After a short vacation at home, I went back to Philadelphia to "seek my fortune," as we called it in those days--and to make Frances Connor my wife.
    The Connors, as I mentioned earlier, were wonderful people. France had a brother, Eddie, and two pretty, vivacious sisters: Mame and Ann. They lived on Water Street, near Kensington Avenue and Cumberland Street.
    I spent many an enjoyable evening with the Connors, "chasing the growler" as we called it--that is, getting a bucket of beer from the bar for twenty cents and carrying it up to the flat.
    France and I were close friends with another couple, Frances Hall and Bill Burns. Bill had just returned from the war in France, and he and I had a lot in common. The four of us used to go to all the theatres together, and on Friday nights Bill and I were regulars at the prize fights at the old Cambria Club.
    We had some other friends on "A" Street named Holmes. Mr. Holmes was a crank about cleanliness, and he kept a dish towel in his hand at all times. Whenever anyone picked up a glass, he would swoop in and dry off the spot
where the glass had been setting--whether you were in his home, or out some place. He was a good guy, and good company otherwise--but he had that one very peculiar habit!

    I've always had a strong affection for prize fighting, having done a bit of boxing in the Navy and having witnessed hundreds of bouts in and around Philadelphia in the early and mid-Twenties
    Later on, I dabbled in boxing as manager and trainer of a stable of amateurs out of Norton, and I did some refereeing around Lynch, Ky. and Bluefield, W.Va. in the late Thirties.


    I had a lot of grand times in Philadelphia. France and I were married there in 1920, and we remained in the city for the next seven years. I held down a succession of good jobs, the first being with E.J. Rooksby Company, an engine repair shop. I later held the position of chief engineer at the Pilgrim Laundry, before moving to the E.J. Nick Company, a coat and apron supply firm.
     Over a period of years, I gathered all the knowledge I could about the laundry business. The idea of starting up a laundry business of my own had been in the back of my mind for quite some time.
    In talking over the idea with my brothers, I found that they shared my enthusiasm. Slowly at first, but gathering steam as we went along, we made plans to build and operate a damp wash laundry in Norton.
    Every man, I guess, wants to make his mark in his old home town .

Dave and Frances Connor O'Neill
Philadelphia, 1923

    Perhaps I shouldn't have left Philadelphia in 1927. For an uneducated country boy, I was doing extremely well there. I was chief engineer in a large laundry plant, making good money and saving a lot of it. My wife was a Philadelphia girl, at home in the city. And I loved Philly, too--but kinship and a desire to make it big in private business led me back to Wise County.

    When I handed in my resignation at the laundry, the company president, Mr. Conover, called me in to dissuade me from leaving. But when I told him ny reason: that I had eight healthy brothers eager to start the first damp wash laundry in a part of the country that was booming right then, he gave in.
    "Dave, " said Mr. Conover, "If what you're telling me is true, all you're going to need is somebody to help shake the money out ot that money tree."
    And that's the way it was, too--for a while.

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