Constance May on work

Published Oct 19th 2013

When I couldn’t find a teaching job, I went back to work at First National Bank in St Paul.  In college, I dressed like Twiggy, and at the bank, I got away with a lot in terms of my clothes.

I’ve always been into fashion.  In grade school, I would babysit and use the money I earned to buy clothes.   Mom was voted best dressed in high school.  She wore some bought clothes, some that her mother made her and some cut-down hand-me-downs from her older sister.  I often gave clothes to the family as presents.

I loved working as a certificate teller at the bank.  Back then, you got 10 per cent interest.  At one point, I was chosen to be the bank’s TV commercial representative, so for an entire year, I was on TV in the bank’s ads.

At the same time, I was also working at Easton’s, a darling dress shop in downtown St. Paul.  Easton’s was a very small shop – it carried sizes 3-12/14.

When I got into vintage clothes, I started a shop called Lady of Yesteryear and eventually sold as widely as Eve Deb’s Originals in Aspen.  Because of my parents’ antique business, I became really knowledgeable.  I would go to estate sales and auctions with them and learned all about textiles and clothing.

Dad taught me to always buy things in good condition.  He bought dishes and furniture in good condition, and I did the same with clothes.  I would call the University of Minnesota to learn how to clean various textiles that were really fragile.  I also learned how to repair vintage fur coats.

I went to a lot of garage sales.  You need to have an eye for it because you don’t always like everything that you choose, but you have to choose based on the product’s general attractiveness and attractiveness to the customer.

At some point when I was working at the bank and at Easton’s, Jake (Bob Jacobs) and I separated.  It was around that same time that one of my bank colleagues saw an ad for flight attendants and encouraged me to apply, saying I would be amazing.  I got the job.

In 1984, in the middle of my training to be a flight attendant, my divorce came through.  I loved it [working as a flight attendant] from the start.  I worked for North West Airlines and while working there, I lived all over the Twin Cities, from a turn-of-the-century house on Summit Avenue to the Commodore and a Pullman-style condo – just to see what everything was like.

Two months after my divorce in 1984, I got throat cancer.  Probably because smoking was everywhere then, including on planes.  I was on medical leave for a while before returning to work.

My voice is as deep and raspy as it is now because of the surgery I had to have for the throat cancer.  I just had surgery, no other treatment, so was under observation for a number of years.  I’m lucky to have a voice.

In 1987, the year that Dad got cancer, I was injured on the job at North West.  At the time, the company was notorious for its lack of safety procedures and not keeping equipment in good shape.

I got a back injury from having to work with a meal cart that had been converted to a drinks cart.  It was very, very heavy.

While on leave from the airline, I worked at Pinstripe Petites, the first petite shop in the Twin Cities.  It was in the Ridgedale shopping mall.

While I worked there, I stayed with Mom’s sister, my Aunt Glenny and her husband in Minneapolis.  I was a daughter to them.  Their only daughter died in a car accident in 1981.

After going to the Sister Kenny hospital for help with my chronic back pain, I left the airline in 1990 or 91.  It was that same year that Jeff Rayburn and I got married.  We held the ceremony in a cactus garden resort in Phoenix, Arizona, where we had gone for family vacations.

Shortly afterwards, I saw an ad in the paper for a personal shopper at Dayton’s.  I loved it.  I worked there for five or six years, until 1995 or 96.  A lot of my colleagues there were millionaires’ wives and travelled in Europe a lot.  They worked there for the discount.

I learned a lot there, about different occasions, fabric, appropriate dressing.  A lot of working women who didn’t have time to shop used the service.  It was called FYI (For Your Image) and was started and run by Jacqueline Murray who eventually wrote a book about how birth position affected your job and clothing choices.  She dressed women using their birth order as part of their style.

Then I got cervical cancer and had to leave.  Now, in 2013, all my cancers are in remission.

When I started job searching again, I was in my 50s and found it very difficult.  My doctor says that my health history worked against me because as soon as prospective employers get my personal details, they are able to bring up my health history as well.

So then I moved to Roberts to live with Mom.  I do miss the city.

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