A Friend Lost

by Phyllis Ellenberg
(Leland, NC)

In the early 1950s, a young girl who was 6 or maybe 8 moved into my neighborhood in Martinsville, Va. Her name was Judy Freiburg (sp).


Judy had big dark brown eyes, black hair styled in two braids. She was also Jewish and this was the first family that was Jewish to move into our Neighborhood.

Many of the neighbors were anti-Jewish and shunned them.

I was excited about the possibility of having a Jewish friend. To learn about her culture, her religion, and history.

One day I invited Judy over to play with me. She came over and I blew it. Some of the neighborhood children that I was friends with came running up to me and said they wanted to show me something in the wooded area behind our houses.

I asked for Judy to come and they replied she could not come as it was just for me to see. With hesitation in my mind, I told Judy to wait and I would be right back.

Unfortunately my friends kept me longer than I expected and kept walking around saying they could not find what they wanted me to see.

I finally realized they had never had anything for me to see and ran back to find Judy. She was gone.

My heart fell and I ran to her house to tell her that I was sorry.

Her mother answered the door. I asked if I could see Judy. She told me Judy had been taken to some relatives. She said I could walk around to the basement and go in and play with her toys. I moped around hoping Judy would come home. There were no toys in the basement.

I understand how hurt you must have been and imagined how you probably sobbed not understanding the cruel behavior of me and those friends.

I am sure your mother was also very hurt and I do not blame her. She had probably experienced discrimination herself.

Judy, I am so sorry. I never had the intention of shunning you. I sincerely wanted to be your friend. Instead, my actions did you much harm and caused you and your family to move away.

Please, forgive me.

You are frequently on my mind and I have never forgotten you or what I did. I hope in some way this apology reaches you.

Sincerely,

A remorseful Phyllis Mills Ellenberg

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