The fond memories of two St Mary's College Old Girls
Daphne Davies' time as a boarder spans the South African War (which she spends at DSG in Grahamstown, rather than in Port Alfred, when Miss Holmes-Orr closes the school) and the first decade of the 20th century. She thinks the school is lovely.
Miss Holmes-Orr and the live-in teachers need to keep her and her friends busy over week-ends so a pattern evolves: hair-washing, clothes-mending, dancing, concerts and charades on Saturdays; a service at St-Mary-the-Less, letter-writing and walks on Sundays. At first, boys are strictly forbidden but at some point they are permitted to join the senior boarders for dancing. Miss Holmes-Orr is not just a stuffy old blue-stocking!
Daphne and her friends play the mandolin and paint, and enjoy the rambles in Bezuidenhout Valley where they learn about the flowers. They enjoy their gym lessons, club swinging and baton drill: they are drum majorettes in the making. They look forward to the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 8 September as it is a holiday for them and they will be putting on a concert or a play which their parents and relatives will be attending.
Florence Dowds is a little younger than Daphne and it is quite likely that Daphne has shown her parents around the school: she is Miss Holmes-Orr’s one-man marketing committee. Florence and her family have just arrived from Ireland. Florence turns out to be a prize-winning Mathematics boffin and her Mathematics teacher, Miss Salisbury, is one of her favourite teachers. (Miss Salisbury’s husband is also so devoted to her that he calls their home “Salisbury House”). Florence receives her prize for winning the inter-schools’ Mathematics competition from Sir Percy FitzPatrick.