Teresa’s Interview

     The year was 1922 and the ink on Teresa’s diploma from D’Youville College was hardly dry when she started executing her career plan.  She meant to be a force in the fashion industry someday, so always dressed in the latest styles. For this very important day, Teresa chose a low waisted, green and brown, knee length dress. With hazel eyes, flawless olive skin and bobbed, black hair topped with a dark green cloche hat that allowed some of her curls to frame her face, she was stunning, like a Greek statue come to life, a twentieth century Aphrodite.

     The first step in her strategy was to become a buyer at one of Buffalo’s major department stores. Her resume in her handbag, she headed downtown to make the rounds of the personnel departments. The downtown Adam, Meldrum and Anderson location was her first choice.

     She walked into the employment office, filled out the required forms and took a seat until someone could see her. After an interminable thirty minutes, she was finally admitted into the office of William Hancock, who had been reviewing her application.


     “Your scholastic records are impressive, Miss Biondi. I see you’re Summa Cum Laude.” He read a bit more than said, “Biondi is an Italian name, isn’t it?”

     “Yes, Sicilian actually”

     Hancock harrumphed, looked at her over his rimless glasses, deliberated and pronounced judgement. “I’m sorry, but our policy is not to hire immigrants. It's a language problem. Perhaps you’ll have better success at another store.”

     Teresa knew he meant that he didn’t hire Italians, but calmly replied, “I’m not an immigrant. I was born here and am as American as you.”

     “Not hardly, Miss Biondi. My family can be traced back to the late 1600’s.”

     His conceit was so obvious to Teresa, that she decided to feed it by replying, “That’s fascinating. In what state did they land, Mr. Hancock?”

     “Connecticut. New Haven to be exact. We’re actually distantly related to John Hancock, but you probably don’t know who that was, do you?”

     “Do you mean the John Hancock, whose oversized signature is on the Declaration of Independence?”

     Hancock's manner changed as he smiled and said, “Well, there’s hope for our schools, after all.”

     He shuffled Teresa’s papers around a bit more, then finally looked up and gave her a glance, as if he really hadn’t seen her before. “I have a personal question, if you don’t mind answering. You’re the first Italian I ran into that has hazel eyes. Why is that?”

     She smiled inwardly, flashed her peepers and said, “I don’t know, but my brother says that we had a Viking ancestor.”

     Struck deadly serious as he remembered something, Hancock asked “Would your brother be Joe Biondi, who owns the import-export business?”

     Teresa answered in the affirmative. Hancock nodded a few times, cleared his throat and said, “Let me talk to my supervisor, Miss Biondi. We might be able to make an exception on your behalf.”


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