After The Swinging Sisters: The Rest of the Story
You all probably remember that younger DD is coming home for a few days. Actually, she'll be here March 27. So I've been cleaning up what is now our guest room, moving things out in preparation.
I had stashed several big boxes of photos in there for safe keeping (I know, I need to make more scrap books!) and needed to move them into the linen closet - until she leaves. That meant I had to find another place for a couple of violins my husband inherited when his mom moved into a retirement home.
When I pulled the tired old cases out of the linen closet, I carefully opened them up to have a look. Inside one was a pack of strings dated 1984. They cost about $5. The other violin has mother-of-pearl inlay. Really beautiful. And on the outside of the case is a travel sticker from Honolulu and another one I couldn't make out.
They belonged to the female companion of my husband's great-aunt, a woman named Jerry McRae, who passed away before Aunt Angie.
One day in the early 1930s, Jerry went into a Dallas music store belonging to Angie's dad, DH's great-grandfather, "Popsy-Boy." She was looking for some new members for her all-girl band, the Texas Rangerettes.
Popsy-Boy told her about his daughter, Angie. Angie plays trumpet, he told her. They arranged for a meeting and audition and soon Mama Sue Annie was lamenting the fate of the youngest of her three daughters, about to become a traveling musician.
Why was Jerry McRae looking for new band members? Her other gals - the three Jones sisters - up and joined the convent! Not only that, their father had passed away and their mother joined the convent as well.
Angie and Jerry toured with the new band for some years before settling down on a small farm in San Antonio, where they gardened and had animals. For a living, they operated a dog grooming salon.
A woman by the name of Madonna Dries Christenson wrote a book about Jerry McRae and the Texas Rangerettes, before the sisters joined the convent. The days when, according to Christenson, the band toured the country in a 1928 Packard hearse. The author doesn't know anything about Angie, and wrote in her book, The Swinging Sisters, that she didn't know what might have happened to Jerry. She tried to find out, but to no avail.
Well, I know what happened to Jerry - and her violins and guitar - instruments that echoed through concert halls and road houses in the 1930s and '40s. The band was even written up in Variety and Billboard.
My MIL remembers a lot from those days, though she was just a little girl when her Aunt Angie joined Jerry's band. They made her matching band outfits and sat her on top of the piano during rehearsals. We discovered something else: Actual 33 recordings of Jerry McRae's music, and letters that Angie and Jerry recorded in a studio and sent to Popsy-Boy and Sue Annie.
We never said the name "Angie" without mentioning "Jerry" in the same breath. Angie once had a marriage offer. The man owned a jewelry store and loved her very much. But she wasn't in love with him and wouldn't quit in the band. She was a Texas Rangerette. And Jerry's special companion till the very end.
DD made room for the violins on the top shelf of my bedroom closet. Above all my shirts and pants and everything else. Somehow I don't think the ladies would mind.