“New York was the place to be,” Ms. Barnes said.
While Ike was in the Pacific, Etta Mae joined her sister Mildred and her husband, along with her brother Charles, in Harlem, and the sisters found jobs pressing drapes at a factory in the garment district. “They were pressers,” Ms. Barnes said. “That was kind of the going job at the time.”
When the war was over, Ike and Etta Mae were reunited in New York. On weekends, they would go dancing — at small clubs and at the blocklong Savoy Ballroom on Lenox Avenue, where thousands of couples did the jitterbug.
From the time she was little, Ms. Barnes would take the train every year to visit the Taylors. “I was a Southern girl; I used to go every summer with my grandmother,” she said. “When I would see them dressed up, it was exciting. Like these were some movie stars or something.”
Of her two aunts, Ms. Barnes said, Etta Mae was the serious one. “Mae thought she was the boss. She always thought she was smarter than everybody else. She was always saying, ‘Sister, you shouldn’t do that; Sister, you should.’”
But she loved to dance, Ms. Barnes said. “And she could sing, too.”…”