From the stone age, until now, women have been held back for one weak reason or another! Mainly, because we are WOMEN!! 

A touch of pink and lace is not all a woman, (of all ages), is made of!!!! There was a time, in a woman’s life when she was a baby girl. And her mom dressed her in pink booties and wrapped her in a lace blanket! No doubt, her daddy flaunted her as well. The proud dad! Where did all those dads go when we want to have our women on the front stage of life?

These are my personal thoughts, my preamble about women in the workforce! I was there once and my thoughts and my writings still remain with me today. While I’m writing this blog I ventured into a quote by Harriet Beecher Stowe and do agree with this one, “All places where women are excluded tend downward to barbarism, but the moment she is introduced, there come in with her courtesy, cleanliness, sobriety, and order.”

One of America’s most famous women has passed.  Justice Ruth B Ginsburg was a forceful voice in women’s interests and maintained her sense of humor. Her lace collar wasn’t something she adorned for the sake of a feminine touch but was her weapon, her gavel! 

“I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”  Justice Ruth B. Ginsberg

When a young woman decides which road she’ll travel, after graduation, there are many things she should be prepared for on her journey. If not college, then it’s the workforce. I began my working career before graduation. Actually, at age sixteen, most of my friends were all working part-time. And that’s how my world of work began and all the lessons I gleaned from it. Mostly good but some were real eye-openers!  

After many years away from the office workforce, I decided it was time to return to the business world. A second paycheck would come in handy with our bills and my time would be fulfilled. My neighbor asked me if I would like to try working where she was employed; at the Methodist church in the Benefits Department. I was interviewed and was accepted but at the same time, I heard about a position in my Town’s workforce. I went to the Town, met with their Comptroller for a job evaluation, and was told he would call me.

Did I have the job or not? So, I remained with the Methodist until the Town called me. That interview was in April. I wasn’t hired until December 1st to work at the Town! I think they were saving money and medical benefits for the year. Benefits would begin a month after being hired!  

Labor and Lace can be as toxic as a bad drug put into your system. I worked at Minute Maid in NYC for a time; the banking business for many years and saw firsthand how women were exploited and passed over. Women in the workforce face many biased opinions. And, often, not just from the male community!

The Union I belonged to offered a writing competition and I joined. My article was about Labor and Lace. Since I wasn’t a ‘writer’ I just wrote from my heart and head and trusted my own personal feelings. Now, I wish I had kept the article. I won first place and was given a $75.00 war bond. I still have the bond but it has greatly diminished in value! So was my First Place honor. Our Union president came in to give me the news that first place went to an office worker in the Home Office in Albany!!! How does that work, I asked? And why? No response. Do you think that was a set-up?  I just didn’t have the stamina to fight this off and it was kept quiet! Since I didn’t have the A.O.C. or Hillary speaking qualifications; all was lost to the wind! Even though it was a small ‘union’ contest, I wished I had fought for the title!

I learned that belief in self is a winner and doubt in self is a loser!

As a teenager, I worked at several summer jobs. One was in a small toy factory putting small parts of the toys together using acetone. It was not only flammable but strong-smelling, as well! We wore masks and what was worse than the odor was the boss. He screamed at us constantly! If one wanted to learn about dissatisfaction and constant complaining; he was the man to learn negativity from. This Boss never heard of lace! Nor did he appreciate females!

My second teen job was in a hat factory in a nearby town. I wasn’t thrilled with jabbing my fingers constantly with the needle but I loved the women in that little factory! A mixture of older Jewish and Italian women were the constant workers. They were talented with the swiftness of their fingers and as they sewed, they told old family stories. They shared their home-cooked foods and bread at lunchtime each day. As one of the new hires, I was selected to go out for coffee each morning. One particular older man thought he’d hit the jackpot. Upon taking his order, he didn’t hand me his money. He just said, “I’ll pay you when you return!” Well, that didn’t happen. The next morning, I refused to take his order. Instead, I just asked him if he had a daughter  and would he want her to be using her money for coffee for others?

 “A good woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.”  Eleanor Roosevelt  

We didn’t work with lace but with other sturdy materials. In summer, we worked on winter hats. That meant velvet and wool during summer. Sewing velvet bands around the hats.   We sewed on emblems and often dainty ornaments. In winter we worked on straw hats. I stayed there for three seasons. Our floor manager, a woman, who was tough and wore a house dress with no lace made no bones about how she spoke to the other female workers. They were all older than she was but they did not become unnerved by her behavior towards them. You see her husband worked on the floor, too, and he was under her supervision. She also had a great liking for the owner/boss. Need I say more?

Although they were my part-time jobs, I learned well from them. One, not for me and secondly, how cruel some people can be towards the younger people. Probably because that was the only authority they could assert. 

In some men’s eyes, lace represents “a weaker sex!” Wasn’t there a time when men used Lace? Of course, they did; around their wrist cuffs and they donned lace handkerchiefs. The point is from Eve until now women have had to stand their ground! with or without lace! 

I find November a perfect month to discuss labor and lace. Since November is the month that we are steeped in politics and work, I want to thank and remember President Lincoln for declaring the final Thursday in November 1863 as Thanksgiving Day!  Happy Thanksgiving!

“Be not a whisper that is lost in the wind; be a voice that is heard above the storms of life.”—MAIMONIDES

While working for my Town, I went on a Thanksgiving vacation, (and unknown to me), my Boss was replaced by an outsider. Was it a complete surprise or merely a set up? Of course that meant once I returned to work, I was subject to an interview with my ‘new female Boss!’ 

When I finally came face to face with her, I knew immediately she was a tough cookie!  The meet and greet was not pleasant, nor was she. So, I was not happy. And often she wore lace! But more importantly, always be prepared because even a “Boss” can be replaced. 

What I learned about that particular interview; know your subject and the person who is going to interview you. The more one understands the less fear one has!

“The question isn’t who is going to let me, it’s who’s going to stop me.”  Ayn Rand

Nancy Fraioli is a retired Benefits Asst. from Town/Village of Harrison, NY. She’s alive and well, residing in Sarasota with her daughter and family and enjoying the Floridian lifestyle daily.

Her passions are writing, reading books of philosophy, children’s stories and poetry. Her deep love is living, learning and sharing how faith, meditation, and music guide her daily life. And she loves to lunch with the ladies!

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