Interview with 1968 MMI alumna
Mrs Diana Kelly recalls on her experiences at Marymount during the 'Swinging Sixties'
March 26, 2020
In a comment on a Marymount Messenger article, Mrs Diana Kelly kindly encouraged us to contact her about her life during the ‘Swinging Sixties’ when she attended Marymount as an American student. Interested in learning about Diana’s experiences, we got in contact with her and interviewed her about certain aspects of her life at Marymount and her career choices. We collated all of the generous and intriguing recollections and thoughts that Diana shared with us into this article, so that everybody can have a glimpse into life at Marymount during 1968. We are very grateful for Diana’s participation in this project, and read with awe and fascination the experiences that she presents us with, from classes at Marymount to Twiggy’s 1968 fashion show at the Bentall Centre!
1. When moving to England, is there anything specific that made your family choose to send you to Marymount London?
My dad was transferred from California to London for one year and he chose a rental house in Ham (near Richmond) because there were so many schools within walking distance. He just figured that schools in England were like the schools in California – you just sent your children to the nearest school. Well – we quickly learned that schooling was VERY different in England!
After we arrived in England in the summer of 1967, my Mom made an appointment at Tiffin Girls’ School in Kingston because that was the nearest school. After we had a chat with the headmistress, we learned that I would be placed in a class two years behind where I should be! In other words, I was almost 13 years old, and I would have been placed in a class with 11-year-olds. Why? Because my birthday was near the end of October (and the cut-off was September 1) and because I had not studied any British history and I had studied only one year of French. So we had to find another school so I wouldn’t be behind when I returned to high school the next year.
My dad was working in Feltham with some other Americans who’d also been transferred to England. He asked around about schools and ended up talking with his boss, Mr. Curtis, who said that his daughter Robin was attending Marymount and was very happy there. So in July my mom and I made an appointment to talk with someone at Marymount. We learned that it was a school that used the American system of grades (7th grade, 8th grade, 9th grade, etc.), I would be placed in my correct grade (8th grade), and I would be well-prepared to enter high school when I returned to California. We were happy to learn of the high academic standards at Marymount. So I was excited to start at Marymount Fall 1967!
2. What are some differences between American and English culture that shocked you when you moved to the UK? E.g. the school system.
Well, the school system in England was very different, and at that time there was an 11+ exam that had to be passed to get into a Secondary Grammar School, and those who didn’t pass ended up at a Secondary Modern School which focused more on trades and career preparation. But, as I mentioned, the British school system didn’t work out for me, and I’m very happy that I was able to attend Marymount. We arrived in England in mid-June of 1967 and my mom, my sister and I spent the summer just getting used to the differences in England. Here are a few:
The other side of the road. It’s a wonder we weren’t killed crossing the roads! Riding in a car or on a bus on the other side of the road took some time to get used to, but we always had to remind ourselves to look both ways several times before crossing the street because the traffic was always coming from the direction we didn’t expect.
The money! At that time England was using pounds-shillings-pence. One pound = 20 shillings. One shilling – 12 pence. The coins were half-penny, penny, three pence, sixpence, one shilling, half crown (2 shillings & 6 pence). We went shopping to the local shops near our house and the shopkeepers were so kind and patient, explaining the coins and our change.
The language. British English is very different from American English, and we had to learn new terminology and new pronunciations: ground floor (instead of first floor), lift (instead of elevator), pavement (instead of sidewalk), Zeb-ra Crossing (we didn’t have those – and we pronounced it “Zee-bra”), Jumper (instead of sweater), Al-u-MIN-i-um (instead of A-LUM-in-um), and Thank You (instead of “You’re welcome”). And there were some things we’d never heard of, like a summer “Fete” (pronounced “Fate”). Something new for us!
Public Transportation. Riding the buses and the tube was a completely new experience because in California we had almost no public transportation. We loved riding on the upper deck of the buses (aside from the smoke – at that time it was the smoking section), and loved riding the tube into London.
Radio. I listened to the radio in California all the time, and we had many radio stations in the Los Angeles area playing the new and popular rock and pop music (Beatles, The Who, Rolling Stones, Monkees, etc.). When we first moved to England, the only radio station playing popular music was “Radio Luxembourg” and it could only be heard at night. On September 30, 1967, BBC Radio One started broadcasting, and they played popular music, but were limited to playing mostly British artists and very little music from the U.S. and other countries. There were no commercial radio stations at that time. That was a big change.
Shopping. In California we went to the supermarket once a week and bought everything there: fruits & vegetables, bread, milk, meat, other groceries, and toiletries. In England my mom had to go shopping almost every day because our refrigerator was so tiny, and she had to go to a lot of different shops: the butcher, the greengrocer, the bakery, the grocer, the newsagent, and for toiletries the local Boots. We ended up enjoying shopping in different shops, but it was a big adjustment.
The Weather. We came from California, so were used to mostly sunny, warm weather. With all of the clouds and rain in England we just felt cold all the time! But we got used to wearing heavier clothing (except in the summer) and always bringing an umbrella along.
3. Did you make particularly close friends/connections during your time at Marymount, and are you still in touch with them now?
Yes! My best friend at Marymount was Joanne (Hamel) Ross and we’ve been in touch since 8th grade. Her dad was transferred to London from Canada and she and her family stayed for three years. We are still great friends, and although I live in California and she lives in Canada, we still manage to get together every few years. I’m also in touch with a few other girls from my Marymount 8th grade class via Facebook and Linked-In: Pam Johnson, Christianne Mesch, Mary Deem, Betsy Bowen, and Therese Byrne.
4. Do you have any outstanding memories of Marymount? What is your favourite memory?
I have so many great memories of Marymount because it was all so different from my previous school experiences in California. I’ve said many times that my year at Marymount was the best year of school of my life (until I got to Graduate School for my Master’s and Ph.D. programs). When I got back to California to start high school after my year at Marymount, I found that I had moved ahead two levels in math without even realizing it, and my writing skills were even better than they’d been before. I’d also developed much better study skills at Marymount.
July, 1967 – Preparing to enter Marymount
After being admitted to Marymount, we received a letter from Marymount with a list of the required uniforms, athletic equipment, and school supplies. We shopped at Harrods for my Marymount school uniforms, which included the following items:
- One blazer
- 1 navy cardigan
- 1 navy felt hat
- 1 navy overcoat
- White knee socks
- 2 pair white gloves
- 2 navy wool pleated skirts
- 3 white short-sleeved blouses
- 2 royal blue one-piece gym outfits (culotte shorts)
- One white wool tennis pullover sweater with large felt “M” sewn on
- White pleated tennis skirt
- Black laced shoes (note – the shoes were too wide for my narrow feet, so I got special permission to wear black shoes with a strap
- Black Wellington Boots (recommended, but I bought trendy Mary Quant boots)
We also bought sports equipment for Marymount:
- hockey stick
- shin guards
- hockey boots
- tennis racket
I also needed composition books – one for each subject. I purchased these at the “tea house” at Marymount. Other required supplies included a colored pencil set, a fountain pen with cartridge refills (no ball point pens were allowed), art supplies, and a needlepoint or other sewing/knitting/craft project. And we needed a book bag to hold everything. Backpacks were not being used at that time – it was a book tote bag with handles. I still have mine!
The letter outlining the required uniform and supplies also included a reading list of books we should read over the summer. The list included “White Fang” “The 39 Steps” and one other book. NOTE – I read these diligently, expecting to be tested on them when school started – but there was never any mention of these books at all!
1967-9-13 – Wednesday – First day of school at Marymount.
On the first day of school, my dad drove me to Marymount so I could bring all of my sports equipment in the car. When we arrived, Robin Curtis greeted me – she’d been watching for me, and she was friendly and welcoming. She was a tall girl with long straight blond hair and large glasses. There were a lot of girls milling around, so it’s lucky that she spotted me. She said to my dad, “Don’t worry – I’ll take her to our classroom” so my dad left after we unloaded everything. Robin first took me to my locker so I could stow away my sports things and gym and tennis uniforms. Then she took me to our 8th grade classroom in Gailhac Hall. As we went straight into the center glass door entrance, we walked across the main hallway and our 8th grade room was on the left, opposite the 7th grade classroom on the right. The classroom had large windows facing out to the beautiful terraced gardens. Robin found me a vacant desk near hers and started introducing me to the girls she knew, but there were a lot of new girls, too.
We took our seats and waited, then a tall, thin nun in her long habit breezed into the room and suddenly there was a scraping of chairs as all of the girls stood up. I figured out quickly that we were supposed to stand up each time a teacher entered the classroom, and each time the teacher left at the end of class. The nun led us in a “Hail Mary” prayer and I felt like I was the only one in the room who had never heard this before and didn’t know the words, but I wasn’t. After the prayer, we sat down, and the nun introduced herself. Her name was Sister Antonio (later called “Sister Anne”) and she said she would be our homeroom teacher and Religion teacher. She looked serious and a bit severe, but she seemed nice.
Because there were so many new girls we all introduced ourselves and I learned that the girls were mostly from the United States: Christianne Mesch (German Girl from Texas), Sharon (from Tennessee), Betsy Bowen (from Connecticut or New England) and Betsy’s new friend Joanne Hamel (from Canada). Betsy had taken Joanne under her wing in the same way that Robin had done with me. Betsy and Joanne’s dads both worked for Esso, and both lived near Marymount. In addition, there was a local English girl, Sara, whose family originally came from Greece, and a Spanish girl, Mercedes, who didn’t know much English. A nice girl named Pam Johnson had attended Marymount and had lived in Wimbledon for a few years. There was a rowdy group from Weybridge who rode together to Marymount every day in a van, including Katie Young. The five-day boarders included Therese Byrne, Brenda Bayless and Barbara Gallagher, and Kathy Sheetz was a 7-day boarder whose parents lived in the Netherlands. Suzanne Scott was also new – she was a little older, lived in London with her mother and rode to Marymount each day in a private car. Two of the girls had older sisters at Marymount – Sherry Mero (from Canada) and Jane Torre. There were 18 girls in our 8th grade class at the beginning of the school year and sometime later in the year another girl joined us – Mary Deem. We sat at wooden desks, two by two, arranged in three rows, looking toward the blackboard at the front of the classroom.
After our first two classes of the morning, we had a mid-morning break of about 15 minutes, and Robin showed me where the “Tea House” was. It was a short walk from our classroom, down the stairs to the walkway that borders the beautiful gardens, then left. It was a small building near the location of the current Art Studio. In this building there were a couple of vending machines – one for hot drinks (including scalding hot chocolate, which I loved) and one machine for chocolate bars and other snacks. There was also a counter where you could purchase Marymount composition books, pens, pencils, etc.
Back to the classroom for two more classes – new teachers coming in, chairs scraping, textbooks distributed, and assignments given. And then it was lunch time. Again, Robin Curtis showed me where we went for lunch. We went left down the hallway to a large circular staircase with a red handrail, and we lined up along the staircase. The 7thgrade class went first, then our 8th grade class, and then the 9th grade, and so on. We all waited on the staircase for the Butler Hall dining room doors to open at the bottom of the stairs. When the doors opened, we all went in and then there was a massive rush to get to a table. Each table sat eight — three on each side and one on each end. At one end of every table was a teacher or one of the college girls who lived in the Marymount house. We all remained standing at our tables and a prayer was led by Mother Gregory, our school principal. Then we all sat down and our hot meal was served to each table by the lunch ladies. This was the first time I’d ever had Shepherd’s Pie and I loved it! We ate family-style, passing the dishes around. The room was very noisy with everyone talking, but it was not unruly because there was a teacher at each table. After our main meal we were served a hot dessert – often a nice hot apple pie with warm custard, or some type of pudding. After lunch we still had time to walk outdoors and enjoy the beautiful grass lawn and tiered gardens. I remembered seeing one lone tennis court at the bottom of the garden, behind the auditorium (St Joseph’s Hall) and current Garden classrooms (which weren’t there in 1967). What beautiful grounds!
After lunch – back to the classroom for our two afternoon classes. We had a short break between classes to go to the Tea House. Then it was time to go home. I loaded my new book bag with the textbooks and assignments that had been distributed and my new Marymount copybooks, and headed out, walking left on George Road for about a half mile, past Rokeby School, past Holy Cross School, past the George & Dragon pub (which is now the Kingston Lodge) to the bus stop.
To get home to our townhouse in Ham (near Richmond) I took the 85 or 213 bus down the hill to Kingston, then the 71 or 65 bus to Richmond. The 71 bus dropped me closer to our home in Ham, but sometimes it wouldn’t come, so I’d take the 65 bus instead and I’d have a longer walk home. I enjoyed riding the buses – especially the top deck because you could see so much more. However, in 1967 that was the smoking area of the bus, so it wasn’t too pleasant up there. I also learned how to say “Tupenny Half” – that was the fare for students. Two giant pennies for each bus ride!
About the Marymount Uniforms
In London in 1967, all the girls were wearing mini-skirts – the shorter, the better. But our uniform skirts were very long – about knee-length. So we sort of “customized” our uniforms by rolling our skirt waistband up until our skirts were a little shorter. We also buttoned just the bottom two buttons of the navy cardigan (under the blazer). I learned quickly that we only really wore our hats and white gloves for our “inspection” by Rev. Mother Gregory, so most girls just crammed the hats and gloves into the lockers for “inspection day,” which happened (unannounced) about once a month. We’d line up in the hallway, and some girls would have to look hard for those gloves and hats in the back of the locker before Mother Gregory came down the line of girls, looking at each of us carefully to make sure we were properly dressed. This was when we unrolled the waistbands of our skirts to their intended length.
Boarding at Marymount
I wasn’t a boarding student at Marymount because I lived close enough to come to school by bus every day. But I always thought that being a boarder would be fun, and I sometimes visited the boarding rooms with girls from my class who were boarders. The 5-day boarders went home on weekends and the 7-day boarders only went home during longer breaks, like Christmas break and Easter break. We only had two 7-day boarders in our 8th grade class: Mercedes (from Spain) and Kathy Sheetz (whose parents lived in the Netherlands). Both of the 7-day boarders became very homesick at times. However, Marymount provided special events for the borders on Friday or Saturday evenings, and the day girls who lived nearby were also welcome to participate. Sometimes there were films, concerts, or theatre trips on the weekends. Day girls had to sign up to participate in these, and if it was a late night event, we could stay over in boarding rooms that weren’t being used, then we’d have breakfast the next morning before going home. I did this at least once or twice, and it was fun.
Once, my good friend Joanne Hamel and I saw a film at Marymount then stayed overnight. The next morning after breakfast we went with Kathy Sheetz to the Auditorium (which was being used as a gymnasium at that time because there was no sports hall). Kathy had a very good record collection, so she brought along some Monkees albums and a new album by “The Who” that included the song “I can see for miles.” Every time I hear that song, it reminds me of being in the Auditorium and swinging around on the big climbing ropes while the music blared out of the speakers in the Auditorium! The ropes were not meant for swinging – they were meant for climbing as part of gymnastics classes. We tied a big knot in the bottom of the rope so we could sit on it. As you face the stage in the auditorium, the ropes were hanging to the right of the stage, and they were just the right length so we could stand on the stage and jump off to get a good long swing. We took turns swinging on the rope, and had a great time. We sort of got in a little bit of trouble for being unsupervised in the Auditorium and swinging on the ropes – but it was fun while it lasted!
Fri. Dec. 8 – First snow at Marymount in the afternoon.
We were looking out the window of our 8th grade classroom which overlooked the terraced gardens. We were in our needlework class and noticed that the rain outside had turned to big snowflakes coming down. Our teacher, Mrs. Eliott, let us go outdoors for a nice long break to enjoy the snow – we were dancing around and trying to catch snowflakes on our tongues. Because I was from Southern California, I’d never seen snow coming down before – it was exciting! It kept snowing for a couple of days and there was so much snow that it stayed on the ground and packed down and got icy. I was wearing my boots, but they weren’t Wellingtons or snow boots. They were boots for fashion – not for snow! My boots were trendy black shiny vinyl Mary Quant boots with a clear plastic sole and heel. The heel had the Mary Quant logo daisy in it, so as I walked through fresh snow I left little daisy imprints behind with my heels. Cute, but not very practical. It was all I could do to maintain balance while walking down George Road to the bus stop. Then, when I finally reached Ham on the 71 bus it was very slick on the sidewalks (pavement). I did fine until I was coming around the corner of our street. As my mom was watching for me from our front window, I slipped and fell with my book bag, but just got up laughing! It was sort of like ice skating, except I had no control. It was a slippery walk to the bus stop for a few days, but I got better at it, and the snow finally melted.
In my days at Marymount most of the classes were taught by nuns, so I had to get used to saying “Sister.” Once when one of my teachers asked me a question, I responded in typical laid-back California fashion by saying “Yeah.” She said, “You mean, ‘Yes, Sister.’” So I learned! We addressed the lay teachers by their names: “Miss Small” or “Mrs. Elliott.”
Staying in one classroom
In my previous Junior High School in California, we had to go to different classrooms for each class. At Marymount all of our classes were in the same room and the teachers came and went. Each time the teacher would enter the room, we stood up. That was completely new to me, but I liked the show of respect. I also liked the convenience of staying in one classroom with one group of girls.
Our 8th grade subjects
We had Religion class every morning as our first class of the day with our homeroom teacher, Sister Antonio (later called “Sister Anne.”) We had some subjects daily, others two or three times a week, and some subjects, like music, drama, and needlework, were just once a week. Here are all of the subjects we studied in 8th grade: (NOTE – there was no IB program at that time.)
- Religion – Sister Antonio
- History – Sister Teresa
- Math – Sister Maris Stella
- Geography – Sister de Padua
- French – Mrs. Taylor (fall semester) and Mrs. Knight (spring semester)
- English – Mrs. Elliot
- Art – Mrs. Elliot
- Needlework – Mrs. Elliot
- Science – Miss Fiona Small
- Physical Education – Miss Fiona Small
One of the trickiest things I had to get used to was using a fountain pen. They didn’t allow us to use ball-point pens, so I had a lot of big blue blobs in my copybook at first, but I eventually learned not to press so hard on the pen.
Favorite Book – ‘The Moonstone’ by Wilkie Collins
In our English class with Mrs. Elliott, we worked our way through “The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins, written in 1868 – 100 years earlier. Mrs. Elliott went into great detail about the life of Wilkie Collins and the fact that he was a good friend and collaborator of Charles Dickens. We read the book and discussed it at great length, especially focusing on the nature of the narrative as told by several different characters. We also discussed the strong female characters in the book and how unusual they were for the time. Even today, this is still my all-time favorite mystery novel.
History class – Tudors and Stuarts
Our history class focused on the Tudors and Stuarts all year, starting with the War of the Roses and King Henry VII and ending with Queen Anne. I never really liked studying history because I thought it was boring – just about wars and politics. But British history and British monarchs were fascinating to me because they were such colorful characters who influenced the culture. To this day, I can recite the names of all of the Tudor and Stuart monarchs in the correct chronological order.
Physical Education and Sports
In our Physical Education classes with Miss Fiona Small we did several different sports: tennis, field hockey, gymnastics, and track and field (mostly running and high jump). Our “gymnasium” was the Auditorium which included various pieces of gymnastic equipment, including a horse and a tall vault apparatus and springboard, as well as climbing ropes and a large floor mat for tumbling and gymnastic routines. We had a bus to take us to some tennis courts nearby, possibly in New Malden. These were clay courts and they were very slippery! I’d only played tennis on hard courts before, so it was very difficult to get used to sliding on the clay courts. We also had a bus to take us to a hockey field near the train tracks by the “Berrylands” station. I’d never played field hockey before and many of the girls were new to field hockey, so we learned one step at a time. It was fun, but cold! Before we went out to play tennis, we had to change into our tennis skirts and white jumpers. Before we went out to play field hockey, we had to change into our blue one-piece gym outfits and white jumpers. Before gymnastics and track and field sports, we just changed into our one-piece gym outfits.
Eating the “British” Way
While having lunch at Marymount, I noticed that many of the girls did not switch their fork from one hand to the other after cutting their food. They just stabbed it with their fork and put it in their mouth. This was all new to me – but I started eating this way and it was actually easier and faster than the “American” way – stab meat with fork in left hand, cut meat, then transfer fork to right hand to put in mouth. The only thing I never did was squash my peas onto the back side of the fork! It was much easier just to scoop them up with the fork.
Climbing in the window after a break
Whenever we were a little late coming back from our break, we’d just climb in the side window to the classroom rather than going in the outside glass doors and through the classroom door. We weren’t supposed to do this, but it was a quick way in if we thought the teacher was coming!
Mass on Friday mornings
Every Friday morning, instead of Religion class we went to Mass. It was not required, and some girls chose to use this time for studying. But I always went because it was all new to me and I enjoyed it. Mass was held for the whole school in the Auditorium and a priest came in each Friday for Mass. As we entered the Auditorium, we received white lace head scarves to wear during Mass. I found the Mass very interesting and calming, and I enjoyed participating in the prayers (which I’d learned) and smelling the incense and seeing the ceremony of Communion. I could not take Communion because I wasn’t Catholic, but I just sat and watched while the Catholic girls went forward for Communion.
Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts
As part of our Drama class, we had to prepare a scene for an examination by representatives from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA). My best friend, Joanne Hamel, and I decided to do a scene together from “Peter Pan” – one of us was “Tinker Bell” and the other was “Peter Pan” but I can’t remember who played which part. No matter how much we practiced, I could NOT remember my lines! Joanne was very patient – she did well with her lines, but I was a disaster. Somehow the examiners must have taken pity on me because I passed with a score of 70 (65 was a “passing” score).
First Snow at Marymount
On Friday afternoon, Dec. 8, 1967, we were looking out the window of our 8th grade classroom which overlooked the terraced gardens. We were in our needlework class and noticed that the rain outside had turned to big snowflakes coming down. Our teacher, Mrs. Eliott, let us take a longer break to go outdoors to enjoy the snow. We were dancing around and trying to catch snowflakes on our tongues. Because I was from Southern California, I’d never seen snow coming down before – it was exciting!
Monday, April 1, 1968 — April Fool’s Day
Before Sister Anne arrived at our classroom in the morning, we all turned out desks around to face the back of the class. When she entered, we all stood up facing the back wall. We thought it was hysterical! Sister Anne was a good sport and acted like she thought it was funny, too, before she told us to turn our desks around to get started with our Religion class.
Sometime in May of 1968 Marymount held a “Sports Day” where we had various gymnastic performances and other sports competitions. Parents and families of Marymount students were invited, and most of the events were held outdoors on the beautiful lawns. I won two medals – first place for High Jump and second place for the 100-yard dash!
5. Did you encounter any particular challenges during your time at Marymount, such as adjusting to the new environment? If so, how did you overcome it?
The high expectations and amount of studying and homework were different from my previous experience in 7th grade in California, but I adjusted with no problem. The most positive differences at Marymount were being in a small class of only 18 students, being in an all-girls school, and wearing uniforms. All of these aspects of Marymount provided a tremendously supportive environment to students, to allow us to achieve the high academic expectations.
6. Could you write a bit about the shows, concerts, or performances that you attended during your time in London? You mentioned attending Twiggy’s fashion show in Bentalls and other events in London.
Twiggy at Bentall’s.
My friend Joanne Hamel and I were obsessed with Mary Quant and Twiggy and all of the great fashions in England in 1967-68. We bought Mary Quant cosmetics and went to Carnaby Street together (with my mom and sister). When we learned that Twiggy would be putting on a fashion show at Bentall’s on Friday, March 15, we were so excited – we had to go!
That Friday afternoon we raced out of Marymount down George Road to catch a bus down the hill to Kingston. When we got to Bentalls Department Store (it was not the “Bentall Centre” at that time – it was a very large department store), we raced up to the top floor to Woolsey Hall, and were first in the queue! We waited there for probably a couple of hours as the queue grew and grew. Finally, they let us into Woolsey Hall and Joanne and I got the prime seats – right across the catwalk from Twiggy and her boyfriend/manager Justin. We kept waving at them and they were very nice and waved back at us. Twiggy was so young – just about 18 years old, and only a few years older than us. The fashion show was fantastic – young, trendy models dancing together down the catwalk to pop music. What fun!
Carnaby Street was the center of “Swinging London” in 1967 – so many fun little shops and boutiques including “I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet” “Lady Jane” “Gear” and “Kids in Gear” “Lord John” (with psychedelic painting outside). By 1967 it had become somewhat touristy, with lots of junky souvenirs – but there were still great shops for trendy dresses and mini-skirts. One of my favorite colorful dresses came from Carnaby Street, and my sister bought a paper disposable mini-dress there. Everything was colorful, with great music blaring out of each shop – a very festive atmosphere. It was fun and happy!
Harrod’s “Way In” Boutique
The first time we went to Harrod’s was to buy my Marymount uniform, around July 1967. The school uniforms department was right next to the new “Way In” Boutique on the 4th floor, which had just opened in June of 1967. It was very trendy – all purple and deep blue floors and lights, with a curving walkway through the shop and very trendy clothes. They even had a “Way In” café where my mother, sister and I had lunch. Harrod’s was a really interesting experience – the biggest department store we’d ever been in. At that time they had machines at strategic points in the store, near the top of staircases and escalators, where you could enter the name of a department and it would produce a paper with walking directions to get there.
Beatles’ Apple Boutique
A shop that opened Dec. 5, 1967 and closed July 31, 1968. It was located on the ground floor of a building on the corner of Baker Street and Paddington Street in Marylebone. Before the closing in July, we went to the Apple Boutique to see what was on sale and my sister and I each bought one t-shirt. The store became bankrupt due to poor management and giving away the merchandise.
My parents took my sister and me to several matinee theater performances in London, and we enjoyed them, but I can’t really remember what we saw! We also went to an outdoor performance of “Much Ado about Nothing” in Richmond on the terrace overlooking the river, and it was very good. We went to the Royal Opera House several times to see ballet, and once we saw Margot Fonteyn dancing with Rudolph Nureyev. Afterwards my sister was able to get their autographs on a tiny pair of satin ballet shoes. She was told that it was very unusual for them to sign autographs.
Wimbledon Tennis. My sister went to school in Wimbledon, and my mom wanted to take us to see the Wimbledon tennis tournament. I was already finished with school at Marymount, so we went to Wimbledon on the bus to meet my sister, then we walked to the Wimbledon tennis grounds and bought ground passes to get in in the afternoon of June 27, 1968. saw Pancho Gonzales play a 2nd round match on Court 2 against R. Maud of South Africa. Pancho Gonzales won 6-2 6-4 9-7 and he was a lot of fun to watch – sometimes hitting balls under his legs. Walking around the grounds, we also saw British champion Ann Jones. My mom recognized her and stopped her to ask for autographs for us. She was very nice and signed my autograph book.
7. How did attending Marymount influence your life? E.g. choice in career.
Although I only attended Marymount for one year, it has had a huge positive influence on my life. I learned a lot of things that year:
- I learned that I was able to adapt to a new culture and a new school environment and make new friends. This was empowering for my future – getting out of my comfort zone.
- Higher expectations made me work a little harder in school, and I gained confidence in my academic abilities as a result.
- An all-girls environment is fantastic for schooling because there are fewer distractions and I felt much more comfortable speaking up in class than I did in a mixed school (with boys and girls in the same classroom).
- Uniforms are also fantastic! They reduce the need for showing off the latest trendy clothes, and everyone concentrates on studying more when they are less focused on clothing.
Marymount did not really influence my choice of career, probably because I was just in 8th grade at the time and had many different ideas about possible career paths. I also changed my college major three times and changed careers about seven times! However, my positive experiences at Marymount did stimulate my interest in all-female education. When I was a graduate student at the Claremont Graduate University, studying the history of Higher Education, I researched the history of female higher education in the United States and wrote a long paper about it. I later submitted this paper to the National Association for Women Deans and Counselors (NAWDAC) for their annual graduate student paper competition, and my paper won! If you’d like a copy of my paper I’ll be happy to send it to you.
8. What piece of advice would you give to a Marymount student? E.g. those graduating or choosing subjects to study.
Enjoy your time at Marymount! Savour the experience and take advantage of every learning opportunity – in class and outside of classes – with your fellow Marymount students and teachers. When my friend Joanne (Hamel) Ross and I visited Marymount together in 2004, Joanne said to me “I’d forgotten what a beautiful place Marymount is!” We didn’t always take time to stop and refresh and enjoy the wonderful environment at Marymount.
Sometimes it’s too easy to get all tied up in knots over studying and getting a certain test score. Everyone is different and everyone has different strengths, so don’t worry if you don’t get perfect grades in every subject. Trying to be great at everything probably isn’t realistic, but learning as much as you can at Marymount is a realistic goal. Focus on your learning – not the test scores. This will set you up for successful learning throughout your life – after school and after university. My license plate is “TME2LRN” – because it’s always “Time to Learn” whether you’re 15 years old or 65 years old or 90 years old!
Finally, to choose a subject to study (especially at university, after leaving Marymount) pick something you REALLY REALLY like! Something you’d study even if you were not going to a university. What do you naturally gravitate toward? What are you really good at? That’s what you should study in university. I started out as an English major because I really enjoyed reading and writing, then I ended up changing to a major in broadcast communication. But my reading and writing skills were still very valuable as a broadcaster, too. Some years later when I decided to go to Graduate School, I learned to my surprise that I had a real talent for research and data analysis. This despite years of disliking mathematics! As you study different subjects at Marymount and in university, you may also find some new and undiscovered talents.
9. What do you think it means to be a Marymount girl? Do you still associate yourself as such and do you plan on visiting again in the near future?
I’m proud to be a “Marymount Girl” because in my experience Marymount stands for a very high quality education for girls, and I know how much my Marymount experience benefited me. I have been a member of the Alumnae Association for many years and enjoyed visiting Marymount regularly when we lived in Ireland (1999-2006), but since I’ve been back in California I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Marymount. I always enjoy following the activities of Marymount and the amazing accomplishments of the Marymount girls through the “Marymount Matters” Alumnae Magazine and the website, and your new “Marymount Messenger.”
10. Why and how did you choose your career/study path? Any advice for those interested in similar areas?
It was definitely not a planned career path – it really evolved over time, twisting and turning in different directions.
Here is some general advice for entering any career – get as much experience as possible in that field while you are at university. Studying a field isn’t the same thing as working in the field. For instance, if you’re interested in entering the field of medicine, volunteer or intern at a hospital or in a doctor’s office to see if you really like the environment and the type of work. Take every opportunity possible to get involved in the field that you want to enter – not just to build a good CV, but to gain personal experience in the field for your own learning.
The field of broadcasting has changed quite a bit since I first started in radio, but my advice to anyone interested in broadcasting is the same – look for paid or unpaid opportunities to work at a radio station or television station or television production company while you are at university – on weekends or during breaks between terms. When I was teaching radio broadcasting, we always told our students to go out and get weekend jobs in radio stations out of the big city, so they’d get experience on the air. That helped them to get better jobs after they finished university, and quite a few of my former radio students are still working in radio in the Los Angeles area even today.
For anyone who wants to become a college or university professor, be aware that a Ph.D. is normally the minimum of your qualifications, and having research and publications will help you to get your first job as a part-time lecturer. After a number of years as a part-time lecturer, those with the most impressive qualifications and research/publication records will be considered for full-time positions as associate professors in a university. If you choose to go in this direction, take opportunities to work with professors as graduate interns or teaching assistants.
11. Since you have retired, what volunteering and genealogy research have you been doing?
I retired in 2013 at the age of 58, which was slightly younger than the normal retirement age of 65. My husband had retired in 2011 and I figured I’d keep on working until I was 65, but then I saw that he was having more fun than I was, doing various volunteer activities, sleeping late in the morning, etc. Also, we wanted to do more travelling together and we couldn’t do that while I was working. So, I decided to retire in 2013 after over 30 years in higher education (plus several years before that in radio broadcasting). It was a great decision!
My husband and I had done quite a bit of travelling in Ireland, the U.K. and Europe, but not as much travelling in the United States. So for several years after I retired we did some travelling in the U.S. We took a wonderful trip up to Alaska, a train trip up to Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, another train trip across the country to St. Louis, and a beautiful autumn trip to Boston and New England. I also visited my good friend Joanne (Hamel) Ross in Stanstead, Quebec.
I’ve been doing genealogy (family history) research since about 1999, but have had more time to do research since I retired. Some of my research has involved travelling to the places where our ancestors came from, including Ireland, Latvia and Luxembourg, as well as places in the United States including Ohio, Iowa, and Nebraska. I love going into the archives and finding new documents and newspaper articles about ancestors. Although more and more information is available online through Ancestry.com and other online subscription services, there is still more available only at the source. It’s a never-ending project with many family mysteries to solve!
The volunteering that we do is mainly sporting and cultural events. When we had a vacation home in the Palm Springs, California area for about ten years, we volunteered for many events there including the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the American Documentary Film Festival, Modernism Week, ShortFest Film Festival, the BNP Paribas Tennis Tournament in Indian Wells, and several big golf tournaments. Since we moved our vacation home to Phoenix, Arizona in 2017, we have been volunteering for events in the Phoenix area, including Spring Training Baseball (from late February through late March), golf tournaments, the Arizona Taco Festival, and a Bluegrass Music Festival. In San Diego we have volunteered for similar events – a women’s tennis tournament, golf tournaments, the Cal State Games, and the Police and Fire Championships. We just keep looking for volunteer opportunities at fun charitable events that support the community where we are.