks such dreams come easily and if you can dream the dream, it can happen. Life doesn’t work that way and neither do dreams. His mother wraps her arm around the twelve year old. He is old enough to mask his tears but still young enough to shed them. The Orioles will always be his team. He will never stop being a fan but to say it will be the same without Number 5 would be an inaccuracy. The Birds lose to Boston 10-4 but on this day, few care about the score.

Brooks Robinson commemortive glass.
Brooks Robinson memorial pictures on placque. Courtesy of Joe Kavanagh’s memoriabilia colleciton.
Brookos Robinson signed baseball. Courtesy of Joseph Kavanagh’s memorabiila collection.

September 30

The baseball season has come to an end and the Orioles finished in a tie for second place with the Boston Red Sox despite winning 97 games. It’s a great regular season for them but still not enough. The Yankees are a powerhouse and part of the reason is Reggie Jackson. Jack can only hope the Birds can find a way to top the Yanks next year. One positive sign for the future is young slugger Eddie Murray who wins the American League Rookie of the Year Award and Jack looks for big things from him. At the Shop, Jack has cut out all Saturday hours because the work has dropped as it typically does when winter approaches. Today a set of U-Bends are made for Stambaugh. The Shop has had a big year with Harvey’s company. This time the U-Bends are made from stainless steel which requires no annealing but they must be filled. Small tubes like these are not filled with rosin but with cerrobend. Cerrobend is a commercial industrial product used to protect hollow pipes and tubes during bending. Blocks of the cerrobend are boiled in a large pot then slowly poured into the tubes. It hardens quickly, far quicker than rosin and the tubes can be bent in a matter of minutes. The tubes then must be placed in large troughs and the cerrobend is boiled back out. It’s laborious but fortunately only the smallest radius tubes need filing. The tubes are completed, cleaned and delivered to Harvey’s shop on Woodall Street.

Eddie Murray commemorative button. 1977.
The Shop’s job book entry. Harvey Stambaugh & Sons Co. job. September 30, 1977.

October 2

Jack Sr. and Jr. are at Memorial Stadium today for the Colts home opener against the Buffalo Bills. The  Colts have started hot winning two on the road before taking this one 17-14. Baltimore will have a good year winning ten games and making it to the playoffs. The Jacks have a good time. They talk a bit about work and school but the focus is on football and the game. There is a comfort level they have with each other where they can almost finish each other’s sentences when it comes to talking sports.

Baltimore Colts ticket to first home game of the 1977 season.

October 8

The O’Neill’s relocate to Baltimore and Jack and Betty are excited and thrilled to have them close to home. In fact, they move temporarily back to 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Betty says there is always room for family. So Jim, Nancy, Maura and Katie come to live with Jack, Betty, Ann, Jack Jr. and Joe. The rowhouse is suddenly crowded again just like old times.

Joe and Maura 1979-80
Joe(GI) Kavanagh and Maura Kavanagh O’Neill. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1977.

October 14

The Washington Capitals start their fourth season tonight versus the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Capital Centre and Little Jack is there with his sister Jane.  It’s a good start to the campaign with Jack’s favorite player Guy Charron scoring a goal and the Caps winning 2-1. Jack makes plans to go to as many games as he can from now on.

Washington Captials ticket to first game of the 1977-1978 season.

October 16

Jack and his boys and the four O’Neill’s are watching the World Series with the New York Yankees facing the Los Angeles Dodgers. It would have been a crowded room in most places but not in that house. In tonight’s game six, Ex-Orioles Reggie Jackson powers three home runs out of Yankee Stadium and writes his name in the baseball history books. He also earns the nickname Mr. October as he finishes with a record five home runs in the Series and the Yanks take the Championship.

October 26

A set of angle rings are rolled for Baltimore Tube Bending in the R-3. Angles are the toughest shape to roll as the legs must be held straight and they tend to move during the bending process. The leg must be carefully examined after each pass and adjustments must be made to keep them as close to a good 90 deg corner as possible. The angles are completed and delivered by Harry Nadolski who has taken over as truck driver. Charlie Owens is nearing retirement and Jack thinks it’s best he not drive the truck anymore. When Nadolski returns, he has a piece of steel tube that Mr. Rogers at Baltimore Tube needs rolled. He brings along a wooden template the piece will need to match. Jack loves when one job goes out and another comes in on the same truck.

The Shop’s job book entry. Two Baltimore Tube Bending Co. jobs. October 26 & November 1, 1977.

November 3

Two heat exchangers are finished and picked up today. Jack is very happy he keeps the stock he does as exchangers are becoming a large and important part of their range of jobs. One is for Sinai Hospital and the other for Maryland Hospital Laundry Company. They run laundry services for hospitals all around Baltimore City. Both are good-sized units and are two good bills to send out on the same day.

The Shop’s job book Entry. Maryland Hospital Laundry Company job. November 3, 1977.

December 17

The three youngest of the Kavanagh children are spending Saturday at Jane’s apartment near Lake Montebello. She lives above Boh’s TV shop and she really loves the area. She runs around Montebello and in the neighborhood for exercise. Ann, Jack and Joe help Jane pick out a Christmas tree, transport it and then decorate it. In fact, they decorate her entire apartment with a bit too much exuberance. Tinsel is placed on every houseplant or knickknack in the place. Jane is surprised but amused. They bake cookies and have a day of fun while Jack and Betty are shopping and prepping for the holiday. The kids have such a good time, this becomes a yearly tradition.

Jack, Ann, Joe, Marua, Betty and Michael
Jack Jr., Ann and Joe Kavanagh holding Maura O’Neill, Betty Ann and Michael Ballard. Jane Kavanagh’s apartment above Boh’s TV. Montebellow Lake. 1976.

December 24

The Baltimore Colts are hosting the Super Bowl Champion Oakland Raiders at Memorial Stadium for a playoff game. Jack Sr. and Jr. are there and they are pulling hard for their team who are leading with just minutes to go when the Raiders tie it and the Colts lose in overtime. It’s a sad slow ride home but Jack tells his son it’s been a good season. Junior agrees but is quiet and a little moody about the game. He’ll focus on the Capitals and hockey and hope for a better year next time for the Colts.

Jack Kav Lakewood Ave
Jack Kavanagh. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Late 1970s.

December 25

The Kavanagh’s celebrate Christmas at 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Betty, Michael and April make the trip up to Baltimore so it’s even more special. Jack and Betty are every bit the doting grandparents and enjoy every minute with the baby. The piles of Christmas presents grow again as even as a baby, April must get presents. The cycle seems to be starting over again and the family all take note of it. Another generation is growing so fast already. Such is how it is in a large family like the Kavanagh’s. Honestly, we never do anything small. It’s done big or not done. Turkey, parsnips, potatoes, stuffing and nearly anything else that can fit on the table is eaten. Jack plays the piano and they all sing as they do every Christmas. Another year has passed with two additions to the clan and with Little Jack learning the family trade. A time long waited for by his father. To train his son. To teach him as his father taught him. To guide him so he can do what Jack does some day. It’s the way it’s been done since Old Uncle Joe took on his nephews as apprentices all the way through Jack being schooled by Eddie. The fifth generation has arrived at the Shop though Junior still has a long road and much to learn. Jack and Betty’s family legacy gets bigger and even with so many in the home, there is always plenty of love to go around. It’s what happened on the corner of Lakewood and Jefferson. A great love between two people was spread over nine children only never too thin but rather it seemed to deepen and envelope them all and any who came into that house too. If you spent any appreciable amount of time in the Kavanagh home, you felt it. It touched you. If you grew up there, it warmed you, sustained you and it was all you knew.



Jimmy Carter is the President of the United States of America. The US agrees to return the Panama Canal to the nation of Panama. The Trans Alaskan Oil Pipeline opens. For twenty-five hours, a large scale black out hits New York City. The first Apple Computers and the first Atari Video Game Consoles are sold. Seattle Slew wins the Triple Crown. The films “Saturday Night Fever”, “Slap Shot” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” are released. Billy Joel’s album “the Stranger” debuts. Tom Brady, Floyd Mayweather Jr., John Mayer, Kerry Washington and Laila Ali are born.  Elvis Presley, Groucho Marx, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby and Ronnie Van Zandt die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

April Katie playpen Lakewood Ave
Katie Kavanagh O’Neill and April Kavanagh Ballard. Front Room of 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1977.

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

Table of Contents









1976 The Bicentennial

January 7

Jack pulls his keys to the heavy metal doors at 201 S. Central Avenue from his pocket and unlocks both padlocks. He swings the door open, enters and heads into the office while his crew arrive in ones and twos but all on time. Jack(51) and his wife Betty(46) have nine children but only three are still living at home, Ann, Jack Jr. and Joe. The older girls have moved out with Nancy and Mary both married now. Mary and her husband Handy live on Bucknell Road and Nancy and her husband Jim live the farthest away in Denver with their baby girl, Maura. Eldest daughter BettyAnn lives in Washington DC, Jane and Jackie have apartments in Baltimore and JoAnn has moved to Ocean City to live. Jack is very proud of his brood and they stay close regardless of whether they are local or not. Jack’s Shop has started this year the same as last. They are slow even for January but have a few jobs. The country is in recession with rampant inflation. Gas prices are going to the moon and there are shortages to boot. For the first time Jack can remember, sometimes you have to stand or park in line to get gasoline. Jack is sure things will be fine as he sits in the corner office with his brother Ed and secretary Helen Glodek. The work will pick up and hopefully this gas crisis will be resolved. A set of nine pipes are bent for the Heat and Power Corporation today. Though they have three bends each, it’s a fairly simple job. They are bent in the Leonard Air Bender and finished in three hours total.

The Shop’s job book entry. Heat and Power Corporation job. January 7, 1976.

January 18

Jack sits in his chair drinking a bottle of National Premium on Super Bowl Sunday. The Pittsburgh Steelers are playing the Dallas Cowboys for the NFL Championship. Jack loves football and despite Pittsburgh bouncing the Colts from the playoffs, he roots for them and they win 21-17. Jack thinks of his son-in-law Jim O’Neill. Jim and his family are from Pittsburgh and are all fans. Jack might have enjoyed a little good-natured ribbing at Jim’s expense if they had lost but he prefers Jim to get the win. In Jack’s mind, if it can’t be the Colts, it might as well be the Steelers.

Maura April 1976
Maura Kavanagh O’Neill. Denver. 1976.

February 12

An unseasonably warm February Thursday is a quiet one at the Shop. There are a couple jobs in the works including a copper coil which is finished for the Ackerman and Baynes Company, one of Jack’s local fabricator customers. The coil took a lot of time and certainly more than Jack figured in the job. It happens sometimes. You don’t always cover the time and,  on this one, Jack bid it a little low because he really needed the work. Despite all of this, it will be a good sized bill to send out. While this coil is finished by the Glenn brothers, two men are rolling some flat bar rings for Universal Metal Products and the rest are doings some cleaning up and maintenance on the machines.

The Shop’s job book entry. Ackerman and Baynes Fabricators job. February 12, 1976.

March 16

The mild February has led to a cold March so far but the work has picked up some. The Shop has been well cleaned and that’s never a good thing. Jack knows a clean Shop is not a busy Shop. He might not like the mess but if it’s because the crew doesn’t have the time to clean, that’s a good thing. A set of pipes are rolled for Codd Fabricators, one of the Kavanagh’s oldest customers. Codd sends work in regularly. They are located on Aliceanna Street about five minutes from the Joseph Kavanagh Company. This makes deliveries and pick ups much easier. Codd is owned by Ray Kaufmann and his family while their shop is run by Pete Kolb. Jack knows both Pete and Ray and considers them both work “friends.” The two companies work together well.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. March 16, 1976.

April 1

It’s April Fool’s Day at the Shop which means nailing other worker’s boots to the floor, giving people a  “hot foot” and the possibility that Ed might slip a Tums in your coffee cup if you let your guard down. Pranks and jokes are common in any working environment but in a dirty metal Shop it comes with the territory. Jack gets a chuckle out of it all and doesn’t let it bother him. As long as the work is done, he lets the boys have their fun. His brother Ed, of course, is usually right in the middle of it. Another reason Jack lets the playing go on is they are still waiting for more work. It will get here. Jack is sure but in the interim he has the men keep cleaning and he has John Benser making tools for stock. It’s a good use of free time and they will need the tools eventually.

The Shop’s job book entry. Stock rollers made for Roundo machine. April 1, 1976.
Baltimore Orioles souvenir helmet.

April 9

It’s a Friday opening day for the Orioles and that’s Jack’s favorite. A Friday is the easiest day for him to leave work early. He picks Betty and the kids up and they head out to Thirty-third Street for the game. Jack is excited for the start of the season. The Orioles made a big trade just a week ago acquiring perennial all-star Reggie Jackson from the Oakland A’s. Jackson is a power-hitting left-handed outfielder and the Birds hope he can put them over the top. Baltimore wins a squeaker today 1-0 with the only run scoring in the fourth inning on a couple of errors and a Bobby Grich single. Reggie doesn’t play in the game but will have a terrific year for the Orioles belting 27 home runs while surprising the league with 28 stolen bases.

Baltmore Orioles souvenir Bobblehead Bird. 1970s.

April 18

Jack is pleased to receive a rush job from Sinai Hospital. They have a boiler that is down and they need a heat exchanger repaired. The Shop has made and repaired exchangers for the City Housing Authority for a few years and the word has spread to other agencies and now hospitals. Copper tubes are annealed and bent into U’s, brass spacer plates are cut and drilled and the new unit is assembled as quickly as possible. Jack wants this one out fast in hopes it will lead to more work from Sinai down the road.

The Shop’s job book entry. Sinai Hospital job. April 18, 1976.

May 31

The Kavanagh’s return from a weekend at the beach. It’s Memorial Day and the family spent the holiday at Royal Palm Court. The kids have a few days of school the following week then are finished for the summer. Jack Jr. will graduate from St. Elizabeth’s and move on to high school. He received his Confirmation in the Catholic Church two weeks prior and Mom and Dad are full of pride in the young man he is becoming. Jack and Betty have a wedding to look forward to this summer. Betty Ann is engaged to Michael Ballard, a young man from Kentucky who she has been seeing for some time.

Jack Kav St Es
Jack Kavanagh Jr. in front of St. Elizabeth’s School. Spring 1976.

June 10

The Summer has arrived with a bang, a slew of orders and jobs has hit the corner of Pratt and Central. Jack immediately adds Saturday hours to the schedule and the crew are happy for the extra money. A very large set of copper U-bends are finished for Harvey Stambaugh & Sons. It’s four hundred and thirty-six bends and takes over one hundred lengths of tube. Jack always keeps a big stock of copper and this helps him in getting work. Most other companies do not keep this much in stock but the Kavanagh’s have been working with copper long enough that Jack knows to keep plenty on hand.

The Shop’s job book entry. Harvey Stambaugh Co. job. June 10, 1976.

June 22

The work is suddenly plentiful and it’s a good thing the workers did some cleaning and maintenance when they could. A mix of angle rings, railings, a set of brewery fittings for National and some stainless steel shafts for a machine are all bent today. The shafts are sent in from the William H. Whiting Company and they are rolled in the R-3 by Mike Glenn. They are only four feet long so one man is all it takes. Jack stands in the front of 201 S. Central and watches his men at work. Anytime he can do that and hear the grinding and whirring of machines and the thud and clang of metal being moved, he is happy.

The Shop’sjob book entry. William H. Whiting Co. June 22, 1976.

June 26

Betty Ann Kavanagh marries Michael Ballard at St. Andrew’s Church in Wheaton, Maryland. Her parents are excited for her and the Kavanagh clan and some of the Crew family drive from Baltimore for the celebration. Nancy and baby Maura fly in from Denver. Jack and Betty are happy to have another daughter married and pleased to welcome Michael into the fold. The Kavanagh family keeps growing and that will only continue.

Betty and Michael Ballard Wedding 1976
Michael and Betty Ann Ballard. Wedding Day. June 26, 1976.
Betty Ann and Michael Ballard. Wedding. Cake picture. 1976
Betty Ann and Michael Ballard. Wedding day. June 26, 1976.
Jack Kavanagh and Buddy Crew. Betty Ann's Weding. 1976
Buddy Crew and Jack Kavanagh Sr. Betty Ann and Michael’s wedding. June 26, 1976.

July 4

This Sunday is the United State of America’s 200th birthday and the Kavanagh’s celebrate. Crabs and shrimp are steamed and burgers and hot dogs are grilled. A large fireworks display is held at the Inner Harbor and a mammoth cake is floated on a barge from Fort McHenry. The family watches it all on television from home and the youngest, Joe, is excited. His head is full of a giant cake a la Paul Bunyan. He’s a bit disappointed when the cake becomes a bit of a civic embarrassment. The cake sits for several days before the holiday and rain and rats take their toll. Some substitute pieces of cake are sold and the Kavanagh’s as a group, are a little disappointed in this too. The cake is rather dry but cake is still cake. The day is a very patriotic and festive one. The family knows this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and they do their best to take it all in.

Jack and Joe Kav July 1976
Jack Jr. and Joe(GI) Kavanagh. July 1976.
Maura baby swing 1976
Maura Kavanagh O’Neill. Denver. 1976.

July 17

Jack glances out of the window onto Jefferson Street. He’s home on a Saturday afternoon and watching his boys play wiffle ball on the side of the house. He smiles to watch his sons and their friends as they play as he did. His boys still play on their neighborhood team, the Robin-Blair Sons. The core is Jack and Joe and their friends Tommy and Ray French but Tommy is getting older and sometimes is too busy to play. The team is usually augmented for games by other boys in the neighborhood. This summer it’s been three young Greek boys who moved onto the 500 block of Lakewood, the Stakias brothers. Jack and Joe like these boys and with six, they rarely have to find any one else to get up a game even with a bigger team. Jack lets the curtain close and sits down in his recliner flipping the seat back. He opens the newspaper as Betty enters from the kitchen, tea for each in tow. She takes her seat closer to the window and instinctively checks on the boys. She turns to Jack.

“Well, my darling, how do you like being a Grandad?” she rocks in the chair and crosses her legs while she lets her tea cool.

Jack blows on his then takes a small swallow. “Hmm? I love it. Of course. She’s something. I gotta tell you, Betty. I love that little girl.” Jack smiles soft as only a father of seven girls can. All Daddy’s girls in his eyes and the chance to feel that again with this baby girl warms him.

Betty takes a sip from her cup then continues. “I’m glad you feel that way, Jack. I love that baby so much too and…. I have some news.”

Suddenly Jack perks up and places his cup roughly in the saucer, the sound making Betty wince. “News? What do you mean? Are they having another baby?” his grin getting ahead of itself with excitement.

Betty pauses then slowly nods. “Maura is going to have a baby brother or sister early next year.”

“Oh Gee, hon. That’s great.” He claps his hands together and is on his feet in a flash “Another grandbaby, Betty. Oh I can’t believe it.” He steps closer and lifts her to her feet wrapping his arms around her. “Another grandchild.”

“Yes, Jack. Another grandchild. Another baby.”

Jack Joe part gang Lakewood
Standing-George Stakias, Jimmy Stakias, Jack Kavanagh Jr. Stooping down- Stayaul Stakias and Joe Kavanagh. Lakewood and Jefferson. Standing in front of Jefferson St. wall. Mid 1970s.

August 7

The Kavanagh’s take their annual vacation in Ocean City at Royal Palm Court. The kids sleep a little in the back while Jack and Betty drive through the early morning Saturday hours. They love this city. Now that they have this small place of their own, they both dream of retiring here some day. A long way off no doubt, but it’s a goal they share. Jack loves the water, the fishing and crabbing. Betty loves the solitude and sunshine. She loves nothing more than to sit outside with the scent of the sea, the warmth of the sun and the feel of a book in her hand. They reach Ocean City mid morning and Betty sets them to unpacking and setting up the bedrooms for the week. She cooks as much as she can at Royal Palm. It’s much cheaper to eat at home rather than go out but they do treat themselves occasionally. Saturday night will be spent at Granny’s Pizzeria on 17th Street. Gooey cheese, perfect sauce and crisped thin crust is how they do it and they do it right. It’s the kids’ favorite and Jack and Betty love the black olive pizza. The rest of the week is a whirlwind of fishing, crabbing, rides, arcades and soft serve ice cream. It goes by in a flash and the following Sunday they are driving back across the Bay Bridge on their way home.

Jack Joe pool Royal Palm
Jack and Joe Kavanagh and unknown other boy in pool at Royal Palm Court. Summer 1976.
Joe Kav Aug 1976 Busch Gardens
Joe(GI) Kavanagh. Busch Gardens. 1976.

September 6

It’s Labor Day and the Kavanagh’s have returned from another long weekend in Ocean City. It’s the end of summer and the ride home was a quiet one. The children will return to school tomorrow for another year. Jack Jr. joins Ann at Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Joe is the last to remain at St. Elizabeth’s. Jack, Betty and the kids are watching the end of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. Jerry introduces the “Chairman of the Board” and Jack shushes them all to silence. Jack is a huge admirer of Frank Sinatra. Frank sings and then brings out a special guest, Dean Martin and the old duo of Martin and Lewis are re-united for a few moments. Jack and Betty smile broadly and it’s that sudden rush of nostalgia and feeling yourself pulled back happily to your youth. The kids know this is important as they have spent hours watching those old movies with their father. The Telethon once again passes the previous year’s high and the summer is truly over as the credits roll. The children scatter to find some fun for those last few hours before bed,  then school. Betty is glad to have some time alone with Jack.

“Well, Jack. I have some news for you.” Betty leans over and kisses him quick then sits down facing him.

Jack returns the kiss and smiles. “What is it, hon? Something with the kids’ school?”

The corners of Betty’s mouth crinkle in a grin. “No, no. We… are going to be grandparents again next year. “

“I know that, Betty. Nancy told us.” Jack replies as he lifts a glass of iced tea to his lips.

“I said again. Yes Nancy is having a baby. But so is Betty.” her eyes flash very wide.

Jack suddenly scoots forward in his chair and turns to face her more directly. “What? Really? Betty too?”

“I’m serious. Betty too.” Betty’s lips purse together for a moment in a more whimsical smile. “There will be two babies next year.”

Jack chuckles merrily and rises to his feet closing the distance between them quickly and they embrace. “Two more babies.” Jack whispers in her ear.

“Mmhmm.” Betty answers softly.

Joe Kav July 1975 with fish Royal Palm
Joe Kavanagh with fish. Royal Palm Caourt. Mid 1970s.
Jack Kav on bike Royal Palm
Jack Kavanagh Jr. Royal Palm Court. 1974.

September 19

Jack and Little Jack attend the Colts home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s a close one but Baltimore pulls it out winning 28-27. Jack and his son discuss the game throughout and on the ride home. These are special times for a father and son especially in a household the size of the Kavanagh’s. Any alone time with Jack Sr., is precious to his children when there are so many.

September 23

The Shop has completed a busy summer and the Saturday hours come to an end. Jack still has work enough to keep the crew busy but not enough for the weekend time. Today a Davit Boom is bent for Crown, Cork and Seal Co. A Davit Boom is a section of pipe that is bent on one end to facilitate lifting heavy objects often from the water or a boat. A winch or chain fall is attached to the top and the curve aids in supporting and lifting whatever the object is. Jack had an order for two of these from Crown, Cork and Seal two weeks ago and today a third is bent.

The Shop’s job book entry. Two Crown, Cork and Seal Co. jobs. September 1976.

October 6

The Washington Capitals open their third season at home hosting the Atlanta Flames. Jack Kavanagh Jr. is listening from his bedroom leaning as close as he can to the radio. Lakewood Avenue is at the bottom of two hills,  and radio and television reception can be a challenge. Jack has this fancy Channel Master and can get the game but some nights it’s a little staticky. He holds his ear close because he has to keep the sound down too. The TV is on downstairs and his father is watching so it’s best to keep the radio volume down. Jack is becoming a bigger hockey fan with each season. He loves the action, the speed and the skill of the game. He has acquired a second hand stick and pucks to play around with and practice. Jack enjoys tonight’s broadcast immensely. The Caps win 6-5 and will make some steps forward this year winning 24 games and climbing out of the cellar of the Norris Division.

Jack Kavanagh Jr. and Jerry Sheppard in Webloes uniforms. Mid 1970s.

October 20

Jack calls Mr. John Rogers at Baltimore Tube Bending to tell him a piece of 4” pipe is ready and it will be delivered shortly. The pipe was rolled in the R-5 to 90 degrees and will be used as an elbow. It’s a typical job for the Shop but one that is too big for Baltimore Tube Bending to do themselves. Rogers and Jack discuss the World Series as well. The Orioles did okay winning 88 games but just as last year, they will finish second in the Eastern Division. The Yankees were in first and won the ALCS as well. They are playing the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series and so far, the Reds are up 3 games to none. Jack is hoping for a sweep. Even though New York is the American League team, they are in the Birds’ division and Jack can’t root for the Yanks. He just can’t do it. He will get his wish in two nights when the Reds finish it off and take the World Series championship.

The Shop’s job book entry. Baltimore Tube Bending Company job. October 20, 1976.

November 2

Democrat Jimmy Carter defeats incumbent Republican Gerald Ford to win the presidency. The Kavanagh’s vote for Carter. They have been members of the Democratic Party for three generations and in this case, the Nixon administration left a bad taste that Ford had very little chance of overcoming.

November 9

Another heat exchanger is completed today. This one is for a local YMCA. This unit uses bigger tubes than most exchangers. Usually they are made with 3/4” copper tube but this one needs 1 1/4” O.D. The Shop does stock this size and the boys get right to it. Lengths of copper are pulled from racks then cut and annealed. They are bent in the Leonard Air Bender,  then trimmed to size. Finally, the unit is put together, the tubes expanded to seal and it is stamped with the Job# and the date for future reference.

The Shop’s job book entry. YMCA job. November 9, 1976.

November 27

The Kavanagh’s visit Aunt Anna, Sister Mary Agnes at the Visitation Convent. She is happy to hear all the latest on the two babes that are on the way but she also has some news of her own. The Visitation building on Roland Park Avenue has been sold by the Archdiocese. Her order is moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota and she with it. The family is very surprised as they see her almost every month and have done so for over thirty years. Sister Mary Agnes tells them she is excited for the challenge. She will miss them all dearly and Baltimore too but she is ready for a change if that is what God has planned for her. The move will not be until next year but Jack and Betty already promise to fly out to see her if they can. Aunt Anna promises to write to them which she has always done. She is a prolific letter writer and corresponds with many friends and family.

The Visitation Convent. 5712 Roland Avenue. Baltimore, MD. 1929.

November 29

Jack is watching the evening news and Reggie Jackson has signed with the New York Yankees as a free agent. His tenure in Baltimore was a brief one. Jack shakes his head and mutters, “those Damn Yankees.”

Jackson Reggie NY77-274_FL_NBLMcWilliams
Reggie Jackson in New York Yankees uniform. 1977.

December 14

It’s a very cold Tuesday in the old Shop and Jack and the crew’s minds are on their work but also the approaching holiday. Thoughts of gifts for their kids, time with family and time away from work fill all their thoughts. The year has been fair. A slow start lead to a busy summer and now to a steady end to 1976. A fountain is finished for Fountain Craft company today along with a 3” Pipe for Service Machine and Welding. The pipe is thin wall but does not require filling. Still, it must be rolled slowly or “babied” as Jack would say to keep the distortion of the pipe to a minimum. Jerry Purnell and helper Forest Glenn take care of this one in the R-5. Jack is very happy with the Roundo machines. He has two and is beginning to consider purchasing a third. He would love something even bigger than the R-5 but for now, he will wait. He will keep thinking about it for down the road.

The Shop’s job book entry. Service Machine and Welding Company job. December 14, 1976.

December 19

The Colts host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs and the two Jacks are there. Both are excited for a re-match of last year’s playoff game and perhaps some revenge against the Steelers. The Colts are an offensive juggernaut this season leading the league in points scored and quarterback Bert Jones wins the MVP of the league. Baltimore has the home field advantage this time but it doesn’t help. The game turns ugly early with the Colts trailing 26-7 at the half and finally losing 40-14. this game is tough to watch so the two Kavanagh’s decide to leave early along with many of the Colts fans. It’s good fortune many do because minutes after the game is completed, a small plane crashes into the upper deck of Memorial Stadium. Jack and Jack are listening on the radio and can’t believe what they hear. It could have been much worse if the stadium had been full at the time. The pilot was arrested and sent for psychological evaluation.

December 25

It’s Christmas Day on Lakewood Avenue and this year feels merrier than most. It’s always a beautiful Christmas at 447 but this year is special. A wedding, a baby and two more on the way. Jack and Betty can hardly contain themselves. The front room is decorated as always with a large tree, pieces of cut up tree around the mirror over the piano and along the stairs. Santa’s elves are placed about and a small Nativity sits on the radiator. There are piles of gifts for each of the children with the youngest, Joe’s being the largest. He’s still in the toy phase at least for a few more years. Food is abundant and music flows from the piano punctuated by Jack’s deep throaty voice leading them in song. They welcome and celebrate Christmas,  then bid it farewell in fine fashion. Jack and Betty will watch their family grow even more next year as the next generation gets bigger. Their kids are grown or growing up and they are happy but a little sad too. They have had small kids in the house for over twenty years and the sound of play is one they relish. Fortunately, the grandchild will fill any silence that appears. Jack has one other thing on his mind this Christmas. Jack Jr. is fourteen. It’s time for him to begin to learn his trade. Jack has discussed it with Betty and next year, Little Jack will start at the Shop. The fifth generation will come to the Joseph Kavanagh Company.

Jack_ Joe Maura Lakewood ave
Jack Kavanagh Jr., Joe Kavanagh and Maura Kavanagh O’Neill. 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. 1976.



Jimmy Carter is the President of the United States after defeating Gerald Ford. The two-dollar bill is re-introduced by the US Treasury. The ABA and the NBA merge. The Naval Academy accepts its first class that includes women. The first outbreak of Legionnaires disease occurs in Philadelphia. The space shuttle Enterprise is finished and unveiled to the public. The Band play their last concert and it is made into a movie, “the Last Waltz.” The company Apple is formed by Steve Jobs. The films “the Omen,” “Rocky” and “Taxi Driver” are released. I read “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Ryan Reynolds, Peyton Manning, Rashida Jones, Pat Tillman and Matthew Shepard are born. Sal Mineo, Howard Hughes, J. Paul Getty and Jack Cassidy die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

Fort McHenry. Courtesy of Getty Images
Fort McHenry. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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

Table of Contents









1975 The First Grandchild

January 12

It’s Super Bowl Sunday and Jack is watching the game from 447 N. Lakewood Avenue.  The AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers are matched up against the NFC Champion Minnesota Vikings. Jack pulls for Pittsburgh. They are in the same conference as the Colts and Jack usually pulls for the AFC team. Also, his son-in-law Jim O’Neill is from Pittsburgh and is a big Steelers fan. Jim will be happy today as the Steelers win 16-6. Jack and his wife Betty are anxious grandparents to be. Jim and Nancy called from Denver on Christmas Day to let them know they were expecting. Jack and Betty are on pins and needles and as excited as they could be to become Granny and Grandad. Jack hops up from his recliner after the game is over and walks into the front room. He sits at the piano and plays a few tunes. Music relaxes him and he plays every day. Even while playing, his mind is always at the Shop on some level. It is winter and they are not particularly busy which is typical. They have a little work to start the year and tomorrow’s schedule rolls through his mind. The Shop has some 1 1/2” pipes to bend for Custom Steel Fabricators and three angles to roll for J.C. Pardo. Jack remembers he has to have both of those jobs knocked out early so they can be picked up in the afternoon as promised.  His crew will take care of it first thing and it will be fine. He’s pulled out of his thoughts and his playing when he hears Betty calling everyone for dinner. He closes the cover on the keys, clicks off the light that sits on the piano and heads into the dining room.

The Shop’s job book entry. Custom Steel Fabricators job. January 13. 1975.
The Shop’s job book entry. J. C. Pardo job. January 13. 1975.

February 18

Two 4” pipes are completed for Baltimore Tube Bending today. This company bends small pipes and tubes very much like the Shop does but they are unable to handle larger pieces. When Mr. Rogers at Baltimore Tube Bending has bigger pipes or tubes to bend, he calls Jack and sends them over. This job is welcomed by the crew as it will require filling the pipes with rosin. That means using torches to melt the rosin before filling and then again to get the rosin back out. Any torch work in February is a good thing and warms the old Shop up a bit. The pieces are finished and then delivered by Charlie Owens this afternoon.

The Shop’s job book entry. Baltimore Tube Bending Company job. February 18, 1975.

March 13

The Shop has made it through another winter and they have stayed steady if not busy. Jack will take that. He knows the stories of winters at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Even as far back as Old Uncle Joe, the winter was always the most challenging part of the year to find work. A repair job for the Housing Authority is finished today. A heat exchanger was leaking and it was sent in for testing and repairs. The tubes are cut from the unit and they are checked. One tube is found to have a small pinhole. Another is bent to replace it and the unit is re-assembled, now in full working order.

The Shop’s job book entry. Baltimore Housing Authority job. March 13, 1975.

April 11

The Orioles opening day is a Friday and the Kavanagh’s are there. Jack left his brother in charge & rushed out after lunch to get them all to the game. The Orioles are hosting their Eastern Division rival Boston Red Sox. The Birds have changed a bit in the off season. Gone are long time pitcher Dave McNally and long time first baseman, Boog Powell. Newcomers are starter Mike Torrez, first baseman Lee May and a young corner outfielder, Ken Singleton. This game is a close one that takes extra innings to decide. Finally, in the 12th inning, Carl Yastrzemski crushes a home run to right off Doyle Alexander and the Red Sox win. The Kavanagh’s head home after the loss still confident in their Birds team.

May 6

The spring has brought in a little more work but not as much as Jack had hoped. Most of the crew are busy but for John Benser, the machinist. During his idle hours, Benser makes dies and rollers for stock. Today he takes the final cuts on a set of 1 1/2” O.D. rollers for the R-3. They are turned down, faced off and grooved in a lathe. Finally, the old belt-driven shaper is used to cut the keyways. John Benser is Jack’s longest tenured employee. He spends much of his time in the upstairs machine shop making parts for jobs and on days like today, making assorted tools.

The Shop’s job book entry. Stock set of rollers for R-3 made May 6, 1975.

June 1

JoAnn Kavanagh graduates from Catholic High School on this Sunday. She is the last of six daughters to attend CHS. Her Mother and Father are very proud of her as is her maternal grandmother, Nanny who is at the house for a small party to celebrate.

JoAnn's Graduation with Nanny 1975
JoAnn Kavanagh at her graduation with grandmother, Nanny Crew. June 1, 1975.

June 2

JoAnn boards a bus and moves to Ocean City, Maryland. She has told her parents she wants to live at the beach and promises to find a job and work hard. She does just that and her first job is on the boardwalk at Steve’s Carry Out. The place is located directly opposite Trimper’s Amusements, a place the Kavanagh kids have loved for years.

JoAnn 1975 OC
JoAnn Kavanagh. Working on the boardwalk in Ocean City. Summer 1975.

June 4

The Kavanagh’s are at Memorial Stadium to watch the Orioles play the Texas Rangers on a Wednesday night.  The Birds have struggled out of the gate so far and they lose another tough one tonight. Just as it was on opening day, this takes 12 innings to finish with Grant Jackson getting the loss in relief. Jim Palmer pitched a good game. His only mistakes being solo home runs to Texas outfielders, Jeff Burroughs and Mark Hargrove. Both Orioles’ runs were driven in by Lee May including a solo homer of his own. Jack is concerned about his team but he knows it’s early. He knows they have good pitching and still have good hitting. He is sure they will get it straightened out.

Baltimore Orioles ticket stub. June 4, 1975.

June 10

A rush of work has hit Central Avenue and Jack is relieved. He offers his men half-day Saturday hours and they gladly accept. Jack will keep that up as long as the work warrants it. His workers are split over a handful of jobs including a brass railing, a municipal fountain and several pipe rolling jobs. Another 4” Pipe is completed for Baltimore Tube Bending. This one does not require any filling as the pipe is heavy enough to handle the rolling process without collapsing. The pipe is rolled into a ring and needs to be trimmed and welded shut. Jack usually stays away from any extra fabricating or welding after the bending. Bending and rolling is their forte and Jack prefers to stick with what they are best at but for Mr. Rogers at Baltimore Tube, he is fine with it. The crew trims the ring then sends it up the street to Foster’s Welding. Jack Foster is another of Jack Kavanagh’s work “friends.” Foster’s is two blocks away so it’s simple and quick to run material up there and back. Foster’s handles the welding very well and the job is completed. Jack Kavanagh knows Foster’s does good work. In his mind, if he can’t trust another Jack, who can he trust?

The Shop’s job book entry. Baltimore Tube Bending Company job. June 10. 1975.

June 21

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Ann & Jack Jr. take the bus to the Strand Theater. They are going to see a movie that was just released called “Jaws.” Their little brother is too young to go according to his mother, Betty. His sister and brother head off to the movies and he sits alone in the basement. Betty calls him upstairs to go to the store for her. She says we need a can of string beans for dinner and ushers him out the door but not before letting Joe know, he can buy himself a comic book and a candy bar. The little boy suddenly has a smile on his face and he races back across the street from Coby’s, the corner store. His father is in the front room playing the piano so Joe plops down in his Dad’s recliner. He tears open an end of the Hershey Bar and immerses himself in the adventures of the Flash, his favorite super hero. Jealous thoughts of his older brother and sister are gone as the Flash takes on Captain Cold in a battle for the fate of Central City. In a few hours, Ann and Jack return from “Jaws.” They were both shocked to see a line to get into the theater. Apparently, this happened all over the country. This movie that starts with some very ominous music becomes a smash hit and the summer blockbuster is invented.

Joe 1975 Lakewood Ave
Joe(GI) Kavanagh. Birthday at 447 N. Lakewood Ave. Sitting in his father’s chair with a model & Tom Swift Jr. books. June 17, 1975.

July 2

On a hot summer Wednesday, the crew at 201 S. Central are anxious for the holiday. Jack has promised if they can finish up early tomorrow, he’ll get them all out of there by 2 pm tomorrow. That will give them a couple of hours then a long weekend which they all are looking forward to. The Shop is full of the high-pitched creaking of steel as it is rolled in the Roundo machines mixed with the slamming of the Pines Bender. After each bend, when the bend arm of the Pines returns it smacks hard against the machine. The sound of work and labor has filled this building for over sixty years and today is no different. The job in the Pines is for Washington Aluminum Co. Forty 2 1/2” aluminum pipes are bent and so forty times the machine’s ram must crash back and thud rhythmically. Jack is happy with the volume of work. It’s his job to worry about the place and worry he does. When there is a backlog of scheduled work for two weeks or more as there is now, he worries a lot less.

The Shop’s job book entry. Washington Aluminum Co. job. July 2, 1975.
Jim and Nancy O'Neill Summer 1975
Jim and Nancy O’Neill. Denver, Colorado. Summer 1975.

August 2

Jack, Betty and the three youngest children, Ann, Jack Jr. and Joe are driving across the Bay Bridge in the very early dawn hours. Now that they have a home in OC, they can take short weekend trips whenever possible. They have taken several so far this summer but today starts their real vacation. A week with the Shop closed and the Kavanagh’s at the beach, fishing, crabbing and hitting the boards. They also get to see their daughter JoAnn who has been living and working in Ocean City since her graduation. It’s an annual trip and the family loves it. This year they are a bit distracted with the impending birth of Nancy and Jim’s baby. The baby is due this month so they are getting close.

Jack and Joe fishing 1974
Jack Jr. and Joe Kavanagh. Fishing in Ocean City. Mid 1970s.
Nanny at Nancy's baby shower 1975
Bernadine “Nanny” Crew. Nancy O’Neill’s baby shower. 1975.

August 11

The Kavanagh’s returned from their vacation yesterday but are met with very sad news. Betty’s mother has passed away very suddenly. She was having some routine exploratory surgery for pain she has been having and she never makes it out of recovery. Betty is devastated. She has always been very close to her mother and she is heartbroken. It seems doubly so as she wanted more than anything for her mother to know her first great-grandchild. The family gathers and mourns her. Bernadine Crew is the only grandmother the youngest of the kids ever knew. Nanny was loving and caring and essentially the prototypical grandmother; the family’s sadness is heavy. Nanny’s funeral is held at St. Elizabeth’s Church and she is buried at New Cathedral Cemetery where much of the family are interred.

Announcement of Bernadine “Nanny” Crew’s funeral in St. Elizabeth’s bulletin. August 17, 1975.
Bernadine MacErlain (Crew). Circa 1910.
Nanny and Uncle Buddy
Bernadine Crew with firstborn Lawrence “Buddy” Crew. Late 1920s.
Nanny & Bunk
Bernadine crew with son Howard “Bumpsey” Crew. Circa 1970.
Nanny 1970
Bernadine “Nanny” Crew. 1970.

August 17

Sometimes in a period of great sadness, suddenly there is great joy. Maura Kavanagh O’Neill is born to Jim and Nancy in Denver Colorado. Jack and Betty and the assorted Kavanagh’s are thrilled and very excited. This baby is the start of a new generation. Jack and Betty are grandparents and it is a role they have looked forward to for some time. After Maura’s birth, six sisters become aunts and two brothers become uncles including the youngest who becomes Uncle Joe at the tender age of ten. Betty flies out to Denver for a week or so and is joined by Jack for the second weekend. They are as happy as they can be to meet their first grandchild.

Nancy Jim Maura 1975
Nancy and Jim O’Neill with baby Maura. Denver, Colorado. August 1975.
Mom and Maura September 1975
Betty Kavanagh holding Maura O’Neill. September 1975.

September 2

The Kavanagh kids who still remain at home all head back to school today. Ann starts her second year at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel High School in Essex while the boys both return to St. Elizabeth’s Elementary for another year.

September 19

Another heat exchanger repair is handled today for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City. This unit is larger containing 41 tubes. They are removed and tested with four having leaks. Replacements are bent and a new spacer plate is drilled then the exchanger is put back together. Housing Authority is a good reliable customer. Jack can count on some work from them every month. This will be the last week for working Saturday half-days and this is how it usually goes at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. They are slower in the winter, busier in the summer, enough to work extra hours,  then the rest of the year is steady. At least during any good year.

The Shop’s job book entry. Baltimore Housing Authority job. September 19, 1975.

September 28

Jack is taking his son Jack Jr. to his first football game. He’s wanted to do this for a few years but was waiting for his boy to get a little older. The Colts first game at Memorial Stadium this season is against the Oakland Raiders. The Orioles had a good year winning 90 games but have to settle for second to the Red Sox and they miss the playoffs. The two Jacks are disappointed but they have high hopes for the Colts. The Raiders beat Baltimore today 31-20 but the Colts finish the year strong winning nine in a row to take the AFC East Division and secure a playoff berth.

Joe and Maual Crew 1974 Bucknell Road
Joe Kavanagh and Manuel Crew. The Crew home on Bucknell Road. Mid 1970s.

October 7

The Washington Capitals or simply “Caps,” as their fans begin to call them, lose their home opener to the Pittsburgh Penguins in DC 4-2. It will be another hard year for the fledgling franchise but they will gain one very enthusiastic fan.

October 11

On this Saturday, a new late night comedy show premiers. It is called Saturday Night Live. The live show consists of short comedic skits, a monologue or two from a host and musical guest performances as well. Tonight the host is comedian George Carlin and music is provided by Bill Preston and Janis Ian. Ann and Jack Jr. stay up to watch and they love the show. Jack particularly enjoys a sketch about a Samurai laundromat attendant. Little Joe doesn’t see the appeal and he would rather stay in bed in his room watching late night horror movies presented by “Ghost Host” or “Creature Feature.” That was the boys’ usual Saturday night viewing but Jack Jr. may be getting too old for that.

Joe and Manual 1974 Bucknell rd
Joe Kavanagh and Manuel Crew. The Crew home on Bucknell Road. Mid 1970s.

October 17

Jack and his brother Ed sit in the small corner office at Pratt and Central. Ed eats a shrimp salad sandwich from one of the delis at Corned Beef Row while Jack has his usual ham sandwich from home. It’s the end of another week at the Shop and the brothers casually discuss the jobs Jack has lined up for next week and what has to be completed today. The last job that needs finishing today is for the Poole and Kent Company. Four pieces of 2 1/2” heavy steel pipe must be rolled to a 28 ft. Radius. It’s a straight forward job in the R-5. Jack tells Ed to let him know as soon as they are working on the last piece so he can call the customer and get them on their way to pick up.

The Shop’s job book entry. Poole and Kent Company job. October 17, 1975.

October 24

It’s a Friday night and the Kavanagh household is happy to have reached the weekend. The World Series is over and football is played on Sunday but on this day, another sport squeezes into Kavanagh fandom. Little Jack received a fancy radio for his birthday last month and since has been searching the dial for fun things. He finds the radio broadcast for the Washington Capitals hockey game. Jack listens closely as an announcer, Ron Webber, describes the action. He is hooked. Fall and winter nights will soon be spent with ear close to radio and Jack’s interest in hockey grows very quickly. The Caps are young and struggling but Jack does not care. He finds he loves hockey as much as baseball and football and perhaps over time, even more.

Jack Kavanagh’s radio from 1970s. Picture taken February 2020.

October 21

It’s a Tuesday night and Jack and his sons are watching game 6 of the World Series. The Boston Red Sox are down 3 games to 2 to the Cincinnati Reds and this game in Fenway is a must win for Boston and its fans. The Reds jump out to a lead but Boston rallies back and the game is tied 6–6 and goes into extra innings. Jack and the boys talk about the game as they watch. It’s an exciting one and all three are on the edge of their seats. As the clock passes eleven o’clock, a voice from the top of the stairs is heard.

“Jack? Jack? It’s past 11 o’clock. The boys have school tomorrow. You know.” Betty calls down  to her husband.

The room grows eerily quiet in an instant. Jack Jr. and Joe try to sink into their chairs a bit as if that might hide them from view. Jack takes a sip of his beer and keeps his eyes focused on the television.  “I said it’s past 11. You boys better get to sleep. You have to get up for school tomorrow.” Betty repeats herself.

“Sure hon, The game’s almost over. They’ll be right up.” Jack answers without looking away from the game.

Betty tries again. “Jack? You have to get up too.” An audible sigh moves down the stairs.  “Fine. Fine. Nobody listens to me in this house. Heading toward midnight and children awake.” She shakes her head hard enough that the boys could almost sense it from the first floor. She returns to her bed muttering, “Patience is a virtue.”

The room stays quiet for a few more minutes and the boys realize they are being allowed to stay up. Jack never confirms this but his silence and ignoring of their mother tells them so. The young Kavanagh lads are quite happy they are allowed to watch the end when Boston Catcher Carlton Fisk steps to the plate in the bottom of the 12th. They see something pretty special. Fisk drives a pitch deep into left field but right down the foul line. As Jack and his boys lean forward, Fisk is seen jumping up and down waving his arms toward fair territory. As if by the strength of his will, the ball stays fair and bounces off the foul pole for a home run. The Red Sox win and this moment is forever remembered in the annuls of baseball lore. Fisk’s waved fair shot. Jack immediately ushers his sons up the steps and into bed. He’s glad he let them stay up. It’s another baseball moment they won’t soon forget. Baseball though is humbling and this is no clearer than on the next night when the Reds come back from a three run deficit to win 4-3 thus taking the championship. The Kavanagh’s will watch that game too but it’s game 6 they will never forget.

November 29

The Kavanagh family visits Aunt Anna at the Visitation Convent on this Saturday after Thanksgiving. In the order, she is named Sister Mary Agnes but is always Aunt Anna to her family. She is Jack’s father’s sister and the last of her generation. Jack, Betty and the kids visit as often as they can and always close to the holidays. They catch up with her on her teaching and she on the family. She is nearly as excited as Jack and Betty at the arrival of Nancy’s baby. After a nice long chat, the family heads home to enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend.

Aunt Anna Kavanag(Sister Mary Agnes) in front of Christmas tree at Visitation Convent. Mid 1970s.

December 15

The end of another year is approaching and the Shop is finishing strong. They have a solid two week backlog and Jack believes that will extend to the beginning of 1976. This year, they have received a few calls for small parts for local brewers and distillers but those jobs are more and more infrequent. The bulk of the Kavanagh’s work is rolling and bending metal for construction, fabrication and an assortment of other applications. A set of pipe rings are rolled in the R-3 for Codd Fabricators while some 1 1/4” pipes are bent for a sculpture for Stan Edmister. The Shop has helped Mr. Edmister with a couple of projects and Jack is hoping the word spreads to more artists. Work is work and Jack will take any and all he can get.

The Shop’s job book entry. Codd Fabricators job. December 15, 1975.

December 25

It’s Christmas Day on Lakewood Avenue and the family celebrates as they always do. They gather and enjoy the day as one. Presents are exchanged, a feast is shared and music and song will fill the house. For Jack and Betty, this Christmas will always be special. Jim, Nancy and baby Maura are back home for the holiday and the baby is held, passed around and held again by any and all. Jack and Betty have lived in this house for about thirty years now. They have raised nine children and now there is a grandchild. Betty misses her mother dearly and will take some time to heal but if there is anything that helps her, it is this miracle of a baby. Betty takes any chance to snatch her up and hold Maura in her arms while Jack is content to make faces and say “boozey gitsie” and other nonsensical things to amuse the little one. The baby seems non-plussed but the rest of the Kavanagh’s chuckle for this is how Jack was to all of them. The end of the festivities finds the family gathered around the piano. Jack plays and everyone joins in singing if they know the words. Christmas carols are played and those favorites from long ago that he and Betty love. He slips into “As Time Goes By” and sends a lingering glance to Betty. When he sings certain songs, he is singing to her. This is one perfect example. She returns his look and this is their present to each other. What they have shared and done together. This suddenly growing again family and each of these moments. They are precious to them both and to be savored, enjoyed and recounted as time goes by.