My friend, Ruth Ormond, 1963
By early 1964, Ruth had passed the matriculation examination and was preparing to go to
to do a BA (Music) degree. I had completed my ATCL in October of 1963 and had started teaching my first pupils in Anne and Webster’s studio on the day they were not in. I put my teaching skills to further practical use by giving Ruth some harmony lessons so that she would be up to standard when she started her course at Cape Town University . I knew I would miss her very much when she went to ‘Varsity, but she would be back for the July holidays and we had promised to write to each other. Cape Town
Just before she left for
Ruth settled down in the University residence of Baxter Hall. She was a good correspondent and told me about her singing lessons with Madame Adelaide Armhold. Madame Armhold wanted Ruth to concentrate on breathing exercises for the next six months.
In April, I passed my LTCL exam and obtained honours in the Higher Local Piano exam.
On Friday morning, 1 May 1964, I received a letter from Ruth. She had remained in
during the Easter holidays and had celebrated her nineteenth birthday on 6 April. The Easter holiday was short so it hardly seemed worth while for her to return to Cape Town when she had only just settled in at Baxter Hall. In her letter she told me, ‘Before you can cough it’ll be July and I’ll see you again’. Jo'burg
That evening I was going to sing at a concert with the Sylvia Sullivan Choristers. I was waiting for my lift when the phone rang. It was Ruth’s sister Caroline to tell me the awful and unbelievable news that Ruth had suffered a cerebral haemorrhage that morning and had died within an hour of developing an excruciating headache.
Ruth had always been fit and healthy. She had never missed a day at school. Stunned I phoned Anne and Webster’s number and spoke to Webster. He was devastated with the news and did not talk long. It was too late to put off the lift, so my parents had to make my excuses. A short while later Anne phoned and spent a long time on the phone talking to me about Ruth. We were deeply saddened at the loss of a very dear person. She had been like a sister to me.
I saw her mother several times after Ruth’s death. She gave me some of Ruth’s music, and a photograph, taken shortly before Ruth went to
After Ruth’s death my life became more sombre and earnest. I was no longer a giddy naïve teenager. I had to grow up fast and face life as an adult. I have had little contact with the Ormonds over the years since Ruth's death, but I will always remember her as one of my dearest friends.
JEANNIE C copyright June 2005