Meet Roscoe + Helen \\ Story Portraits

Meet Roscoe and Helen. They’ve been married for 63 years, and this is their story.
They grew up on two different tobacco farms in North Carolina in the 1930’s.  While the country was bogged down in an economic depression unlike any other, there was tragedy in the rural North Carolina homes of Roscoe and Helen as well.  Both of their mothers died, leaving their fathers to care for their large families and farms. This was an insurmountable reality, and  so, within a year of each other, Roscoe and Helen entered the Barium Springs Home for Children.
An orphanage can be a dark place. It simply is not natural for  children to be separated from their parents.  I bet I am not the only person who is thinking back on the horrors of Oliver Twist or Annie.  They can be pits of abandonment, neglect, and sorrow.
But Roscoe and Helen’s story different, and a testimony to God’s extraordinary grace to his children. Roscoe said, “After you got over the homesickness, it was a wonderful life.” Barium Springs was a blessing to them and their families.  At the orphanage, they were not neglected, but loved and cared for.  As I talked with the Roscoe and Helen about their time there, they laughed and smiled. When asked what their favorite part about the orphanage was, they responded, “having such a big family!”  They remembered their superintendent, Mr.  Johnson, a great Christian man, whom the kids admired and who served them faithfully. As a statement of  his influence in the Barium Springs community Roscoe and Helen keep a framed photograph of him in their living room.  In a time when the rest of the nation was suffering, Roscoe described their childhood like this: “We had no wants! Everything was supplied. . .We feel sorry for the people who didn’t get to go to the orphanage.” Roscoe played on the orphanage football team, and they traveled around playing other orphanages in sports. When Roscoe graduated high school, he was offered a job at the orphanage, where he worked for five years.  Helen graduated two years after him and worked sewing collars in a shirt factory. 
In 1950, Roscoe and Helen were married at Little Joe’s Church, after living together in the orphanage for over 12 years. They have been married for 63 years, but have lived together since 1937, over 75 years.Since then, they have done a lot of life. Roscoe was drafted and entered the Air Force in 1952.  After his time there, he worked as an electrician for Eastern Airlines until retirement.  Roscoe and Helen have two daughters, three grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren.
Over the course of my conversation with them, they repeated how grateful they were for God’s provision to them throughout their lives. In fact, they  profess the goodness of God in their lives every day, and I have been a witness to it for the past 13 years in church.  In many ways, they are my spiritual grandparents.  They always remember my birthday.  On Christmas morning, they wake up before the sun has risen to  pick up boxes of warm Krispy Kreme doughnuts for their family and for their pastor’s.  It means the world to be counted as part of their beautiful family.  They are always there early to help in any way possible at church.  Helen has made countless pitchers of  quality, truly Southern sweet tea for potlucks, stuffs bulletins for worship services, and helps prepare for fellowship dinner. Roscoe hugs everyone who enters the church on Sunday morning. His quite literally breath-taking bear hugs are legendary.  They are such an incredible example of living the Christian life, from beginning to end. 
 The depth of their gratitude to God is visible in their every action. They live to serve, embodying the Christian virtue of charity. Growing up dependent on the orphanage for their needs, Roscoe and Helen understand  that everything they have is a gift from their Lord.  They have not stored up treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  
Their treasure is in heaven, and  they are rich in the currency of the Kingdom of God.
 I am thankful to know these dear saints.
Here are Roscoe and Helen.
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On the left, Roscoe and Helen are pictured holding their high school yearbooks. On the right, their high school diplomas hang in their living room and a photograph of the Barium Springs orphange superintendent, Mr. Johnson is displayed.
roscoe and helen collage 120130329-IMG_127320130329-IMG_1279faces20130329-IMG_133920130329-IMG_1377
I won’t lie, this is my favorite! I love these two.

7 thoughts on “Meet Roscoe + Helen \\ Story Portraits

  1. This. is. gorgeous. I’ve been following you for a while, but stopped blogging, because I’m a lazy-pants (well, and I had a baby, NUANCE) but I’m glad to see your ginger face permeating my blog feed once more. <3

  2. Lydia – this is beautiful! I am sitting here crying at my kitchen table! You captured Roscoe and Helen so perfectly, in words and photographs. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thank you for such a wonderful write up on my grandparents. I know I share them with so many people and now so many more people can read about them. The pictures are beautiful, and whereas I liked them all, my favorite was their feet crossed. Many a summers were spent as a kid laying on the living room floor watching television, while they were sitting in their chairs with their legs crossed–white socks showing and all.

  4. You did a great job of photographing and writing about these two dear people….so special to many of us…..thank you!

  5. Lydia, thank you for such a beautiful love story. And i love your photos! I’m grateful Kari sent this to me!

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