top of page

My Orphaned Friend - Chapter 1

Chip started watching a movie called Queen's Gambit about an orphan girl who becomes a chess champion. "You'll like this," he told me. "It's about a girl chess champion." I watched the first few minutes where the girl lost her parents to a car accident and had a sudden memory of a childhood friend who became an orphan.

I went to church with her, in Arlington, Virginia, in the early 70s, and her parents were killed in a plane crash. The only other thing I remember about her now was that she was a bit of a wild child. Mother told me to have patience with her given her tragic situation.

Following the orphaning, the girl's grandparents came from England to take her home and raise her. I remember wondering if she wasn't scared to get on a plane and fly over an ocean, given her circumstance. The local newspaper ran a story with a photo of her and her grandparents packing her clothes. I remember the photo exactly.

So I texted my mother and sister. "Does anyone remember the girl my age in Arlington Ward whose parents were killed in a plane crash and her grandparents from England came to get her and take her there to raise her?"

Sister: Not at all.

Mother: How could we forget that?

Sister: How old were you?

Mother: What brought that up?

Sister: Let me see if Sister Alice remembers.

Sister Alice is kind of an Arlington Ward historian. (We don't actually call her "Sister Alice." We called her "Sister [Lastname]" but I'm trying to protect the anonymous here.) I messaged Sister Alice and Sister Karen, my church friend Andrea's mom.

I asked Mother to message Sister Mary. Sister Mary's husband would've been Bishop then; the congregational leader. My sister responded that Sister Mary turned 90 just today. I'm not sure how her memory is holding up.

The Northern Virginia Sun, which would've been the paper that ran the story, is no longer around. But my sister and both of her daughters are librarians. I thought maybe one of them could find a way to search old stories and photos.

Sister Karen responded to my message that she thinks she knows a family that knows the family and she would ask.

If I could just remember the girl's name, I could look for her online. See if she's on facebook. But I was like 7. I'm frankly kind of amazed I remember the story at all. But the newspaper photo sticks in my memory.

to be continued


bottom of page