1925 was a red-letter year when I went to Rustenburg Girls� High. At first I was a daygirl, trailing out every day by tram from Aytoun to town and train to Rondebosch, and then walking to school. Mother had some idea that this would make settling in easier, but I don�t think it did, for as long as I was a daygirl I didn�t really know what was happening. Life changed when I became a boarder. Miss Caroline Kemp was an inspiring, tiny, headmistress, and I was always prepared to do my best for her. An early event was the visit of the Prince of Wales. Our whole school assembled with other schools on De Waal Drive on the steps which were the first stage of the building of the University at Groote Schuur, and we all sang �God Bless the Prince of Wales". We learnt the words of this Canadian hymn without ever having seen it written, and I sang fervently: "And may the prayer re-echo; God bless the Prince of Wales". The correct words, I learnt much later, were: "And may the prairie echo..."
I settled down well and happily. Miss Kemp soon had an opportunity of gentle reprimand, when on a Saturday morning I took my turn to get pocket money; I walked into her study and said �I want 1/6d�. �Dear,� said Miss Kemp, �never say I want�, always say �Please may I have.�� We always had to tell her just what we wanted the money for. Miss Kemp�s younger sister, known to all of us as Guineapig, taught kindergarten. On one occasion I gave a message to my headmistress: �Your sister says...�. �Dear, you will please say �Miss Margaret Kemp says...��
During the last term of the year I had an unpleasant experience. I was in J.C. and the entry forms for the public Junior Certificate exam were given out to my classmates, but I was not given one. I told the form mistress that I hadn�t got one, but she passed it off vaguely. Feeling very unhappy, I went to find Miss Eynon the deputy head. She treated me very kindly and explained that, in consultation with my parents, it had been decided that I should spend another year in J.C. She was obviously taken aback that this had not been explained to me previously. I was upset at the time, but in due course saw the sense of it, as I was a year young for my class and not doing particularly well. The following year I happily made friends in my own age group.
One reason why I think I was taken away from Good Hope was that I would be working in the shadow of my very clever older sister. Shena had done so well at school that it would be difficult for plodding me to follow her. Madame Gilbert, who had taught Shena, was however now teaching French at Rustenburg, and our first meeting was not very auspicious. �Shirley Wells, vous etes la soeur de Shena?� �Oui,� was my nervous reply. �Oui quois?� asked Madame. �Mais oui,� I tried. �Oui quois?� came again, and this time luckily I heard Florence Adams� whisper to me: �Madame.� �Oui, madame,� 1 replied at last - thankfully. It may not have been a happy start, but we got on famously after that.
I had recently, after preparation classes with Dr McClure, been confirmed at Gardens, and I had only been a boarder for a few weeks when I realised it was Communion Sunday at Gardens (every three months). I suppose I was a bit homesick too, and used this church service as an excuse to ask Miss Kemp if I could go home for an unscheduled weekend.