1950 The Song Is Over

January 16

Leo and Eddie Kavanagh lead their crew into another year of working copper as has been done for over eighty years at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Old Uncle Joe started in a stall on Falls Avenue which was destroyed in the Black Friday Flood of 1868. They spent thirty-five years on Lombard Street until it was burned down in the Great Baltimore Fire. A few years at Gough and Seventh then on to Central Avenue. It’s been a lot of years and long history to get to 201 S. Central Ave. Now it is clearly their home and they work as they have, making distillery parts, general copper parts and still confectionery cookers. Today some 1 1/4” water tube and a few elbows, couplings and adapters are tinned. This is old school coppersmith work and one of their regular services. Most copper used by distillers and brewers needs to be tinned to avoid contamination in what spirits they are making. Jack Kavanagh, in addition to his Shop duties, is working hard on the house at the corner of Lakewood and Jefferson. He eats dinner at his parents’ house with his family, then spends two or three hours each night transforming the beauty parlor basement into a residential one and the first floor into the perfect home for his wife and two baby girls.

The Shop’s job book entry. January 15, 1950.

January 20

Leo and Eddie eat lunch in their small corner office and discuss a story in the newspaper. It seems some fan of Edgar Allan Poe has begun a tradition of visiting his grave and bringing roses and wine. He toasts the esteemed author and Baltimorean then disappears into the night. Both have never heard of this and find it rather strange but interesting. Baltimore is very proud of its poetic son and the brothers wonder how long such a tradition will continue.

February 16

A boiler has gone up and is out of service, which means some building is without heat. EJ Codd Co. calls the Shop and has an emergency boiler repair job they are sending in. Copper liners, brass fittings, valves and couplings are made in a rush status job. Jack and Ed Jr. stay late tonight and will start early tomorrow to get this one finished. Some long hours for the younger Kavanagh generation but both Leo and Eddie are glad to see it, not out of spitefulness, but the younger men need to get accustomed to the life. These things happen and when emergencies occur, the Shop has to find a way to get them done. That usually means a Kavanagh is working on it.

Eddie Kavanagh and his son Ed Jr. Early 1950s.

March 18

On this Saturday, Jack, Betty and their two little girls move to 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. Jack and his brother Ed carry their furniture and possessions across the street to the corner house. It is all done in a matter of hours, and Jack and Betty have their home. It will take some time to get it just right but Betty looks forward to the challenge; she will make this not just a home but a very special one. Jack, Betty and daughters Betty Ann and Nancy celebrate by going to the movies to see the new animated film from Walt Disney, Cinderella.

Baby Nan 2
Nancy and Betty Ann Kavanagh. 1950.

March 25

Jack receives some incredible news from Betty. She is pregnant with her third child and the family is very excited as the Kavanagh’s next generation continues to grow. A new baby is always such a joy to a family and certainly to the Kavanagh’s. It’s that sense of hope and wonder that comes with a baby: their future and all the things they might do in their lives. Jack loves being a father and he can’t wait for number three to arrive and is particularly happy that they are living on their own now. They will have plenty of room at the house at the corner of Lakewood and Jefferson.

April 19

Eddie speaks to Jack on the drive home from the Shop about running for the House of Delegates. Jack thinks it’s a bit crazy but he’s also a little curious at the thought. His father believes having someone in Annapolis might help the Shop. Jack will consider it and talk to his wife about it while Eddie speaks to some of his friends in the local Democratic Party. He has been a support of William Curran and George Mahoney both of whom have strong influence in the party. Eddie will make some calls and Jack will speak to Betty about it.

May 2

Jack has decided to run for the House of Delegates representing the second district of Baltimore City. He has met with the leadership of the party and plans are made to put him on the ballot in the Fall. Jack will have to go out in the community and meet people and ask for their vote. Jack has always been a very likable fellow and this will make it easier for him, though it will be strange at first. Betty is supportive and proud that Jack will go for it. She’s sure he’ll win.

May 20

Leo Kavanagh’s daughter Mary weds Albert Donnelly. The entire family gathers to celebrate with them. Four generations assemble, pray for their happiness and enjoy their party. Joe and Johanna are happy to see their granddaughter get married and even more happy are Leo and Maymie. Eddie, Annie and their children and grandchildren are all there along with many friends. It’s a fine party with music, laughter and much dancing. Everyone is very entertained by the three great-granddaughters of Joe and Johanna, Patsy, Betty Ann and Nancy.

May 30

Joe Kavanagh has a stroke at home on Thirty-third Street and is taken to the hospital. He survives but is partially paralyzed on the right side. The family is relieved but worried for him. He is 83 years of age. They are also concerned for Johanna. She is a strong woman but is clearly shaken by Joe’s stroke. He will stay in the hospital for a while to recover and rehabilitate his arm which he has little strength in right now. 

The Shop’s job book entry. National Distillers Products job. June 8, 1950.

June 8

The Shop’s work keeps rolling in and out of the building at Pratt and Central. The crew remains at fourteen, not including Leo and Eddie who do less and less work in the Shop these days. They both have taken a step back from the actual coppersmith work because Eddie’s boys are there now and they are progressing in their skill and learning how to manage and run jobs. Today, several jobs for National Distillers Products Corporation are finished. Jack and three other fellows finish tinning several lengths of tube while another job is farmed off to another shop. A condenser repair that requires some drilling, and there is no time to fit it in so Leo and Eddie sub it out to Renneburg and Sons, a local fabricator. Ed Jr. loads some copper sheet onto the truck and delivers it to Renneburg and will pick it up in two days. The Kavanagh’s rarely use sub-contractors. They prefer to handle it themselves or stay way from it if they don’t have the capabilities for the job. When subbing work out, it is very easy to get caught between an angry customer and a busy vendor. That’s never a good thing.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Distillers job. June 9, 1950.

June 26

The US is suddenly involved in another military conflict. North Korea invades South Korea, pouring across the 38th parallel. The Korean War has begun as President Truman orders American troops into action to support and fight alongside our South Korean allies. The Kavanagh’s and Americans, in general, are stunned and after the bitter and long war that was just fought around the globe, they pray this is a quick one: a short war, if there is such a thing.

June 29

Jack visits his grandfather at the hospital and Joe has recovered enough to speak, though his right arm is very weak. Jack has brought along a rubber ball and tells Joe to squeeze this ball to regain his strength. He can’t squeeze it at all, so Jack takes Joe’s hand in his and presses the ball with Joe’s hand.

Joe smiles and tells Jack, “You will be my arm from now on until I get my strength back.” His voice is a bit raspy but he keeps squeezing the ball with Jack’s help.

“That’s it Joe. You’ll get there,” his grandson answers.

As they press the ball over and over, Joe suddenly speaks again, “Who’s in first place by the way?”

“The Yanks. They look really good this year. Probably gonna win it all.” Jack says.

“Well, your father will be happy. He always loved that team because of Ruth.” Joe says, rolling slightly to the right to get more comfortable. Still squeezing the ball, “You would have loved it years ago, Jack. We had our own team. The Baltimore Orioles. Willie Keeler and the great John McGraw. That was a helluva team and they were champs. The best.” He settles back in bed now, clearly a little tired, and Jack releases his hand and takes the ball from it.

“I know Joe. You told me all about it. My father did too. I sure wish we had a major league team here, but it’s still fun to watch the games. Baseball is baseball.” Jack smiles as Joe’s grin broadens. They both love the game.

“Hey, Jack. Maybe one day another team will come to play here. Who knows?” Jack nods as his grandfather speaks, then gathers his things to get ready to leave. He pats Joe on the shoulder and tells him he’ll see him in a couple of days. Jack begins visiting several days a week, and always they squeeze the ball and Joe regains a little use of his hand each day.

Joseph A. Kavanagh. Late 1940s.

July 21

Joe is discharged and released from the hospital. He has recovered some, but the reason he is sent home is for being belligerent to staff. He called a few folks “heathens” and worse, it seems. Joe can be a tough curmudgeon, and apparently he had enough of the hospital and its care. Jack and Eddie drive him home, and move into Thirty-third Street temporarily to help Johanna with Joe. Jack does discuss it with his wife who, besides having two small girls, is expecting another baby. Betty assures Jack she will be fine, and his mother Annie is right across the street. Betty knows that Jack is close to Joe and he must do whatever he can to help.

August 22

The heat is very tough in Baltimore in August and Betty’s baby is almost due. She has been feeling ill today, developing a fever, and is concerned enough to go to the doctor. She is shocked when the doctor diagnoses her with polio. Polio was spreading rapidly through the world and in cities like Baltimore families would be extra cautious in late summer to avoid unnecessary contact or exposure to strangers. Polio almost always strikes children, so Betty contracting it is a bit of a mystery. She must have been exposed to a carrier and did not have the immunity that most adults seem to have. Betty is immediately concerned for her baby but the doctor is certain the baby will be fine. They must be very careful though. Jack is very worried for both his wife and baby. She is raising two very little ones as well and they don’t know what to expect. Her mobility will certainly be affected, but no one knows to what degree. They will take it day-by-day and see what happens.

September 7

The Kavanagh’s spend an evening at 434 N. Lakewood watching a new program that quickly becomes one of their favorites, Truth Or Consequences. It’s a game show and becomes a model for much of what becomes American standard TV fare. Betty is having issues walking but she is determined to join the rest of the family and Jack helps her walk over to his parents’ house. The Kavanagh’s love this show, even Joe and Johanna both enjoy it despite their preference for radio. Jack drove them here from Thirty-third Street and will take them home afterward. Joe is showing his age and moves very slowly now and even his famous wit is not the same.

September 10

Betty goes into labor and Jack rushes her to Kernan hospital. The doctors are worried about her condition and delivering the baby early. They stop Betty’s labor and hope she can carry the new baby to term. Jack and Betty are both a mess of emotions, but they believe the doctors are doing the right thing. They are scared for their baby and can’t believe this is happening. They hope and pray that Betty can carry this new child to term and the baby can be delivered safely.

September 18

The Democratic Primary is held in Baltimore and Jack Kavanagh wins one of the nominations to run for the House of Delegates, representing the second district. Jack is considered a Curran/Mahoney man as he has their support, and there are several groups vying for power and influence within the party. Mostly opposed to the Curran/Mahoney faction is the Lane/D’Alesandro/Pollack group who all do work together as Democrats but have slightly different philosophies. Jack’s family and friends are very proud of him and all look forward to the General Election confident that Jack will win. Betty, in particular nine months pregnant and fighting polio, is absolutely positive that Jack will win and do a terrific job.

September 19

The day after the primary is another day at the Shop and a long running job is completed when a beer still installation is finished at Overholt & Company Distillers. The still was made at the Shop but needed to be integrated into their existing system. Located in western Pennsylvania, the job required several workers to spend a few days each there over a period of three weeks. It was a lot of work but the expenses were covered and they made some money on this one. These rare overnight stays hearken back to the old days of the Shop when Uncle Joe’s crew installed stills up and down the East Coast.

The Shop’s job book entry. A. Overholt & Co job. September 19, 1950.

September 23

Mary Agnes Kavanagh is born to Jack and Betty, their third daughter. She is named for Aunt Anna who chose Sister Mary Agnes as her name in the Church. It is a difficult delivery for Betty and she is placed in an iron long to recover. Her muscles are very weak and the iron lung will help her to breath normally. Jack is very worried for his wife, almost frantic despite the doctor telling him Betty is strong and will be okay. He holds his new daughter close and waits and waits. Betty is fine and in her own room the next day. The new parents are so happy to have their healthy beautiful baby after such a rough time.

Betty Kavanagh and baby Mary. 1950.

September 30

Joe is acting strangely and seems to have lost some of his mental capabilities. His mind and his awareness seem not nearly as sharp as either were before. Always unpredictable, he is even more so now. He has an episode early on a Saturday when he walks out of the house late in the morning before his son or grandson who are both staying there, can stop him.

Eddie calls to Joe who is at the door, “What are you doing Joe? Did you get the mail?” Eddie leans forward in the vestibule to see his father struggling to get down the marble steps.

“No.” Joe replies, “but I got this.” He turns around brandishing the pistol he has had for years, the very same pistol used by his brother Martin in the Clarence Keene shooting on Christmas Eve 1910. Eddie calls Jack to the door and they take a step outside toward Joe.

“Give me that Joe and you need to get into the house.” Eddie says as father and son coax Joe back into his home with Eddie grabbing the gun and Jack assisting his grandfather into the house. They get him into a chair and convince him to relax. His behavior has gotten more and more erratic. Later that morning as Joe naps, Eddie and Jack have lunch with Johanna. She has made a pot of crab soup from the last steamed crabs of the year for them. Johanna adds vegetables to the crab claws and bodies and cooks it slowly all morning. They sit at the small kitchen table enjoying the warm soup, and talking.

“Mother, I’m getting more and more worried about Joe. He’s really acting strange and I don’t know that the hospital will even take him back with his attitude. Also, I don’t think we can talk him into going.” Eddie says as he blows on a spoonful of hot soup.

His mother says quietly, “He won’t go. He won’t go back there. He wants to be home with us. And his piano.” She gestures toward the parlor. Joe spent hours playing but now his hands especially his right can’t make the music. He can fiddle about but not truly play.

“I know it hurts him not to be able to play, Grandmom. I can see how frustrated he gets.” Jack says, thinking to himself how tough it might be to get too old to play the piano which both he and Joe love so much.

Eddie lights a cigarette, then shakes the match out, “I know he misses the piano and I feel for him. I do, but I am trying to figure out what is going on with him. What’s wrong with him?”

“He’s dying.” his mother answers him. “He’s lived a long full life and it’s coming to an end.” She looks from son to grandson as neither says anything. “We all only have so much time and Joe knows his is almost over. I know your father was tough on you, Eddie. Well, tough on almost everybody. I know this better than anyone.” She smiles softly with a tear in the crinkle of her eye.

“He was never tough with you, Mother.” Eddie grins back at her.

Johanna chuckles for a second, “Of course not. Joe is a good man but he always carried some disappointment with him. He wanted to be a performer and he was. He did well but then he had to work for real. For our family. He never begrudged it. Believe me, but he had a lot of bitterness because of giving up his dream. So he was tough on people and not always the nicest, but he loves me. We love each other and have made each other happy. All things end.” Tears well in her eyes, then slowly trickle down her cheek. “He loves me and all of us. He’s just… dying.” She pauses for a moment, then quickly stands, wipes her eyes and walks into the parlor where she sits at the piano in Joe’s usual spot.

Eddie sighs, crushing a cigarette into the ashtray then says to Jack, “I have to call your Mother. I’ll check on Betty.” He stands and walks into the living room, leaving Jack alone. Jack sits in silence, thinking of his grandfather. All the times playing music together and talking baseball together. He feels certain his grandmother is right about Joe. She always is.

Joe Kavanagh’s pistol. Used by his brother Martin in the Clarence Keen shooting. Christmas Eve 1910.

October 7

The New York Yankees defeat the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series winning all four games. The Kavanagh’s watch the final game on this Saturday. Eddie and Jack drive Joe to 434 N. Lakewood since Joe does not own a television and they sit in front of the small 10” screen and root for the Yankees, Eddie’s team. New York is led by star Joe DiMaggio and this year’s American League MVP, Phil Rizzuto. The Phillies clinched their pennant on the last day of the season with ace pitcher Robin Roberts taking the win. Despite New York winning all four games, the Series is closer than it appears with the first three games all being decided by one run.

October 21

The Kavanagh’s are doing their best to adjust to the corner of Lakewood and Jefferson but they are challenged by Betty’s polio. She uses a wheelchair at home now, but never outside. She uses crutches when she goes to the store or walks in the neighborhood Jack had been working on the second floor but closes it off completely now with Betty unable to climb steps. Jack and Betty live on the first floor and in the basement with a baby, a one year old and a two year old. They are happy.

November 7

Jack wins election to the House of Delegates and a large party is held to celebrate at Eddie and Annie’s house. The Kavanagh’s and many friends visit to congratulate Jack and wish him luck on this new venture. The Shop has a man in Annapolis now as Eddie wanted. Jack is excited but knows he has a great deal to learn about this new job of legislating. He will work hard and do all he can for the second district.

Eddie Kavanagh and two of his granddaughters. Patsy and Betty. 1949.

November 27

It is a very cold week in Baltimore but the City gets off easy. Much of the Northeast including Maryland west of the mountains is buried in snow in addition to the frigid temperatures. Thirty inches or more of the stuff in some places. It is a bone-chilling cold but the snow only amounts to an inch or so and is of little consequence. A cold Monday at the Shop goes on as it always does and those wielding a torch today are the lucky ones at Pratt and Central.

December 9

Joseph Anthony “Crazy Joe” Kavanagh dies. The family is not surprised as Joe was clearly near the end but it is a sorrowful farewell. The family gathers to honor him and to support his wife, Johanna. She is a tough woman and even more than the rest of them, knew that Joe’s death was near at hand. He is buried at New Cathedral Cemetery with so very many Kavanagh’s who preceded him, including Joseph Michael Kavanagh, his uncle. Along with his obituary, a short letter from columnist Carroll Dulaney is printed in the Baltimore News Post mentioning Joe’s days in the Primrose Quartet and his tradition of singing on the Lombard Street Bridge on Christmas Eve. This was years ago at the beginning of the century when singing was all the rage and Joe was a man about town.

Joseph A. Kavanagh’s obituary and a letter to columnist Carroll Dulaney of the Baltimore News Post. December 1950. Part 1. Courtesy of the Maryland Archives.
Letter to columnist Carroll Dulaney of the Baltimore News Post. December 1950 Part 2.

December 23

The Shop’s Christmas Party is held on this Saturday and it is festive but somber. The old building is decorated and prepped for the yearly party and guests begin to arrive. Customers, vendors, employees and friends parade into the Shop and celebrate with the Kavanagh’s. Another baby has been born and Mary Kavanagh has married. The business continues to excel but the family is grieving. Joseph Anthony Kavanagh was very much the patriarch of the family and his passing brings them great sorrow. He was born the year the Shop opened and for all intents and purposed, he WAS the Joseph Kavanagh Company for many years. After he and his brothers James and Frank split from Martin, Joe became the face of the company. He was adept at sales and handling customers. He used a combination of his knowledge of people, his entertaining skills from his vaudeville days and his very large boisterous personality to lead the company to success. He was a complicated man with a strange bitterness about him. Joe never truly got over giving up his musical career. He was an entertainer at heart and despite his success at and with the Shop, he never could get past giving up his musical dreams. He was someone that most people liked and he was fun to be around, but if you were a family member particularly a son, his expectations of you were high. A taskmaster to work for, he kept a certain distance between himself and everyone else including his family. To work for him was a demanding and difficult thing to do. He expected the best and didn’t hesitate to inform you if you weren’t giving it. He had true talent as a singer and was an incredible piano player. A most unusual character, he was someone whom no one who met him ever forgot. Joe was the last of his eight siblings to pass, having outlived them all. He was a reminder of old times at the Shop and the last man alive to have worked for the Original Joseph Kavanagh, his uncle. Tough to satisfy but always willing to help or contribute to the Church and other charities. He liked to entertain people by music or by making them laugh. He loved his wife dearly and Johanna was the only one who seemed able to contain this sometimes maddening contradiction of a man. His children and grandchildren loved him dearly even if they never quite understood him. My father, Jack Kavanagh was perhaps the closest to him apart from Johanna. They bonded over the piano when Joe started teaching Jack to play. Joe liked being the center of attention and thus his regrets about leaving vaudeville were salved by the Shop and his bombastic way of running the place. His sons, Leo and Eddie know the Shop will never be the same. Even after his retirement, he was still the “Joe Kavanagh” that people would ask for when they called the Shop or they would at the least ask about him, curious at how the old character was doing. Now there is no Joseph Kavanagh apart from Jack, who is technically Joseph John due to an error in filling out his birth certificate. This won’t be discovered for almost forty years when Jack applies for Social Security. To everyone’s mind, there is no Joe at the Shop nor in the family. It’s a strange and uncomfortable feeling for them. Eddie and Joe rarely got along unless playing music or talking baseball. Leo had better luck with Joe but perhaps that is because Leo was more like his mother. Eddie was very much like Joe in demeanor and style. That seemed to cause tension between them. The Joseph Kavanagh Company will go on, of course. Another generation is working there now and the Shop will continue. This party has a little less singing and the absence of the little man with the big voice is keenly felt. Central Avenue will never be the same. After the party, Eddie asks Jack to drive Annie back to Lakewood Avenue; he has a stop he needs to make. Eddie drives up Central Avenue to Lombard Street and turns left and drives toward downtown. With a bit of Christmas Eve traffic, he reaches the Lombard Street Bridge in a few minutes and crosses. He listens closely as he slows his car a bit but hears nothing but the sounds of the automobiles around him and one shout from a passerby. He reaches the other side of the bridge and makes a u-turn as soon as he can and returns over it, again listening intently. Listening for a verse of “O Holy Night” or a baritone voice in the wind but he hears no music as he crosses and drives home in silence, because the song is over. Joe is dead. Long live Joe.



Harry S. Truman is the President of the United States. The Great Brinks Robbery occurs when an armored truck is robbed of over two million dollars. The hydrogen bomb is developed. The comic strips Beetle Bailey and Peanuts appear in newspapers for the first time. The Korean War begins. Military advisers and personnel are sent by President Truman to Vietnam to assist the French against communist revolutionaries. The Warsaw Pact is formed to counter NATO. The television remote control is invented. The movies “Sunset Boulevard” and “Annie Get Your Gun” are released. Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty, Bill Murray, Nora Roberts and Gary Larson are born. Al Jolson and Grover Cleveland Alexander die.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Mary Agnes Kavanagh. 1950. Lakewood Avenue.

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

Table of Contents

1949 447 N. Lakewood Avenue

January 18

Today the crew of the Joseph Kavanagh Company are working through a chilly January Tuesday. With most of the men working on a handful of orders for the United States Industrial Co. or U.S.I. Two 500 gallon copper stills are fabricated along with condensers with new headers to attach to the distilling system and a range of fittings, couplings and valves to match. The toughest part of this job is making the domes for the stills. Copper sheet is suspended with chains then hammered from above by two men with brass hammers. A third man stands under the sheet with a large wooden mallet. His job is to match the others’ hammer hits by using the mallet as a brace to keep the copper from being pierced and helping them achieve the curved dome shape they need. The year has started well for Leo and Eddie Kavanagh’s Shop on Central Avenue. Even in the throes of winter, they are carrying nearly a month of backlog. Old Uncle Joe only saw this in the heyday of the business in the 1890s.

The Shop’s job book entry. January 18, 1949. U.S.I. job.
The Shop’s job book entry. January 18, 1949. U.S.I. job.

February 19

On this Saturday, after a half-day of work, Eddie buys his first television: a General Electric with a 10” screen. Eddie and Jack carry the thing into 434 N. Lakewood Avenue. Annie lets them know that dinner is ready and that thing can wait until after they eat. The family has a meal of meatloaf, potatoes and vegetables, all quite delicious. Eddie and Jack eat rather quickly tonight, anxious to get to this new-fangled contraption. They plug it in, start fiddling with the dial and soon a picture becomes clear. It is the local news on Channel 13, an ABC affiliate. Father and son back into chairs not wanting to take their eyes off the small screen. They watch the local coverage, then a national program called News and Views which follows. These men are fascinated to watch, though the news is just as available on the radio; however, at 7:30 pm, there is entertainment. A talent show type program called “Hollywood Screen Test” airs and now Annie, Betty and baby Betty Ann join the men around the TV. Young unknown actors are given their chance to get that big break by reading scenes and dialogue with established thespians. The family loves this and it will be the first show that the Kavanagh’s watch weekly. Television changes the way Americans are entertained and it changes their home life though not all are thrilled about it. When Eddie tells his father Joe about the TV, Joe scoffs and assures him it’s just a fly by night thing. It will never replace radio Joe says.

1949 General Electric. 810 Television.

February 28

Winter holds on at Pratt and Central on this brisk Monday. Leo and Eddie have their sons and crew working hard with heat and hammers. A large yeast tank is completed today for the James Distillery Company. The tank will hold nearly 1000 gallons when installed and is made entirely of 12 gauge coppers sheet. There are inlet and outlet valves attached and man-holes installed to allow access to the tank for service and quality checks. This has been a long job, taking over two hundred man hours to finish and, as the truck is being loaded, Eddie does his version of the Joe Dance to laughs and claps from the workers. His son, Ed Jr. slips into his own dance in an attempt to show his father how it should be done. Ed was a jitterbug champion and he had moves. His father is not bothered at all but rather joins in the crew’s laughter then sets them back to work. The tank is loaded, delivered and billed and the beat goes on for the Kavanagh’s.

The Shop’s job book entry. February 28, 1949. James Distillery job.

March 3

The Kavanagh’s and crew spend a cloudy Spring day working busily at Pratt and Central. Jack spends the day on a job for Sherwood Distilling, replacing some parts: twenty-two 1 1/2” Lock bonnets are to be made. Bonnets are lids or covers for small manholes in stills. They take a lot of wear and tear and often need replacement. These aren’t stock parts but they are regular work. Copper sheet is annealed, then hammered around a disc to form the shape. Once annealed, the sheet is very soft and the bonnets can be made quickly. It takes some time to pick through the discs and clamps available. Jack sorts through it all and the first bonnet takes five hours. The rest are finished in seventeen. The first one is always the hardest, but Jack is soon able to develop a system and complete the rest quickly. For the Shop it is a time and labor job. Leo and Eddie love those because there is no quoting. You just send them a bill.

The Shop’s job book entry. March 3, 1949. Sherwood Distilling job.

March 26

Joe and Johanna Kavanagh spend a Saturday evening at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue. Despite Joe’s dubiousness about television, Eddie and Annie have invited them over to watch Verdi’s opera, Aida, conducted by world renowned conductor Arturo Toscanini which is being broadcast on NBC. This week is part one and the second is next week. Joe is a piano player, singer and great lover of music and Johanna is no less a music fan than he. Jack, Betty and the baby are there as well and they gather around the small 10” screen and they feel like they are right there in the studio at Rockefeller Center. They have listened to music on the radio but to see this stunning performance live is incredible for them all. They truly feel like they are part of the audience for the show. This is television.

Dad & Betty
Jack and Betty Ann Kavanagh. Easter 1949.

April 17

Easter is spent at the Visitation Convent visiting Aunt Anna, Sister Mary Agnes. Four generations of Kavanagh’s are there. Joe and Johanna spend the day with their daughter Anna, along with Eddie, Annie, Jack, Betty and the baby, Betty Ann. They celebrate mass at the chapel and then spend some time on the grounds. Betty takes some pictures of Jack with the baby. Betty prefers snapping the pictures than being in them. It’s a breezy day and an even mix of clouds and sun that make for a typical spring day. Aunt Anna holds the baby as much as she can as they talk through the day and enjoy a very fine Easter and one they will remember for some time.

Betty & Dad Visitation
Jack and Betty Ann Kavanagh. Easter 1949. Visitation Convent.

May 13

The Shop stays strong as they continue to have approximately a month’s backlog consistently through the year. Today the crew are toiling away on three tanks for Calvert Distillers. These three will not be installed locally though, but shipped to Puerto Rico and used to make rum by the Christopher Columbus Rum Distillers who are a subsidiary of Calvert. These are large heavy tanks and once finished, they are driven in the Shop’s truck one at a time to the docks in Baltimore harbor. They will be shipped by boat down South to Puerto Rico. The job is another big bill for the Kavanagh brothers, Leo and Eddie. Their confidence remains high as the work keeps rolling in and out of 201 S. Central Avenue.

The Shop’s job book entry. May 13, 1949. Calvert Distillers job.

May 27

Jack finishes his studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He receives a certification in drafting and mechanics but knows he can go no further with school. He has learned a lot and needs to focus on working full time. This is even truer now because Betty is pregnant with their second child and Jack could not be happier. He loves being a father and Betty is the most natural mother he has ever seen. She’s in complete joy when she holds Betty Ann and she can’t wait for baby# 2.

June 4

Eddie and Jack attend a union meeting on a warm Saturday night. What was Coppersmith Local# 80 has officially become part of the Sheet Metal Workers Union. Slowly over the last few years, smaller unions have joined with the Sheet Metal Workers, for there is strength in numbers. The old coppersmith brethren are all members of the larger union now, and most of the procedures will remain the same. Eddie’s tenure as General Secretary will come to an end this year with a younger leadership moving in. Eddie is happy to step aside at this point; he’s older and the Shop is still very busy. Eddie has held this position for thirty years and helped to establish the union and certainly to grow it. He’s very proud of his efforts on behalf of his union brothers and on this night, his thoughts go back to how his involvement started. He had to actually quit working at the Joseph Kavanagh Company in order to force his father’s hand, to make him unionize the Shop. It worked and has been a great benefit to the business and its employees. Eddie will remain a loyal member of the Sheet Metalworkers Union for the rest of his life. His son, Jack is a member and the thought did occur to Jack to throw his hat in the ring for one of the leadership roles, but he has a new growing family and a demanding job. He will stay in the union and take part but he knows he won’t have the time for more than that.

July 11

Jack has drawn the short straw at the Shop today as he is assigned the unenviable task of annealing and filling a brass pipe for bending. A hot summer day is a bad day to anneal and certainly to melt rosin for filling tubes. Brass is much more difficult to anneal than copper. It is a compound and less stable so the process is slower and you must leave it to cool in the air. No quenching or moving it until it is completely cool or the piece will crack or break. After annealing, it must be filled with rosin to keep it from collapsing and wrinkling when bent. Again, a torch is used. This time a large cauldron is filled with chunks of the tree rosin and heated until they are a liquid. The rosin has several industrial applications but it most notably used on violin strings and pitcher’s mounds. The heat is nearly unbearable but once the rosin is a black murky liquid, it is carefully spooned out and poured into the tube which has been plugged at one end with a round piece of wood. The process is messy and hot but necessary. Without all the preparation, the bending would be a failure. After filling, the pipe is bent easily around blocks until it is the 90 degree elbow the customer requires. At this point, the piece is hung up on chains and slowly, gradually heated again to get the rosin out of there. The rosin melts on the outside first and slowly the large block of the stuff begins to move. After a bit of prodding, the large, now tube shaped slab of rosin slides out where it is caught in a pail for re-use. A blast of heat through the tube burns the inside clean and the job is finished. All that, for one bent tube.

The Shop’s job book entry. July 11, 1949. F. L. Anderson Co. job.

July 24

Eddie and Jack Kavanagh spend a Sunday at Bugle Field on Edison Highway to watch a couple of ballgames. The E-lite Giants of the Negro National League are hosting the Newark Eagles and come away with a hard fought victory. Jack has grown up as an E-lite Giants fan attending games for over ten years. The baseball is good with talented young players though there is some concern among fans that the talent will be depleted with the Major Leagues finally integrated. Jack knows good baseball and this team never disappoints. Of course, this could mean MLB teams might come calling and that does happen with players being poached one by one. After the Negro League game, two local Baltimore club teams square off in a much more lopsided matchup. Father and son stay for the whole game, splitting their usual soda and bag of peanuts. They have done this since Jack was a boy. They have a great day and discuss the games in detail as Jack drives them back to Lakewood Avenue in his Chrysler Windsor.

August 20

Jack and Betty may have found a home. They are interested in a house on Lakewood across the street from Eddie and Annie’s home at the intersection of Lakewood Avenue and Jefferson Street. There was a beauty parlor in the basement which has closed and the upstairs has been empty for several months. The house is owned by a Walter Karwacki and Jack and Betty are thinking hard of making an offer on the place.

The Shop’s job book entry. August – September 12, 1949. Calvert Distillery job.

September 7

On a sunny Wednesday, Betty Kavanagh gives birth to a second daughter, Nancy Jean. Jack is working on a condenser repair for Calvert Distillery when his father gives him the news. He was in the middle of pulling expanded tubes from the header of the condenser. They must be pried, hammered or driven out so the head can be resurfaced and re-used. Jack smiles wide as his father claps him on the back, soon followed by his brother. Jack works through the rest of the day in a daze, anxious to meet his new little girl. He rushes to Betty and Nancy as soon as he can leave the Shop. Mother and newborn are doing well and Nancy is named for one of Jack’s Hartmann cousins, Nancy Lee. Nancy Lee and Jack spent a lot of time together as kids growing up and have remained close. The parents are so happy. They feel so fortunate, so blessed. They are in love and they have two beautiful little girls in their family. Jack and Betty’s family continues to grow.

Baby Nan
Baby Nancy Jean Kavanagh.

October 6

Jack and Betty’s offer has been accepted by Mr. Karwacki and they buy 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. They are so thrilled to have their own place, especially Betty. However, there is a lot of work to be done inside and Jack must sort out how to do all of it. The beauty parlor in the basement must be converted into a residential basement and this will take a long time before Jack can even start on the rest of the house. He, Betty and the girls will stay at 434 with his parents through the winter. Jack will work every chance he has on the house to get it ready and perfect for his family to move in by the Spring at the latest.

Baltimore City record of real estate purchases form 1949 including the Kavanagh’s buying 447 N. Lakewood Avenue. October 6, 1949.

October 9

On this Sunday, the Kavanagh’s watch the deciding game in the World Series on television for the first of many times. Joe and Johanna spend the afternoon at Lakewood Avenue, Joe seems to be warming up to TV though he has no plans to purchase one. The game starts at 2 pm with the Brooklyn Dodgers hosting the New York Yankees at Ebbets Field. The Yanks are up three games to one and this one turns their way fast as the Dodgers’ starter Rex Barney gives up five runs in less than three innings. The defending champion Yankees cruise to a 10-6 victory and take the series. The Kavanagh’s sit glued to the television screen watching the grainy black and white ballplayers with rapt attention. They have seen ballgames in person. They have seen a few games on TV already but this was the first World Series Championship they saw live.

October 20

Today Mr. Funke is finally attending to something that Eddie has been clamoring about for some time. The Shop keeps a supply of “whiskey thiefs” or “barrel thiefs” to use at distilleries and breweries. The “thief” is a long tube with holes at each end and is used to draw out a drought of whiskey or beer to be taste tested. The tube is lowered into the alcohol while the hole at the top is covered with your thumb. A vacuum draws some of the liquid in and it is then released into a mug for tasting. They need to taste for flavor, impurities and of course, potency. Eddie has known for some time that they only have two left and they prefer to keep at least five in stock. Sometimes, they don’t make the trip back from an installation. Customers like keeping them on hand as they use them for the same purpose. The Kavanagh’s don’t mind if a customer asks for one at the end of a job but they prefer not to give them away and they certainly can not afford to run out of them. It will take Funke two days to make six and they are set in the rotation for use whenever needed.

The Shop’s job book entry. October 20, 1949. “Whiskey thiefs” made for stock.

November 24

Jack, Betty and their two baby girls celebrate Thanksgiving twice as they do every year. First a lunch time turkey feast on Guilford Avenue with Betty’s mother and family. The usual meal of turkey, potatoes, stuffing and parsnips is shared around the table while Betty and her mother take turns holding and feeding the babes. The family all want a turn holding the girls but soon they must pack up the Chrysler and head back to Lakewood Ave. When they get back home, another dinner, and the Kavanagh’s are particularly happy this year. The two new babies bring so much joy to the family and there is some other news. Leo’s daughter Mary is engaged to be married to her beau, Albert Donnelly. Albert is a member of the Sheet Metal Workers Union and Mary met him through Leo and Eddie’s involvement in the union. They have dated for about a year and they will be wed next year.

December 12

Leo and Eddie’s Shop is finishing another strong year with the work rolling in and out. This Monday starts another week and Ed Jr. is at Gunther’s Brewery and there is an accident. He was repairing some tanks when he smelled some strong fumes. He opened a man-hole to look in the tank. He lit a match to see better and there was a sudden small explosion and Ed was badly burned. He was rushed to the hospital with burns over his torso and arms. Gunther’s called the Shop and soon his father is on the way to the hospital. The younger Ed will be fine and his father is relieved but also livid with his son for lighting a match near any kind of brewing or distilling equipment.

“What were you thinking?” Eddie asks his son as a doctor and nursed tend to Ed Junior’s burns. “You should know better. Lighting a match in a brewing vat with all that alcohol and you said you smelled fumes?”

“Yes, I did but I didn’t think it was anything serious, Eddie. I did what I did and that’s that. Sorry, but I made a mistake. I wanted to see what was going on in there. I guess I wasn’t thinking, ” the younger Ed answers his father with more than a little anger in his voice.

“You bet you weren’t thinking. You need to get your head into your job more, son. This could have been much worse. The whole place could have blown up,” His father retorts with just as much disdain in his speech.

“Well, I made a mistake and the place didn’t blow up. I learned a lesson okay. By the way, I’m fine.” Ed counters with his eyes narrowing at his father as the doctor and nurse exit the room.

Eddie took a small breath then responds, “Yes, that’s the most important thing. You seem no worse for the wear.”

“They say I need a few days to heal. I’m supposed to get checked on Friday to see if I can get back to work next week.” Junior tells Senior as he hops off the hospital bed, buttoning his shirt.

“Good good. Well, I’ll see you at the Shop on Monday.” His father tosses Ed his coat and ushers him out of the room, then drives him home to Lakewood Avenue. The drive is a quiet one with both men’s thoughts their own. The two Eds seem to often find a way to butt heads and this is just an extreme example of that. Their relationship is very much like the elder Eddie and his father Joe. Ed Jr. does recover quickly, though he bears scars on his chest for years.

December 24

The Christmas Eve Party is a joyous one this year with another new baby in the family, a wedding set for next year and the Shop’s run of success continuing. After a Saturday’s half-day of work, the place is cleaned, decorated and tables are laid out with food and drink. The Kavanagh’s welcome and celebrate with their customers, employees and friends. Betty Ann toddles around, her eyes wide open to take in the place, always pursued by her mother with an outstretched hand ready to catch her if she falls. Baby Nancy is held by all who can get a chance. She coos and smiles brightly to all, seeming to enjoy her first visit to the Shop. The menfolk offer several toasts to the family, the Shop and the holiday. Another year is in the books and it has been another good one. This annual gathering is a special day or at least a special few hours. 201 S. Central Avenue is a place of work, a place of labor. These few hours are the very rare time when the building is occupied but no work is being done. For this one afternoon and evening, it is not about heat, hammers and making money but about food, drink and song. Seasonal carols and old Irish favorites are sung and by tradition, the high point of the party is when Joe Kavanagh sings and leads them all in “O Holy Night.” His baritone voice filling the old dirty Shop that he spent so many days in since 1911. It will be the last time that Joe sings at the Shop.


Harry S. Truman is the President of the United States. Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman opens on Broadway. The first Emmy awards are held and televised. NATO and the NBA are founded. The Goldbergs and Hopalong Cassidy premier on TV. An airplane flies around the world non-stop for the first time. The Geneva Convention is ratified. The first 45 rpm records and the first VW Beetles are sold in the US. George Foreman, Meryl Streep, Bruce Springsteen, John Belushi, and Adrian Belew are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Nancy and Betty Ann Kavanagh. 1950.

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

Table of Contents

1948 The Joe Dance

January 10

There is plenty of work on the floor as the Kavanagh’s set back to it at the Shop on Pratt and Central. Leo and Eddie lead their crew as they tackle their assorted coppersmith jobs. Distillery and beer brewery work is a constant and is augmented with confectionery or cooking apparatus, railings, ornamental work and shipyard work. Today an installation is completed at United Distillers of America. It was a time and labor job which is always good. No quote necessary, UDA needed a repair and two men were dispatched for three days. A yeast coil of copper tube was replaced and some brass feet made to stabilize the coil. The brothers love a job where the order is placed and there is little concern for cost. They quote all day, every day so a straight order of time and work is always welcome. Leo and Eddie have both worked here for thirty plus years and they are confident that things will continue to go well. The Shop is certainly cemented into the alcohol production industry as both distillers and brewers call regularly. The crew are skilled hard workers and Eddie’s sons are both at the Shop. Honing and perfecting their skills, they are the next generation and some day the Joseph Kavanagh Company will fall to them one way or another.

The Shop’s Job book entry. United Distillers of America job. January 10, 1948.

February 9

Jack continues his studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art attending a drafting class and a mechanics class once a week while still working at the Shop. He is happy to continue his schooling, anything to keep him distracted from his worries about his wife’s pregnancy. He is so anxious to be a father but still concerned. He can hardly contain his excitement and anything to take his mind away from the approaching baby’s arrival helps.

March 16

A cold and windy March Tuesday is a busy one at the Shop. A boiler repair for E. J. Codd is the large job being finished today. Mr. Funke, Mr. Votta, Ed Jr. and Jack are putting the finishing touches on the copper liner that will complete this order. This liner is about six foot in diameter and ten feet long. Heat has to be evenly distributed onto the copper sheet before it is rolled slowly then soldered shut. The four men use their torches to temper the copper and when the seams are ready to close, they trim off any excess before soldering it. Along with some valves, fittings and straight copper tube necessary for the boiler, this makes for a good job. The rest of the boys are working on some commercial cooking vessels and a few other replacement parts for the Shop’s distillery customers.

April 21

Betty Kavanagh gives birth to a baby girl and Jack is bouncing with joy to be a father. The family is thrilled and very happy that Jack and Betty’s family has begun to grow. The baby is named Elizabeth Ann, she is named for her mother’s maternal Aunt Betty and for Elizabeth Ann Seton. The new mom is a recent graduate of Seton High School and wanted to honor her. Elizabeth Ann Seton will eventually be the first American canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. The couple are as excited as any new parents have ever been. They have this beautiful baby and they are no longer a couple but a family. Baby Betty Ann is passed around and held over and over at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue when she comes home from the hospital. Despite loving the closeness of family and the family’s happiness at the new baby’s arrival, Betty and Jack continue to plan to find their own place. They can only live with Eddie and Annie for so long. They need their own home.

Betty & Dad 2
Jack Kavanagh and his first daughter, Betty Ann. 1949.

May 12

The Joseph Kavanagh Company has passed through another winter and into spring without missing a beat. They stay busy with a constant flow of repair, replacement and maintenance work for the alcohol industry. Nearly every day, a brewery customer or a distiller calls for an inquiry or work. The Kavanagh’s and their crew are coppersmiths and they also make kettles and form copper and brass into shapes for any need. Today a brass railing is made to match an irregular curve around a garden outside a house owned by someone of great means; it has several radii and must be made in six pieces. Brass work is braziers work but a coppersmith can handle it too. The rail will be finished, trimmed to match a wooden template provided and then installed by the customer. The year has been strong so far and there are no signs of a slowdown.

Mom and Betty Augut 1948 Uncle Joe's House
Betty Kavanagh with her first daughter, Betty Ann. June 1948.

June 2

The Shop’s year continues well but today Eddie misses one. It happens. He bids a job for a copper trough for American Brewery but doesn’t get an order. He expected this order to be placed within a day but the crew at the brewery found a way to fix the old trough and make it work. Eddie chides himself, assuming his price was too high. He always held the philosophy that if the Shop got the job, the price was too low and if it didn’t, the price was too high. A tough way to look at things but Eddie felt sure he was right.

The Shop’s Job book entry. American Brewery bid for work that was not accepted. “No Order” written by Eddie Kavanagh. June 2, 1948.
The Shop’s Job book entry. Parks and Tilford job. June 23, 1948.

June 24

The Kavanagh Shop on Central Avenue has received several orders from Parks and Tilford Distillers. They have worked for this customer since the end of Prohibition and Eddie has landed a good bit of work. Eddie received a call from a Mr. Springer at Parks and Tilford. They needed an emergency repair of a beer heater. An emergency fix that needs to be attended to quickly because it will take a week at least for two men to complete. Mr. Springer has told Eddie the distillery is doing a major overhaul and they will need more work and a fair bit of copper tube to stock for replacements. The tube will have to be tinned for safety and Eddie knows this is a coppersmith’s forte. Eddie arranges to set his son, Ed Jr. and Mr. Owens, a coppersmith with fifteen years experience, to work on the beer heater as quickly as they can drive to Owings Mills where Parks and Tilford is located. Young Ed and Owens find they have to replace some tubes and rivets, and perform some other repairs to the unit. They get started and it does take a week but the beer heater will be returned to full operation. It is billed on the 23rd and the first order for tinned copper tube is received by the Joseph Kavanagh Company today. Mr. Springer has assured Eddie that they will need more tube through the summer and maybe into the Fall. Recurring jobs and repeat orders are the things that can really make a profit for the company.

The Shop’s Job book entry. Parks and Tilford job. June 24, 1948.

July 27

The crew sit on a few chairs and buckets as they take their afternoon break at 2 pm. The Shop’s office door opens and Leo and Eddie step out to smoke and chat with the boys.

“Well, fellows,” Eddie begins, “We will definitely have some overtime coming up for everybody. We got a nice one coming in. National Distillery just ordered three tanks and one is about nine foot in diameter and six feet high.” Eddie grins as he finishes, the crew answering with a few “yeah’s” and “good’s.” These men are all union workers and overtime is always coveted.

Leo speaks up, “This one comes when we already have plenty of work, boys, so be prepared to work all day Saturday and ten hours next Monday and Tuesday.” The workers to a man nod approvingly at the prospect of the extra hours.

Eddie lights a cigarette and after a slow draw, “Gents, times are good. We need to keep at this work and bang it out while we can but this is good for all of us. We gotta take it while it’s there but we can celebrate.” His mouth widens into an exaggerated grin and Eddie breaks into a quick but not sloppy little jig as the men begin to chuckle. Eddie begins clapping as he dances and the boys join in with a mix of laughs and applause. The older fellows remember Leo and Eddie’s father, Joe and his occasional dances. As Eddie finishes, the men, led by his brother Leo, clap soundly with a few comical boos tossed in, especially from Ed Jr., the jitterbug champion, but it was all in good fun. Eddie’s other son Jack laughs raucously throughout he whole scene staring with disbelief at his father.

“All right. All right. That’s enough celebrating.” Eddie says still grinning, “Back to work gents. We have things to do.” He walks back to the office door and opens it and is followed by Leo.

“That was some fine footwork, brother. Joe would be proud.” Leo chuckles to Eddie as they step inside.

“Joe’s not here,” Eddie answers. “Somebody’s gotta do the dance.”

The Shop’s Job book entry. National Distillery job. July 27, 1948.

August 8

Jack and his father drive out to Bugle Field for a Sunday spent watching some ballgames. Before the war, they would do this every week but now it is two or three times a summer. Jack is married and a father himself now so weekly games are out for now. The Baltimore E-Lite Giants host the Newark Eagles in a close contest, with the home losing 3-2, a nail biter of a pitching duel but a great game. A second game is played by two barnstorming Negro League teams and this one is a rout. There is no mercy rule in baseball and the game is a one-sided 17-5 affair. Eddie and his son head back to Lakewood Avenue chatting the whole way. When they reach the house, Jack is quick to scoop up baby Betty and smile at her thinking of when he might be able to take her out to her fist ballgame.

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

August 18

It’s a sticky humid Wednesday in Baltimore and 201 S. Central is a hot box but work needs to be done and the crew are busy with a handful of distillery jobs and a fountain that is being finished today. As the workers break for lunch, Joe stops in to see his sons Leo and Eddie. He settles into his old office and takes a seat in his very familiar surroundings. He has brought a bag of thick cut ham sandwiches from his wife, Johanna. They tuck into the sandwiches and Joe is quick to bring up Babe Ruth’s passing. Ruth died on Monday in New York of cancer and the funeral is today at Yankee Stadium.

“It’s a real shame about Ruth. I think it’s awful. He was such a young man.” Joe opened with a careful look at Eddie.

“Yes, Joe. He was still young and I still really can’t believe it.” Eddie replied with a shake of his head. Eddie was always a Babe Ruth fan. He was a local boy and Eddie saw him play in Club games before he was signed by Boston and long before the fame he achieved as a Yankee. The Baltimore connection and Ruth’s feats kept Eddie a fan throughout the Babe’s career. His father Joe was a constant proponent of Ty Cobb and felt sure Cobb was the greatest baseball player of all time. They sparred over the two ball players almost daily through the 20s and this was one of many things they disagreed over but seemed to enjoy the disagreement on some level.

“The Babe sure had a way. I mean besides belting the homers, he had style and loved the fans. He was always with the kids in pictures. He cared about his fans. A damn shame.” Leo opined as he picked up the second half of his sandwich.

Joe answered quickly, “Ruth did a lot for the game. That’s for certain. He brought in some fans and was a big character. And yeah he could hit that ball a long, long way. I know that. He was a good ball player.”

“But not the best, right Joe?” Eddie seemed to finish Joe’s sentence. “He was no Cobb. Different kind of players but the thing about the Babe was,” Eddie paused taking a sip of coffee, “he was our guy. He was Baltimore. He was from here and he was that good. If not the best, right up there with the best, Joe. He made Baltimore proud.” Eddie broke into a small smile.

“That he did, Eddie.” Joe agreed. “He did.”

August 24

The dog days of a coppersmith’s summer are upon Pratt and Central. As luck would have it, in the heat and humidity, the last of another batch of copper tubes are being tinned for Parks and Tilford. They range from 3/4” tubes to 3” tubes. Large vats of lead are bubbling away and making the Shop that much hotter. The Kavanagh brothers love any kind of recurring job. Something that will be ordered every month for any period of time is a great thing for the Shop. It’s work and billing you can count on and once it’s out the door you anticipate getting it back in again. Five of the older smiths handle this job then this shipment of tubes are loaded onto the Shop’s truck, with the help of young Jack Kavanagh. An order is sent out and another will come in to replace it. “It’s a thing of beauty,” is what Joe would say.

September 6

Jack Kavanagh returns to the Maryland Institute to study Mechanics. He has learned a great deal about drawings and drafting and now wants to focus on mechanics and basic engineering. He has classes two days a week, is working full time and has a wife and new baby at home. Jack is running a very tough schedule but he wants to learn what he can at MICA while he can still attend. He can manage it still while he and Betty are living with his parents as his wife does have his mother, Annie to help with the baby. Jack knows when they find a house of their own and if they have more kids, the studies will most likely have to end.

Patsy and Betty Ann
Annie (Mimi) Kavanagh with granddaughters, Patsy and Betty Ann. Backyard of 434 N. Lakewood Avenue. Summer 1948.

September 13

The last of the tinned copper tubes for Park and Tilford are delivered today. Twenty pieces of 3/4” tube are driven in the Shop’s old Mack Truck by Ed Jr. to Owings Mills and a job that started in the beginning of the summer comes to a close. That was a nice run of work for the Kavanagh’s. The crew remain busy on another set of distillery parts to be fabricated and a large order of copper fittings for Gunther’s Brewery. They are replacement stock items for Gunther’s and make for another day’s work for the Joseph Kavanagh Company

The Shop’s Job book entry. Parks and Tilford job. September 13, 1948.

October 6

A large portion of the Shop’s work is small jobs, sometimes an order of just two or three replacement parts. Some are from the stock they keep of valves, fittings and couplings but they also make custom parts as needed for different distilling, brewing or even cooking systems. Today a set of unions are made, both on the larger side as these are usually two inches or smaller. This order calls for a four inch and a six inch union to connect sections of an old distilling system. Even though these are custom made, they only take a few hours and are just another small job in the pile of many that help sustain the Shop.

The Shop’s Job book entry. United Distillery job. October 6, 1948.

October 11

The Cleveland Indians win the World Series defeating the Boston Braves in six games. The series was nearly an all Boston affair as the Red Sox finished the season in a tie with the Indians for first place in the American League. Cleveland spoiled that Massachusetts match up by winning a one game playoff. This is the first World Series to be broadcast on network television. There was some limited TV coverage for the ’47 series but each game is broadcast this year. The Kavanagh’s still do not have a television set but the series is discussed game by game at the Shop as it always has been. If anything, it is more so now with Jack at Central Avenue. He, like his father and grandfather, is a passionate lover of the game. The crew and the rest of the family are fans but Jack and Eddie put the “fan” in fanatic and they examine each game and each box score, discussing and debating as each game is played. It is very similar to Eddie and his father, Joe. They spoke of baseball a lot whether at work or not. It was a neutral subject that they both shared and felt comfortable discussing. Coffee breaks and lunches are spent recounting hits, pitches and catches that make up each contest. It passes the day and makes work not just more tolerable but pleasant. They might not look forward to getting to work to do their job but they do look forward to talking about baseball.

November 2

Harry Truman wins re-election to the Presidency, defeating Republican New York Governor Thomas Dewey and Dixiecrat South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond. This one was a close race with many calling the election early in favor of Dewey. Truman is famously pictured the next day holding a newspaper with the headline “Dewey Elected.” The Kavanagh’s voted for Truman. They are well ensconced within the Democratic Party at this time and more to the point, they credit Truman with winning the war and bringing Jack home from the Pacific. If the Japanese had not surrendered, the crew of the USS Strickland including Jack would have been right in the middle of any invasion of Japan. This is something the family will never forget.

November 27

The Kavanagh’s spend the Saturday after Thanksgiving at the Visitation Convent on Roland Avenue visiting with Sister Mary Agnes, Eddie’s sister. She is very excited to spend some time holding baby Betty Ann and catching up with her brother and his family. Her parents, Joe and Johanna, are there as well and they reminisce with their daughter, whose given name is Anna, about the first time they held Ed Jr. and Jack. Now Joe and Johanna are great-grandparents and Aunt Anna, as they call her is a Great Aunt holding a baby from another generation. The Kavanagh clan continues to grow and this Thanksgiving Saturday annual visit is always a wonderful day. The family visits Aunt Anna regularly and celebrates Mass with her at the convent when they can, but these November visits are always special. Perhaps it is the approaching end of the year or simply Thanksgiving, but the Kavanagh’s, all the generations, feel a strong sense of family on this day.

December 7

The busy year continues at the corner of Pratt and Central as winter comes on. Among the jobs spread throughout the Shop today, one of their experienced coppersmiths, Mr. Votta is making some strainers for Gunther’s Brewery. The strainers catch the hops during the beer brewing process. Copper sheet is laid out and drilled. It is a very straight forward job but Eddie can’t help but think he could have done it faster. Eddie was a real coppersmith at heart. Now in his later years, he enjoys the role he shares with his brother of bringing the work in and making the deals but he often misses swinging a hammer or drilling holes. Eddie still works in the Shop occasionally but less and less as he is getting older. Votta is a good man and skilled and it’s another small job that keeps money coming into the Shop. The best mix of work is both big jobs that might take a week or two and small ones that are finished in a matter of hours. It keeps the money coming in regularly and occasionally a big bill is paid.

The Shop’s Job book entry. Gunther’s Brewery job. December 7, 1948.

December 24

This Friday finds the Shop in celebration of the Christmas holiday. The annual party is on after a half day of work, the floors are swept, tables are moved and a tree is stood and decorated. The Kavanagh’s gather with customers and employees for their yearly party to celebrate not just the Yule but also the end of another year of work. Platters are piled high with sandwiches, sides and desserts. There is a keg of beer tapped and several bottles of rye to be sampled and like every year they will sing together led by Joe Kavanagh. The family and friends have a wonderful time at Leo and Eddie’s Shop on Central Avenue. The brothers are feeling great with so much work on the books and such a good run of success. The family is growing with Jack and Betty welcoming their first child in April and the family is content and happy after such a long span of uncertainty. The Shop and the Kavanagh’s passed through Prohibition, Depression and a war and finally things have returned to some sense of normalcy. There is peace and the work of the Shop is again their main focus. Another generation is working at the Joseph Kavanagh Company and the transition from one to another has slowly begun. Just as in the past, it takes time, trust and faith to pass from one generation to another. As has happened twice before, some day the younger Kavanagh’s will replace the older. They will do the same job, in the same place and with the same tradition of quality and hard work and oddly enough they will do the same dance.



Harry S. Truman is the President of the United States. NASCAR and the Hell’s Angels are founded. The first animal, a monkey, is launched into space. The first Kinsey report on human sexuality is published. The game of Scrabble is marketed and sold by James Brunot. “South Pacific” premiers on Broadway. Alice Cooper, Donna Summer, Garry Trudeau, Gary Thorne and Kweisi Mfume are born. Orville Wright, D. W. Griffith and Babe Ruth die.

There are still 48 states in the Union.

Betty 1948
Betty Ann Kavanagh. 1948.

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

Table of Contents

1947 Jack and Betty

January 6

The run of work continues with another strong start to the year. The Shop at 201 S. Central Avenue is flush with regular distillery and brewery work. In addition, they are still receiving ship work from the Navy and their usual winter confectionery work. Leo and Eddie answer calls from customers, quoting and accepting jobs from their small corner office. Once a job is received, Leo does any engineering and makes the necessary sketches while Eddie expedites things in the Shop proper. Occasionally when necessary, Eddie still does some smithing and a few installations.

January 11

On a cold and blustery Saturday, Jack and Betty are planning a wedding. May 17 is the date and they will be married at St. Ignatius Church which is Betty’s parish. They make guest lists and choose the bridal party. Urban(Urb) Rosemary is one of Jack’s closest friends and will be his Best Man while Urb’s wife Jackie will be Betty’s Maid of Honor. The couple are very excited and very much in love. Their love grew quickly and has only continued to do so. They look forward to standing before all their family and friends and declaring that love. Besides the wedding, Jack is also preparing to return to the Maryland Institute College of Art to continue studying drafting and mechanics. His classes will be twice a week and start in February. Jack will go to school then drive to the Shop to work the remainder of the day.

February 27

On a very chilly Thursday, the crew of the Shop heat and hammer, working copper into shapes. Today a job for A. Smith Bowman Distillers is completed. A replacement boiling bottle is made, double-jacketed for boiling and the interior tinned. The tinning process is a part of a coppersmith’s basic skill set. The interior of the copper bottle is cleaned carefully with muriatic acid then quickly coated with boiling hot tin. It is spread as evenly and quickly as possible. The tin protects the contents from copper poisoning.

The Shop’s job book entry. Sunset Distillers, the A. Smith Bowman Company job. February 27, 1947.

March 8

Ed Jr. and Lillian move to 440 N. Lakewood Avenue, three doors down from Ed’s parents. They have wanted to get out on their own for a while but stay close and with Jack and Betty moving in after the wedding, the time was right. They are next door now to Lillian’s cousin, Howard Fetsch so they have family on both sides and that’s how it often was in the neighborhood. In those days when family moved, they didn’t move far.

March 17

This year on St. Patrick’s Day, a copper slop trough is made for Records and Goldsborough Distilling, another of the Shop’s older customers. Mr. Funke, Ed Jr. and Jack heat copper sheet with their torches, hands gloved and sleeves pulled down always for safety. Four very straight seams are annealed on the sheets while the rest of the copper remains hard to maintain the strength of the sides of the trough. With dies and clamps, the three men fold each annealed seam up to a 90 degree angle until all four sides form a rectangle with an open top. The edges all around are then annealed and bent over to form an outside rim. All corners are soldered closed and then a quick clean up of all the surfaces and the trough is completed. A hot job but on a breezy spring day it is not so bad. It is basic coppersmithing and the three finish it with ease.

The Shop’s job book. Records and Goldsborough Co. job. March 17, 1947.

April 16

Joe visits his sons at the Shop as he still occasionally does and he brings up Jackie Robinson. Robinson has just become the first African-American to play in a major league game. This is not truly accurate as there were African-Americans playing in the early years of the National League but to most folks’ memory, Jackie is the first. Robinson is a slick fielding second baseman who can run and he’s a good hitter too. Joe sits in the Shop office with his boys eating lunch, corned beef sandwiches that Johanna sent for the three of them. A small price to pay she told Joe to get him out of the house.

“It’s about time they let some Negro players into the game. Those boys can really play.” Joe opined on Robinson’s first game.

“I see it almost every week, Joe.” Eddie answered, “I see the E-lite Giants and the other teams in their league and they are full of good players. They can hit. They can pitch. They can run. It only make sense for the owner to let these fellows play.”

“Robinson will be the first of many. Not just because he’s a black fellow but because the Negro Leagues are full of talent. I mean it’s like an untapped market of players.” Leo chimes in.

“Well, I say they should have done it a long time ago,” Joe replies, a magnanimous air about him, “The black players are some of the best in the country.”

“Of course they are.” Eddie responds, “It’s not fairness that inspires these owners. They want to win. That’s what it’s all about.” His brother and father grin in agreement.

“Yup.” Joe chuckled. “Sign Satchel Page, Buck O’Neill and one or two others and somebody’s got the pennant. It’s a good thing for the Negroes and baseball. The best should play with the best.”

“Sure, but I gotta wonder what will happen to the Negro teams like the E-lite Giants. Jack and I love going to their games. It’s just good baseball,” Eddie says as he fishes a cigarette from a flattened pack on his desk.

“Maybe a major league team will move to Baltimore.” Leo says as he glances between his father and several orders on his desk.

“It won’t happen. After the Orioles failed and were dismantled, the owners think this town isn’t big enough for a team. It’s a damn shame. The Orioles were champions. Remember that boys. They were the best of the best for a long time. They had bad luck in the Temple Cup but they still won one. This World Series and all that is new stuff. They are trying to sell baseball to the whole country and the big towns like New York and Chicago gotta be featured. I’m not sure they’ll ever think of Baltimore like that.” Joe responds very matter-of-factly as he takes a bite from a sandwich.

“Maybe so, Joe, but I wouldn’t be so sure that Baltimore won’t ever get a team. I think with the newspapers covering baseball so much and radio broadcasting games, like you said, baseball will soon want to cover the country, I wouldn’t be so sure that Baltimore won’t get a team some day. It just might take time. I do think the owners of MLB teams will poach independent and Negro League teams but that’s because the talent is there. I bet the owners will find so much talent that they will add some teams. We will get a team some day. You mark my words.” Eddie declares to his brother and father.

Joe rolls up the remains of his sandwich, tosses it in the trash and answers, “I hope you’re right Eddie.”

May 13

Today the crew of the Joseph Kavanagh Company are attending to their usual variety of parts and repairs for distillers, beer brewers and ship makers. Eddie has been talking to Mr. Brearton at National Distillers for several weeks about two mash tanks and the crew make them today. The copper sheet is heated then run through their rollers to get the curve they need. It is a simple process unless the tank is over five feet high, in which case, the curving must be done more slowly and more carefully; the challenge on such a job is to have the top and bottom of the tank match. The Shop’s rollers are three feet wide so the sheet of copper must be rolled, flipped over and rolled again multiple times until the diameter matches at the top and bottom and is held to the customer’s desired tolerance. This one is a bear as they say and takes many tries before getting the tanks just right.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Distillers job. May 13, 1947.
Jack and Betty's Wedding Invitation
Jack and Betty Kavanagh’s wedding invitation. May 17, 1947.

May 17

Today is the big day for Jack and Betty and it is a beautiful sunny Saturday. It is a joyous and exciting occasion as Jack Kavanagh marries Betty Crew at St. Ignatius Church today. The mass is at 9 AM, as was customary at that time, followed by the Wedding Breakfast for the bridal party and the parents, then a reception for everyone in the afternoon. Father Mitchell Cartwright performs the ceremony assisted by his brother John who are both cousins of the Crew’s. There is some weeping but it is all in joy as both families and all their friends are so very happy for the couple. According to my father, it is the only time that all the Hartmann’s, his mother’s family, and all the Kavanagh’s were together, wishing the best to Jack and Betty. The breakfast is held at the Stafford Hotel in the Mount Vernon Dining Room of the Preakness Lounge. While everyone is enjoying their breakfast, Annie calls Jack and Betty aside to speak to them.

Matchbook from Jack and Betty Kavanagh’s wedding breakfast. Mount Vernon Dining Room at the Preakness Lounge in the Stafford Hotel. May 17, 1947.

“Jack, I have something I need to give to you.” she begins as she smiles at her youngest son and his bride-to-be.

“You’ve given me so much, Mom. What is it?” Jack answers watching her remove a small box from her purse.

Johanna Kavanagh’s father, James Long’s pocket watch. Passed to Eddie, Johanna’s second son then passed by her daughter-in-law, Annie, to Jack her second son.

She hands it to Jack who opens it and sees a very old pocket watch. “This watch belonged to your grandmother Johanna’s father, James Long. When your father and I got married, she gave it to Eddie because, well, she knew that some day her older son would be the president of the company and she wanted her second son to have something special of his own, something of the family’s. The watch doesn’t keep time as well as it did but it’s an heirloom. We don’t know how things will go with your brother, you and the Shop but we want you, our second son, to have the watch”

Picture of the Long family. Johanna Long Kavanagh is the older of the girls. Late 1870s.

Jack turned the watch over several times in his hand as Betty gasped looking down at the old time piece. It had a little weight to it and was made of polished brass. Jack opened it up and inside is a picture of the Long family including a young Johanna. “It’s beautiful, Mom. Thank you.” He wrapped his arms around his mother and she held him tight. Then it was Betty’s turn and Annie pulled her into an embrace.

Whispering in her ear she said, “Maybe some day, Betty, you will give this watch to your second son at his wedding. Johanna started this tradition with Eddie and I am passing it to you two. I want you to think of me and this day when you look at the watch.” she smiled at both Jack and Betty

“It’s truly beautiful and thank you so much,” Betty replied, a teary grin on her face.

“Thank you, Mom. I love you.” Jack said as he gazed back at his mother with his arm wrapped around his girl.

“Congratulations and I love you too. Both of you.” said Annie as she looked into her baby’s face, a man now and soon a husband.

Jack and Betty Kavanagh’s wedding picture. May 17, 1947.

While the wedding party is eating breakfast, Leo and Ed Jr. are moving all of the furniture out of 434 N. Lakewood Avenue but for the piano to make room. The cake is enormous and must be brought into the house through the front basement window. This window was wider and often the best way to move things in and out of the home. The cake is carried through, then up the steps and into the kitchen. While last minute decorating is done, Leo, his wife Maymie and their daughter Mary pick up Aunt Anna, Sister Mary Agnes of the Visitation Order. The family is very happy she will be able to attend. The Visitation is a cloistered order and her trips away from the Convent are limited and infrequent. Jack, Betty and their wedding party arrive and the family has a brief celebration of their own before the party begins. At 2 PM, guests gather at Lakewood Avenue to salute and party with Jack and Betty. The small home fills up fast but no one cares as the reception is full of music and good cheer. The Kavanagh’s including Aunt Anna, who is an accomplished piano player, take turns playing the piano and singing while folks join in, eat sandwiches, and have cake and coffee. Joe’s baritone voice carries over all others as they sing and celebrate together. A few toasts to the young couple are made and the party runs into the evening before they begin dispersing and returning to their homes. As soon as the last guest is gone, the women get to the post-reception clean up while the men haul the furniture back in. It doesn’t take long before the house is set back in order and it was well worth it as a good time was had by all. It was a wedding to remember. Jack and Betty spend one night on Lakewood Avenue before driving to Atlantic City for a proper wedding trip.

Jack & Betty Kav wedding 05171947
Jack and Betty Kavanagh at their wedding. May 17, 1947.

May 19

While Jack is on his honeymoon, the Shop is finishing a continuous beer still for Park & Tilford Distillery. The beer still is what started it all for Old Uncle Joe. He was able to make a still with such perfectly round pots that the quality and efficiency was of the highest level. It’s old hat for the coppersmiths at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Eddie supervises as the fittings and valves are attached and the still is completed. The installation will be tomorrow and Eddie has assigned Funke and two helpers to handle it. The rest of the boys are busy with two different railings and a group of stock fittings for Gunther’s Brewery.

Postcard from Jack and Betty on their honeymoon in Atlantic City. Sent to Jack’s brother’s baby girl, Patsy. May 1947.
The Shop’s job book entry. Parks and Tilford Distillers job. May 19, 1947.

June 17

Jack and Betty are living with Eddie and Annie at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue. Things are a bit crowded but the family deals with it. Eddie and Annie are accustomed to having long term guests; Ed Jr and Lillian lived with them for several years but it is not something that Betty is used to and Jack realizes this quickly. They want a family of their own and they will need a house of their own. For now, they are fine living with Jack’s parents but the couple are already looking for a situation that might help them. They look for a house that is in the neighborhood, close at hand to family but their own place.

Left to right. Lillian, Ed Jr. Eddie, Annie and Betty Kavanagh. Late 1947.

July 4

The Kavanagh’s celebrate Independence Day on Lakewood Avenue. Jack drives out to 33rd Street and picks up his grandparents. Even Johanna is getting a little too old to drive much and it’s simple for Jack to ride out and get them. Ed, Lillian and their baby are there as well. Steamed crabs, fried chicken and corn are served and it is a 4th of July party to remember. They walk to Patterson Park and enjoy the fireworks along with so many neighbors. People sit on their front steps and greet them as they walk back from the park in the twilight. Joe is discussing the newly instituted Maryland Sales Tax with anyone who will listen. Joe Kavanagh is not too happy about it. It’s a travesty and completely wrong in his eyes. To place a tax on a normal working person’s purchases is an affront to Joe. Of course, Joe was an opinionated fellow and a fair few things were affronts to him.

July 20

On a Sunday, Jack drives his father to Bugle Field to watch a couple of ballgames. The Baltimore E-lite Giants face off against the Homestead Grays today. A doubleheader is scheduled between the two clubs. The E-lite Giants are led by center fielder, Henry Kimbro who bats a robust .384 for the season. The teams split the doubleheader with each winning a game. Eddie and Jack have been attending games at Bugle Field for years now and they love it. It is their father/son time but also their baseball time. Both love the game and they talk incessantly about baseball during the games, while driving to the games and while returning from the games. These ballgames will be some of Jack’s strongest memories of his youth and his father.

August 23

A muggy hot Saturday night has Eddie Kavanagh at a meeting of Coppersmiths Local #80. Eddie has been involved in the union nearly since its inception but he will soon step down as General Secretary. He’s always been devoted to the Union and his brothers but he’s been in this position for a long time and he knows he should make room for someone new. The brothers discuss wages and the volume of jobs in Baltimore. Correspondences from other locals are shared and any particular problems brought up by members are addressed.

September 2

Jack continues his studies at MICA in the Fall session, still two days per week as before. He works hard at school but is also working at the Shop where his skills continue to develop. Jack’s mechanical knowledge has grown after his Navy experience and the classes he’s taken. He is very astute at being able to apply them to his job. The Shop benefits from his learning as it does from his skills. Jack has a natural ease with a hammer but he also wants to learn all he can about metal work and mechanics. This does not go unnoticed by his father and his uncle.

September 26

A warm sunny Fall day is a very busy one at the corner of Pratt and Central. Leo and Eddie’s Shop has been contracted by US Industrial Chemicals Company to fabricate two large complicated chemical distilling systems. These will produce alcohol but not for consumption, rather to integrate with other substances in the creation of a variety of chemicals; cleaners, solvents and more. They have been at this one for weeks and are nearly finished. In addition to being a big job to bill, this one also pushes their backlog of work even father back. They are running with over a month’s worth of work ahead of them consistently and the year has been a great one for the Shop.

The Shop’s job book entry. U.S. Industrial Chemicals, Inc. job. September 27, 1947.

October 6

The Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series, winning four out of seven. Jackie Robinson becomes not only the first African-American to play in the major leagues but to appear in the World Series. A young pitcher named Rex Barney makes several appearances for the Dodgers. After Barney’s pitching days are over, he eventually will be a longtime Public Address Announcer for the future Baltimore Orioles. This is another Subway Series ending the baseball season and fans across the country are as excited as if they were all New Yorkers. There is something about New York that draws Americans’ attention. It is, by far, the most populated city in the US and when two teams from rival sections of that City are involved in a ballgame or series of games, Americans take note. Certainly, the Kavanagh’s took note, listening on the radio and reading the box scores in the Sun. They discuss each game after its completion and speculate on the next one. It’s been just about the same for over forty World Series, the Kavanagh’s paying close attention and interested in every detail. Love of the game is such a tradition in this family.

October 24

Leo and Eddie lead their crew through another week with a very full schedule. Today the crew are scattered over six different jobs. Jack and Leo Gianetti are tinning a large gin tank for United Distillers of America. A steady rain falls all day in Baltimore and the hours pass a little slower because of it. It’s another day in the long life of the Joseph Kavanagh Company. The work remaining remarkably similar to what Old Uncle Joe did himself. He too sweated and fretted through rainy gloomy days and also bright sunny days. Three generations of this family have worked here and Ed Jr. and Jack are the fourth.

The Shop’s job book entry. United Distillers of America job. October 24, 1947.

October 27

Television arrives in Maryland as WMAR-TV goes on the air for the fist time, becoming only the fourteenth television station in the country. To start, they are an independent station with no network affiliation, but that won’t be for very long. Their first broadcast is of several races from Pimlico Racetrack. Very few Baltimoreans own televisions, the Kavanagh’s do not, but there is interest in this new device. It is likened to having moving pictures at home instead of the theater. Joe Kavanagh is old-fashioned and he can’t imagine TV replacing radio ever. Of course, Joe had no confidence in radio succeeding either. He felt nothing could replace live performance being an old vaudevillian himself. Still, his sons are curious and wonder if this new fangled way of entertainment will catch on or will it just be a fad that disappears in a few years.

November 27

Jack and Betty have two Thanksgivings this year, visiting the Crew’s for an early Thanksgiving lunch then driving home to Lakewood Avenue for dinner with the Kavanagh’s. As Jack drives them to her Mother’s house, Betty tells him the best news he has ever heard. She is pregnant and is due in April of next year. Jack nearly crashes the Chrysler he is so excited and he kisses her quick at a red light. When they arrive at 1612 Guilford Avenue, they tell Betty’s Mother and her brothers and everyone is thrilled and so happy for them. They eat turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, more sides including, of course, parsnips. The scene is repeated at 434 N. Lakewood when Jack and Betty tell his family. Annie is on the moon with joy because her baby will have a baby. They eat again with all of the above dishes, most certainly including parsnips.

Mom 1947 color
Betty Kavanagh. 1947.

December 3

Six copper coils for mash tubes for National Distillery are the focus of the Shop’s crew today. Another very nice job as they finish out a good year. Thoughts of the impending holiday are on everyone’s mind. The brothers Leo and Eddie are very confident that the future will be good for the company. The work is plentiful and they have maintained a good skillful crew of men. Their reputation and the quality of their work has made them a fixture in Baltimore industry.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Distillery job. December 3. 1947.

December 24

The Shop throws a loud and raucous Christmas Party on this Thursday. It has been another glorious year for the Kavanagh’s and the Shop. There is work aplenty and the family is getting bigger with another generation being born. The younger Ed and Lillian have a baby daughter and Jack and Betty will have a baby in the spring. The Kavanagh’s and their friends talk excitedly of the holiday and the impending “White Christmas” as a blast of snow is expected by the 26th. Leo and Eddie are very happy with the direction the Shop is going. Leo knows that his daughter Mary will never work there. A woman working as a coppersmith would be unheard of at this time but he does hope that she owns half one day and perhaps she’ll have a son to work there. Eddie has both Ed Jr. and Jack working with him and he loves it. He sometimes has his doubts about Ed, they butt heads but so did Eddie and his father, Joe. They still do, in fact, but Ed is more of a good time/partying kind of fellow and his father wishes he would outgrow it. Jack, on the other hand, is more serious about his future, his work and his family. That’s not to say he doesn’t enjoy a good time or even a drink but he is more focused on what he wants to do with his life than enjoying it today. If he can do what he wants with his life, he assumes he’ll be happy for a lifetime not just a day. Eddie hopes both his boys continue at the Shop and he is beginning to think more and more that Jack may be the future leader of the place, the main man. The “Joe,” for lack of a better term, but he knows that will not be determined for some time. A few years will pass but Jack does eventually lead the business for many years and he is aided like his father and his grandfather by a strong supportive and loving wife. When Jack’s time comes, Betty will make the difference.



Harry S. Truman is the President of the United States. The United Nations agrees to create an independent Jewish State called Israel. The automatic camera or “instant camera” is invented by Polaroid. The infamous Roswell incident occurs on July 7. The sound barrier is broken by American Chuck Yeager. “Miracle on 34th Street” is released. The state of Maryland agrees to build a bridge over the Chesapeake Bay. Marguerite Henry’s children’s book “Misty of Chincoteague” is published. Stephen King, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Letterman, Hillary Clinton and Nolan Ryan are born.

There are still 48 states in the Union.

Betty Crew Kavanagh on her wedding day. May 17, 1947.

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

Table of Contents

1946 Jack’s Girl

January 4

The relief and joy at the end of the war carries over into the new year. Americans seem to have a little more pep in their step and the Kavanagh’s are an excellent example of this. The Shop is humming along with its typical variety of copper work from the shipyards, brewers and distillers. They still receive some confectionery work in the winter. All combined, they start well with a backlog of over a month. The family is very anxious for any word from Jack on the Strickland. They know he is coming home and sailing for California but they don’t know when he will back in Baltimore.

January 25

The USS Strickland anchors in San Diego, California; she is home. The crew are ecstatic to see mainland America and several days will be spent here before the ship is routed to the East Coast for deactivation. The boys will have two days of Liberty then will set sail for Philadelphia. Jack is very excited, from Philly he will take a train to Baltimore and be home at last. He does enjoy a night of Liberty in San Diego, enjoying some good seafood, a few beers and catching any music he and his friends can find.

Dad (Jack) & his mother Mimi
Jack and his Mother, Annie Kavanagh at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue when Jack returned from WW2. February 11, 1946.

February 11

The Strickland docks in Philadelphia where she will stay for several weeks before moving to Charleston, South Carolina. Jack and his Navy cronies disembark from DE-133(the Strickland’s call numbers) for the last time. He and his friends hug, slap backs and clasp hands. Sure they will see each other some day but all are more focused on catching trains and getting back to their home towns. Jack takes a train to Baltimore and calls his parents in the late afternoon. His mother is beside herself with joy when she answers the phone. She tells him to stay right there and Eddie will come get him. Jack says no he has a ride to Patterson Park and will be home as quick as he can. She tells him to be careful, hangs up and begins cooking. Ham and potatoes is one of Jack’s favorites and she sets to it immediately. Eddie calls his parents, Joe and Johanna whose reaction is the same as Annie’s. They will be coming over to see their grandson after Johanna bakes him an apple pie. A friend drove Jack to the park and then he started walking up Lakewood Avenue. The neighborhood looks the same and Jack feels so excited to be home. When he crosses Orleans Street his pace increases as he is almost there. He spies his brother sitting on the steps of 434 N. Lakewood smoking a cigarette. Ed jumps up from the steps, calls to his mother and rushes toward Jack. They embrace in mid step as Annie bustles down the steps and then it’s her turn as she wraps her arms tight around her baby who is finally home. She hurries Jack into the house and Eddie hugs him and slaps his back to welcome him. Annie quickly makes a sandwich for Jack as she is appalled at the state of him. He must have lost twenty pounds she thinks and asks what have they been feeding you? Jack says he’s not really sure and he’s not sure he wants to know. The room fills with laughter mixed with tears. Jack sits at the table eating his sandwich when his mother calls them all outside and several pictures are taken. Soon, Jack’s grandparents arrive and they too hug him close with Johanna’s eyes full of tears of joy. When the ham and potatoes are ready, they sit around the kitchen table and eat, Jack encouraged constantly by both Annie and Johanna to eat up. In their eyes, he has a lot of missed dinners to make up for. He finishes it all with a large slab of fresh apple pie. It is a wonderful welcome home party for Metalsmith 3rd Class Jack Kavanagh. After the grandparents are gone and the parents are asleep, Jack and Ed Jr. sit in the basement, Jack telling tales of where he has been. Ed stands up and says let’s see what you got now. A tough Navy man, Jack gets poked by Ed several times. Ed had often picked on Jack as they grew up. Jack was a little smaller and younger, of course. This time after one poke too many, Jack grabs Ed, flips him down on the ground and “stands him on his head”(Jack’s words). Ed is surprised; clearly his brother has grown up. Jack pulls Ed to his feet and they both chuckle a bit because they are brothers. Henceforth, Ed never picked on Jack again.

Dad Jack Navy Uniform with Ed Kav
Jack and his brother Ed Kavanagh at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue when Jack returned from WW2. February 11, 1946.

February 25

Jack returns to work at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. He is welcomed back gleefully by his co-workers and is put right back to work on a set of drip pans that are being made for Calvert Distillery. The Shop has plenty of work as the winter nears its end and that bodes well for the rest of the year. Jack is thrilled at some news from his father. Eddie has decided to help Jack buy a new car. They can trade in the old Chevy and with some cash get whatever car Jack wants, within in reason. Jack is very excited and they find a good deal on a Chrysler Windsor, a brand new 1946 model and Jack loves the front end and the style in general. So begins a lifelong love affair with Chryslers.

March 4

The Shop’s crew spend a beautiful early Spring Monday working hard at Pratt and Central. Today, Eddie himself is handling a job. The workers are all tied up on other projects so he grabs his son, Jack and gets working on some rectangular copper tanks for Park and Guilford Distillers. Sheets of copper are annealed and then clenched over clamps and corners are bent. The seams are all soldered closed and soon these tanks which look like boxes are completed.

The Shop’s job book entry for March 4, 1946. Eddie Kavanagh makes some rectangular copper tanks.

March 19

Eddie spends another day working in the Shop. Along with a helper, he makes several copper tops for cistern tanks for Carrollton Springs Pure Rye Distillery. The tops are made from sheet which is hammered carefully to form a semi-domed shape to cap the tanks but still allow for easy opening to provide access. The rest of the crew are spread over several other distillery parts, some brewery vat repairs; Eddie’s boys Jack and Ed are tending to these, and a large decorative brass railing for a residence.

April 17

The Kavanagh’s receive some more good news as Ed Junior’s wife, Lillian is pregnant. Eddie and Annie will be grandparents for the first time and another generation of the family will begin. The family are thrilled for the new parents-to-be and wish them all the best as the family keeps growing.

April 29

The Shop remains busy with the boys on a variety of jobs. Jack and Mr. Funke are working on a brass sleeve for Calvert Distillery. It must be rolled into a circle, silver soldered then machined smooth on the inside and outside. It will be used for a spacer or a bushing in their distilling system. The Shop does not have a full time machinist at this time and a few of the fellows take turns using the lathe if it’s necessary. With Mr. Funke’s guidance, Jack gets his first shot at using a lathe to take the very subtle cuts on the sleeve to make it as smooth a surface as possible. It is slow careful work to hold this circle within the desired tolerance of +/- 1/64 inch. Jack learns a lot but makes a note to himself to recommend his father find a machinist to run the lathes and the mill full time.

The Shop’s job book entry for April 28, 1946. A small copper sleeve is made for Calvert Distillery.

May 7

The Shop finishes a nice order from National Distillers in Dundalk. Two tubular condensers are fabricated and delivered. Eddie makes the delivery on this one as he wants to meet some of the folks he’s been talking to face-to-face. He takes Mr. Funke and his son Jack along for the installation which is relatively easy in this case. They drive along Eastern Avenue talking baseball when both Funke and Eddie ask Jack about the Navy. Eddie turns onto Dundalk Avenue as Jack is recounting the numerous places he visited while serving and the things he saw. Eddie meets his counterparts at Calvert and introduces Jack to them. The condensers are installed and in less than an hour they make the return trip. This time Eddie giving instructions on some copper cans to be made for Sherwood Distillers as soon as possible. He wants Funke and Jack to get on these immediately upon their return to Central Avenue.

The Shop’s job book entry for May 7, 1946. Two condensers fabricated for National Distillers.

May 18

Annie and Johanna have decided to have a proper big Baltimore birthday party for Jack this year. They will make a mess of crabs for everyone on this Saturday afternoon. Eddie furnishes some fresh blue crabs and Annie and her mother-in-law begin steaming them in the large pot made at the Shop. They are seasoned with Old Bay, rock salt, black pepper and lots of time according to Annie. Jack is very excited because despite being at sea, he hasn’t had crabs in several years. The table is covered in newspaper, and mallets and knives are laid out. Johanna has been making a large pot of crab soup from odd claws and a few clawless crabs that come out of the steamer. The aroma of these crustaceans steaming fills 434 N. Lakewood Avenue and finally they all sit and celebrate. They drink cold beer or iced tea and wish Jack a happy birthday. He thinks this may be the best birthday ever. He’s home with family and lots of crabs.

June 23

On this Sunday night, Jack drives his parents to a Knights of Columbus Dance. He attends with them assured by his mother there may be some pretty girls there too. He is still happy to be home in the States and a young Navy man in his uniform can often do well to catch a young girl’s eye. Tonight a young girl catches his eye. A brunette bombshell sitting with an older gentleman is the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. He can’t believe here is this vision of loveliness in Baltimore. He musters up all the courage he has and approaches her and asks her to dance. This girl’s name is Betty Crew. Betty lives with her Mother and two brothers on Guilford Avenue. She was not planning on going to the dance but her Aunt Elsie came down sick and called Betty’s mother to ask if Betty would accompany her uncle. Betty was still non-plused to go to a dance with her uncle but her mother persuaded her She agrees to dance with Jack and they talk while they move around the room. Jack had his Navy blues on and he looked very handsome to Betty. They dance each dance that night and chat throughout the evening. By both accounts, sparks were flying that night and they lit a flame of love that will burn for over seventy years. My father said that night he knew he would ask her to marry him.

Mom Betty Crew9 (1)
Betty Crew. Mid 1940s.

June 24

On Guilford Avenue at house number 1612, Betty Crew tells her mother all about the dance and this wonderful young man she met whose name is Jack. He’s an Irish Catholic Navy Veteran who just got back to the US this year. His family has lived in Baltimore for nearly one hundred years and they own a coppersmith Shop at Pratt and Central. Betty’s mother Bernardine listens and can tell that her daughter is already quite taken with this young man. She’s happy for Betty but it was just one dance. Jack has told her that he will call this week to ask her out again. Betty’s two brothers are named Buddy(Lawrence) and Bumpsy(Howard). Buddy is the oldest and served in the Marine Corps and Bumpsy is the youngest of the three and still finishing high school. Their father left the home when Betty was about ten years old. He moved out West and essentially abandoned them. Earlier this year they received news that he had passed away in Arizona. It has been a tough few years for the Crew family but Bernardine makes it work. She is a seamstress and is very skilled, making uniforms for the military, selling dresses and other clothing to support her and the kids. She also has taken in boarders over the years and now a friend of the family, Bill Hoffman, is renting a room. They are close this family and have grown to depend on each other, working together to make ends meet.

Betty Crew. Circa 1940.

June 26

Jack visits Guilford Avenue for dinner this Wednesday at the request of Betty’s mother, Bernardine. If he wants to seriously pursue her daughter, Bernardine thinks it’s only proper for her to meet him. Betty is only seventeen though she has just finished high school. Her Mother wants to keep everything on the up and up. She roasts a chicken and the dinner is delicious according to Jack who tells Betty’s Mother that he is a serious young man. He genuinely likes Betty. He’s just back from the Navy and settling back into his work and his life in Baltimore. Betty is clearly smitten and Bernardine takes a liking to Jack’s honest way and she gives her blessing to further dates.

Mom Betty Crew summer of 1942
Betty Crew. 1940s.

June 28

Jack and Betty have their first date; they go out for Chinese food at the New Canton on North Avenue. This would become their favorite place very quickly. They eat and have a wonderful dinner after which Jack drives them to a friend’s house, a fellow who also served in the Navy. He is having a small party for a few friends and their dates. They talk about Baltimore, baseball and the Navy and then the time gets away from them. When they suddenly realize they have talked almost all night and it’s 3 AM, Betty says she needs to get home. Jack drives her home, and Betty’s Mom is none too happy as it is almost dawn. The couple apologize and assure Bernardine that nothing happened, they just lost track of time. Jack had a very calming nature even at this young age and somehow or other, he soothed Bernardine’s worries and before they know it, she was making them both breakfast.

Jack & Betty 1946 by car
Jack Kavanagh and Betty Crew standing next to Jack’s Chrysler Windsor. Patterson Park. 1946.

July 13

It’s a Saturday date night for Jack and Betty. Jack is so smitten he sees Betty as often as he can. She feels the same way and knows that Jack is something special. They head to the movies to see “The Postman Always Rings Twice” then afterward they discuss the film and anything else they can over egg rolls at the New Canton. An order of egg rolls is only .45 and they split it. They quickly are getting very close. The couple make a point of always having Betty home on time from now on.

Menu from “The New Canton” Restaurant that Jack and Betty Kavanagh frequented while they were dating.

July 22

The Shop finishes a new beer heater for Calvert Distillery. Calvert has become a very reliable customer for Leo and Eddie. They have had regular repair and replacement work for them over the last couple of years. This job is a few days work but today the last of the tubes are curved and inserted into the collar of the header. The crew makes a quick job of it and though quoted at $3000.00, the Shop’s cost was 1800.00. These jobs that are even more profitable than expected are few and far between but they certainly help the bottom line.

July 29

Jack is in New York with some of his buddies for a two day road trip. They drive to Coney Island and have a great day of amusements, rides and food. Jack sends Betty a postcard as she is always on his mind. She thinks of him too and misses him even on this short weekend jaunt but she saves the postcard putting it away almost as she finished reading it.

Postcard from Coney Island that Jack Kavanagh sent to Betty Crew. July 1946.
Postcard from Coney Island that Jack Kavanagh sent to Betty Crew. July 1946.

August 10

A hot and humid Baltimore night finds Jack and Betty at the movies. They are seeing each other every week and taking any opportunity to be together. After the film they drive to the New Canton for their usual egg roll order. They share them and walk out in the heat of the night strolling along North Avenue talking.

Inside of the menu for “The New Canton” restaurant. The Egg Rolls for .45 cents were Jack and Betty’s favorite.

August 18

Jack and Eddie attend a Sunday set of baseball games at Bugle Field. The E-lite Giants host the Newark Eagles who are tops of the Negro National League at this point and will win it all this year. Newark has a great mix of veterans and some stars of the future including a young Larry Doby who leads the teams with a .339 average. Newark prevails over Baltimore then two barnstorming Negro teams face off in a second game. Father and son enjoy a day of baseball like they did before the war. They talk about the Shop and Eddie brings up a distillery install they have coming up They talk about Betty and Jack tells his father that he loves her and she make him very happy. Eddie likes Betty, she’s been over for dinner several times and he wants what’s best for Jack. What’s more, his wife Annie likes Betty and that’s always a good sign to Eddie. Eddie also wants Jack to come with him to the next union meeting. He’d like to introduce him around. Jack is a member and attended one meeting to join but other than that, like most Shop workers, he leaves it in his father’s hands. Eddie is not only one of the owners at the Shop but also General Secretary of Local # 80. Jack agrees; he’s interested to go and learn how the meetings work and meet more of Eddie’s union brothers.

September 2

Jack returns to the Maryland Institute College of Art to resume his studies. He is once again taking a class in drafting but also one in mechanics. He will continue to work at the Shop while going to school as he did before the war. His classes are three days a week and after each one, he drives directly to Central Avenue and gets to work.

September 19

Ed and Lillian Kavanagh welcome a baby daughter, Patricia Lee. Eddie and Annie are grandparents for the first time. Eddie will be called Eddie, of course, but Annie will be called Mimi by the baby and any subsequent grandchildren. The child will be called Patsy. She is the first of another generation of Kavanagh’s. She would be the great-great-grandchild of Patrick Kavanagh who came to America at sixteen. Ed, Lillian and Patsy are still living on Lakewood Avenue with Ed’s parents but are looking for a place in the neighborhood.

September 28

Jack picks Betty up at 1612 Guilford Avenue and drives her downtown for dinner and dancing. They have a wonderful time spending most of the night in each others’ arms, dancing to the latest big band hits and the smooth jazz of the time. They race home to beat the curfew but do make it just in the nick of time.

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

October 15

The St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Boston Red Sox to win the World Series. It takes seven games and with the winning run scoring in the 8th inning, Enos Slaughter racing home on a double. Ted Williams, the Boston star, was injured in the series and he bats a meager .200 with only five hits, all singles. As happened last year, the MVP’s of the respective leagues were from the two teams in the World Series, Williams from Boston and Stan Musial from the Cardinals. The series and the baseball season is discussed daily at the Shop. It’s like the old days with no war worries so the focus at the company can be baseball again. And work, of course.

October 27

Jack drives Betty to his house to have Sunday dinner with his family. Annie is cooking a large pork roast for them all. Eddie and she, Ed Jr. and Lillian are there with the baby and Jack and Betty. Annie and Betty get along great and Betty is quick to help in the kitchen. Baby Patsy is oohed and ahhed over and passed around among the family. After dinner, they gather around the piano and sing and play. Jack smiles at Betty when he gets his turn and finally can play for her. They have a nice day and Jack drives Betty home along North Avenue then turning on Guilford. Jack and Betty are very much a couple now. Their friends and family already seeing them as such. They seem nearly inseparable.

October 31

The Shop finishes a large job for United Distillers today. They have made some jacketed cans, lids and stands for several weeks and today they are delivered. It was a long job with multiple steps in making the parts and it’s a good one to get out the door and billed. Leo and Eddie are thrilled with the volume of work so far this year as it is even better than last. With winter on its way, they still are carrying a six week backlog of scheduled work. That is a great place for the Shop to be. Eddie stands at the Shop office door for a few minutes after lunch, surveying the crew loading the United Distillers’ cans, lids and stands onto the truck while off on his own, Ed Jr. is making two 2 inch male unions from brass bushings for the Free State Brewery. Eddie thinks to himself that his son should have had these finished before lunch. Ed has a very meticulous approach to work which sounds good until you start losing money on jobs. Eddie shakes his head and wishes Ed would find a way to work quicker.

Shop’s Job book entry. October 31, 1946. A large job consisting of several small orders is completed for United Distillers.

November 7

A cool Fall day is a busy day at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Leo and Eddie field phone calls from customers, quote jobs and then set the crew to work. They have been busy enough to consider hiring another coppersmith next year. Eddie has taken on jobs himself regularly and that does cause problems in the office. Leo has his customers and Eddie has his. Also, Leo is kept busy with engineering and drafting duties. To most customers, Eddie is the man who they deal with on the phone and in person. Today, a fountain is fabricated along with the usual assortment of distilling and brewing parts including an order from National Brewing.

November 28

Annie is a bit disappointed as Jack leaves her Thanksgiving dinner a little early and a little hungry. He has promised to spend Thanksgiving with Betty and her family for at least part of the day. He arrives and Betty leads him into the dining room where the traditional feast is laid out. Jack scans the bevy of dishes and quickly sees there are parsnips. He has already fallen in love with this girl and wants to spend the rest of his life with her but they serve parsnips in her family too. That is a good omen and Jack has made up his mind.

December 24

The Shop’s Christmas party is a party to end all parties this year. The war is over. Jack is home and he has a great girl who makes her first visit to the Shop. There is a new baby in the family, Eddie and Annie are grandparents and Joe and Johanna are great-grandparents. And, last but not least, the Shop is full of work with jobs scheduled into February of next year. It has been a great year all around for the Kavanagh’s and the company. The dirty Shop becomes a Christmas hall in no time with plenty to eat, drink and many songs to sing. The family welcome their friends, customers and workers and share the joy of the season and of this magnificent year with them. With the addition of the new baby, Patricia called Patsy, there are now four generations celebrating the Yule at Pratt and Central.

December 25

Jack visits the Crew family on Guilford Avenue to take a very special gift to Betty. With her Mother, two brothers and other family around, he places a tiny boot on the mantle with the stockings. Inside is his present for her. He leads her off away from her family for a minute and when she opens the boot, there is a diamond ring inside. Jack looks her in the eyes, tells her he loves her and asks if she will marry him. She says yes and falls into his arms but she must receive her Mother’s blessing. Bernardine knows Jack is a good man and he loves Betty and she gives them her whole-hearted support. Betty and Jack are very much in love and will soon begin planning a wedding. After an hour of celebrating their engagement at the Crew’s, they drive to Lakewood Avenue and tell Eddie and Annie. Jack’s parents are thrilled. They love Betty, she’s so sweet and they welcome her to the Kavanagh family. They need to pick a date but decide to marry in the Spring, hopefully in May.

As Jack drives Betty home that night, she is admiring the ring and tells him, “I love you and I love this ring, Jack. I’ve never seen a ring more beautiful.”

Jack glances over at her smiling and answers, “You’re my girl and I want everybody to know it.”



Harry S. Truman is the President of the United States. Benjamin Spock’s “The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care” is released. The comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis begin performing together. The first drive-through bank teller window is opened. Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” premiers on December 20. John Waters, Reggie Jackson, Dolly Parton, Candice Bergen and Ben Vereen, are born. Gertrude Stein and W. C. Fields die.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Jack Kavanagh and Betty Crew on Guilford Avenue. 1946.

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

Table of Contents


1945 Two Sons in the Sunset

January 4

1945 starts with the world at war, Jack Kavanagh serving in the Navy and the Shop is as busy as it could be. The Kavanagh brothers, Leo and Eddie, have work scheduled on the books through February. Eddie’s wife Annie has joined the Red Cross Ladies Auxiliary to support the war effort, her son and to do anything she can to help. She aids in making bandages and care packages to send off to the boys overseas. She worries so much for Jack that she thought this would be a way to contribute to the cause plus take her mind off her concerns. She still writes him daily though some weeks she packs seven letters into a large envelope and sends them off all at once. She has found out from Jack’s return correspondences that he usually receives the letters in a bulk amount whenever mail call reaches the ship.

February 4

President Roosevelt meets with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Leader Josef Stalin in Yalta, Crimea in the Soviet Union. Over the next week, the end of the war is discussed and preliminary plans made for a post-war Europe. There is much good news on the European Front while the war in the Pacific is still being more strongly contested by the Japanese. Allied troops are closing in on Germany from both sides.

February 14

Ed Kavanagh Junior marries Lillian Fetsch at Baltimore’s City Hall on this Valentine’s Wednesday. Lillian is not Catholic and so they can not marry in the church but the family is happy for the couple and welcome Lillian with open arms. Ed and his wife will live with his parents at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue until they find their own place. Ed has finished his time in the Quartermaster’s Corps and is back to working full time at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. He and Lil head to Atlantic City tomorrow for a long honeymoon weekend.

Ed's Wedding2
Ed Kavanagh Jr. & Lillian Fetsch’s Wedding Picture. February 14, 1945.

February 28

Pratt and Central stays very busy with more ship work and jobs from the alcohol industry. Today, two slop coolers are fabricated for Sherwood Distillery, the customer that purchased the first still from the original Joseph Kavanagh so very long ago. A slop cooler does exactly what it sounds like. It drops the temperature of the slop, the fermenting material that are passed through the still to create alcohol. The Shop’s crew make these all the time and they are quickly rolled and hammered into shape, all the apparatus attached and then are delivered as quoted to Sherwood. It’s a cold last day of February but the work keeps them warm and makes the day pass quickly.

Shop’s Job book entry. Two slop coolers fabricated for Sherwood Distillery. February 28, 1945.

March 6

Leo and Eddie read of the Battle of Iwo Jima in the Pacific, a long bombardment and a very difficult amphibious assault on the island. The US Marines and Navy are finally successful and the American flag is raised in victory. Confidence is getting higher that the war may be ending. The Germans are under assault and squeezed between their enemies while Japan’s network of islands under their influence is shrinking. Eddie wonders where his son is; he knows Jack is in the Pacific now having received letters from his son saying so. He puffs on his cigarette in silence while his brother resumes working on some sketches of a still condenser. He prays for his son’s return safely and as quickly as possible. His wife has missed Jack so much, she’s been fraught with worry. Eddie has always consoled her and assured her that Jack would be fine but he has had the same fears and worries. He wants his boy back. He crushes the butt of the cigarette in an ashtray and calls Globe Brewery. They ordered several custom bolts and they are ready and will be delivered this afternoon.

Shop’s job book entry for March 6, 1945 detailing some special bolts made for the Globe Brewery.

March 10

Jack Kavanagh wanders around the machine Shop on the USS Strickland, checking on different crewman’s jobs and the machines they are using. Due to his experience, he has taken on a supervisory role in the machine shop. A variety of parts are made as shafts, gears and many other pieces need repair and replacement on a ship. They have been re-assigned to the Pacific Front and while on their way, the boys long for home but go about their jobs and do their best to keep their spirits up. They love Liberty and have visited some interesting places and they find ways to enjoy themselves on the Strickland. Still, mostly there are day-to-day duties, the now rare and brief air assaults and the longing for their homes. Once he is off duty, Jack settles onto his bunk looking through his notebook/journal. Jack has recorded some details from his time aboard the Strickland, stops they’ve made, repairs he’s done and a careful accounting of his money. Jack records his pay and any expenditures as well as a few loans. Jack is an industrious lad and not one to spend all of his money on Liberty nor does he need to send money home. He’s not married and lives with his parents so he has begun lending out cash to different fellows. He records these transactions carefully in his book and makes a small bit of interest on each one. His friends are grateful to Jack for being able to “spiff” them some cash until payday and there is no ill will. The other boys do tend to go all out on Liberty and they burn through what cash they have. Jack is different. While the other boys are having a few too many and even getting tattooed, Jack drinks with them but at his own pace. As he told me many times, I don’t have a tattoo because try as they might, they could never get me drunk enough.

Jack Kavanagh’s Navy diary entry. A list of some of his shipmates and the money he had lent them. USS Strickland. 1945.

March 20

Allied troops cross the Rhine River in Germany and move closer and closer to Berlin while the Russians approach from the East. The Germans are caught between the two forces. What has been a long slow war in Europe finally seems to be reaching its climax and its end.

April 12

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies, succumbing to polio. Vice President Harry S. Truman becomes the 33rd President of the United States. The news spreads quickly over the radio and the papers are full of the shocking story. The Kavanagh’s grieve with all Americans and experience several days of a nation-wide shock. Roosevelt was in his fourth term and having served as president for twelve years, he carried the nation’s trust whether people supported his policies or not. The Kavanagh’s voted for him and gave him a great deal of credit for ending the Great Depression. Truman is not very well known and he was an outsider in the Roosevelt administration. The country and the Kavanagh family mourn for FDR and will pass that trust onto Truman who must take on the ominous mantle of leading a nation and winning a war.

April 29

The end of the war in Europe seems closer by the day. Today the radio issued a report that former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini had been captured and executed by his own people. Americans hang on every story and tidbit from the war, watching as the Allies take these final measured steps to victory

May 8

Today becomes known as V-E Day(Victory in Europe) as Germany unconditionally surrenders to the Allies and the conflict in Europe is at an end. It is revealed that German leader, Adolph Hitler committed suicide over a week earlier in his bunker, leaving his subordinates to handle the surrender. The United States is mad with celebration and relief. The Japanese are still fighting in the Pacific so there is still war but peace in Europe is welcomed as a just victory for the world. The Kavanagh’s celebrate with the rest of the country but their enthusiasm is tempered by their concern for Jack who is now involved in the fight against the Japanese.

June 13

The Shop rolls on with work lined up for over a month in advance. Leo and Eddie’s crew are working six days a week including a half day on Saturdays. The mood of the country including the Kavanagh’s and crew is very upbeat. They realize that the war is not over but defeating the Axis in Europe has buoyed everyone’s confidence. It’s a hot summer day but the breeze is cooling. It cuts through the front garage door of the Pratt Street building and is a soothing relief to the Shop’s workers. They work on their standard distillery and ship parts but also a fountain is made today. Holes are drilled in copper sheet which is then turned into tube. That same tube is curved slowly into a circle and becomes the sprayer tube of the fountain, controlling and releasing the water flow from it. This is standard coppersmith work and absolutely standard to the Joseph Kavanagh Company.

July 4

Independence Day is celebrated at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue by the Kavanagh’s. Eddie and Annie have invited Eddie’s parents, Joe and Johanna, and his brother, Leo and his family for a cook out. Hot dogs and hamburgers are grilled and the family takes the short walk to Patterson Park to watch fireworks in the warm humid evening. Leo and Maymie’s daughter Mary is there and Ed Jr. and Lillian, of course. Three generations of the family celebrate liberty and the end of the war in Europe. The party is fun but for Annie, with all of them there, Jack’s absence is even more obvious. There is still war in the Pacific Ocean and Jack is in the Navy. She is happy to have family around but Jack is her baby and she misses her son. After the family leaves, Ed Jr. and Lillian head out for the night, Eddie sits at the kitchen table reading the paper while his wife deals with the after party mess. He knows Jack is on her mind.

“Europe is just the start, Annie. The war over in the Orient will be finished soon too. I’m sure of it.” Eddie says to Annie reading her face.

“I’m more worried now than ever, Eddie. The war over there is different than Europe. It’s all these islands and it could take a very long time. We know it will be a lot of Navy fighting and what if they invade Japan? I worry for him.” Annie pauses and shakes her head in frustration. She stands from the table and puts the last of the dishes away.

Eddie unwraps a stick of Doublemint gum, “I know it’s different with these islands but the US and the rest can focus completely on Japan now. It won’t take long, Annie. They will have some plan cooked up. I’m sure. They have had meetings. I am sure they have some great strategy or plan to bring peace to the rest of the world.”

“I know they do.” Annie turns to face her husband, “but I am allowed to worry for Jack and I can’t help it. I want him home. That’s all. He’s been gone too long and I want him home. Whatever they do, I hope it works fast. I want this over fast and I want him home.” She finishes, her eyes dark with sadness but not with tears.

Eddie steps to her and places his arms around her waist, “Let’s pray whatever it is works fast.”

July 27

The USS Strickland is conducting a series of exercises in preparation for the invasion of Japan. They arrived in Pearl Harbor several days earlier and set to readying for an assault. On this Friday night, some of the crew are on Liberty in Hawaii. What will likely be the last one they are able to enjoy before setting off for Japan. Jack draws the short straw and has deck guard duty from 10 pm to 2 am. The men are required to return by midnight and they do, signing in to mark their return. They are all in a festive mood and several are certainly intoxicated. Still off duty, they return to their bunks below deck. Jack stands at his post looking into the darkness when one fellow who is particularly drunk returns to the deck. He takes several steps toward the gang plank as if he was about to leave the ship. Jack quickly steps forward and informs him that he should know he can not leave the ship after returning. He has to stay. That’s the rules. He becomes belligerent and tells Jack he’s going, no matter what. Jack draws his service pistol and tells this crew member that he can not go. The seaman turns on his heel and heads back down the stairs and enters the galley. He pulls open drawers and finds a knife. This time when he climbs onto the deck, he waves the knife around and makes it clear he intends to leave. He wants another drink. He steps toward Jack and lunges forward. Metalsmith 3rd Class Jack Kavanagh has only fired his pistol in training but he has been trained. He pulls the trigger and shoots the crewman in the left shoulder. As the sailor collapses, alarms are sounded all over the ship. Jack is questioned and when the details are sorted out, the wounded crewman is patched up and taken to the brig. Jack is shaken up but he knows he did the right thing. He is congratulated by his superiors, the officers assuring him he did his duty and the rogue sailor will be prosecuted under military law. Jack returns to his bunk at 2 AM for a very fitful sleep. His first and only direct man-to-man combat is shooting another sailor.

An entry from Jack Kavanagh’s Navy Diary with several sketches of ship parts and sections that were repaired and replaced via the ship’s machine Shop. 1945.

July 29

The Strickland’s crew are restless and worried but they are kept busy in training, now sailing in the Pacific. If Japan is invaded by the Allies, it will take a great deal of men and the cost in lives could be significant. Jack and his crew mates know this and they face the reality that is set before them. Japan has not surrendered under heavy bombardment by American planes and is determined to ride it out. Each of the young Navy boys on the ship prepare, in their own way, for whatever could come. Perhaps influenced by the events of two days ago or merely the fear he feels, Jack writes a letter to Mr. and Mrs. America in his Navy diary, a letter he assumes will never be read unless he is killed. He does not finish it but he reveals what is on the crew’s minds. Home. They long for it. They fear this war and the next step in it. but more than anything they miss home. For now, they drill and practice in anticipation of an attack on the Empire of Japan.

Jack Kavanagh’s Navy Diary entry. A letter to Mr. and Mrs. America about what he and his fellow sailors were going through and how they longed for home. August 1945.

August 6

The United States drops an atomic bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. In July, President Truman approved the use of four atomic bombs on Japanese cities if the Empire did not surrender. Despite efforts from the Allies to engage Japan in serious peace negotiations, the war is no closer to an end. At 8:15 am local time, Colonel Paul Tibbets and the crew of the Enola Gay released the bomb and the detonation was successful. A blinding flash of light and heavy shock waves are the result as the initial implosion was overwhelming, equaling twelve kilotons of dynamite. Fifty thousand people die in an instant and another thirty thousand die within days. The world changes.

August 7

Leo and Eddie enjoy a smoke after lunch in the small Shop office. The crew have ten more minutes, then Eddie will be out and getting them back to their tasks. For now, the Kavanagh brothers discuss this atomic bomb that the US used on the Japanese. It’s a big bomb it seems. Bigger than any ever before, a bomb that can destroy a city. Eddie is all for anything that keeps his boy safe. Dropping bombs on cities sounds better than trying to land on them. They do wonder at how so much power and destruction can be put into a bomb but they know it’s science and a new discovery of a source of power. This may just be the tip of the iceberg.

August 9

The US drops a second bomb on a Japanese city, this time Nagasaki. Japan has shown no signs of capitulating and the response is the dropping of “Fat Man,” the second of the US nuclear devices. The devastation is as it was at Hiroshima and the Japanese have no choice but to surrender. At least another forty thousand people die in Nagasaki. The eventual death toll from the two nuclear bombs is approximately 150,000 by the end of the year.

August 14

The war is over and peace is at hand as Japan unconditionally surrenders, the Emperor making a live broadcast over the radio. Today is V-J Day (Victory in Japan) and the country is jubilant, the Kavanagh’s included. They know it is over and Jack will be coming home. They don’t know when yet, but the fighting is done. Annie is more relieved than she’s ever been and she can’t wait to hug her son when he gets back. The nation goes into a frenzy of celebration from coast to coast. Almost as one, Americans cheer our boys and their safe return. World War Two comes to a close and the work of divvying up the peace and planning the future soon becomes vitally important. The Allies post-war work will decide the status of the world for the next fifty years.

August 17

The Shop is working overtime on a 24 hour emergency repair for United Distillers of America. Twelve hour shifts are run for three men until the job is completed. The still has failed and was leaking and the customer needed this done immediately. Union over time wages of $1.50/hr. are used and the U.D.A. is charged time and material for the job which involves replacing twenty-three perforated plates in the still itself. It’s a hot day to work such long hours but the crew push through it. This is what they are trained for but their first choice for overtime would be March or October.

Shop’s Job book entry. Emergency repair for United Distillers of America. August 17, 1945.

September 12

The country is still riding high with excitement at the end of the war and the Kavanagh’s are no different, but they still have the Shop and the day-to-day. Peace puts a smile on most people’s faces even as they work through their normal jobs. The Shop enjoys a warm Fall day of heating, hammering and bending copper. Pump chambers are made for ships, several orders for spare distilling parts are dealt with and three men fabricate a stair rail. Brass moldings are heated carefully then slowly bent around wooden blocks to achieve the railing’s shape. It’s a meticulous job but one that a skilled coppersmith can handle easily. The beat goes on in this year at the Joseph Kavanagh Company.

October 2

Jack and the rest of his crew mates are still celebrating in their hearts the end of the war. When the news hit that Japan had surrendered, the ship bursts into a raucous party. The officers do their best to keep the men in check and attending to their duties but the joyful spirits are tough to quell. They still have jobs to do and there are many things that need to be done after a war. The Strickland continues escorting Navy and commercial ships around the Pacific. Today they arrive in Tokyo Bay to see for the first time, the land of their enemy, the nation that attacked the US and that we have fought against for four years. The Strickland accompanied three merchant ships from the Marshal Islands on their way to Tokyo. Jack looks at Tokyo from the deck of the ship and it is overwhelming to finally be here but not to be at war. They will not have to invade, the fighting is over but still, he stands staring at the place he most dreaded to see. The US is victorious and Jack is proud of his country and the part he and his fellow sailors played, but he has had enough. He wants to go home. He wants to go back to Baltimore.

Dad and crew on deck of USS Strickland
Crew of the USS Strickland on its deck. Water damaged . Jack Kavanagh is crouching down second from the right. 1945.

October 10

The Detroit Tigers win the World Series, defeating the Chicago Cubs in seven games. The Tigers were led by third baseman Eddie Mayo and pitcher Hal Newhouser, the latter besting the former in a close contest for Most Valuable Player of the American League. Newhouser led the A.L. in wins, strikeouts and earned run average to capture the Pitching Triple Crown. The Cubs won ten more in the regular season than Detroit and were led by National League MVP Phil Cavarretta, their first baseman. It will be the Cubs last World Series appearance for over sixty years. The series was a close one with Newhouser pitching a complete game victory in the deciding contest. The Kavanagh’s followed the series, rooting for the Tigers due to the Ty Cobb connection and it was much easier to relax in their favorite past time this year once the war was over.

November 24

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is spent visiting Sister Mary Agnes, Leo and Eddie’s sister Anna, at the Visitation Convent on Roland Park Avenue. Her parents, Joe and Johanna along with their sons and families celebrate Mass with her and spend a chilly but pretty Fall day on the grounds. She tells them about her teaching and her students, more and more she is sure that God’s calling was not only to serve but to teach. Aunt Anna is very joyful that her prayers for peace in the world have finally been answered. They speak of the Shop and the family, so much has happened this year with a wedding and now Jack’s eventual return. They visit Aunt Anna every month and they have grown accustomed to the rules of the order. The Visitation nuns are cloistered and in many ways it is very solitary but Anna always stays close to her family, writing letters frequently in addition to these visits. The Kavanagh’s are a close group and do all they can to keep it that way.

December 20

Jack Kavanagh receives the news he and his crew mates have been waiting to hear. They are just about finished their escort duties in the Pacific, and in January they will sail for San Diego, California. They will be going home. These young brave men are boys again as they find out the news. To a man, they cheer and hug each other then quickly dispatch letters to their loved ones. “We are coming home.”

December 24

The Shop’s party is a joyous one this year because the war is over and Jack will be coming home. He will muster out early next year, and the family, especially his mother, are thrilled that he is safe and wait anxiously for his return. The Kavanagh’s, customers, employees and friends party a little harder during this holiday. Peace and good will toward men really means something this year for them. The usual quick cleaning and decorating transforms the dirty Shop to a festive hall complete with tree. There is ample food, drink and song for all, perhaps even to excess but this year it’s understandable. Leo and Eddie are both in their fifties now and have looked into the future for their families and the Shop. They know they are on the back end of their time there. Years ahead of them but not nearly as many as are behind them. Before they know it, this place will fall to the next generation and the brothers will need to give thought to it. Eddie in particular considers that as their time passes, so soon shall it be his two sons’ time. Ed Jr. is a good coppersmith but he lacks discipline and doesn’t take the job seriously enough for his father, but Jack, he has learned his skills quickly and does take the job seriously while still enjoying it. He genuinely likes what he’s doing and it shows in his labor. Eddie can’t wait for Jack to be home. He wants both his boys with him at the Shop where they belong. The Kavanagh’s greatly enjoy this year’s Shop party and at the end when their father and grandfather, Joe leads them all in “O Holy Night,” his family and all present sing with added vigor and renewed hope for more than a Merry Christmas but for a very Happy New Year.



Harry Truman is the President of the United States. The ball point pen is invented. Sylvester the Cat appears on film for the first time. Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel premiers on Broadway. The United Nations is formed. Jackie Robinson is signed to a contract by the Triple A Montreal Royals. The US and the Soviet Union divide Korea at the 38th parallel essentially establishing North and South Korea. Henry Winkler, Steve Martin, Carly Simon, Diane Sawyer and Divine are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Dad & Navy cronies on Liberty having a beer
The crew of the USS Strickland on Liberty. Metalsmith 3rd Class Jack Kavanagh in the back holding up a beer. 1945.

To read prior posts, click the Table of Contents Link below.

Table of Contents


1944 The USS Strickland

January 4

After work, Eddie drives Jack to a Navy recruitment office and Jack enlists in the United States Navy. Jack is a 19 year old boy and he’s afraid but not too afraid to do what is expected of him. Eddie takes his time on the way home, not anxious to see his wife’s reaction. He assures his son everything will be okay but it will be tougher for Annie. She is heartbroken with concern and fear for her youngest son, her baby.

January 11

Jack Kavanagh takes a train to Chicago to attend the US Naval Training Program in Great Lakes, Illinois. His parents escort him to the station and a bitter tear-filled goodbye is said between Mother and son. A tight squeezing hug from Annie, a pat on the back from Eddie and Jack boards the train. He tries to put the farewell behind him and face what is ahead. He’s pleased to be joining the Navy; he loves the sea, having visited Ocean City, Maryland several times in his youth. He loved the ocean and the beach, he loved the water. It seemed the best fit, plus he heard the food was better. He arrives with a large group of young American boys not sure what to expect or what to do. They are quickly processed and it’s time for chow, beans and bread. Jack was not impressed but he eats it along with the rest of the boys and they are assigned to several weeks of training in Navy specific rules and regulations as well as their areas of expertise. Jack will be attending Metalsmith School which suits him very well after apprenticing and working as a coppersmith for three years. At the Shop, a cold day is spent finishing a copper dome for a condenser from National Distillers. Copper sheet is heated and then pounded into shape, the dome made by one man with a wooden mallet underneath the sheet while two use brass hammers from above. It is completed by lunchtime then delivered and installed in the afternoon.

February 15

Jack finishes his training, becoming a Metalsmith 1st Class and he is assigned to the USS Strickland(DE-333), a destroyer escort. The destroyer escort is a smaller battleship used primarily in support or to defend convoys of ships both commercial and military. Early next month, Jack and the rest of the crew will take a train to San Diego, California from which the Strickland will begin its maiden voyage

Jack Kavnagh’s certificate that confirms his completion of his studies at the Great Lakes Naval Training Facility. 1944.

.March 4

The crew of the Joseph Kavanagh Company work busily through a Saturday morning in anticipation of the weekend. Ed Kavanagh Jr. is particularly antsy to get out of there; he and his new girl, Lillian Fetsch, have entered a jitterbug contest and they need the practice. He met her a month ago and they have been dating steadily since. The crew work a half-day and Ed and the rest take off into the Spring afternoon sunshine, most to spend the day with family, but Ed and Lil will have a night of dancing and music.

March 8

The Strickland is launched on its “shakedown” voyage and heads to Bermuda. After passing all its basic tests and maneuvers she heads to Norfolk, VA. They receive mail call in Norfolk and Jack is shocked and thrilled to have a large bound stack of letters, all from his Mother. As he flips through the envelopes, it becomes clear that his mother has written him nearly every day. He finds the oldest postmark and rips that one open and reads it. The letter is word from home, his Mother’s love and wishes for his safety. He quickly reads it and moves on to the next. Each is a little different with brief updates on the family including news about Ed dating Lillian and the weather in Baltimore. Several of his bunk mates comment on the large pile of letters and kid Jack that he must have a lot of girls. He says just one, my Mother, then he winks and grins as the cabin breaks into laughter.

March 24

The Strickland heads to the North Atlantic as part of a convoy protecting sixty merchant ships. This is their first real military mission and Jack knows he is very far from home now and getting farther away each day. His thoughts often move to Baltimore, his family and the Shop. The Shop is still humming along with a lot of ship work and their standard distillery and brewery jobs.

April 8

Jack and the crew of the USS Strickland reach Gibraltar safely with no contact from the enemy. So far, Jack’s service consists of early rising, bad food and a day of machining and making spare and replacement parts for the ship. He is fine with the early mornings and the long working days but the food leaves a lot to be desired. So much for the Navy having better food or if it’s true, then he seriously pitied those Army boys.

April 11

The Luftwaffe attack the Strickland when it passes into the Mediterranean Sea. As they sail past Algeria, the Germans attack with bombing and torpedo runs. Jack sees his first combat action of the war. The attack occurs early in the morning and most of the crew are awakened from their bunks by the sound of guns and explosions. The rest are at battle stations and the fighting is furious for a few minutes. Jack moves to the machine shop where he works along with his fellow metalsmiths and they wait for instructions. The metal room is a cacophony of explosions and crashes before it all goes quiet and the air raid ends as quickly as it started. The Strickland successfully protected the convoy, taking no damage, and repelled the German assault. Despite all of that, the young Navy boys are shaken up because it was their first time. Jack and his fellow crew members will grow accustomed to the sound of battle from inside the belly of a ship.

Dad Jack Navy Uniform by rock
Jack Kavanagh in his Navy uniform. 1944.

May 11

The Strickland returns to New York and continues escorting convoys back and forth for five months. The ships sail across the Atlantic, then into the Mediterranean Sea. They rarely see any action on the way back to the US but are sometimes harassed by German planes and submarines when they approach European waters, and the pass through Gibraltar is particularly hairy. Jack is adjusting to life at sea and he does love the water so there is a small silver lining. He misses his hometown, his family and his friends but he is seeing some of the world with stopovers in England and France so far. They have yet to have a weekend of Liberty but the boys are all looking forward to getting off the ship soon even for just a few hours. The scuttlebutt has them getting a weekend of R and R in England this summer.

June 6

Operation Overlord begins on what becomes know as D-Day. Allied troops begin the largest sea to ground assault in history. The Axis are dug in deep but the US and British troops will not be deterred and they establish a beach head. The invasion of Europe is on as over 150,000 Allied troops land at Normandy led by Supreme Allied Commander, Dwight Eisenhower. The Germans had received coded transmissions stating that the attack would be at Calais, France but it was a ruse and by the time the Nazis had realized it, they were unable to stop the Allies. The nation listens on the radio and reads the newspapers with a collective baited breath, desperate for any and all details and praying that this is the beginning of victory and peace.

July 13

The USS Strickland is handling some convoy duty mainly in the Mediterranean now and Jack’s days are usually filled with machining and mechanics. The officer on duty is well-trained and a good sailor but he is no machinist according to Jack. He has quickly seen that Metalsmith Kavanagh has skill and experience working metal and has placed Jack as a “go between” himself and the crew. Jack divvies the work between machinists, fabricators and welders, about twenty men total. Even at the young age of twenty, Jack has an eye for talent and a keen understanding of metal work. The system works well and Jack shuffles between machines and crew to be sure the parts they are making are finished properly and as fast as possible. Many things can and do go wrong on a ship, especially one at war thus a machine shop on board comes in very handy. Custom fixes of tanks, shafts and pipes all pass through the Strickland’s Shop as well as a steady stream of stock parts they make. Jack does give thought to the Shop at Pratt and Central while he works in the bowels of the destroyer escort. His duties are familiar but in a strangely unfamiliar environment. Jack and his fellow sailors have by now made the adjustment to sea life, but working in a metal shop on the type of jobs he’d be doing at the Joseph Kavanagh Company is strangely eerie to Jack.

August 20

As has been said before, August is the cruelest month for a smith. Excessive heat and humidity along with torch work turns the Pratt and Central building into a hot box usually for the entire month. The crew deal with it as best they can, drinking water and stepping outside for a smoke once in a while. It’s hot outside but it feels like a relief to stand out in the fresh air for even a few minutes. Today, they finish a 30” tubular condenser for Carroltown Springs Distillery and then ship it on its way. This one is an easy install with the Shop furnishing fittings and the Carroltown’s workers will install it themselves.

Shop job book from 1940’s. Note Carolltown Springs Distillery Job at bottom of page. August 20, 1944.

August 25

Paris is liberated by the Allied forces combined with Free French Units. It is the best news yet from Europe. Progress is being made by all accounts but freeing Paris, one of the Continent’s Grand old cities, is a boost to Americans reading and listening at home.

September 12

The Shop’s crew are finishing an order that is to be freighted to Philadelphia for the Navy Shipyard there. Eddie watches carefully as two large pump-chambers are hoisted up by a block and tackle and swung into the Shop’s truck. Two men stand on each side to support it and finally heave the chambers into the truck. Mr. Funke and Mr. Vincent will transport the chambers and a few other parts to the train station and send it on its way. Eddie thinks back to not so long ago when he did most deliveries, installs and would, certainly, have taken care of any runs to the train station. His mind then wanders to where his son is. Where is Jack in this wide world? He assumes still in the North Atlantic or Mediterranean based on the last letters they’ve received. He shakes it out of his thoughts as Funke approaches for final instructions. Eddie dispatches him and returns to the corner office in the Shop to get back to work.

October 9

The “Streetcar Series” is played with the St. Louis Cardinals defeating the St. Louis Browns, four games to two. It was the Browns first and only American League pennant. Teams throughout the league are losing players to the draft and the talent level is rather depleted. The Cardinals are fortunate as star player Stan Musial has been lucky and not drafted. Musial alone doesn’t make the difference in the World Series but he has a big impact on winning the pennant. The Kavanagh’s follow the season and the series closely but with a little less enthusiasm than they normally have. The war and worries about Jack temper their excitement even for baseball but it is always that welcome distraction from work and the daily grind.

October 11

The Junior World Series is played in Baltimore and the Kavanagh’s are very interested in this one. The International League Orioles defeat the American Association Louisville Colonels and the family follows and roots the team on to the championship. Baltimore’s fans are passionate and in a frenzy when the Orioles take the pennant and local anticipation of the match up is at a fever pitch. Fans come out in droves and the Junior World Series outdraws the MLB World Series this year and the City is jubilant and celebrates with the club as they parade through town surrounded by cheering crowds. Major league baseball team owners take note of the rampant fan base that Baltimore has.

October 23

The USS Strickland is transferred to convoy duty in the North Atlantic now steaming between London and New York with no more trips to the Mediterranean. Jack is homesick as are most of the crew so this news is good news. They will be returning to New York more frequently now and there are hopes of Liberty and R and R but merely being in an American port will lift their spirits. It will be home if not their homes. They were rewarded with their first liberty a week ago in London. The crew including Jack were excited to see the sites and most of all to get off the ship. At the Shop, Eddie is finishing a bid on a brewery repair. He’s double checking his numbers and prices before calling in the quote. The crew are as busy as they can be. Ship parts are made and a fountain is being fabricated today as the work keeps coming. They are working five full days and a half-day Saturday. It’s what Leo and Eddie prefer. If they are doing that, they are making money and things are going right. Eddie’s mind drifts to his son, Jack. He has no idea where he is. The letters his son has written have told them they were sailing to Europe, but Eddie has no specifics. The Atlantic is a big ocean and he assumes his son is somewhere on the Atlantic but is not sure.

Dad Jack Navy Front Row-2nd from the left
Some of the USS Strickland’s crew including Jack Kavanagh in front. 1944.

November 7

Franklin Delano Roosevelt wins an unprecedented fourth term to the presidency defeating Thomas Dewey in a landslide. The Kavanagh’s were staunchly Democrat by now and voted for Roosevelt though with more trepidation this time. The war is going on and it appears to be going well but no end is in sight and the family worries for Jack. They hope FDR and the Allied leaders can find an end and get to it soon.

November 14

Jack lays in his bunk reading his mail. His mother writes every day. Now that the ship has been at sea long enough, letters and anything from home become precious commodities. Jack has a large stash of letters from his Mother chpck full of details about things going on in the States, Baltimore anyway. Sailors and soldiers want to hear from home more than almost anything else. Jack is an industrious young man and is asked for his letters from many of his crew mates. He is more than happy to oblige charging only one cookie to read two letters. Several nights a week, the sailors receive four cookies for their dessert and because of his letters, Jack is able to stock up on cookies pretty well. In Baltimore, the Shop on Pratt and Central is spending a busy Tuesday finishing a job for James Distillery. It has been an ongoing repair and replacement with today a condenser being completed. Leo and Eddie are glad to see this one go out the door as it has been an ever-changing sequence of modifications to the existing distilling system but the customer is rewarded with a good strong product. Still, the Kavanagh’s are ready to move forward while the rest of their crew are laboring away at some pump chambers, valves, elbows and fittings for Navy ships. The Shop is staying busy, never missing a step this year.

The Shop’s job book with several items made for James Distillery. November 15, 1944.

November 23

Eddie and Annie are hosting Thanksgiving dinner at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue. Eddie’s parents are there, Joe and Johanna as well as Ed Jr. and his girl, Lillian. The dinner is delicious with all the holiday standards of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries and parsnips. All ate their fill and the meal was very pleasant if not a little quieter than usual. After some pie for dessert, Young Ed and Lil are gone, out for a night of dancing and fun. Annie and Johanna are sorting through leftovers and cleaning up the kitchen while Joe and Eddie listen to the latest news on the radio.

“There are a lot more to put away this year. More leftovers. I should have expected it. Jack is always such a good eater and he loves Thanksgiving.” says Annie as she frowns down at a plate of parsnips that is still half covered.

Johanna turns to her daughter-in-law replying, “Well, it was a delicious dinner. The turkey was perfect and next Thanksgiving Jack will get to enjoy it all.” She smiled but it felt like she was fighting to do so.

“I can’t even imagine what kind of Thanksgiving he’s having on that ship. I just know they are not feeding him properly and what about Christmas? What kind of Christmas dinner do they have?” She shakes her head then pauses a moment. “I’m so afraid he won’t come back, Mother.” Annie covers her eyes with a dish towel as she turns away from Johanna. “He’s such a good boy and I know he’s smart and I know he’ll be careful but I can’t stop being afraid for him. He’s my baby boy.” She slips into soft tears as she squeezes her eyes tight.

Johanna turns to her and looks into those eyes, “Listen Annie. Our Jack is going to be okay. I don’t know when or how but they are going to win this war. I know they will and I, for sure, know that Jack is coming home. You hear me.” She placed a reassuring hand on Annie’s shoulder and continued, “One thing I know is Jack is going to come walking through that door one day soon.” Sweeping her hand to point to the door that looked over the back yard and alley. “He will come right through that door. I guarantee it, dear. He will.” The two slipped into a hug with Annie nodding her head emphatically.

December 3

The Kavanagh’s attend Sunday mass at the Visitation Convent. They spend the day with Sister Mary Agnes(Aunt Anna) and she is thrilled to hear the latest news. Ed and his girlfriend Lillian are getting married. Ed proposed on Thanksgiving night and she accepted. They are to be married on Valentine’s Day of next year. She congratulates Ed and is pleased to meet Lil and the family is very excited especially with so much wrong at the moment, a wedding is a pick-me-up for them all.

December 23

The Christmas Party at the Joseph Kavanagh Company is held this Friday and it is a more somber and smaller affair than in years past. The Kavanagh’s invite fewer customers because it seems more of a time for family and good friends. Those customers who they have known for years and deal with regularly are there as are the Shop’s crew. There are heaping platters of ham and turkey with assorted side dishes, a few pies made my Johanna and beer and rye whiskey. The family does have something to celebrate and look forward to next year because Ed Jr. is marrying Lillian Fetsch. There is much hugging and back slapping for young Ed and welcoming words for Lil. Apart from the impending nuptials, the talk is about the Shop and the holiday but soon morphs into discussion of our American boys at war. The enthusiasm for the war has been tempered now with a realistic understanding of how many lives may be lost in this conflict. The news is mostly good with France freed and the Japanese seeming to be on the run in the Pacific. The party goers toast our troops and our great nation then pray for an end to this war. Joe leads them all in song and despite the worry hanging over them all, they welcome Christmas and prepare for a New Year. The volume of work at the Shop has kept up steam through the entire year and there is a month’s worth of jobs to start 1945. The business is doing well and there is a wedding next year. The Kavanagh’s need only two things to make things perfect. An end to this Second World War and the safe return of Jack.

December 25

The USS Strickland is docked in Plymouth, England for a few days to observe the holiday. A large Christmas dinner is planned and sponsored by the Junior Red Cross of Kearny New Jersey High School. There is Western Maryland turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and more. The sailors are thrilled at the prospect of a real holiday feast especially after almost a year of Navy food. It is a boisterous dinner with joking and kidding each other. Jack sits with his bunk mates and chats; he does observe there are no parsnips which puzzles him. They speak of war; they have heard that France has been liberated from German occupation and take this as a good sign that things are going well. They talk excitedly of the delicious meal before them but most of the talk is of the US and how to get back there. These young men have a wonderful night and for a while, it feels like they are home, but as it closes, they know that they are not. They miss their families, friends and their country. They are far from home and they still have no idea when they will return.

Menu for Christmas Dinner 1944 served on the USS Strickland.



Franklin Delano Roosevelt is re-elected as the President of the United States. The Academy Awards are held at Grauman’s Chinese theater for the first time with Casablanca winning Best Picture. The Office of Strategic Services or OSS is formed and will later become the Central Intelligence Agency or CIA. Harvard Mark, IBM’s first computer is dedicated. Smokey the Bear first appears in United States Forest Service Ads. “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” premiers on radio. Joe Frazier, Diana Ross, George Lucas, Frank Oz, and Richard Belzer are born.

There are 48 states in the Union.

Dad Jack Navy1
Several crew members of the USS Strickland on Liberty including Jack Kavanagh who is in the center to the left. 1944.

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

Table of Contents