HOW OUR BUSINESS GOT STARTED
BY WARREN CHILDS


EDITORS NOTE:
EDITORS NOTE: THIS ARTICLE IS THE 1ST OF A 12 PART SERIES ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BEGINNING IN 1979 IN OUR 1ST ISSUE OF THE "WET SET GAZETTE".

JIM O'NEIL AND WARREN CHILDS WERE PARTNERS AND STARTED DY-DEE DIAPER SERVICE IN 1938. JIM O'NEIL PASSED AWAY IN 1976 AND WARREN PASSED AWAY IN 1990. TODAY THE DIAPER SERVICE IS OPERATED BY JIM'S SON, BRIAN O'NEIL

CHAPTER 1

DURING OUR LAST YEAR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, THOSE ABOUT TO GRADUATE WONDERED WHAT TO DO TO MAKE A LIVING. THE GREAT DEPRESSION WAS STILL ON, AND INEXPERIENCED COLLEGE GRADUATES WERE REALLY A DIME A DOZEN ON THE LABOR MARKET. THERE WERE SIMPLY NOT ENOUGH JOBS TO GO AROUND.

ONE OF OUR ACQUAINTANCES IN CHICAGO MENTIONED THAT A DIAPER SERVICE HAD STARTED ON THE SOUTH SIDE, WAS DOING BUSINESS WITH HIS FAMILY'S BANK, AND THAT THE DIAPER SERVICE BUSINESS WAS GROWING STEADILY.

THIS INTRIGUED US. A NEW INDUSTRY TO GET INTO, AND OUR OWN BUSINESS WAS OF COURSE APPEALING. WE INVESTIGATED THE DIAPERS SERVICES AND THE OWNERS WERE VERY COOPERATIVE. THEY EVEN LET US WORK THERE IN OUR SPARE TIME. FOR NOTHING. BUT WE DID LEARN THE BASIC CHEMISTRIES OF THE INDUSTRY, WHICH WAS WELL WORTH IT TO US LATER ON.

WE ALSO DID SOME ADDITIONAL RESEARCH WHICH CONSISTED OF WRITING TO APPROXIMATELY 100 VARIOUS CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. WE ASKED SUCH QUESTIONS AS WHAT THE BIRTH RATE WAS, WAS THERE A DIAPER SERVICE IN THE VICINITY, WHAT WAS THE AREA GROWTH POTENTIAL, ETC. AFTER CONSUMING ALL OF THIS VALUABLE INFORMATION, WE THREW ALL CAUTION TO THE WINDS AND SELECTED PASADENA, CALIFORNIA AS OUR DESTINATION.

WHY PASADENA? WITH ALL THE RETIRED PEOPLE THERE, AND ONE OF THE LOWEST BIRTH RATES IN THE COUNTRY AT THE TIME? BECAUSE (1) PASADENA SOUNDED LIKE A GREAT PLACE FOR BOYS FROM THE MIDWEST TO COME TO AND (2) THE MOTHER OF ONE OF US ALSO HAD A HOME IN EAGLE ROCK WHERE SHE WOULD FOREGO THE USUAL $10.00 A MONTH RENT AND LET US LIVE THERE FREE. WHOEVER HAD IT SO GOOD!

SO IN JUNE, 1938, JAMES O'NEIL AND WARREN CHILDS PACKED OUR 1933 DODGE, LOADED WITH 300 DOZEN DIAPERS AND 50 DIAPER CONTAINERS WHICH WE HAD PURCHASED, PLUS OUR PERSONAL LUGGAGE, AND HEADED WEST TO THE LAND OF DREAMS.

WE WERE LUCKY TO GET OUT OF CHICAGO, THOUGH. THE FIRST DAY THE `SUPER CHIEF' MISSED US BY ONLY A FEW FEET. IF IT HAD CONNECTED THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN DIAPERS AND CONTAINERS SCATTERED ALL THE WAY FROM THE SOUTH SIDE TO DOWNTOWN CHICAGO.

OH BOY! WE WERE OFF TO A LUCKY START.

CHAPTER 2
"OUR FIRST CUSTOMER"

AFTER OUR ARRIVAL IN CALIFORNIA IN LATE JUNE, 1938, WE DECIDED TO SET UP SHOP IN EAGLE ROCK INSTEAD OF PASADENA AS WE HAD PLANNED. THIS CHANGE WAS BECAUSE A DIAPER SERVICE WAS JUST BEING STARTED IN PASADENA CALLED ``DAINTY DIDY SERVICE" AND, INASMUCH AS WE WERE LIVING IN THE LOS ANGELES AREA WE THOUGHT WE WOULD LOCATE OUR PLANT IN EAGLE ROCK.

IT TOOK US A GOOD TWO MONTHS TO GET OUR PLANT PROCESSING SET UP, A TELEPHONE, OUR AD IN THE LOS ANGELES PHONE BOOK, LITERATURE PRINTED, ETC. WE CALLED OUR SERVICE ``WEE FOLKS DIAPER SERVICE" AFTER THE SERVICE WHERE WE HAD RECEIVED OUR TRAINING IN CHICAGO.

WE HAD THREE SERVICES TO OFFER: (1) A DAILY SERVICE (EXCEPT FOR SUNDAY) IN WHICH THE CUSTOMER COULD SEND IN ALL OF HER OWN DIAPERS AND BABY CLOTHING EACH DAY. COST, $1.95 A WEEK; (2) A DIAPER RENTAL SERVICE WHERE WE FURNISHED 12 DIAPERS A DAY, PICKUP AND DELIVERY THREE TIMES A WEEK. COST $1.50 A WEEK; (3) AN EMERGENCY SERVICE. THIS IS WHERE THE CUSTOMER COULD SEND ALL SHE WANTED, PICKED UP ONE DAY AND RETURNED THE NEXT. COST , $.75. NEEDLESS TO SAY, THE EMERGENCY SERVICE WAS DROPPED IN A YEAR OR SO. IT WAS TOO MUCH FOR US TO HANDLE, THE BUNDLES WERE TOO LARGE, AND WE WOULD WORK MANY 24 HOUR STINTS IN ORDER TO PROCESS THEM. THIS WAS ESPECIALLY TRUE AFTER A RAINY DAY WHEN EVERYONE CALLED FOR THAT SERVICE AS THEY COULD NOT DRY THEIR OWN. REMEMBER, THERE WERE NO HOME DRYERS THEN.

ON OUR REGULAR SERVICES WE FURNISHED TWO CONTAINERS TO EACH CUSTOMER. WE PICKED UP THE SOILED BUNDLE IN THE CONTAINER, RETURNED IT TO THE PLANT FOR PROCESSING OF THE DIAPERS AND THE STERILIZING OF THE CONTAINER. THE DIAPERS WERE PACKAGED AND PLACED IN THE CLEAN CONTAINER AND RETURNED THE NEXT DAY. THEN THE ROUTINE WAS REPEATED. THE CONTAINERS WERE SMALLER THEN, ABOUT THE SIZE OF A 5 GALLON ICE CREAM CONTAINER.

OUR FIRST CUSTOMER WAS A LADY FROM HOLMBY HILLS. I HAPPENED TO ANSWER THE PHONE. SHE WANTED THE $.75 EMERGENCY SERVICE. SHE SAID SHE WOULD NOT BE HOME AND REQUESTED WE GO TO THE LOCAL HARDWARE STORE AND PURCHASE A SKELETON KEY FOR HER BACK DOOR. SHE SAID THE DIAPERS WOULD BE IN A BAG ON THE KITCHEN FLOOR FOR US TO PICK UP. WE BOUGHT THE KEY, WHICH WORKED. IN THE EXCITEMENT ON THE TELEPHONE I HAD NEGLECTED TO ASK HER NAME. WE DID PICK UP THE BUNDLE, PROCESS IT, AND RETURN IT THE NEXT DAY. AFTER REPEATED BILLINGS WE NEVER DID COLLECT THE $.75.

BUT WE DID HAVE QUITE A CELEBRATION THAT NIGHT IN HONOR OF OUR FIRST CUSTOMER WHOSE NAME WE WILL NEVER KNOW, AND WHOSE PAYMENT WAS NEVER RECEIVED. IT WAS OUR START IN THE BUSINESS!

CHAPTER 3
"THINGS AS THEY WERE THEN"

LIFE WAS CONSIDERABLY DIFFERENT IN THE LATE THIRTIES. ALTHOUGH IT IS DIFFICULT TO REMEMBER EVERYTHING, SOME THINGS I REMEMBER VIVIDLY. SOCIAL SECURITY HAD RECENTLY COME INTO BEING. IT WAS ONLY A 1% DEDUCTION ON THE EMPLOYEE'S PAYROLL CHECK, AND IT WAS THE ONLY DEDUCTION. I CANNOT REMEMBER A STATE SALES TAX. PROBABLY THERE WAS, BUT NOT MUCH.

THERE WERE NO FREEWAYS. THERE WAS NO SMOG. THERE WAS NO TV, NOR AN ELECTRONICS INDUSTRY. THERE WAS ALSO NO FLOOD CONTROL, AND WHEN IT RAINED, WE FLOODED.

THERE WAS VERY LITTLE MONEY. STARTING SALARIES IN MOST INDUSTRIES WERE $60.00 A MONTH IF YOU WERE LUCKY. $5.00 A WEEK WOULD FEED A SMALL FAMILY COMFORTABLY. AND OF INTEREST TO OUR CUSTOMERS TODAY: OUR FIRST BORN'S DOCTOR BILL WAS $50.00, AND THE 10 DAY STAY IN THE HOSPITAL FOR MOTHER AND INFANT WAS $100.00. OUR KIDS COULD NEVER BE CLASSED AS CHEAP, THOUGH.

AS FOR THE DIAPER SERVICE BUSINESS, THINGS WERE DIFFERENT ALSO. THERE WERE NO HOME DRYERS, NOR LAUNDROMATS. THE HOME WASHERS WERE MUCH DIFFERENT ALSO, AND THERE WEREN'T TOO MANY OF THOSE. THE WASHERS WERE NOT AUTOMATIC, NOR DID THEY HAVE CENTRIFUGAL EXTRACTION. TO GET WATER OUT AFTER EACH OPERATION IT USUALLY RAN THROUGH A HOSE TO A FLOOR DRAIN. AFTER THE FINAL OPERATION THE EXCESS MOISTURE WAS REMOVED FROM THE CLOTHES VIA A WRINGER ON TOP OF THE MACHINE. IN MY OPINION, HOWEVER, THOSE MACHINES DID A BETTER QUALITY WASHING THAN THE MODERN MACHINE OF TODAY. SO DID THE SCRUB BOARD, WHICH WAS USED BY MAY PEOPLE THEN.

WHEN IT RAINED MANY PEOPLE TOOK THE SERVICE, MAINLY BECAUSE THEY COULD NOT DRY THEM EASILY. BUT IN THE SUMMER DRY SEASON, THEY WOULD DISCONTINUE THE SERVICE AND HANG THEM OUT TO DRY. CONSEQUENTLY, WE WOULD HAVE A SUMMER SLUMP OF ABOUT 50% OF OUR BUSINESS.
OUR FIRST ROUTE MAN WAS PAID $16.00 A WEEK DURING THE WINTER MONTHS FOR A 6 DAY WEEK. BUT IT WAS REDUCED TO $12.00 DURING OUR SUMMER SLUMP. HE LIVED COMFORTABLY, WAS MARRIED, AND HAD US OVER TO DINNER SEVERAL TIMES. I THINK HE MADE MORE THAN WE DID. HE, INCIDENTALLY, REMAINED WITH US FOR ABOUT 30 YEARS UNTIL HE PASSED AWAY.

THEY SAY THOSE WERE THE GOOD OLD DAYS. PERHAPS SO, AND MAYBE NOT. BUT WE WERE ALL A HAPPY LOT AND EVERYBODY SEEMED TO HAVE LOTS OF FUN. AT ANY RATE, I'D SURE LIKE TO SNEAK ANOTHER PEAK AT THEM AGAIN.

CHAPTER 4
"DOUBLING OUR BUSINESS IN ONE DAY"


AROUND THE 1ST OF DECEMBER, 1938, A MAN NAMED BILL, WHOM HAD THE DIAPER SERVICE IN PASADENA, CAME TO US AND ASKED IF WE WOULD BE INTERESTED IN MERGING THE TWO DIAPER SERVICES. WE ALL AGREED IT WOULD BE WORTH A TRY. BILL GAVE US A KEY TO HIS PLANT AND WE WERE TO START MOVING IN MONDAY MORNING. ALL DETAILS, FINANCIAL AND OTHERWISE, WERE TO BE DISCUSSED LATER.

THE FOLLOWING MONDAY WE WERE THERE BRIGHT AND EARLY AND RARING TO GO. BILL NEVER DID SHOW NOR DID WE EVER SEE OR HEAR FROM HIM AGAIN. WE DID MANAGE TO SQUEAK THROUGH THE DAY THOUGH, MAKING HIS AND OUR DELIVERIES, AND GETTING ALL THE PLANT PROCESSING DONE. THIS WAS QUITE A HASSLE AS WE WERE NOT AT ALL PREPARED TO DOUBLE OUR BUSINESS IN ONE DAY.
 
WE CONTINUED TO OPERATE THIS WAY FOR AT LEAST TWO WEEKS AS WE KNEW FULL WELL SOMEONE WAS GOING TO CONTACT US AS THERE WAS A SIZABLE INVESTMENT THERE. ONE NIGHT (WE ALWAYS WORKED NIGHTS THEN, MAKING DELIVERIES DURING THE DAY AND DOING THE PLANT PROCESSING AT NIGHT), A CHARMING COUPLE CAME IN, PROBABLY MORE THAN TWICE OUR AE. THEY SAID THEY HAD FINANCED BROTHER-IN-LAW BILL IN THE BUSINESS, THAT BILL HAD FLOWN THE COOP TO TEXAS, AND WHAT COULD WE DO ABOUT THEIR INVESTMENT?

AS I SAID, THEY WERE CHARMING. IF THEY HADN'T BEEN WE COULD HAVE SIMPLY MOVED BACK TO EAGLE ROCK, AND THEY WOULD HAVE LOST EVERYTHING. BUT WE AGREED ON THEIR PRICE, ALSO BOUGHT SOME LIFE INSURANCE FROM HIM (HE WAS A SUPER SALESMAN), ARRANGED TO BORROW A DOWN PAYMENT FROM OUR FOLKS, AND THEY, THE OWNERS, AGREED TO MORTGAGE THE BALANCE.

IT WAS A GOOD DEAL FOR ALL. THEY GOT A GOOD SHARE OF THEIR MONEY BACK; BESIDES HE SOLD US MORE LIFE INSURANCE DURING THE ENSUING YEARS. WE DID DOUBLE OUR BUSINESS, AND OF SURPRISE TO ALL, WE PAID EVERYONE CONCERNED BACK WITHIN A YEAR.

SO THERE WE WERE. ONE DAY IN A PLANT WE DIDN'T KNOW WHOM IT BELONGED TO, AND THE NEXT DAY IT WAS OURS. IT WAS OUR FIRST TASTE OF HIGH FINANCE.

CHAPTER 5
"INTO THE 40'S"


DURING THE YEARS OF 1939, 1940 AND 1941, WE EXPERIENCED A SLOW BUT STEADY GROWTH, BUT NOT AS OUTSTANDING AS WE WOULD HAVE LIKED. THE ECONOMY WAS PICKING UP SOMEWHAT; MAINLY BECAUSE THERE WAS WAR IN EUROPE AND OUR COUNTRY WAS MAKING AND SHIPPING NEEDED SUPPLIES TO OUR ALLIES-TO-BE OVER THERE.

WE CONTINUED TO OPERATE UNDER TWO NAMES, ``WEE FOLKS DIAPER SERVICE" FOR THE LOS ANGELES AREA, AND ``DAINTY DIDY SERVICE" IN THE PASADENA AREA. I DON'T REALLY REMEMBER WHY WE DID THIS, BUT DO IT WE DID UNTIL 1950 WHEN WE CHANGED THE NAME TO ``DY-DEE SERVICE". BY THAT TIME ``DY-DEE" WAS GENERIC WITH DIAPER.

WE STILL, IN THE LATE THIRTIES, HAD OUR SEVERE SUMMER SLUMP. AFTER A HARD WORKING WINTER , WITH CONSIDERABLE BUSINESS DURING THE RAINY SEASON, WE WOULD LOSE ALMOST HALF DURING THE DRY SUMMER SPELL. EACH FALL WE WOULD PROJECT HOW MANY CUSTOMERS WE WOULD HAVE BY THE FOLLOWING MARCH 1. IF WE ACHIEVED THAT GOAL WE WOULD PROMISE TO TAKE OUR WIVES TO EARL CARROLL'S NIGHT CLUB IN HOLLYWOOD. WE ALWAYS MADE OUR PROJECTED CUSTOMER GOAL ON TIME, BUT USUALLY HAD TO DEFER OUR VISIT TO EARL CARROLL'S FOR A WHILE AS WE WOULD BE WORKING DAY AND NIGHT. BUT EVENTUALLY WE WOULD MAKE IT.

ANOTHER ANNUAL EVENT WE WOULD DO (SOMETIMES TWICE A YEAR) WAS WHEN WE WOULD PURCHASE A NEW TRUCK. WE WOULD MAKE THE SPECIFIED PURCHASE WITH OUR LOCAL DEALER. THEN WE WOULD RECEIVE A CASH REFUND FOR FREIGHT IF WE WANTED TO PICK UP THE VEHICLE IN DETROIT OR CHICAGO. THIS REFUND TOOK CARE OF FLYING BACK THERE AND THE EXPENSES BACK. IT WAS ALWAYS AN ENJOYABLE BREAK IN THE ROUTINE AND WE TOOK ( ADVANTAGE OF IT SEVERAL TIMES. WE WOULD FLIP A COIN AND THE WINNER WOULD TAKE OFF, THE ONLY RESTRICTION WAS THAT HE HAD TO BE BACK IN A WEEK. THE LAST TIME WE DID THIS I TOOK OFF ON A FLIGHT ON FRIDAY NIGHT, DECEMBER ~ ~941, PICKED UP A LARGE TRUCK ON SATURDAY MORNING AND STARTED THE LONG DRIVE BACK, DRIVING ALL NIGHT AS WAS MY CUSTOM. SUNDAY MORNING, HOWEVER WAS PEARL HARBOR, SO I CONTINUED THE DRIVE STRAIGHT BACK THROUGH, ALTHOUGH THIS WAS NOT IN MY ORIGINAL PLANS. I PICKED UP AT LEAST 20 SERVICE MEN ON THEIR WAY BACK TO BASE AS ALL LEAVES WERE CANCELED. WE ALTERNATED DRIVING. WE ALSO BUILT A FIRE IN THE TRUCK AS IT WAS COLD, COLD, COLD.

NEEDLESS TO SAY I GOT BACK MONDAY IN TIME FOR THE WEST COAST INVASION THAT NEVER HAPPENED. IT WAS, NO DOUBT, THE LONGEST, ROTTENEST WEEKEND EVER.

CHAPTER SIX

AFTER PEARL HARBOR LIFE CHANGED CONSIDERABLY, OF COURSE. AND PRETTY ABRUPTLY TOO. GONE WERE ALMOST ALL OF THE LUXURIES, AND MANY OF THE ESSENTIALS ALSO. TWO CRITICAL ITEMS CUT OFF FROM THE UNITED STATES WERE TALLOW FOR SOAP, AND RUBBER FOR TIRES. BUT GOOD OLD U.S. INGENUITY PREVAILED BEFORE TOO LONG. WE HAD SYNTHETIC DETERGENTS REPLACING TALLOW SOAPS, AND SYNTHETIC RUBBER FOR TIRES.

THE ABOVE SITUATION ABOUT TALLOW AND RUBBER IS CONSIDERABLY SIMILAR. TO THE U.S. DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL TODAY. IT WOULD BE VERY COSTLY TO RID OURSELVES OF THAT DEPENDENCE, BUT LET US HOPE WE DON'T HAVE TO GO TO WAR AGAIN TO DO IT.

ALL INDUSTRIES DURING THE WAR WERE ISSUED A GOVERNMENT PRIORITY RELATED TO THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO THE WAR EFFORT. DIAPER SERVICES WERE GIVEN A PRIORITY THE SAME AS HOSPITALS WHICH WAS IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN. WE HAD CONSTANTLY TOLD THE PUBLIC, AND STILL DO, HOW CLINICAL OUR PROCESSING OF DIAPERS REALLY IS; ABOUT THE pH OF THE DIAPER BEING COMPATIBLE TO THE BABY'S SKIN; ABOUT OUR ANTISEPTICS AND THE SOFTNESS OF THE DIAPER. BUT PEOPLE USUALLY CHARGE THIS OFF TO A FORM OF ADVERTISING. SO DO I WHEN I SEE ON TV A PROMINENT SYNTHETIC DETERGENT BEING REMOVED FROM ALL OF THE SUPERMARKET SHELVES TO MAKE ROOM FOR A NEW IMPROVED PRODUCT OF THE SAME NAME. IT PROBABLY HAS ANOTHER GRAIN OF BLEACH ADDED TO IT. BUT FORTUNATELY, SOMEONE IN WASHINGTON HAD THE FORESIGHT TO REALIZE OUR CLAIMS WERE TRUE, AND GRANTED OUR INDUSTRY A FAVORABLE PRIORITY. CONSEQUENTLY, WE WERE ABLE TO PURCHASE MUCH NEEDED SUPPLIES THAT EVEN THE GIANT LAUNDRIES AND LINEN SUPPLY COMPANIES WERE UNABLE TO GET. AND MANY HAD TO CLOSE BECAUSE OF IT. WE KNOW BECAUSE WE PURCHASED MACHINERY AT THEIR AUCTIONS.

ON THE OTHER HAND THE OFFICE OF DEFENSE TRANSPORTATION DID NOT SEEM TO THINK THAT HIGHLY OF OUR BUSINESS. THEY REQUESTED THAT WE BE PATRIOTIC AND SUBMIT A REQUEST FOR THE LOWEST ALLOTMENT OF GASOLINE THAT WE NEEDED. WE WERE PATRIOTIC TOO, AND PUT IN FOR HALF OF WHAT WE NEEDED. THEY THEN CUT THAT IN HALF. BOY! WERE WE IN TROUBLE. WE SPENT MANY AN HOUR AT THE OFFICE OF DEFENSE TRANSPORTATION PLEADING FOR MORE GAS COUPONS.
 BUT THE FRENCH AND THE OFFICE OF DEFENSE TRANSPORTATION HAD A SAYING FOR IT, ``C'EST LA GUERRE".

CHAPTER SEVEN

AROUND THE MIDDLE OF WORLD WAR TWO OUR BUSINESS WAS BURSTING AT THE SEAMS WITH CUSTOMERS. WE WERE RUNNING A MINIMUM OF TWO SHIFTS A DAY AT THE PLANT, SOMETIMES MORE . WE DECIDED ON AN ATTEMPT TO EXPAND. THE FIRST ATTEMPT WAS AN UTTER FAILURE. THE SECOND ATTEMPT TURNED OUT BETTER.

BUILDINGS WERE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO GET THEN, THERE WAS NO NEW CONSTRUCTION. MACHINERY WAS NOT TOO DIFFICULT TO COME BY, HOWEVER. MANY LAUNDRIES AND LINEN SUPPLIES WERE DROPPING THEIR REGULAR CUSTOMERS AND DEVOTING FULL TIME TO SERVICING MILITARY BASES. WHEN A MILITARY BASE MOVED OUT OF THE AREA THE LAUNDRY WAS LEFT HIGH AND DRY WITH NO CUSTOMERS. AS A RESULT THE LAUNDRY CLOSED DOWN AND AUCTIONED OFF THEIR EQUIPMENT. THIS HAPPENED MANY TIMES.

AT ONE OF THESE AUCTIONS WE DECIDED TO GO ALL OUT AND PURCHASE MOST OF THE EQUIPMENT AT THE AUCTION, BUT ESPECIALLY THE TWO HUGH BRICKED-IN BOILERS THAT WERE PART OF THE BUILDING. OUR REAL INTENTION WAS THAT WE COULD GET THE BUILDING LATER AND WE KNEW IT WAS A GAMBLE. OUR BIDDING FOR THE EQUIPMENT AND THE BOILERS WAS SUCCESSFUL. BUT TO OUR DISMAY THE GAS COMPANY GOT THE BUILDING. WE WERE GIVEN 5 DAYS TO GET ALL OF OUR NEWLY PURCHASED EQUIPMENT OUT OF THE BUILDING. IN AS MUCH AS WE HAD NO SPACE TO STORE THE EQUIPMENT, WE SALVAGED WHAT WE COULD BUT ENDED UP GIVING THE MAJORITY OF IT AWAY TO LAUNDRY MACHINERY COMPANIES IF THEY WOULD HAUL IT AWAY WITHIN THE REQUIRED TIME. WIN SOME, LOSE SOME, WE ALWAYS SAID.

OUR NEXT ATTEMPT WAS FOR A BUILDING ON CALIFORNIA BLVD. IN PASADENA, AND IT WAS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER FROM OUT PLANT AT THAT TIME. THE BUILDING HOUSED ONE OF THE FINEST ANTIQUE COMPANIES IN THE COUNTRY, AND MANY IS THE TIME WE ADMIRED THE BEAUTIFUL ROSE GARDENS IN THE BACK AND THE CHAUFFEUR- DRIVEN LIMOUSINES PARKED IN FRONT. IT WAS REAL CLASS. BUT PROBLEMS FOR THE ANTIQUE COMPANY FORCED IT TO CLOSE AND THE BUILDING BECAME AN ARMY LAUNDRY DEPOT. THE ARMY BASES WOULD TRUCK IN THEIR LAUNDRY, LEAVE IT THERE AT THE DEPOT; THE VARIOUS LOCAL LAUNDRIES WOULD COME IN, PICK UP THEIR SHARE OF IT , PROCESS IT AND RETURN IT TO THE DEPOT. BUT MOST ARMY BASES AT THAT TIME WERE TEMPORARY. THEY MOVED OR MERGED IN TO LARGER BASES, SO THE DEPOT BECAME EMPTY. WE PUT IN A BID FOR THE BUILDING AND, SON-OF-A-GUN AND MUCH TO OUR SURPRISE, WE GOT IT.

WE THEN MOVED HALF OF OUR BUSINESS INTO THE NEW BUILDING AND CONTINUED TO OPERATE FROM TWO LOCATIONS FOR THE NEXT SEVERAL YEARS. WE HAVE BEEN HERE ABOUT 36 YEARS NOW - HAVING SURVIVED A DISASTROUS FIRE, A RUINOUS EARTH- QUAKE, AND AN ONSLAUGHT OF PAPER DIAPERS. BUT AS WE ALWAYS SAID - WIN SOME, LOSE SOME.

CHAPTER EIGHT

IT WASN'T TOO LONG AFTER THE WAR STARTED THAT WE REDUCED THE NUMBER OF DELIVERIES WE MADE EACH WEEK IN HALF TO OUR CUSTOMERS. THIS  COMPENSATED FOR OUR LACK OF GASOLINE, SEEMED TO POSE NO PROBLEMS FOR ANYONE, AND IT CERTAINLY HELPED SOLVE OUR GASOLINE DILEMMA. EVEN SO, WE WERE STILL DELIVERING THREE TIMES A WEEK.

WE DID GROW, THOUGH, IN SPITE OF OURSELVES. PEOPLE COULD NOT GET SOAP, DIAPERS, WASHERS OR DRYERS. BESIDES, HOUSEWIVES WERE GOING INTO THE WAR INDUSTRIES TO WORK AND DID NOT HAVE THE TIME TO DO THEIR DIAPERS. AS WE GREW WE DECREASED THE SIZE OF OUR AREA TO COMPENSATE FOR OUR LACK OF GASOLINE. OUR AREA SERVICED KEPT GETTING SMALLER AND SMALLER, OUR CUSTOMER COUNT LARGER AND LARGER. WE COULD HAVE BEEN THE LARGEST DIAPER SERVICE IN THE WORLD, BUT WE JUST COULDN'T HANDLE IT.

WE, IN BUSINESS, HAD MANY DIFFICULTIES, OF COURSE. BUT SO DID EVERYONE ELSE. ANYTHING THAT WAS GOOD WAS HARD TO GET, HAD TO STAND IN LINE FOR, AND USE RATION COUPONS FOR THE RIGHT TO BUY IT. WE HAD A SON BORN IN 1942 AND I REMEMBER RUNNING RIGHT DOWN WITH HIS BIRTH CERTIFICATE IN HAND TO THE OFFICE OF WHATEVER AND REGISTERING HIM FOR COFFEE, SUGAR, MEAT, BUTTER, OR ANY COUPONS HE WAS ENTITLED TO. HE WASN'T DRINKING COFFEE, NOR NEITHER WERE WE, SO WE WERE ALWAYS TRADING THOSE COUPONS WITH FRIENDS, OR ANYONE, FOR SOMETHING MORE DESIRABLE.

GETTING GOOD EMPLOYEES WAS ONE OF OUR BASIC PROBLEMS. THE LABOR MARKET WAS GOING INTO THE AIRCRAFT, SHIPBUILDING OR OTHER WAR-RELATED INDUSTRIES. THERE WERE NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE TO GO AROUND. WHEN I HAD TO GO INTO THE ARMY, MY WIFE HAD TO GIVE UP HER ROLE AS HOMEMAKER AND COME INTO THE BUSINESS. AND BOY! DID SHE WORK!

SHE REMAINED THERE FOR ABOUT 35 YEARS. JUST COULD NOT BREAK THE HABIT, I GUESS.

CHAPTER NINE

AT THE END OF WORLD WAR 2 WE WERE PRETTY MUCH SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD, WE THOUGHT. WE WERE OUT OF THE MILITARY SERVICE - HAD TWO PLANTS RUNNING AT CAPACITY - AND HAD THE LARGEST DIAPER SERVICE OPERATION ON THE WEST COAST. IT WOULD SEEM THAT WE HAD IT MADE.

BUT THINGS NEVER REMAIN AS THEY ARE. WE STARTED A GRADUAL DECLINE IN THE LATE 1940'S WHICH WAS TO REMAIN A FEW YEARS. THERE WERE TWO REASONS FOR THIS: (1) PEOPLE COULD NOW PURCHASE WASHERS AND DRYERS AGAIN, AND (2) THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION RECOMMENDED TO RETURNING VETERANS THAT THE DIAPER SERVICE BUSINESS WAS A GOOD ONE TO GET INTO. LOS ANGELES COUNTY WENT FROM FOUR DIAPER SERVICES IN THE LATE FORTIES TO TWENTY-SIX. WITH ALL OF THIS INCREASE OF DIAPER SERVICES WE HAD SEVERAL YEARS OF PRICE WARS AND THE LIKE THAT GOES WITH TOO MANY BUSINESSES COMPETING IN THE SAME FIELD. IT TAKES A LARGE POPULATION TO SUPPORT A DIAPER SERVICE, BUT TWENTY-SIX SERVICES IN THE AREA WAS REALLY TOO MANY. WE PROBABLY HAD MORE DIAPER SERVICES THAN NEW YORK CITY. BUT OVER THE PAST THIRTY YEARS, HOWEVER, THE NUMBER OF SERVICES IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY HAS GONE BACK DOWN TO WHERE IT WAS AT THE END OF WORLD WAR 2. BUT WE DID SURVIVE THIS HIGHLY COMPETITIVE ERA QUITE DECENTLY, ALTHOUGH IT WAS NOT THE EASIEST OF TIMES. BUT NO ONE EVER SAID IT WOULD BE EASY.

IN 1950, AND FOR ECONOMIC REASONS, WE MERGED OUR TWO PASADENA PLANTS INTO ONE. THIS WAS QUITE A FINANCIAL SAVING. IT ELIMINATED ONE BUILDING, CONSIDERABLE MACHINERY, AND MUCH DUPLICATION OF EFFORTS. WE ALSO DROPPED THE TWO NAMES UNDER WHICH WE HAD BEEN OPERATING AND CHANGED THE NAME TO DY-DEE SERVICE. AND THIS IS HOW IT REMAINS.

EXCEPT THAT WE HAD MANY CHANGES IN THE FIFTIES WHICH I WILL TELL ABOUT NEXT MONTH.

CHAPTER TEN

ONE SUNDAY, IN AUGUST OF 1951, I RECEIVED A PHONE CALL ABOUT 2:00 A.M. THAT OUR PLANT WAS ON FIRE. WE GOT DOWN THERE IN ABOUT 30 MINUTES, NOT TOO BAD A TIME CONSIDERING THAT I LIVED SOME DISTANCE AWAY AND WAS JUST GOING TO BED. NOTHING COULD BE DONE, OF COURSE, EXCEPT TO SIT ON THE CURB AND WATCH IT GO. THE SIGHT OF IT ALL WAS A LITTLE SICKENING.

THREE THINGS ABOUT THE FIRE IMPRESSED ME VIVIDLY: ONE WAS THE PLATE GLASS WINDOWS, OF WHICH WE HAD SEVERAL, EXPLODING JUST LIKE BOMBS AND THE FLAMES SHOOTING THROUGH THEM CLEAR ACROSS THE STREET, ANOTHER WAS THE ROOF COLLAPSING, AND THE THIRD WAS THE SUPER EXCELLENCE OF THE  PASADENA FIRE DEPARTMENT. THEY DID A WONDERFUL JOB CONSIDERING THE FIRE HAD BEEN GOING SOME TIME BEFORE THEY WERE NOTIFIED.

BY NOON THAT DAY, EVEN THOUGH IT HAS SUNDAY, WE HAD OUR INSURANCE AGENT ON THE SITE - HE REMAINED THERE SEVERAL WEEKS AND WAS JUST GREAT NOTIFIED OUR TRASH HAULING COMPANY TO START CLEANING AS SOON AS THE FIRE DEPARTMENT GAVE THE OK; CONTACTED THREE BUILDING CONTRACTORS FOR ESTIMATES ON REBUILDING; PHONED ALL DIAPER SERVICES IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AND MADE ARRANGEMENTS TO PURCHASE OR BORROW ALL OF THEIR EXCESS DIAPERS; RENTED A PLANT IN GLENDALE WHERE WE COULD PROCESS OUR WORK EACH NIGHT. BY NOON MONDAY WE HAD OUR TELEPHONES INSTALLED  ACROSS THE STREET IN AN OFFICE FURNITURE SUPPLY COMPANY. THEY FURNISHED THE DESKS AND SPACE FOR OUR OFFICE WORKERS.

WE HAD A FEW THINGS GOING FOR US THOUGHT. ONE WAS THAT OUR RECORDS WERE INTACT -THEY WERE IN FIRE PROOF CABINETS. ANOTHER WAS THAT OUR CLEAN BUNDLES FOR DELIVERY ON MONDAY HAD BEEN ALREADY LOADED IN OUR TRUCKS, AND THAT THE TRUCKS HAD BEEN FAR ENOUGH AWAY FROM THE FIRE TO BE DAMAGED. SO THEY WERE READY TO GO. ANOTHER WAS THAT THROUGH THE GENEROSITY OF OUR COMPETITORS WE HAD ENOUGH DIAPERS TO SUPPLY THE REST OF OUR CUSTOMERS.

OUR MACHINERY WAS 80% INTACT ALTHOUGH ALL ELECTRICAL WIRING, INCLUDING MOTORS AND POWER PANELS, HAD TO BE REDONE. THIS TOOK ABOUT THIRTY DAYS. BY THAT TIME, HOWEVER, THE BUILDING CONTRACTORS HAD BUILT A SUB-ROOF, ONE THAT THEIR WORKERS COULD STAND ON TO REBUILD THE REAL ROOF. SO, AT THIS POINT WE RESUMED OPERATIONS, AND WHILE THE PASADENA FIRE DEPARTMENT DIDN'T THINK TOO HIGHLY OF IT, THEY GAVE A VERY RELUCTANT APPROVAL. THE ENTIRE REBUILDING TOOK SEVERAL MONTHS. WE PRAYED FOR NO RAIN AND, AS MEMORY SERVES ME, WE DIDN'T HAVE A PROBLEM. IT MUST HAVE BEEN A VERY DRY YEAR.

IN ADDITION TO THE OFFICE FURNITURE COMPANY ACROSS THE STREET WHO HOUSED OUR OFFICE WORKERS DURING THIS TIME, SPECIAL THANKS SHOULD BE GIVEN ALSO TO MOUNT'S RESTAURANT AROUND THE CORNER ON FAIR OAKS AVENUE. HE RESERVED THEIR LARGEST BOOTH EACH DAY FOR US TO BE ABLE TO MEET WITH OUR SEVERAL HIS INSURANCE INVESTIGATORS, THE BUILDING CONTRACTORS, THE CITY INSPECTORS, ET AL. IT WAS VERY MUCH APPRECIATED. WE HAD LOTS OF FRIENDS WHO CAME TO BAT FOR US IN OUR TIME OF NEED.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

IN THE LAST ARTICLE ABOUT OUR FIRE THERE WAS ONE IMPORTANT FACT I NEGLECTED TO MENTION, THAT OF INSURANCE. IF YOU DON'T HAVE ADEQUATE INSURANCE YOU CAN GET IN VERY SERIOUS TROUBLE. FOR EXAMPLE, IF YOU INSURED YOUR HOUSE A FEW YEARS AGO FOR $50,000 IT MIGHT COST YOU $80,000 TO REBUILD - ESPECIALLY IN THESE YEARS OF INFLATION. SO HAVE A GOOD INSURANCE AGENT AND MAKE AN EVALUATION-  OF YOUR PROPERTY FREQUENTLY. WE DID NOT REALIZE HOW GOOD AN AGENT WE HAD UNTIL THE DAY CAME TO LAY IT ON THE LINE. BUT EVEN SO, AND FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER, YOU WILL STILL LOSE MONEY ON A FIRE.

THE MID OR LATE FIFTIES BROUGHT SOME GOOD IMPROVEMENTS TO THE DIAPER SERVICE INDUSTRY. ONE WAS THE PREFOLD DIAPER. IT IS TRUE THAT MANY PEOPLE RESIST CHANGES, BUT THE PUBLIC TOOK TO THE PREFOLD VERY WELL. OUR FOLDING ROOM IN THOSE DAYS WAS JUST WHAT THE NAME IMPLIED. TODAY, ALTHOUGH WE STILL MISTAKENLY, AND THROUGH HABIT, CALL IT THE FOLDING ROOM, THERE IS NO FOLDING. PERHAPS WE SHOULD REALLY CALL IT THE INSPECTION ROOM.

ANOTHER IMPROVEMENT OF THE FIFTIES WAS THE ADVENT OF FIBERGLASS DIAPER CONTAINERS AND PLASTIC BAGS. PRIOR TO THEN WE HAD TO MAINTAIN A ONE-MAN PAINT SHOP JUST TO SAND AND REPAINT THE METAL CONTAINERS. THIS WAS ELIMINATED THEN.

WE WERE ALSO THE FIRST DIAPER SERVICE ON THE WEST COAST TO USE PLASTIC BAGS. IN THOSE DAYS, THOUGH, THE PLASTIC BAGS AND CONTAINERS WERE EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE. THE COST CAME DOWN CONSIDERABLY OVER THE YEARS, BUT IN THE PRESENT DAYS OF INFLATION THEY ARE WELL ON THEIR WAY BACK UP AGAIN.

ANOTHER CHANGE OF THE FIFTIES WAS IN NEW LAUNDRY MACHINERY EQUIPMENT. WE HAD ALWAYS TAKEN GREAT PRIDE IN OUR PRODUCTION EQUIPMENT AND IN THE QUALITY OF OUR WASHROOM. BUT THE NEW EQUIPMENT WAS MUCH SUPERIOR, SO WE WENT WITH IT. BUT EVEN TODAY, IF SOMETHING COMES ALONG TO IMPROVE OUR SERVICE, YOU CAN BE SURE THAT WE WILL BE THE FIRST TO MAKE THAT IMPROVEMENT AGAIN.

CHAPTER TWELVE

THE INTRODUCTION OF PAPER DIAPERS IN THE EARLY SEVENTIES DID CREATE A GRADUAL SLOWDOWN IN THE GROWTH OF THE DIAPER SERVICE INDUSTRY. WHILE THIS DECLINE WAS NOT EARTH - SHATTERING, IT DID REDUCE THE NUMBER OF NEW CUSTOMERS WE WERE GETTING. IN OUR INDUSTRY WE HAVE TO GET NEW CUSTOMERS ALL OF THE TIME, AS OLDER CUSTOMERS ARE ALWAYS OUTGROWING THE NEED FOR OUR SERVICES.

THIS NO - GROWTH SITUATION PREVAILED FOR ALMOST THREE YEARS AT WHICH TIME WE DID START UPWARD WITH A SLOW, BUT GRADUAL, INCREASE. THIS DID CONTINUE UP UNTIL THE PRESENT DAY. APPARENTLY THE PUBLIC PREFERRED CLOTH DIAPERS TO PAPER, SOMETHING OF WHICH WE HAD ALWAYS BEEN CONVINCED.

IN 1976 MY PARTNER PASSED AWAY FOLLOWING HEART SURGERY. THIS CAUSED A CHANGE IN MY FUTURE THINKING. IN TIME I DECIDED TO SELL TO THE SECOND GENERATIONS. IN PREPARATION FOR THIS, THE PASADENA PLANT WAS EXPANDED TO ACCOMMODATE THE MERGE OF THE ARCADIA OPERATION WHICH I HAD BEEN OPERATING. AS OF JANUARY 1, 1978, AFTER 40 YEARS, I WAS OFFICIALLY OUT OF THE BUSINESS AND READY FOR THE GOOD LIFE OF RETIREMENT.

FOR ALMOST ONE AND ONE/HALF YEARS MY WIFE AND I DID ENJOY THE GOOD LIFE - WE TRAVELED QUITE A BIT, TROUT FISHED MUCH, AND PANNED FOR GOLD LIKE YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE. HOWEVER IN THE SUMMER OF `79, AFTER DECIDING THERE WASN'T MUCH FUTURE IN GOLD, AND THAT I WAS RESTLESS, I ASKED FOR A JOB IN THE PASADENA OFFICE, HELPING OUT DURING SUMMER VACATIONS. I WAS ACCEPTED. AFTER THAT I ASKED IF I COULD CONTINUE WORKING THERE. FORTUNATELY, FOR ME, AFTER ALMOST A YEAR, I AM STILL HERE. I AM HAPPY TO REPORT THAT THE BUSINESS IS STILL GROWING. A NEW LARGE PLANT IN ANAHEIM IS PAST THE DRAWING BOARD STAGE AND SOON TO START CONSTRUCTION. EVERYTHING IS GRADUALLY BEING COMPUTERIZED. FIRST THE PAYROLL DEPARTMENT, FOLLOWED BY THE ACCOUNTS PAYABLE, NOW THE ROUTES AND THE ADVERTISING DEPARTMENTS, NEXT THE BILLING. THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING. WHO KNOWS WHAT AFTER THAT.

THIS DOES CONCLUDE MY SERIES OF ARTICLES UNLESS, OF COURSE, I AM STILL AROUND A FEW YEARS MORE. IF SO, I MIGHT HAVE AN ADDENDUM. THANK YOU ALL MUCH FOR YOUR INTEREST. I ENJOY WORKING IN THE OFFICE IN PASADENA. ASK FOR ME ANYTIME - MY NAME IS WARREN CHILDS.

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