Sue and I went to Mitchell Girls High. Unfortunately Sue’s reputation went before her. I didn’t think that was fair. I never asked how that happened, but she was in trouble from the day she arrived. One of my teachers made it clear that I would not be allowed to follow in my big sister’s footsteps.
Well, I really put on a show to make sure they enjoyed it. The older girls loved me and dared me to do all kinds of things. I was always ready for some fun. We started a false alarm fire drill and before we knew it, the whole school was on the field. No-one owned up. We bunked classes and met behind the pre-fabs where the big girls had their smoke breaks.
One day Lindy, Diane Stone and I decided to meet in the sick room. We were having a great time laughing and chatting until we heard Miss Odell’s knocky shoes coming down the hallway. We covered our faces with the sheets and waited for her to go past. I nearly died of fright when she pulled the sheet off and marched us off to her office. We had been there many times so she didn’t have to lead us.
Miss Beasley was our extremely thin, bug-eyed, lanky, black haired French teacher. I don’t think she was well, but we didn’t think to ask. We made her life hell. We tied invisible cotton to both sides of the chalk and as she went for it, it was pulled from one side to the other. We let off stink bombs, locked someone in the cupboard and told her we had no idea where the key was. The pranks were unending. She hated our class.
Michelle, the Australian exchange student was white blonde and red faced, especially when she blushed. She did a handstand against the wall. Her dress hung over her head and her panties were displayed for all to see. Mrs Beasley came in and commanded whoever it was to come down. THIS instant! She shouted and ranted and we laughed until we cried. Michelle eventually came down, blood red and dishevelled. Poor Miss Beasley was in tears once again.
During winter we had to wear black hats, ties and stockings. They were awful. The first thing I did was to cut the wire rim off my hat and moosh it until it was soft and floppy. I had a real problem keeping my stockings from getting laddered and I was always getting caught for having my tie undone.
Getting home from school wasn’t easy. We had to catch a bus into town and then one to Rolleston Place. It would take more than an hour. If I had detention or any activity after school I would miss the connection and arrive home after dark. I often arrived home crying and full of fear.
Fear wasn’t a stranger to me. Growing up in South Africa there was plenty to be scared of.