Duff-Bloom had long since been initiated into the JCPenney fraternity of nomads. Like others who had been identified as candidates for upper management, she lived a life without roots. As her husband retired from the service (and then was finally retired from the marriage itself in 1981), her career developed in Columbus, San Bernardino, Austin, Houston, Buena Park (twice), Oakland, Walnut Creek, New York City, Phoenix, Dallas, and finally Plano.
Aside from her precious family unit, her life was the company. Her closest friends were Penney associates , the friendships flowering during one or another exhausting assignment at one or another new stop on the career path .
New assignments were almost never in familiar areas, the better (so it was felt) to eventually grasp the totality of what made JCPenney tick. Along the way, she was expected to behave ethically and expect the same from her peers and superiors. The conduct of business by all parties to it would be according to the Golden Rule, which, all associates knew, had actually been the name of James Cash Penney's first stores.
Yes, there was a double standard in this life. A glass ceiling was firmly in place. But there were several people, including some bright and brave women, determined to change that. Also, despite the best of intentions, the ills affecting corporate America in general were also visited upon the J. C. Penney Company, where, as at all other companies, human beings with weaknesses were running things. However, through cross-corporate meetings, conferences, and trade shows over the years , Duff-Bloom had become convinced that Penney was still the most upright and honest of all the major American businesses.
She believed that in 1979 after the telephone incident, she believed it in 1983 when Howell became Penney's CEO, and she believed it in 1988 when JCPenney moved from New York City to Dallas. With the move, Duff-Bloom had been promoted to vice president and director of investor relationsa position, of course, for which she had no experience.
It was her big break.