From Ice Capader to carpenter

Frank working at a job site.
Photo: Cindy Frank

After skating as an amateur throughout high school, Cindy Frank decided to try out for the St. Louis Ice Capades in March of 1976. She was signed and joined the company in Los Angeles in May after her high school graduation. However, after a year of skating, Frank was ready to move back home to Jefferson City, Mo.

While working in a restaurant bar she met a lobbyist for carpenters who introduced her to the world of trades. She said the lobbyist often asked her, “Don’t you want to make the same money you made in the Ice Capades?”

“Of course I did, and it wasn’t long before I asked him how that would be possible in Jefferson City,” Frank said. “The rest is history.  I went to the Carpenters Union Hall, filled out an application, took the apprenticeship test and started in the program.”

Soon after, Frank got married and moved to Ohio but continued with her four-year apprenticeship program.

While in the program, Frank got pregnant but continued to work until she was about seven months along. She went to school up until two weeks before her son was born, and then was back to work only about five weeks later.

Frank at a previous construction site.
Photo: Cindy Frank

Frank has been a union carpenter since 1979, and to this day she said the hardest part about getting to where she is now was being at the beginning when she was a “young guy.”

“The middle-aged 40-year-olds had the hardest time accepting females,” Frank said. “They were afraid of all the young guys, they [the newcomers] were going to take their jobs so no one really helped the new guys learn.  You had to pay attention to the skilled journeymen around you and learn all you could at school.”

However, Frank was luckier than most in this situation. She was lucky enough to work with an older employee who wasn’t afraid to take her under his wing, and teach her all she was willing to learn.

After working for many years now, she has gained her own insight as to what she feels the hardest part of the job is. For her, it is going to a new job site.

“After all these years, I am known in the field as qualified and a hard worker, I have the respect of my fellow tradesmen,” Frank said. “But you always have to prove yourself, your ability and knowledge.”

Frank smiling for the camera.
Photo: Cindy Frank

When it comes to gender equality in the field, Frank said it’s harder to get a job being female and if the employer doesn’t know what the potential employee is capable of. However, Frank did not let the gender inequality stop her from doing what she wanted.

“I have worked for companies that were not women-friendly and at the end of the day I was grateful it didn’t last,” Frank said. “I was always able to find a different job where it did work.”

From Ice Capades to carpentry, Frank has gone through many obstacles to get where she is now, but she says she loves the career she chose.

“When you love what you do it is a pleasure to go to work,” Frank said. “You get a feeling of accomplishment when the job is complete.  Years later you can drive by and know you were a part of it.”

About the author  ⁄ Paige Petrovsky

Comments are closed.